Ken Gutberlet

2/12/2003 - Home, sweet Copenhagen

Ahhh . . . I landed in Copenhagen (Kbh) around 17:00 on Saturdee, 2/1/3, ready to party, but, I was greeted with a night off and I exhaled. I had planned to be gigging, but I wasn't going to complain after about an hour and a half of sleep between last good-byes at Stübli and catching the 8 am train down the mountain. No, I was unscheduled for two of the first three Februarian nites. Cost-effectiveness versus grabbing a pizza and Fanta and crashing by 21:00 . . . hmmm . . . I'll take the "Rambo" with extra onions, artichokes, olives, garlic butter, and red pepper. Mmm hmm!

Yes, feels like home back here in Kbh. I hopped off the plane and scooted right thru the airport to the bus stop as if I had landed at BWI. A changed bus # and route confused me for a quick minute, but I was at the Amager (island "suburb" south of Kbh city center) musicians' flat before 18:00. The flat's the same as in years past (excluding some wear and a very apparent absence)- eight bedrooms (only two were occupied when I arrived- now five are) and a common area for feeding, sanitizing, video watching, late-nite relaxing. When I arrived, Mike (Irishman living in France- I spent a month with him last year- wiped me out on my last nite with some wicked punch) and Martin (Englishman living in Germany- I met him each time I departed the last two years- known for his mando playing but didn't bring it this trip) were the only residents. Yes, that left a glaring gap in the roster. I had heard that Duncan wasn't there anymore (the last rumor I heard was that the Scotsman had been there for four years and the powers that be thought it best that he take a break). So, no more walking in to the well-ordered Duncan's house. That's alright, we all have to grow up sometime. For instance, I woke on the 2nd after about 12 hours of snooze and laundered a bunch of linens. When Duncan was in the house, there'd always be clean sheets for the new arrivers (he'd iron them too- clean and dry's good enough for me). Yeah, yeah, yeah, send me some tissues. Since then, the Huddies (Bryan and Julie, my St Mz buddies) and Des (Welsh- new to the "roster") arrived. Other roster musicians have places in town to crash.

Another difference in the landscape is the new Metro line. Ah-hah! Convenience never felt so convenient! For one easily entertained by structural semi-wonders, the ride excites. It's an automated train (no driver on board) with a big window up front and a lit tunnel so passengers can watch where the train's heading and count down the distances until the next emergency exit(eventually, I'm thinking, ogling the inners of this tubular concrete engineering feat will become "who cares?", but for now, I think the world "geek" applies). Another reason to be excited: waiting for the train doesn't involve standing in the chill wintry Scandinavian wind (more tissues?). The stop near the flat is as close as any bus stop and it's a speedy subterranean ride to Kongens Nytorv (king's square) where the bus (after a transfer) would leave us Nyhavn troubadors. Nyhavn. Yes, my preferred gig locale. It's a kinda fun anticipation to not know where the gig'll be until arriving at the flat. This time I was slated for Barock. A quick review (or, for 1st time readers, a quick intro) of Nyhavn: touristy old wharf zone with costly restaurants lining the canal and pubs in their basements- I saw it in most of its glory last year, with its outdoor seating and the cobblestoned street packed with afternoon revelers. Barock is the first pub encountered as Nyhavn is entered from town. Pros and cons for being first. I gigged there two years ago and had some success rallying the cellar dwellers in the partitioned room. This time, the massive brick structure that breaks up the front of the room (blocks lots of my sight lines) is reduced in size (not too much) and painted a very welcoming black. Also, as I remember, the beer taps are in just the right spot so that I can't make eye contact with bar sitters. Yes, it's a win-the-tables-you-can-see-and-let-the-rest-of-the-room-follow kinda gig. Of course, exceptions are the rule. At least the set up allows some chatting with the bar staff on slow nites. One smileable ingredient of this gig is the food- it's no Acla of St Mz, but it probably offers the best musician meals in Kbh. Mmmm . . . flesh, gravy, potatoes, bread, some after-thought veggies.

Opening night (Sundee = 19:30-23:30- early shift!) I had fish and the pub was quiet (no cause and effect or anything, just the facts). Due to emptiness, I spent most of the post-22:30 nite chatting with Nina the bartender (1/2 Finninsh, 1/2 Danish, English is her 1st language- sorry if "who cares?", but I found that interesting) and teaching her some tunes on the gitter (she already knew her basic chords). Add a regularly scheduled Mondee nite off and I pretty much had three nites off in a row. Yah! Now that's living! Tue and Wed I do 4x45 min sets starting at 20:30; Thu = 4x45 starting at 21:30; Fri and Sat = 5x45 starting at 21:30. Now, the perk to these earlier during-the-week start times is that the Metro stops running at 1:00 Mon-Fri morns (on the weekend it runs all nite). So, theoretically, every nite but Thurs I can catch a train home (sometimes, tho, the late-nite pint calls).

So far with the gig, mellow's been the time. I welcomed the quiet, as I arrived musically limping into Kbh- no extra G strings (I had to steal two from Bryan the last nite in St Mz- pop!); down to my last good pick; I'd lost my only extra string peg; a bar chord paining split on the first finger of my left hand was bandaged (now I know why pitchers trying to toss their funk with a blister don't have the funk- of course, there's no American League Pennant on the line here)- made me chuckle as I sang "Money For Nothing"- ". . . maybe get a blister on your little finger, maybe get a blister on your thumb". I've restocked and the split is slowly healing (can't stay away from that F chord). A lack of partying patrons (I know that some nites the pub's lost money by paying a troubador, but other nites no one would've come in without the music) allows me to change my set list and play tunes I haven't played this year. Kbh 2003 began 20 min late as I tried to get the sound working (uhh . . . hello . . . why don't you try THIS fader?). The music began with a Dylan set for the only patron in the place: Simon (British Dylan fan- his brother owns a house near Camp David- bought me a beer before I began- welcome to "Wonderful Copenhagen"!). "Boots of Spanish Leather", "Times Are a-Changin'", and "Don't Think Twice" came out, but it took me most of opening night to get any kind of finesse back into my gitter playing after banging for 29 nights. Same with the voice- I needed to move lots of air to get true pitches. Crazed. First request = "Wonderful World" (although before that Simon hinted that he liked "House of the Rising Sun"- for purists, the official scorer ruled that that was not an actual request). Shortly after beginning, the true essence of Nyhavn arrived- a drunk duo with one dude constantly blowing kisses (that sound can be real annoying after 20 mins or so- even when not intended for the listener) at the bartenders pleading "I love you". Ah, yes, the characters of Nyhavn. Opening nite continued with live music for about three hours, during which, I knocked over my music stand (loose pages all over the floor- smoooooooooooooooooooth), my pickup kept cutting out, and a couple in the back said the music was too loud. Ah-HA! The anti-Stübli!

The Stübli . . . I guess I oughta wrap up some bits from St Mz . . .
Firstly, over 29 nites, I played "Country Roads" 78 times without it feeling forced (to me). I think it wouldn't've mattered whether it was forced or not- folks sang along every time. So, of the six "how many "Country Roads" did I play?" guessers, Roger was closest with his 99- four over-bidders, two under-bidders. Not so much geographically, but in total play count, "Sweet Home Alabama" was real close to that. Dropping down the list, the Chili Peppers "Otherside" was a distant show and Oasis' "Wonderwall" completed the quinella (if it is the quinella . . . anyway, the show results are still unofficial- hold all tickets!).

Speaking of the ponies . . . St Mz lives on a lake shore and it gets thick with ice this time of year. Got to witness a polo match on the snowy ice (bleachers, tent village, and a couple hundred cars couldn't crack it) and the horse racing track was being groomed as I departed. The dogs race later this month. Other snowy contests witnessed = curling, bobsledding, snowboard half-piping, show horse jumping. I did leave too early for the Skiing World Champs, but I saw the town getting all spruced for the occasion (and had to tunnel under closed slopes to ski home).

Here's a tale of a Sundee nite gig . . . Eating right before gig time- in controlled amounts (ie five courses) it doesn't adversely effect the gig (except for some discreet belching). However, Sundee nites offered the fabulous appetizer buffet. Since this was my last Sundee in town, I filled the plate twice. Toss in an entree and a dessert (was I looking for trouble?) and mellowly bloated is the phrase. I cruised to the cellar 10 min pre-gig-go, the bar's filled only with folks sitting, and some dude pretty much jumps me, demanding that I play NOW! I tell him in a few, he says "NOW!", and back and forth a few times until I walk out. He arrives in the toilet shortly after I and reprimands me for washing my hands after relieving rather than before- the hands are dirty but other parts are not until they are touched by dirty hands. He had a point. Anyway, a few hard-to-push-out tunes later and he's mooning a table because thay're not clapping and singing along. He's saving the world one crusade at a time. Later, he's on a stool pulling his belt thru his crotch as a boa for his striptease. Fortunately, it was all tease. He kinda got distracted and quit riling up folks. One folk he'd'a never riled was the dude napping at the end of the bar. Gentil (barkeep) had this gallon-sized cowbell he was ringing in his ear. No sign of life. About a half hour later that dude was mostly carried out by random bar folk- his fate unknown. An hour or so into the gig, a crew of bobsledders (I'd met some of them previously, that's how I knew) came in singing, medal sporting, one dude riding the shoulders of two others. Here comes the party. One grabbed the microphone in the middle of "Buffalo Soldier"- I'm not sure what he wanted to say, but he didn't get a big chance. He was nice enough, just pissed (as the blotto, wasted, hammered, drunk term goes over here). Another BSer hopped on stage, put his arm around me and screamed in my right ear thru "Country Roads" (I oughta quit playing that tune!). He hopped right down after the song, and he was one of the few folks that knew all the "text". I popped two B strings that nite after almost giving my extra extras to Bryan (good thing he turned them down for the nite). Dude yelling "HEY! YOU! AMIGO!" at me I tried to ignore, but I honored his shouting and he wanted to hear "Californication". I told him I didn't play the tune and he gave me the palm-up finger-flip gesture along with "What kind of sh*t is that?" He irked me something and I flipped back at him with some flipness. Fortunately I didn't berate him over the mic like I did another impatient sort earlier in the week. Oops. As we were . . . we all played nicely together and stuff. My filled belly wouldn't let me really get the jams going til after midnite, but we survived. Near close a stumbler came up and slapped my arm in the middle of a song . . . uhh . . . hello? She gestured that she had something on the stage and it wasn't there anymore and I shoulda been watching it . . . or something. I gave her a shrug like I didn't understand and she was looking concerned so I leaned over to hear her statement (Italian? Portugese?) and shook my head as if I didn't understand and she gave me the bird. I laughed out loud and went back to singing. Hey, I was trying to be nice. She then went to the bar and yelled at the three bar dudes who kinda smirked at her sobriety. She was heading for the exit and, there, two meters from where she left it (I'm guessing), under the alcove table to stage left, she spotted her lost bag (I'm guessing). Ah, reunions are sweet! Maybe she had money on the Raiders. The gig ended in time to check out a little of the XXXVII's 3rd quarter and then jog across the lake to rendezvous with the viewing crew. No money for me this year.

I'll send along some more tales later, but that should be enough staring at the monitor for now.

But, nothing wrong with a little promo . . . I believe. For folks jonesing for some fresh-from-the-continent jams, here's where I'll be gigging as winter closes . . .
3/3, Mon- Leadbetter's (Fells Pt)- open mic host
3/4, Tue (FAT!)- An Poitin Still (Timonium)
3/8, Sat- House concert (Arnold)- with Joanne Stato!
3/14, Fri- Johanssons's (Westminster)
3/17, Mon- St Patty's Day!- Leadbetter's- open mic host
3/19, Wed- Leadbetter's
For complete details, check the March schedule on the webpage:

Hope all's cool!