Tony Penultimate

Our Lithuanian Gig in Klaipedia

As I step from the shower in my hotel suite and towel myself down in front of the full length mirror, I sometimes pause and consider: - when God made me, he must have gazed, stepped back in wonder and said; - "Behold, a creature fit to stack the highest of supermarket shelves" - but somehow, life does not always turn out that way - and here I am playing the ukulele in Lithuania.
Our hotel is comfortable and clean with generic jazz funk in the elevators and we have been well taken care of by our hosts, who presented us last night with little welcome packs which included this festival mug. There are plenty of German tourists here.
The morning after our long day of travel yesterday, started in truly bizarre fashion: after waking up far too early (we’re two hours ahead here) with little sleep, I went looking for breakfast. The receptionist told me it was in the next door building on the first floor, so off I went, past the strip club (which doubled as a bowling alley) up the stairs, down the stairs and….. Nada.
I was returning to the hotel to ask again, when I bumped into Leisa - equally confused. We decided to take the elevator (a lift with no buttons) and instantly got whizzed up to the 11th floor of the building, whereupon I took this panoramic picture of Klaipeda, before we came down again and finally found the breakfast room - on the ground floor! Breakfast was heavy on the herrings and gherkins, but still delicious.
After a morning sleeping and mooching around in my room - writing up this blog, it was soon time to head over for the gig which was early, 6.30pm - we were the last show of the season at the Klaipeda Drama Festival, before they took a break for summer. The town is beautiful and Lithuanians are generally good looking people, the guys here are all tall and basketball is popular - many Lithuanian basketball players go to the States to play. Everyone smokes like troupers.
What is it with civic sculptures with locks this year- we saw some in Austria as well?
Arriving at the Klaipeda Drama Theatre
As we hadn’t seen Ewan for a while and were without Will and Dave, we had a rehearsal to plug any gaps in the show and straight afterwards went into soundcheck.
We are all using our ‘B’ ukuleles, as we weren’t sure about the hand baggage situation and most of us have packed them in our cases - I’m using an old Tanglewood ukulele which is serviceable, but not a patch on my beloved Howlett uke.
The theatre is smallish (about 600 seats) and we had sold it out!
Straight after soundcheck we were taken out to a fancy restaurant by theatre director Tomas Juočys, an extremely affable and well dressed Lithuanian, who spoke perfect english. I asked him to write his name in my iphone and he instantly flipped it into Lithuanian/Cyrillic mode and tapped it out. Apparently ‘thank you’ in Lithuanian is Ačiū (pron. Atcha). I asked for something typically Lithuanian and was recommended Šaltibarščiai (a kind of borscht, served cold with fried potatoes) - food here is heavy on the potatoes and beetroot and they use dill in everything. Since we don’t drink before shows (to the incredulity of our hosts) we said “I sveikata” (Cheers) with glasses of water.
The gig went well, but was a bit weird; certain numbers, like 500 Miles (Proclaimers song) a guaranteed showstopper in our set, were met with blank incomprehension and several tried and tested jokes died on their arses, but all in all the audience were highly appreciative, quite a lot of people spoke english. It was pretty hot and humid on the stage and we finished to a standing ovation. At the end two beautiful little blonde girls came on and presented us with flowers.
Signing merchandise after the show
With a tall fan....
Those red drinks - whatever they are are dammed delicious!
After the show we were invited to a reception in the theatre, where our new friend Director Tomas made a long speech in Lithuanian, and where we kept ourselves topped up with those excellent red drinks and helped ourselves to some more Lithuanian food (sauerkraut and pancakes with cream) before heading back to the hotel.
Our departure this morning was fairly civilised (8.55 am meet up) to get to the airport for our 11.35 direct flight back to Stansted Airport (35 miles outside London) and because of the time difference, the two and a half hour flight will effectively be 30 minutes! Jonty is flying back to Hamburg later.
The flight back on Brit budget airline Ryanair (direct) was fairly painless, apart from a vile smell of burgers emanating from my chair, and since there was no one next to me, so I got to work tapping out this load of nonsense.
And so its goodbye from me Campers and goodbye Ukes! I'm not doing the China tour, in a few weeks time, but I AM going on holiday with my family (I've met them a few times - they seem nice).  I might put up one or two things up here, but no tour stories (you can follow the Ukes adventures on Facebook and Twitter)
However since you seem like nice people and to get you in the mood, here's one of my favourite Ukes anecdotes of recent years, which happened during the last tour in China.......

As with all people close to you, its the little idiosyncrasies that drive you nuts and when it comes to Jonty, who has been a good friend to me for over 20 years, is my favourite bass player, has played on all my albums, shown me numerous kindnesses etc; - he hates to get up early.  
Despite our advancing years, he still has a tiresome 'jazz club' theory that all musicians must stay up late into the small hours - which is patently ridiculous. You don’t see Yo Yo Ma or Cecilia Bartoli in the hotel bar at 3am, nursing a scotch and telling the barman tales about life on the road - anyway, thats Jonty and we all love him like a brother.

What this inevitably means is that, when the band bus is ready to go in the morning, and we all muster at the appointed time; he has the highest ‘strike’ rate for oversleeping and many’s the time when Will, the Ukes’s chief ballbuster, will have to go and knock on his door/phone him up to rouse him - but even Will has grown weary of this lately.

During the last Chinese tour, the band found themselves in this same predicament, and after reception had called up to his room and tried knocking with no response - the duty manager summoned an energetic bellhop, who rose up silently in the lift, entered with a pass key, strode across the room, flinging open the curtains and turning to the recumbent Jonty, started yelling and wagging his finger:
Whereupon he strode over to the bed and started shaking the sleeping Jonty by the shoulders until he woke up………


Thank you everyone! I’m looking forward to a break - all good wishes to you for the summer. P
That's the pinkest soup I've ever seen. Have a great break!
Up to this days you did an excellent job, Peter, performing, touring and writing the blog. Your readers like me enjoyed it so much, hope to read some more (short?) reports after your holidays. Have many pleasant and relaxing weeks with your family!
Have a great holiday with your family, Peter!
Great blog as usual. Lithuania looks really interesting. I have a Tanglewood uke and I really like it. Mind you, I've never played a Howlett and I'm a terrible ukulele player, so I probably have a slightly different viewpoint to you! Hope you have a great holiday.

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