I had visited the Netherlands in the winter of 86/87 and when my friend Yme Wijminga dropped me at the airport for the flight back to Canada he said, "I know you'll be back Mack". Little did I know that 17 years later in 2003, Bonnie and I would find ourselves boarding an airplane for Amsterdam.
During my last visit I wrote a song titled "Old Amsterdam" and when we began recording the CD "Galaxy Cabaret" it just felt like the right vehicle for the tune. We had already released two singles from the CD in Europe in 2003, so we decided the third should be "Old Amsterdam" and that we would go to Holland to promote the recording and visit the DJs and radio stations to thank them for all their support.
Our first week in Amsterdam was spent wandering the canals, taking in the sights and sounds and enjoying the wonderful food. All the words in the world could never describe the beauty and the ambience of Amsterdam. The feeling of being in and part of this fascinating city is invigorating to say the least. And talk about culture!!!
We visited Rembrandt's house and studio, viewed his paintings at the Rijks Museum and went to the Van Gogh museum. The painting that really blew our minds was "The Milkmaid" by Vermeer.
We were blown away by the age of the city and the architecture because Bonnie is from Sydney Australia and I was born in Vancouver Canada so we are both from relatively young countries. Canada is just 136 years old!!!
Next it was off traveling the country visiting radio stations for promotional purposes.
If you've ever been to the Netherlands you know how busy the cities and highways are and if you've never been you just wouldn't believe it. I had fully intended to drive but soon realized that this meant dodging pedestrians, millions of bicycles, trams, cars and tailgating at 120 kmh, so we asked Yme if he would travel with us and do the driving. He was kind and gracious enough to accept.
In just over a week we drove more than 2000 km which is quite a feat considering you can drive to any border of the country in an hour and a half from Amsterdam.
We would leave town around 11:00 a.m. so we could do some sightseeing in the area we were visiting and then we would do a radio interview or some live-to-air playing in the evening, then return to Amsterdam. We really enjoyed meeting some of the DJs who have supported our music and sincerely thank the following for their great hospitality: Roel Stabler in Groningen, Rien Wortelboer in Venray, Martin van der Laan in Sapemeer, Jos Robben in Nieuwleusen, Bart van der Pol in Katwijk, Bert van der Wijst in Boxmeer, Gerrit Vermeij in Beverwijk, Ab Plant in Nieuwegein and George Backer in Beverwijk.
Man we got to see a lot of people, places and things. One day we drove into Belgium to visit with DJ Mia Heylen and her husband for a couple of hours and then on to explore Brugge, a completely preserved renaissance town built in the 1400s. What a trip!!!
I performed two more live gigs while in Holland. One was in Edam (known for the cheese) at the famous music café "Harmonie". I was joined by a couple of our Dutch friends Woody and Ad. I met Woody and played with him and "The Sidemen" during my last visit to Holland and Ad sure is a great guitar player. Thanks for the music and a great time Woody and Ad!!
The other gig was arranged by my friend Yme (pictured on the left) at the "Taverne" in the northern city of Bergen. Bergen which dates from (would you believe) 960, is the town where Yme spent his youth before moving to Amsterdam. The "Taverne" was filled to the rafters and a great time was had by all. Both venues and gigs where fantastic and the audiences where top shelf.
We will never forget our adventures in Holland and hope to return way before another 17 years passes.
A special thanks and love to our friend Yme Wijminga, without whom this trip would not have been possible.