Jul 12, 2017

EUROPE 2017, May/June

In May and half of June 2017, Nida and I had a wonderful tour of Germany, Austria, Italy, France, Switzerland, and finally back to Germany. In late May, I performed a solo concert in Wuerzburg, Germany, to start things off, and another gig with a band in Heidelberg.  Nida and I toured a little before and after each gig.

After a few days in Germany, we drove past the Zugspitz (the highest mountain in Germany), down  through Austria, to the South Tirol area of Northern Italy in the Brenner pass. There I performed at a beautiful hotel in the ancient town of Chiusa. During the night, I invited some Tirolean performers up to the stage area for some fun Germanic music.

We enjoyed northern Italy for a few days then made our way south and west into France, past Nice, into Provence. I was invited to perform at "Autour Du Banjo", an annual banjo festival in St. Gervasy, a town located between Avignon and Nimes, France. There is a famous Roman arena found in Nimes, a smaller copy of the Coliseum in Rome. Avignon has its popular Pont Du Gard Roman aqueduct as well as the partial "Pont D'Avignon":

 I had the honor of being named the "Godfather" of this festival! My French title was the "Parrain" of the gathering. See the poster and newspaper article - if you can read French.

Aside from playing 2 concerts and offering lessons, my responsibility was to meet the other performers and bands and to play a song or two with them. There was such a variety of music that it was an interesting and really enjoyable weekend, especially when Nida and I were being hosted so generously by the organizers, Marie-Ange Parere and her husband Patrice. I had my own banjo with me but I borrowed Patrice's guitar for the weekend. I was able to borrow the mandolin from someone else, luckily.
The prevailing mood was relaxed and convivial - typical, I suppose, of the Provencal region. The following photos show me playing with a big jazz band, a bluegrass band, a classic 5-string ragtime band (father and son) , a smaller jazz band, as well as my own appearances with banjo, guitar, and mandolin.

The final evening of the Autour Du Banjo festival found some of us jamming outdoors...great fun!

After we bade adieu to St. Gervasy, Nida and I toured France and Switzerland, on our way back to Germany.  There I enjoyed playing with a band on a Rhine tour boat, with perfect weather and a full moon to finish the evening. On the following day, I played with some other fellows near the Heidelberg area. It was a great musical European visit!