For over 1,000 years a mill has stood at Obermuhle, near Habach in southern Bavaria. The current house on that spot is 200 years old and contains a music club called the Village. The “chief,” Dieter Uebler, inhabits the Village the way a cuckoo inhabits a clock, only he has a lot more to say.
It was Dieter who told us the history of the place, and that in the Thirty Years War, the terrible 17th Century conflict between Catholics and Protestants, the entire population of Obermuhle was massacred. Chalk up another victory for the True Faith, whichever that was.
Dieter’s motto is “no stress.” After that, his favorite saying is “more power.” The two ideas seem to go together.
After sound check everyone else went to nap in the rooms upstairs. I sat at a table and started changing guitar strings. A jazz guitar CD was playing on the house system. I felt relaxed and at home. Delta Moon had played the Village twice before, and we stayed there for five off-days in the middle of last year’s German tour, when we hiked all over the countryside and became known as the “American walking band”. We felt among friends, both human and canine.
The CD played an instrumental version of an old Earth, Wind and Fire song, “The Way of the World.” I used to play that song with a band back in the day. There was a piano by the wall. I walked over and sat down.
From the first note, the piano fit perfectly with the track. I started with the melody, like a voice singing, then stretched out a little. I had something to say and knew how to say it. Half a minute into it I knew this was my best solo of the tour. On piano. With no one there to hear it.
Did I play that well on steel guitar that night? I honestly don’t know. But I do know we had a great time. We’d left the rented gear in the van because the Village has a complete backline on stage. Through countless shows and Thursday-night jams the molecules of those old Fender amps have aligned with the room so that it all makes one big instrument. Every note rings clear and true. The drums, for goodness sake, were signed by the drummer for Iron Butterfly, the guy who played the “In A Gadda Da Vida” solo. The audience, too, was in alignment. Everything flowed so smoothly that I barely remember any of it. I do remember everyone was smiling.
Because it’s not about the solo. It’s not about the notes. It’s about the alignment — between atoms and molecules, between people and people, between people and themselves.