Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Cafe Bax

Cafe Bax, 11 november

What you wouldn't expect from the Den Haag Songwritersguild, is that, besides The Hague, we also play in other cities around the country. A few weeks ago, Kat, Barbara and Natalie played in Café Briljant in Haarlem. Last saturday it was Amsterdam where we gigged. A while ago, we got in touch with a member and organiser of the Amsterdam Songwritersguild, Mirco. We invited him over to The Hague to play on one of the nights we organise in Lokaal Vredebreuk, so he thought it would be nice to invite some guild members over to Amsterdam for a night of gigging. When we got asked, i immediatelly thought of Renee Stevense, just because i thought it would be a nice mix, Kat and Renee together in Amsterdam. Second reason was that I knew that Renee already played in that venue before, so she would know a bit how things would normally be organised there. Besides all that, it turned out to be really practical. Renee offered us to give us a ride to Amsterdam, as long as we could make it to Leiden, where she lives (hey was that me who complained on the 3 voor 12 forum that Leiden and The Hague should be seen as something seperate? Yeah, that goes for the Ontzettend Leiden CD, and mainly for Absent BLEEEERGH... but not for singer songwriters!) So Kat and I jumped on the train on Holland Spoor around 6 o clock.

It was like the night was made for success. When we walked to the tramstop from Kat's house, the tram was waiting for us. When we arrived at Holland Spoor, I immediatelly got a free ticketmachine for myself, when we walked up the escalator, the train to Leiden just arrived, and finally, when we were in Leiden, we had to wait 3 minutes before we could jump on the stoptrain to the station where Renee was supposed to pick us up. Wow. I never had such luck with public transport! The car Renee is driving is a two-seater, but with a bit of double-bass shifting, a bit of a flexible body and a bit of imagination, i perfectly fitted in the back of the car.

When we arrived in Amsterdam, we walked into probalby the most sociable bar I have seen so far in Amsterdam. The bar personnel recognised us as musicians (dûh with a double bass and a guitar case it shouldn't be so hard, but you will be surprised how many times they just don't see you until you come and ask for the money) We created a seat at the bar, and soon started with our dinner. Another place i would reccomend to everybody, Café BAX: great food, especially when it is "free". Not too long after, the third artist of the night arrived. His name is Kruit, which is an abbreviation of Kruithof, his last name. A few moments later, when we were happily chatting with Kruit, Mirco arrived and the artists were getting ready to hit the stage.

To keep it logical, Kruit started off with a nice melange of singer-songwritermusic and poppy covers. A bit of Bowie and a bit of dutch history made me enjoy his performance. Because it was still pretty quiet in Café Bax, most people were paying attention to him. And he deserved it. A good singer-songwriter, though i think he could have played more of his own material rather than playing covers.

After a tight set, it was Renee's turn. What more can i tell about the small woman with a massive vocabulary and an even bigger instrument. Funny lyrics mixed with some serious messages. Her songs are the ones that you will remember. Even though her lyrics get quite complicated, what she thanks herself to her limited english, so it is expressed the way she wants to tell it, what means you need more words to say the same. All this together is Renee, typical... really typical, but i love it.

When Renee thought it was enough, the audience didn't, so she went on and played some more. A few songs later she decided to give Kat a chance. While on her last solo gig, Kat played a lot of new material, this was more a solid set with more of the known stuff. Obviously practised better, and so tight, you could put a drumcomputer asides it. For the people who don't know her yet. Kat's signature on her music is sarcastic lyrics, mixed with pure acoustic punk. I personally think that her songs come out so much better when she plays solo than when she's with her band, Katbite. Where Katbite is going for the party, is where Kat goes for recognition. And she deserves it. double!

At her final to last song, the bar started filling up. About a touringcar of Belgium tourists arrived in Café Bax, telling me they specifically came for the Live music. I tried to push Kat into playing a little more, as far as i'm able to do that with just bodylanguage and trying to let her read my lips from a distance. I should have tried better. To satisfy the brand new audience, Kruit grabbed his guitar again and did some more of the stuff that he played before, not much new to us, though still very good, and hey, it was for the people who just arrived. Since they didn't hear it yet, but payd well in the jar full of tips, they deserved some encore. Renee on her turn did the same, some songs she didn't play yet, and some songs she already did. Because Kat was the last one to play, and the only one the newbies already saw on her first set, and because it was already past midnight, the limit for live music performance according the café's license, and because we still had to go back to The Hague, she didn't do a second set.

I was really surprised in the end, that a jar full of tips, coming from half the audience we host in Lokaal every week, was almost as much as we pay the artists every week there. Maybe it is an option that works, so we should at least try it out, what have we got to lose? I am a little bit suspicious that it had something to do with the generous visitors from Belgium?

On our way back, Renee was so friendly, she brought us all the way back to The Hague, what was indeed really, really nice of her. It was such a shitty weather, and since it was already past one o clock, we would have taken the nighttrains, which only go once an hour, and we would have had to walk from central station to the haagse markt, which is about one and a half hour walking in the soaking rain. I guess that is a musicians life, but we should get Renee something nice for helping us out of that misery. Alltogether, i am sure we can speak about a successful night, where we met loads of new, interesting people, where we had great food and had the privilege of being able to listen to so much nice music. Great thanks to Mirco, and i am curious what he will bring us next sunday in Lokaal (write it down in your agenda, November, 26th)



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