I wouldn't have been so startled had I not forgotten that I'm no longer in EU. Also their guerilla-rebel-squad styling, the MP5s and the main dude who questions me sporting the most maginificent handlebar stache; welcome to Suisse, you watch your ass now.
As with the last 2 countries I have traveled through, my lazy ass had failed to do enough research on this place before entering, partly due to this part of my initirary not solidifying until very last minute. All of that, thankfully, is being filled in by lovely Maya, a Neuchâtel native that I met at Circlesongs workshop back in 2012, a gift that keeps on giving. Not only did she agree to spend her precious days off with my uneducated ass, she had arranged me a performance here in Zurich which made me nervous. I have not talked about my performance at a jam sessin in Amsterdam and there's a reason; without getting into boring details, I basically failed to work with others on stage and instead of leading, I bullied. Having been hosting one of these back in LA for years, I felt that I was not myself. So when Maya asked if I wanted to do a song at a Shakespeare-themed night of music and theatre, I hesitated. Not only did I feel out of shape but also my lack of knowledge - oh what the hell, how can you pass on an opp like this? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Maya takes me to the venue right away and I realize my expectation was way off; this is not an open mic. its a production. With a video screen, a PA and a script. Laura, the writer, the cellist and the mastermind greets me and tells me I'm to do a song right after the intermission, inviting the audience into the second act and this whole time in my head I'm going "How are you letting a total stranger be a part of the show you've been working on for months?" What balls. or the faith she has in Maya, her best friend. The faith Maya has in me, gawd. NERVES. GET ME A BEER, STAT.
Outside I am greeted with some of the crew, all of whom are very welcoming despite that I am possibly destroying their show right in the middle. One young, very upbeat guy joins a conversation and I ask where he's from, he goes "Oh I'm from Syria, "the HELL" and chuckles. What a journey it must've been for him to arrive here after years of being oppressed, and meeting Laura and the co who took him in, and to finally embrace who he really is sexually and artistically; as a human. A hell of a singer, this guy. MORE NERVES.
Having never sung this one myself before, and all the nerves racking up I screw a couple of verses royally but I when did I NOT screw up a few verses? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Finger-snappers really really save the performance who I would thank later for. Just another example of an audience being responsible for at least the half of what makes a great performance. And for that, we as performers should never forget to be grateful for whoever listens to you, regardless of how many. Listening is the highest form of love, at least for musicians.
We head to Laura's place after the wrap-up, which is still in construction by Laura herself. I would end up eating mostly homemade stuff for the Swiss part of my trip, (partly due to cost concern; our pre-sound check meal at a nearby Thai joint was $50 for a plate of larb and beef noodle) to which this night is a merely but a delight introduction. Simple eatz like tortilla wraps with cheese, veggies and olives just jump at your senses because they're fresh, locally grown (which I don't think is rare in this part of the world, even in Japan. Might need a post dedicated to this later) and homemade; the best example is her bottle of Holderblutensirup made of Elderberry which you can mix with anything from liquor of your choice to simply water, making for smooth and refreshing beverages.
The conversation we would have is nothing but 3 creative minds exchanging ideas and knowledge, or rather me taking in what these two powerhouse ladies of theatre and art have to offer, ranging from Laura's fascination for Chinese culture (and her Kyrgyz rag that I would sleep on) to how the concept of "suburb" has and still is destroying America and beyond. The biggest gain, however, for me personally is this is the first day of this trip I felt I was back in my creative self, not the traveling spectator of unfamiliar landscapes and cultures. I have been taking in a lot of information and inspiration up till tonight, and this night I got to process them with the help of others. I decide to stay in Zurich for one more night, thanks to Laura's generosity. Needless to say I slept like a baby.
Soundchaser/two-time Independent Music Awards finalist. Currently travelblogging at #beatvagabond and working on new material.