Eric 2010/04/21 3:57pm

Our first trip as a band across the Atlantic got off to a shaky start. After a seven and a half hour flight from Newark to Munich, we got separated from Mike at security. We left without Barber for Bremen, pulling our hair out. What happened? Does he have any money on him in the event they try to charge him for the next flight out? We need to call him. Oh, that's right. He left his phone in the States. We should have known that Mike, being Mike, would be just fine. He was able to get on the next flight without a lot of hassle (They tried to make him pay, so he said, "If I'm paying, get me a ticket back to the United States." They let him slide!), drank coffee, made friends with total strangers, and got a massage while we stewed about him. Our friend Christine picked him up at the Bremen airport while we waited at the hotel. Mike took the whole thing in stride. We were frazzled and Mike was undeterred. "Hey, it was an adventure," was his explanation.

The promoters, Peter and Karine (pronounced Corina) Reimer, were wonderful. They welcomed us into their beautiful home the night before our concert at the Staatstheater in Oldenburg. We ate a delicious meal and socialized. Leigh even felt comfortable enough to attempt singing a song in German. You may surmise where he found the courage. We listened to Waylon Jennings records and talked a lot about country music with Walter Fuchs, a renowned promoter and writer. My dad's cardiologist, Dr. John Baker, told us we would love the Reimers. He was right. Dr. Baker asked me last year when we in the hospital with Dad after his heart attack if we'd be interested in playing in Germany. I told him I would love the chance and didn't think anymore of it until our agents called us a few weeks later with an offer. Dr. Baker and Peter have been friends for many years. Dad joked later, "Here I was dying in the hospital and you were doing business. I'm glad I could be of some help to you!"

On the day of the show, I was trying to ease into the day when Joe came running into the hotel. "Hey, I found a film crew at the coffee shop across the street. They want to interview you guys." The film crew was very friendly, and the host of the show kept apologizing for his English. All weekend long, Germans were trying to apologize to us. I kept telling them, "You're doing great! I understand everything you're saying. I don't know any German. I should be the one apologizing!" Leigh, Joe, and I were interviewed and were followed around for a few hours. 

The Staatstheater was beautiful beyond words. I've never played in a more visually appealing place. We felt so proud to bring our music to a foreign land in a full room and to receive such thunderous applause. I have never experienced longer applause between songs, especially the instrumentals. Clayton tore up "Old Joe Clark" like a man on a mission. I remember singing "Farm of Yesterday" and thinking, "My Dad will never see Germany, but maybe they're seeing a little of him tonight." They brought us out for three encores, and I left the stage feeling we had represented ourselves well. Not bad for a couple of farm boys from Ellenburg Depot.

After the show, we enjoyed our meet and greet. The people were as warm as could be. There was even a Plattsburgh, NY, contingent! Oldenburg and Plattsburgh have a student exchange program. I joked with some of the students about their teachers dragging them out to a bluegrass show. They looked at each other and laughed. I think many of them enjoyed themselves though. 

Looking back, it feels odd that we basically spent a weekend in Germany. We spent almost as much time in the air as we did on the ground. We luckily got out just a few days before the volcanic eruptions in Iceland. We didn't get to do a lot of sightseeing, but I was there long enough to know that I want to go back.