The Whiskey Daredevils just returned from a road trip in Europe. Frontman Greg Miller fills us in on what happened.
The hotel is one of those hotels you would picture Robert Redford’s character in “The Sting” staying in. The double Ken and I share has a sink with a lonely little towel hanging off a worn hook. There is a shared bathroom down the hall for the five rooms on the floor. We have three of the five rooms, but I still give a shudder when I think about the toilet and shower. The shower is grungy like a college apartment and the water runs continuously after Gary’s shower, the knobs spinning uselessly. The toilet? Well, those truck drivers I saw last night are staying somewhere in this building…
Speaking of the toilet, I have not made any progress in my gastro intestinal crisis. The situation is best described as “precarious”. After that spaghetti in Belgium, I haven’t had anything solid pass through. Yesterday at the Porsche Museum I had to duck into a bathroom with considerably more traffic than I needed to properly deal with the situation. Making matters worse, a large group of blank faced Japanese tourists were right behind me. I then found myself struggling in the one dedicated toilet while the Japanese continually tried to open the flimsy door. If they had managed to open that door, it would have been worse than any Godzilla movie, let me tell you. I have never experienced anything like it. Imagine if you combined a can of Dinty Moore Beef Stew with a can of Fresca, shook it up, and sprayed it out of your backside. It’s not pretty, but that’s the way it was. They should have evacuated the building.
After that horrifying episode, I stopped eating until sheer hunger made me hit the Stuttgart pre show spread live a ravenous dog. Then thirty minutes later, like clockwork, my small intestine convulsed out the “risky” cheese sandwich I ate. Normally, I would NEVER shit in a bar. But we’re not talking about options here. It was “Go Time”. There should have been an air raid siren going off. Luckily, it is Germany and every bathroom is pretty clean. Even a punk rock club like this has acceptable conditions when you are in crisis mode.
I start the morning by crunching Pepto tablets like an eleven year old chomping on Mentos. I am hoping this makes an impact when the currywurst I stupidly ate last night barrels through me like a freight train. This is not good. It reminds me of the legendary day when Ken “shit his way across America” in The Cowslingers. As I recall, he shit in West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, and maybe Maryland in one drive. I don’t want to be That Guy.
While we stand around trying to get it together for our drive, Ken saunters off to get me some Immodium. This is huge for me as I don’t think I could possibly work out with a Pharmacist what I needed without some very embarrassing charades. Ken’s German continues to improve, and he can make his way around without fear of international incident. As Ken walks off, I spot Leo coming from the opposite direction. He is wearing an extremely small and tight “Wild At Heart” wifebeater. He looks like a gay hustler.
We make the quick drive to Darmstadt and share stories from the previous night. Once again Stuttgart has lived up to expectation as one of our favorite places to play while in Europe. We have time to kill, so we hit an internet café full of Turks (as always), and walk around the grim little shops in the City Centre. Gary buys a phone card for his mobile, and completely melts down in the back seat when he can’t get it to work. The Euro telecom situation can be confusing as hell when you start to cross country lines. Each company has separate deals, rate plans, and conditions for their phones. The attempt to try and find a cheap way to make phone calls has claimed yet another victim.
The gig is in the Bessunger Knabenschule, a small basement room we played two years ago on the ill advised Fracko Tour. It’s run by a friend of Christoph’s (and really good guy) named Jergen. Jergen has cooked us a delicious regional meal of sausages that taste like natural case wieners, which get placed over a potato/carrot/leek soup. It sounds odd, but I assure you it was really tasty. I also got into some cheap German Spatburgunder. I wish I could read German, because this wine probably has a warning label that said “Warning! This wine will make you feel like a mouse died in your throat tomorrow morning”.
The tiny club is absolutely packed. I don’t want it to sound boastful. The room would have been absolutely packed if a few people wandered in to ask for directions. The crowd is ripping through the local beer, and bottles are everywhere. It seems like we should do pretty well tonight.
How small is the world? I meet Ernesto, a tattoo artist from Buenos Aries, Argentina. He has made the two hour trip from Frankfurt, where he is working, just to see us play. In Argentina, a friend had given him a copy of the Cowslingers “Americana A Go Go” and told him, “This is the Bible.” Now there is allegedly a rabid group of Cowslinger/Whiskey Daredevil fans in Argentina. Who knew?
We play, but have a hard time dialing in the sound. Gary’s Marshall has once again mysteriously stopped working, and the Peavy sounds really thin. I don’t feel good about my performance at all, but I suppose I redeem a little bit at the end by sheer force of will. This was not our finest hour.
We have a nice little hotel a short walk away, so Christoph is going to use this opportunity of not having to drive after the gig to really get after it. His friend Robert is here, and neither one are strangers to heavy beer drinking. There are a few stories about them that are still told in hushed tones after they drank their way through Canada, and ate nothing but street cart food. They were so intoxicated after stepping off the plane, that the Canadian customs officers gave them a hard look. How bad did it get? At one point Christoph had passed out in the lobby of their friend’s apartment building, and the obviously jolted Canadian residents stayed away from him like you would a wounded badger. He slept there for hours… With Robert here, all bets are off. I think Christoph is in for a long night.
I slink away from the club at 230 completely exhausted and a little wobbly from the bad wine. I have the one key for the room Ken and I will share, so I leave the hotel room door unlocked to avoid having to get up to let him in at some ungodly hour. This is why I am surprised when the phone rings at 530. I am completely disoriented as I struggle to understand the voice on the end of the line. “Hey man! Let us in!” I think it’s Christoph, and I fumble around with the phone trying to figure out how I can buzz them in past the security door with some combination of keystrokes. I am groggy. I am confused. I can’t make heads or tails of the situation, so I hang up the phone and hope they just go away.
It is only in the next morning I learn that the Ken and Christoph Brain Trust were standing outside my unlocked door, unable to figure out how to possibly get past this barrier without the key. I guess they spent about a half hour outside the door trying to solve this riddle. “This is a real situation we’ve got here. I don’t know how we can possibly get this thing turned around and get inside that door. I’m just completely stumped here.” Neither one of them even thought to try the door knob to see if it was locked. What makes sense at 530 am rarely makes sense at 1030 am.
We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.
Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.
Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.
Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.