15 years ago, we first visitied Berlin. Before we were engaged, before we were married, before cruise ships swept us away to sea. It was like a new universe and only the third time I ever visited a country outside of the United States.
Being musically obsessed and a Detroiter, I wanted to seak out every open mic and dive bar in the city. Odd, with all the construction and improvements from WWII, we had no problems finding an abundance of both. On our way to one open jam in the Hackersmarkt neighborhood, we had some tapas at a tiny place called Yo Soy! The bartender told us fabulous stories of his father living on the former East Side, being arrested in the night by the KGB, the wall coming down and how much work was ahead of them (even in the early 2000’s) to create a unified, updated and modern Berlin. We stayed and talked to Tom for way too long and missed the jam.
When we walked into the Blue Note (yes, there’s one in Berlin too), the band was already wrapping up. I overheard the piano player working out the melody to Stardust… He was great, but didn’t quite know the tune. So, I bravely walked up beside him and started singing it in his ear. He turned & the trumpet player next to him said, “This big voice comes from this tiny girl?” And, a 15 year long distance friendship began.
Lionel Haas, was that keyboard player. We went to ACCUD Jazz Cafe after that to play music with the Africans. After that, we met up at a few other clubs around Berlin where each time I sat in and sang a variety of jazzy numbers that both Lionel and I were familiar with.
Fast forward to 2019, and I find yet another opportunity to visit Berlin. I called up Lionel and low and behold, of course he had a gig I could sit in on at a club called the Top Hat next to the Zoo train stop. Ironically, it was right under the train tracks. It was like we no time passed, except we were both older and a bit more musically mature.
We played a few songs together and are excited to work on some new material together in 2020. I’ll be back in Germany in April and hope Hamburg will hold as much excitement as it did for us in 2016 and back in 2004 too.
You never know where you are going to make friends and sometimes there will be miles and years between your in person connections, but being open and keeping in touch on the internet sure does help.