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Blackbirds of Broadway 1999 Tour

Europe: Week 2

Monday, 11/29/99 - Our first real day off!  I quickly hit the music stores that I had found in Wels, and then head to the Bahnhof (train station) to jump on a train to Linz, a larger city located east of us on the Danube River. I later found out that this was also the childhood home of Adolf Hitler. I visited three music stores in my quest for German band music, but struck out completely. After visiting the Danube River, I returned to the Ostbahnhof and caught a train to Salzburg, where there was an excellent store located on Theatregasse.

After almost two hours on the train, I arrived in Salzburg around 5:30pm. It was close to sundown, and I immediately caught a bus for the old city where I would hopefully find this music store. As we passed the Stadttheatre I pushed the signal for the bus to stop, but there was no stop nearby and I was taken about a quarter of a mile out of my way. By time I got to the store, it was closed. This task being completed, I immediately hit the pavement and started walking to the area of Mozart's Birthplace.

Salzburg is a beautiful and fascinating city. Unfortunately, it was dark, cold and foggy when I was there and few photos resulted. If you want to see it, rent a video of The Sound of Music, which was filmed there. I visited that cathedral, which was the location of a massive outdoor Christkindmarkt. The mountaintop castle was was shrouded by the fog. If I ever make it back to Europe, Salzburg is at the top of my list of places to visit. One of our wardrobe people delayed her return to the US in order to spend Christmas there.

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Mozart's Birthplace & Museum: Salzburg, Austria

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Salzburg in all its glory. To see more, rent The Sound of Music

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Linz, Austria: A tram crosses the Danube River along Landstrasse.

Tuesday, 11/30/99 - Our zigzag tour now zigs back to Munich where we will play the Orlandosaal der Stadthalle in the suburb of Germering. Once again, I wish to visit the Munich music stores, and I jump off the bus when we drop the crew at the theatre. I won't check into my room in Pucheim until after the show that night. I find out about a terrific store called Hieber & Hieber, located in downtown Munich near Marienplatz. Paydirt! While there isn't much in the way of German band music, a lady named Baur hooks me up with all sorts of terrific stuff. Two different series of play-along CDs are like nothing I've seen in the US. Baur gives me some catalogs, takes my credit card number and sends me some more materials in the mail. I will definitely be staying in contact with this store.

Another item on my Munich agenda is some historical sightseeing. The only real history that I'm familiar with for this city was the Beer Hall Putsch of 1923 in which the early Nazis tried to take over the Bavarian government and march its military forces on Berlin. Unfortunately, I thought of this at the last minute and did no research before leaving the US. The Germans are understandably sheepish about discussing the event themselves. After returning to the US, I found out that I had performed only a few blocks from the Buergerbraukeller, and that today's music store adventure had taken me through much of the territory associated with this event. I would not visit another significant WWII site until we ended our tour at Schweinfurt. After the adventure of walking around Karlsplatz and Marienplatz, I have a nice dinner at the Hofbrauhaus, an old and famous beer hall in the center of town. After that, it's back on the S-Bahn (kind of like the Metro in DC) to Germering and another enjoyable performance of Blackbirds.

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Best Music Store: Bauer & Hieber in Munich (in the Rathaus)

Wednesday, 12/1/99 - The Blackbirds company prepares for a long day on the bus as we head for two days in Zurich, Switzerland. While we will stay downtown at the Hotel Senator, the performances are actually at suburban theatres. Tonight, we play the Stadthofsaal in Uster. It's a bit of a bumpy ride down. Our company manager Trude is concerned when we are waved through the Swiss border without having our passports checked and stamped. She thinks that this could lead to delays later on. Switzerland is not part of the European Union and this is the first of four border crossings that we will have with them. Soon after entering Switzerland, the bus is forced to pull over at a rest stop near Rorsach because its oil line is leaking heavily. Our driver Martin calls for service and a new bus is enroute from Austria with a driver whose name is, curiously enough, Martina. We arrive late in Zurich, but not too late to do a little exploring before evening bus call.


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Broken down near Rorschach, Switzerland. James shows Crystal the trail of oil being left behind by the bus.

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Always prepared: Bus driver Martin pours some burgundy 'antifreeze' for Ron and Crystal while we wait for another bus.

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Finally in Zurich:  Martina's bus just after unloading. She would remain with us for several days helping to shuttle the technical crew.

Thursday, 12/2/99 - Another fun-filled day in Zurich. Ron and I venture out to a laundromat on Mullerstrasse in the heart of the red light district, and find that Forrest is already there. Keeping us company is a man who is either high or crazy. We are joined later by an American couple, who buy the remainder of our detergent. Our performance that night is at the Wirtschaft zum Doktorhaus in the suburb of Wallisellen. In the basement we find that our dressing room is actually a concrete bunker--possibly intended for wartime use by the Swiss. (In Switzerland, all male citizens are in the Army, and every home has a fully automatic assault weapon--yet one of the lowest murder rates in the world.)

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Hunker in the bunker: Cast member James Doberman at the inner door to this basement shelter in Wallisellen, Switzerland. Such bunkers are commonplace throughout the country.

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Laundry, Euro-style: Forrest and Ron pose in the Zurich laundromat. Sitting behind Forrest (left) is an incoherent local character. All the way to the right, note the central control panel and coin box. All washers are operated from this unit, which can be very frustrating when all the instructions are in German.

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What is this stuff?: Ron contemplates the end of our long journey in search of detergent.

Friday, 12/3/99 - A lengthy trip awaits us as we head north to Strasbourg, France for a performance at the Palais de la Musique et des Congres. Strasbourg is in the Alsace region of France and is directly across the Rhine River from Kehl, Germany. We are housed in Kehl, a very nice small town in which I finally find an overseas phone card. Internet access is available via a coin-operated terminal in a bar next door to the hotel. Twenty minutes of internet costs about $3.00. Because it's dark, we see very little of the sights of Strasbourg. It is the home of the parliament and courts for the European Union.

Saturday, 12/4/99 - It's our day off, but we have a lengthy bus trip back to Zurich. It's fairly late when we return, but I have an enjoyable evening riding the trams around. I get to visit the lake, the center of the old city, and a terrific internet place.

Sunday, 12/5/99 - Final performance in Zurich at the Schutzenhaus Albisguetli, an old castle decorated with the sheilds of the various Swiss Cantons. Oddly enough, I had visited this place (in Zurich proper at the end of tram route 13) the night before and been impressed by the incredible view from the hilltop. What a delight to have the bus pull up here in the daylight! This is our only two-show day. I forget my black shoes and am forced to walk to my desk on stage in black socks. Between shows, I ride the tram back to the hotel and recover the shoes. In the morning, we head for Lucerne.

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