Richard Bennett
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Contrary Cocktail

Moderne Shellac, 2015

Contrary Cocktail

A hypnotic blend of rhythms, landscapes, tones, colors, styles and moods, with melodies leading the way to certain places that only songs without words can go.

-- Pieta Brown, 2015

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Back to work, if you can call it that.  

 

We’re a little more than a week into this leg of the European-U.K. leg of the Neil Diamond tour after a three week break.  Those three weeks flew by in a blink.  I did manage to get into the studio for a couple of days and do some recording for my upcoming new record and a couple of weeks family holiday on the Gulf of Mexico.  Before I knew it I was back on a plane over the Atlantic Ocean headed for Amsterdam.

 

We’ve had some great shows and extracurricular adventures.  Amsterdam is always buzzing.  Had a great Indonesian dinner at The Blue Pepper and a wonderful Italian at Ciro Passami L’Olio.  Tom Hensley and I found the latter by accident having been turned away from another restaurant (no tables left) and spying an awning down a quiet street.  Turned out to be a brilliant little neighbourhood Italian cafe with delicious fresh pasta and a bottle of soft Montepulciano wine.  Stopped in at the Rijks Museum but it was teaming with people.  I managed about 45 minutes but had to escape the crush.

 

From Amsterdam to Zurich then on to Heidelberg, Germany where the handy water taxi took us from the hotel into the old city.  A tourist haven to be sure but beautiful old world Germany is alive and well.  Several of us took the funicular rail tram up the mountain to the castle and finally to the peak that offers a spectacular view of Heidelberg and the river.  Walking around the old city we stopped in a shop specialising in  liqueurs and indulged in an absinth tasting which led to the purchase of a particularly potent one in a skull shaped bottle…. appropriately so.

 

I peck this out from Vienna.  A day off yesterday found several of us in a magical music store chocked with every imaginable instrument from foreign lands.  Gandharva Loka was suggested by our friend Daisy Press and didn’t disappoint.  Six of us from the band crammed ourselves in to the small shop and we’re playing everything in the place… even though we couldn’t play them very well.  All came away with something.  I purchased an Indian shruti box, a small bellow driven, reed drone instrument.  While traditionally used in Indian music, the shruti box has found it’s way to other uses as well including Celtic music.  The lady who owns Gandharva Loka is Karen and she was vey patient with us.  Check them out at www.gandharvaloka.com    We got back to our hotel with our musical treasure and piled into a room for a little jam with them all.  It was like a bunch of children turned loose with strange instruments not being able to play them but still having a great time.

 

40 years ago this year I was in Vienna with Neil.  At that time my wife and the Hensley’s went to the Vienna Opera followed by a visit to the Sacher Hotel for their world famous chocolate torte and whipped creme.  Last night Tom and I retraced our past back to the Opera House to see a fantastic production of Salome by Richard Strauss.  In 1977, one had to be properly outfitted to gain admittance but things have loosened up just a little since then and people were dressed casually as well as to the nines.  A small electronic screen has been installed for each seat and translation for the libretto is now available in a number of languages.  It was a great help to me as Salome is in German.  A glorious evening capped off with a return to the Sacher for goulash, beer and torte.  Our wives were duly toasted and sorely missed.

 

More adventures to follow over the coming month.

 

Richard