May 22

When you start to follow the stream, you never know where it’ll take you. When you give that kind of trust to fate – it sort of rises up to meet your challenge and never disappoints. It’s kind of like nature in that respect.

So from Berlin I followed my nose to Prague – experienced the most ridiculous chances, and then was called to Vienna. At this point my attempts to get over to Munich were consistently derailed by this or that, so this morning I woke to meet the next step.

After my morning porridge, I made ready to check out and leaving the kitchen, when I heard the most mad ragtime being played on the piano. Looking over, I saw a figure playing who from afar appeared to be a woman which I was surprised at given the style of playing. Upon walking closer, I saw this was in fact a man, who from behind looked eerily like an East Van character I know back home. Stationed behind the keyboardist was a fellow with a guitar, also playing exceptionally well. Needless to say I was transfixed and plopped down on a chair to listen. For a time they were joined by a djembe player who works at the hostel – he had a very professional technique and was packing several drums. Occassionally the guitarist would sing and be joined by the pianist, and they covered Beatles tunes and jazz classics and all sorts.

On a pause I found out they play together in LA, and another character from the hostel, Uncle Steve, invited me out to join them on a trip to the Vienna flea market. I won Uncle Steve’s good trust after he had been bemoaning his lack of black tea for the morning, I gave him a bag of mine and he reciprocated with sharing some of his chocolate. Good trade! So off we went to the flea market, picking up the keyboardist, J.T.’s, son on the way. During the transit ride Uncle Steve proved to be a little out there, which increased the comraderie between the rest of us as we listened to his merry gambit.

The mom of J.T.’s son came out with us too, and her and Unkie made the lead through the bustling, tourist crowded market. Following them were J.T. and his youngster, with myself and J the guitarist taking the rear. As it was the first day with sun in who knows how long, the people were out in droves and it was hard to keep track of the group. J was beguiled by the eyebrows of a very persuasive market girl, “it was the Brook Shields effect,” and bought a big bag of wasabi peanuts which became my tasty protein snack for the next couple days. The opposite end of the market became a little more nice and junkie, with eccentric second hand goods, and J.T. oogled old music instruments. At some point we lost Uncle Steve, but a half hour or so later when we were getting ready to move on, he found us again. His decision was to take us back to the hostel where he would prepare us a feast.

JT picked up a bunch of groceries, and we returned to the hostel and started another musical jam while Unkie made good on his word. There was no way I could keep up with these guys on guitar or piano, so I grabbed a djembe and my odd hippy drum circle experiences held me in good stead to follow on rhythm. Around this time a rainshower started so we had good timing to be indoors.

Unkies feast was delicious, he made a cream sauce pasta and salad (and maybe something else.. it’s been a while now and the memory fogs) served with bread. Apparently he operated a restaurant at some point.

After lunch there was more jamming, and figuring this was a rare chance to have the backup of a master like JT, I broke out The Cat Came Back on the guitar and he accompanied me on the piano. From there we had a chill time, and went our separate ways a bit.  

There was some napping, Unkie drifted off somewhere, and JT and his son went for dinner. J and I went out for a beer and the sun was back out so we sat on a patio and chatted. Remembering this bottle of vodka I was packing (passed on from one of the hostel workers in Prague) we moved back to the Ruthensteiner and were joined by JT. Then we found Uncle Steve, or he found us, and we sent off on a fools errand to score them some grass. JT entertained us with jokes about musicians and they continually got themselves lost by not following my directions – maps and spacial awareness come naturally to yours truly… In the end, JT left Unkie at a gay bar with 50 euro – which he never saw the light, or the fruit of, again.

Trotting back to the hostel, we passed a young fellow hoisting a backpack and an instrument, a lost look about him, “tenor sax?” JT guessed right and we dragged him with us and another lively jam followed. After midnight we had to close up to keep the noise down. From there J followed some girls to a party, JT went to find Uncle Steve, the Canadian saxophonist signed into the hostel, and I hit the hay after a fine day in Vienna!

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