Gig review  by The Rubber Knife Gang (USA)

found on

04 Sep 2011 

Man, could that couple dance! “The Wanderer” and his wife would get up, seemingly for every other song we played, and dance the two-step and line dances, replete with well-synchronized (and often improvised) hops and skips. It was enough to get other couples to dance (though the others would really only slow dance). They were even good enough to keep us more on-tempo, a feat well understood by those of you knifers who know how we can day-dream in the middle of songs from time to time From speaking with Mr. Wanderer (Edmund), a tattooed western shirt and cowboy boot and hat wearing 50-something, Willy discovered that he was a crane operator at a shipping facility who reportedly worked 16-hour days. Willy immediately dubbed him, “the only European who worked more than three-hour days” which was met with much merriment from everyone at the table. “Yeah, certainly I work enough for a dozen Frenchmen (makes snorting noise), but I get sick of it, you know? So my woman and I go out dancing every weekend and take care of our horses at home.” And so dressed like cowboys and cowgirls, the customers like The Wanderer are at least horse-owners and farmers, which is close enough to legit for we three Knifers.

“Cowboy Up” is a restaurant in rural Waardamme styled after a western-American ranch. They serve ribs. They have horse stables, horses, and livestock. They even stock American beers, though we only saw one person, our driver Peter, drink one. It was a Bud Light that he promptly labeled “pee-water”. Rodeo footage plays on the TVs; complete with barrel racing and wrangling while country and western music is played on the house stereo. Needless to say, it’s surreal for an American to see things so faithfully, yet not quite exactly, recreated. Kind of like our music. And so we made for good company with much applause and laughter and stories shared between The Gang and the locals.

 Nick, the owner, does a great job and the extended family works hard to please every customer. Even their children help out; their eldest son Jesse (8) worked the stage lighting and merchandise table for us! Before even entering the place, Nick ducks out the kitchen door and takes our order, asking if we have any vegetarians. He promptly begins preparing baby-back ribs. Nick has a genuine passion for the place, the customers, and the musicians who come to play. He puts Bob Wayne on the TV, plays Heel-Stomp on the sound system when these guys are mentioned in the course of conversation. There’s even a kids’ obstacle course in the lawn next to the outdoor seating. Everyone shakes hands like a brother, as if you’ve known them for years.


Gig review by Heather Myles (USA)

found on facebook page from Heather Myles

7 okt 2011
My gig in Belgium was very cool! Great little venue with awesome steaks and COLD Budweiser!! The venue/restaurant is called the cowboy up saloon. Nick and his wife Annelore put there heart in it all for the love of country. I recommend all my friends to check this place out for a gig when on tour.

Gig review by Erik en Sanne about Carrie Rodriguez (USA) gig at Cowboy Up

found on website
20 nov 2011
Erik en Sanne blijven in de eerste plaats zelf fervente muziekliefhebbers. Als hun agenda het toelaat, proberen ze ergens in binnen – of buitenland een concert mee te pikken van een van hun favoriete artiesten. Zo zagen ze de laatste maanden concerten van Cat Stevens, Donovan, Leonard Cohen, Hugues Aufray. Na het succesvolle optreden dat ze gisterennamiddag zelf gaven in de overvolle sporthal van Oostrozebeke, zakten ze nog af om een uitzonderlijke artieste aan het werk te zien: Carrie Rodriguez! Ze kenden haar vooral van haar duetcd’s met Chip Taylor (schrijver van o.a. Wild Thing, you make my heart sing en Angel in the morning…), maar gisteravond trad ze – om haar europese tournee af te sluiten – op in de Western Steakhouse ‘Cowboy Up’ in Waardamme. (Loont volgens Erik en Sanne echt de moeite om daar eens te gaan eten of een optreden te beleven:

Voor het optreden zelf schieten alle superlatieven tekort. Carrie, die zelf niet alleen fantastisch viool en electrische mandoline speelt maar ook gepassioneerd en vol overgave zingt, bracht haar songs met haar vriend Luke Jacobs. Een voortreffelijke gitarist, die op een heel aparte manier ook steelguitar speelt, vormde samen met haar één brok passie en vuur. Ontroerend ook om naar te kijken hoe beiden elkaar aanvullen en aanvoelen.

Achteraf hebben Erik en Sanne nog heel lang en heel leuk gebabbeld met Carrie en Luke. Deze foto’s wilden ze jullie dan ook niet onthouden. Wie een idee wil van de muziek van Carrie Rodriguez: Geniet ervan!




Gig review by Rachel Lyn Harrington and The Knock outs

found on facebookpage of Rachel Lyn Harrington

11 mar 2012

A long drive today – we loaded up the van and by 10am were headed from the south of Holland to the west end of Belgium.  A tiny town called Waardame, just 10 minutes from Brugge.  We made a stop in Eindhoven to visit some friends of Aimee and Moe, who gave us a lovely breakfast.  Steve and I went to explore the city some – a much needed opportunity to walk and get some exercise.  At some point we stumbled into what seemed to be the Hassidic neighborhood and Steve didn’t try hard not to stare at the clothing and most especially the hats the men wore.  He’d never seen anything like that before.

Back in the van, as we drove farther and farther west, the buildings and houses melted away and the land opened up.  We could tell we were headed away from the more populated areas and into the country.  The Tom Tom said we were real close and when I saw a big sign that read “STEAKHOUSE” I knew we’d reached our destination. 

Cowboy Up is a proper steakhouse saloon out in what feels like BFE Belgium.  Run by Nick And Anne, it’s been open 2 years now and seems to be establishing itself as a real hub of community and music and great food.  We unloaded our stuff and were led to our accom for the night – a room with 3 beds to sleep all 5 of us.  Another slumber party!  We had a couple hours to kill before dinner.  Nick and Anne fed us beers and told us some of their stories.  They had Wayne Hancock as guest there  for an entire week after his gig at Cowboy Up a couple weeks prior.  Nick said it was a week long party from which he, Nick, was still recovering.

We sat and sampled the awesome selection of Belgian beers, getting tipsy and chatting about our last bunch of shows.  There was a pre-recorded rodeo being shown on the several TV screens in the bar and when the barrel racing competition began, Steve told the girls that I used to barrel race.  As we watched, the girls asked questions and I told them the rules and techniques and whatever else I could remember of my horse riding days, too long ago.  Moe asked why I didn’t own a horse now, and I said that owning a tiny ranch was always something I knew I’d have when I grew up.  You know how it goes.  “Someday” is a slippery term that stretches out easily over time, and the next thing you know, it’s twenty years later.  Then the bull riding started, and I had a fun telling the girls what I remembered of it and answering their questions.  It’d sure be fun to take them to a real rodeo and have us all enjoy one in real life all together.  I’ve never been to the Pendleton Round Up.  Maybe we can get a gig there in town this year and also see the rodeo.  That’d be so fun!

By the time the kitchen official opened at 6, we were nearly drunk. Nick said we could have anything on the menu.  That was a real generous surprise – the musicians are usually given a very limited to chose from – only the cheap menu items, many of them often deep-fried.  To have an entire menu from which to select is royal treatment indeed!

But the funny thing was – there was only two items to choose from really: steak, or ribs.  Ha!  How great!  The 3 meat eaters in the group all took Nick’s advice and ordered the steak.  And the 3 vegetarians got a great salad and gorgeous skewers of assorted fresh vegetables.

The soundman arrived and once set up, handed me a copy of my 2nd album, City of Refuge.  He’d brought it from home, he said, and told me he had all my cds.  I signed his album and made a mental note to give him a free copy of the new record before the night was done.

The show started at 9:45 and our two sets went by super fast.  The crowd was loud and gregarious and cheered after each tune, dancers spinning in front of us, the road still replying on the TV screens, Flemmish words barking around us now and again.  The sound was great and the girls and I all had a great time.

After the show, about 2/3’s of the audience left, but about 1/3 of them stayed on to drink and talk and swap stories and laugh with us into the wee hours of the morning.  At one point, I crossed paths with Steve outside where we stood together under the wide Belgian night sky and smoked a thick Belgian cigarette, sipping our Belgian beers from lovely goblets.  Steve reflected that even though the wages verses expenses on this tour would not leave much if any profit, that touring like this has value in other ways.  That part of our pay was just this – that we were at a western saloon in BFE Belgium enjoying every part of the Belgium-ness of it all and having a great time visiting with a wide assortment of total strangers who we each grew to know and cherish over the course of the night , folks we otherwise would never have known.  Touring is so great that way.  I swear, I have not found a better way to get to know a place and its people than touring.  On a vacation, you stay in hotels and do tourist-y things and walk around – and you get a certain sense of a place, sure.  But touring, especially when you get the chance to stay near the gig and so have time to hang out before or after and really spend a good deal of time with the local folks – there’s just nothing like it.  And yes – standing here in BFE Belgium under the wide Belgian night sky, smoking Belgian cigarettes, sipping Belgian beers from lovely goblets – that is part of the pay.

I went back inside and visited with a man named Jean Pierre.  We soon got into a discussion about life and music.  He told me how much fun he’d had watching the show the night and said me and the girls glowed with how much fun we had and it wonderful it was to watch and to hear.  He said in his beautifully imperfect English it is not so important how correct you play notes but that if you play the notes with heart, with feelink.  Dat is somethink more spacial dan anythink.  And de crowt, day can feel it too.  Dat is the power of musik.

At 3am, I finally flew my surrender flag up and was the first of the post-gig celebrators to retreat.  I had a nice hot shower, went upstairs to our slumber party room, put in my earplugs and crashed.  I dreampt of shiftless rounders and vague far away lovers.  Then I woke in the night, so tired, and lay there forever, eyes open, concerned about the lack of sleep I’d have for the next day.  Until at last I began thinking about regret: how, at the end of my life, I’d have many regrets surely, but never would they be how I spent too much time touring and traveling and not enough time sleeping and working in my office cubicle.

I fell into deep slumber.

Gig Review by The Crooked Brothers

found on website

12 may 2012

From Hamburg

Au revoir France. From Paris we traveled to Southern France to stay in a country home outside of Bordeaux drinking the best wine in the world and rigolent with some of the funniest folks in the country. From there to Spijkerboor, Netherlands and some more of the most amazing people on the planet at Cafe ‘t Keerpunt. Oh, the bitters! Then Belgium. So kind and hospitable. Cowboy Up in Waardamme for so many reasons, the most of which being the amazing family who owns it, Nick, Anna, Jesse and Lane. The music and the food (!!!) And now to the land of sausage and beer – Deutschland! This is a trip.

I have been thinking about being away from Manitoba. Being on the road and in a new place every day. Turning every new place into my home. Settling in. Our time in Southern France was unique for that reason. We had an old country house to ourselves, with the greatest neighbours to laugh and drink wine with. And Belgium! The hospitality in Europe is without equal.

Outside blue shutters on the stone patio
Matt practices banjo runs in the sun

Below me through the wood floor,
Darwin practices finger style guitar in a white room

Somewhere in this old farmhouse,
Zoe practices upright bass which I can feel vibrate in the walls

I am struck by a guilty motivation
to practice my instrument – the mandolin.

Instead, i sit at a desk with the window open
practicing speaking to you, the reader I have not met

but with whom I wish to connect
in some truth, or humourIf I practice enough, perhaps you will hear the wind
in the tall swaying trees, swelling like the waves of the ocean,
blowing strong today.

Or perhaps you will see the hard shadow
of the afternoon sun on my paper
move with the strafe of my pen and hand.

If I practice enough, perhaps you will visit me
at my desk,
thinking about you.