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Bavarian Tour 2007

This page documents the great tour that the Night Blooming Jazzmen took to Bavaria in September/October of 2007. The tour was arranged by Crisp Tours and our hosts were Tom and Gina Crisp. The NBJ took a similar tour in 2004 and it was so well-received that many people chose to join us for this second one! We stayed for all two weeks at hotels in the quaint town of Grassau, just south of Lake Chiemsee and at the foot of the Bavarian Alps. The following photographs will give you an idea of the fun times we shared. You can find lots more photos (including high resultion versions) on our Bavarian Photo Gallery page. Look also at the Grassau People Page to see all of the people who were on our trip.

We spent our first day at a quaint farming museum just outside of Grassau. There are farm buildings as old as 400 years here, many in their original settings. We learned how to make flax and spin rope. Here you can see Chet, our fearless leader, chatting with Karen Deutsch as they wait for a guided tour.
Here we are playing a private concert for our 90 guests at the Sperrer Hotel in Grassau. The Sperrer was one of two hotels we habituated, the other being the Hansbaeck. The Sperrer had the jazz while the Hansbaeck had Internet!
Friday, our second day, was spent visiting the Herrenchiemsee palace of Ludwig II - one of three that the mad king of Bavaria constructed. This one is modeled after Louis XIV's Versailles palace outside of Paris. Having been there too, I can vouch for the accuracy of this reproduction. The NBJ played on the boat that took us to the island site of the palace.
Saturday was Grassau's annual Market Day. The town of 1,600 swelled to around 25,000 and all the streets were filled with vendors selling everything imaginable. We spent the day in town to experience the fair. In addition to the NBJ, Market Day featured an authentic German oom-pah band.
The NBJ played at Das Doktorhaus, a restaurant converted from an old suite of doctors offices, for Market Day. The locals had their first taste of us - and we were accepted. The restaurant was so happy that they treated us all to a great dinner.
The only church in town is Catholic, but this was close enough for most of the band members. We attended the evening mass, which was conducted entirely in German. Here I am (Les) trying out the church's small pipe organ after the mass. The church is about 900 years old - but the organ isn't.
Sunday was a long day. We toured a large salt mine near the German/Austrian border. Here is a shrine carved out of salt-bearing rock and dedicated to the same Ludwig II. We had an especially fun time using traditional wooden slides to descend to the lower levels of the mine.
Here is our tour group. We posed for a group photo before entering the mine on a small train.
After leaving the mine, we visited the Eagle's Nest. This was the infamous retreat of Adolph Hitler. Many critical plans for WWII were forged within these walls. The world might have been better off if these men had enjoyed the view instead - it is magnificent with Alps in all directions.
We spent Monday in Salzburg, Austria. We had a great guided tour of the old city and lots of time to explore on our own.
In the evening, we had dinner at the oldest restaurant in Europe. It was founded in 803 AD! It was a "Mozart" dinner with entertainment provided by a string quintet and vocal soloists.
On Tuesday we went to the nearby ski village of Reit am Winkl. Although this was a shopping day, many of us paid a visit to the Schnapps Museum where the tour includes free samples. The man on the left is Tom Crisp, our host on this trip. I can't remember whaatt happneed nexxtt...
We had our big public concert in Grassau in the evening. We were joined by an all faculty big band from the local music school, "Teacher's Groove." We performed in a large hall that could easily seat every inhabitant of Grassau - and probably did. The Burgermeister (mayor) was on hand to introduce the festivities.
On Thursday we went to Innsbruck, Austria. We had a guided tour of the town by bus and on foot and we also had a couple hours on our own to wander through the old town area. Here is the "Gingerbread House" on the main square. It is right across from the famous "Golden Roof".
Before returning to Grassau for a fantastic Bavarian folk music and dance concert (we did not play, we were in the audience!) we stopped at the little Austrian villiage of Rattenberg. Don't get this confused with Rattenberg, Germany, the old walled city - this is completely different. Here is a view. This was also a great place to buy fine Austrian crystal.
Thursday was our trip to the Bavarian capital of Munich. We had a walking tour of the old town (in the rain!) and visited the famous Hofbrauhaus which has been serving beer to the town folk forever. Most of us then went to the Oktoberfest. Some of us opted for more time downtown. We visited the Deutsche Museum. We saw the great antique musical instrument collection. I was shocked to see an electronic keyboard using some of my patents on display! I am feeling old.
In the evening, we joined Munich's own Dixieland band, the Veteranary Street Jazz Band, at their regular restaurant venue. The VSJB played, and the NBJ played, and then we all played together. It was loud, fast, and high - but also a lot of fun.
Friday was a very long day. We drove by bus for 2.5 hours to visit the Wieskirche. This is a church in the middle of nowhere - no town, no monastery, ... but very beautiful. Here is the main organ in the church.
We drove on and visited another of Ludwig II's palaces, Linderhof. This is a small palace (an oxymoron?) but an absolute jewel. We also saw the famous artificial grotto were King Ludwig would sit and listen to live performances of Wagnerian opera. We then visited the small village of Oberammergau, famous for its wood carvers. After another 2.5 hour bus ride, we were back at the Sperrer for dinner and more NBJ jazz.
Since we had a late tour today, I arranged to give a short recital of baroque organ music at the Grassau Church. At noon, we were bussed to a nearby ski lift and rode to the top of a mountain overlooking our little valley. Unfortunately, it was quite cloudy so we actually rode up into the cloud and could see only a few feet in front of ourselves!
Our reed player, Jim Richardson, was a bit under the weather tonight so we had Marshall Gordon sit in on clarinet at our evening set. We also invited Emily Jane Carter to sit in on trumpet. We were asked to play a tune called "Don't Step on the Duck" but it doesn't exist. Maybe I'll write it soon.
On Sunday, the NBJ played one of their traditional hymn sings (what a surprise!) at the Sperrer. After the hymn sing, Chet asked each band member to talk a bit about their musical background. This put us 20 minutes behind schedule! However, the afternoon was free today so no one seemed to mind. About half of our group visited a neighboring town for some "schnapps tasting". here is a hpto of the schnapps event taken my Marilou MacLean. Some of us chose instead to explore the surroundings of Grassau.
There is a large wildlife refuge just North of Grassau. It is a great place to see the farm fields and hopefully catch a glimpse of some native plants and animals. We saw ducks, black squirrels, deer, and ravens. We also saw wild strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and lots of colorful (and probably poisonous) varieties of mushrooms. Here is a local bee resting momentarily on a wildflower.
Monday was mostly for packing. We had to have our suitcases ready to go by 5:00 PM. The NBJ played a "requests only" set at the Sperrer from 11:00 until 1:00. There were some unique requests. We played things like "The Beer Barrel Polka", "Edleweiss", and "Waltzing Matilda" (Valtzing?)
For dinner, Tom and Gina Crisp through a gala farewell banquet for the whole tour group. The NBJ did not even have to play! We sat at the head table with Tom and Gina. After a great meal each member of the tour group was invited to speak about their personal highlights of the trip. To top it all off, Herr Sperrer, the owner of the hotel, joined Lance for a little accordion, mandola (look it up!), and drum music. Click here to see photos of each table at the banquet, include high-res photos.