Iron Horse rolls across Europe

Posted: June 20, 2014 in Life, Music, Travel
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Well, I’ve been back for a few days following our Crossfyre “Iron Horse” album release tour through Estonia, Poland and Germany, and I’m still recouping!  Erradic hours, irregular and short sleep, and 5,995 kilometers of road later, it tends to build up and wear on you.

But whose complaining?!  We had a great time, life on the road, like a band of gypsies, rocking and rolling.  Dreaming it and living it are two different things.  We got to take in some great experiences and meet some fantastic new people along the way.

Morning scenery from the Super Rally grounds

Morning scenery from the Super Rally grounds

First of all, The Harley-Davidson 2014 Super Rally in Tallinn, Estonia (which I chronicled in and of itself earlier HERE) was off the charts.  15,000 bikers from all around Europe ventured to Estonia’s capital for some boozin’ and cruisin’ June 5-7.  We played the main stage at the Super Rally on Saturday evening, right after Mr. Bill Davidson, CEO of Harley-Davidson Motorcycles, raffled off a brand new bike to a lucky Finn in the audience, who was dumbfounded when his number got called.  All in all, the Super Rally was a sight to behold, but the food was somewhat overpriced for the serving sizes offered.  As an added bonus, I was able to hit the fantastic Sparta sports club in Tallinn the day after the show with a big fan of mine from many years back named Keio, getting in a blasting compete body workout before moving forward on our journey.

As Hulk Hogan would say, "Hangin' and bangin'" at Sparta gym

As Hulk Hogan would say, “Hangin’ and bangin'” at Sparta gym!

Driving through Latvia, we got to see some of the finest beaches that there are to be found in Europe.  Riga was ridiculously overpriced, and I wondered what industry fuels their economy to justify the extravagant prices that we saw everywhere.  Riga was also the place where we picked up our regular bassist Dan Rönnbacka, as Sami Salminen (of The Slidemobile) filled in on bass in Tallinn and left the day after the Super Rally to go back to Finland.

Lithuania was up next, with a stop in God knows what town, and a hotel right next to the railroad tracks.  Damn.  That was a bad move.  The Latvian two-star vs. Estonian four-star hotel were quite different from the other, let me assure you!  Pretty much everywhere we travelled in Latvia and Lithuania, we had to use bottled water, as purportedly the tap water is questionable to drink.

The stage at Alchemia in Bialystok, Poland

The stage at Alchemia in Bialystok, Poland

Poland was a blast!  Our first gig in Bialystok on June 10 saw girls dancing on tables and the audience shucking and jiving in front of the stage.  Small venue.  Alchemia by name, the place was very intimate with William Blake-like artwork and interior design.  There were even a few wrestling fans at the show, who came  out to see StarBuck, which was a nice thing.

The next stop was 5 Sztuk in Siedlce, a student town, of which 25% of the population account for students.  Once again, just the night prior, the people on hand were going bananas by the end of it all when our rendition of ZZ Top’s Sharp Dressed Man closed things off.  After the gig, we got invited to the local Gryf MC headquarters for a drink, as we presented a rebel Confederate flag for their clubhouse also.

Next up was the Alligator music club in Poznan, which was a big city and we found ourselves smack-dab in the center of the marketplace.  Let me say this about Poland: if you are a bachelor, then plan a trip there, as the women will be sure to catch your eye!  Alligator was a very cool club, with some of the niftiest interior design that I have seen so far in any club.  Very high-scale environment.

Getting the mood right at Alligator music bar (photo by Gozia Czek)

Getting the mood right at Alligator music bar (photo by Gozia Czek)

Our last gig in Poland was in the city of Szczecin at the Free Blues Club.  I know I keep sounding pretty high on Poland, but I have to expressly note that the stage sound at Free Blues Club was in the top five of any stage that I have performed on in the past 15-years.  It was pure pleasure to play the this place, as I could make every instrument out crystal clear and I didn’t have to push my voice at all.

Best stage sound around at Free Blues Club (photo by Ryszard Pakieser)

Best stage sound around at Free Blues Club (photo by Ryszard Pakieser)

Then it was off to Barnaby’s Blues Bar in Braunschweig, Germany.  Barnaby’s is like our home away from home, an establishment that we have now played about five times.  Local Radio Okerwelle DJ Florian Damm is always up for having us appear on his show for an hour-long interview every time we are in town the day of the show.  We rocked Barnaby’s in familiar fashion, leaving the folks screaming for more…were it not for the soccer game that was just starting 10-minutes after we finished our set.  It should be noted, that soccer takes precedence to anything and everything in Germany.  People would probably skip their grandparents’ funeral to watch the soccer championships!

Hanging with some fine folks on the Reeperbahn

Hanging with some fine folks on the Reeperbahn

Our last gig of the tour was in Hamburg, Germany, right on the infamous Reeperbahn.  The place was called Cowboy und Indianer, like cowboys and Indians, and it was frequented by folks who knew their rock and blues.  Older musicians, rock police if they chose to be, had filled the bar by the end of the night.  I saw people taking out their cell phones, calling their friends, like “get your ass here right away, you have GOT to see this band!”  People just kept filing in throughout the set to see what the commotion was all about.  Let me say this: we did something right that night.  To turn the heads of musicians with 40+ years of experience, you have got to have your shizzat together.  I am proud to say that our gig on Hamburg on June 15 was one of the finest performances that we have ever pulled off!

From Hamburg we drove straight through the night to catch my plane from Copenhagen back to Helsinki in time to make my WWE Eurosport broadcast on Monday night.  I didn’t get a wink of sleep after leaving Hamburg, and let me tell you, I was knackered right out of my boots on air that evening.

Next up, the Rockin’ by the River festival in Iisalmi, Finland on June 27, followed by a gig for Kolisewa MC in Karkkilaon June 28.  The Crossfyre Iron Horse keeps on rolling!

Rockin by the River

 

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