Tuesday, 20 September 2011

The musical kiss of Utrecht (swaying us to staying)

Hello friends,

So, Amsterdam was behind us, we were now in Utrecht. It was still raining, lots and lots. The clouds were having pissing contests and we were the receivers of their golden showers. For our first full day in the lovely city, we were treated to a few hours of nice weather, so we took the opportunity to go exploring. Beauty and I found so many interesting things as we walked around, beautiful mosaics, quaint cobbled streets, low level canal spots (you can get right down by the water in Utrecht, unlike the Dam) etc.

Spot the UFO having a little chill on top of the building
Jasper and Liza (our couch surfing hosts) had shown us a list of 100 things to see/do in Utrecht. It can be found on the couch surfing website. We managed to complete a handful of them, the main one that made us chuckle was the UFO on top of a building. Both Beauty and I do love to discuss aliens and strange things in the sky, so it was a hoot to find the UFO, but, as I pointed out, it wasn't flying, so was a UO, but since it was clearly put there on purpose it was identifiable, so no 'U'. It was just an 'O', an object.

Happy that we had located the 'O', we headed back to avoid the falling sky. Jasper is a bassist in a ska band (a really good one at that!) so I took the opportunity to have a jam with him. His fingers were still sore from a marathon session of gigging, so we took it slowly. It sounded great, it was so nice to jam with a bassist.

The following day the skies did nothing but rain down, the weather menu consisted of a drizzle starter, followed by a rain salad and finally a downpour sundae to finnish. We would not be deterred from going out to the open mic night at Averecht that we had heard so much about, whatever the weather. So as evening approached, we got ready and headed out to Averecht. At half seven we left Jasper and Liza's house and wandered through the rain. I had a plastic bag over the top of my guitar, and our umbrella was doing it's best to shield us from the persistent showers. We hid under building entrances and meandered our way down the roads. We made good time, getting to Averecht by about 8pm. We stood at the entrance and were a little perplexed by how very closed it was. On the door were the opening times, and it seemed that the place wouldn't be open till half past nine. Jasper had told us to get there early as the line up filled up pretty quickly, it seemed we were a little bit too early.
Beauty in front of a beautiful wall painting in Utrecht

We wandered around Utrecht, not venturing very far from Averecht, but getting the chance to see some of the canal in the rain, the streets in the rain, the Dom church in the rain and my personal favourite, an old windmill in the rain. We could have probably appreciated these things without the rain, but there seemed to be no telling the clouds that, no matter how hard we shouted at them.

We stood in a doorway near Averecht and had a romantic moment staring out at the rain. We watched the minutes tick away until it was finally worthwhile heading back to Averecht (we had already past it a handful of times as we had wandered, each time hoping it would have opened early). As we arrived we walked in to see a handful of people, the place had literally only just opened so the sign up sheet for musicians was still empty. We spoke with the guy running the night, Dennis, and he showed me where to sign up and told us that there would be lots of musicians likely to come and play. He wasn't lying, within ten minutes the sing up sheet was full. Standing at the bar, waiting to do his first appearance at this open mic night, was an amazing musician called Rick.

Dennis playing 'Pink Moon' in Averecht, blissful
He had a smiling energy about him that made us feel warm (this would later be confirmed, he is such a nice guy). Beauty had a feeling about Dennis, that he was in some way connected to Nick Drake (one of our personal musical hero's). As Dennis kicked off the night to the very full Averecht, he opened with 'Pink Moon' by Nick Drake. Beauty swooned and smiled, "this is our place" she said. I had to agree. Dennis spoke in English for our benefit, it was such a warming atmosphere. A blues guitarist went up after Dennis, he entertained the crowd for a handful of songs, and then it was my turn. I was given a warm reception and Dennis explained to the audience that I was going to be playing my own songs that had been written around the Netherlands. I proceeded to play and I got a kick out of all the people attentively listening (something that rarely happens when busking). When I finished I was given a warm round of applause and returned to my seat. So many people came up to me to chat, it was amazing. We made so many new friends that night. Another act was Renee, she was amazing, such a beautiful voice and touching clever lyrics in her songs. She was followed by Rick, and then a couple, David and Lisa, calling themselves 'the flying transformers' played. It was their first time as well, and they were great too, quirky fun songs, keeping the mood upbeat. They were followed by Herjo (with Dennis helping out), an amazing guitarist and singer in Utrecht. They played some beautiful Simon and Garfunkle, Beatles and a great rendition of 'I could have lied' by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.

It was a magical evening, despite the rain. We left Averecht feeling certain that we would be back there again, many times. We were going to find a way to stay in Utrecht...

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