First Lines: The Winds of Khalakovo

Without knowing a thing about Bradley P. Beaulieu or the books he’d written, I backed one of his Kickstarter projects. The one to fund the release of his short-story collection, probably. The exact reasoning eludes me at the moment — it happened a while ago, and a lot has happened since — but I’m guessing that somehow, it intrigued me enough to back Beaulieu’s other project, which meant I ended up with four of his books.

So I started at the beginning, with The Winds of Khalakovo, the first volume of the The Lays of Anuskaya trilogy. To give you an idea of the novel, imagine a mashup of Tsarist Russia and the Middle East, with wind-ships, elemental spirit magic from across the aether and a healthy dash of political intrigue. Add your basic love triangle, and
Bob’s your metaphorical uncle.

All in all, Winds is a pretty good read. The main thing holding it back from being a great read, is the enormous density of it all. There are a ton of characters, a score of places with exotic names, and a cubic ton of things happen. At times, it gets a bit too much. Who’s came from where and does what because of why exactly? If you lose focus—which will happen on my morning commute—you might get lost in all the info.

I’m now making my way through volume 2, The Straits of Galahesh, and we’ll see how that works out.

Book read
Bradley P. Beaulieu — The Winds of Khalakovo (The First Volume of The Lays of Anuskaya)
First line
In a modest home in the center of Volgorod, Nikandr Iaroslov Khalakovo sat in a simple wooden chair, considering the woman sleeping on the bed nearby.

Seen Live: Daniël Lohues

As the British philosophers quartet Led Zeppelin once said, the song remains the same. Another year, another album and tour by Daniël Lohues. Together with Bernard Gepken (guitars, banjo, mandoline, vocals) and Guus Strijbosch (upright bass), he plays a large swath of his new album, “D”, and a section of his earlier work, while telling stories to tie it all together. It’s as simple as it’s great.

Unlike the past five years, I didn’t see the show in De Kleine Komedie in Amsterdam. I had a ticket (front and center), but moving to Leeuwarden made that a bit impractical. So, I returned the ticket, and scored two for the show in Leeuwarden, so I could take my Most Awesome Girlfriend Missus. Going in, she was skeptical, but by the second song, she got it. Lohues has a knack for writing songs that put things into a slightly different perspective (love, what’s the right translation of relativeren again?), he loves to play with language (Nedersaksisch in his case), and doesn’t shy from singing the praises of the rural parts of the country (and an occasional jab at the part west of the IJssel) — I can just about see how that happened.

There’s one thing I found amusing: when I saw Lohues in Apeldoorn and Amsterdam, he spoke Dutch. In Leeuwarden, he didn’t. It didn’t matter to me, but it tickled my funny-bone.

Seen live
Daniël Lohues with “D”, at Stadsschouwburg De Harmonie, Leeuwarden on April 5th, 2014
Set list
Achter ‘t huus / Weet da’k wat vergeten ben, mar ben vergeten wat / Liefzeer / Niks is meer weerd as vandaage / Joezölf / Ten oosten van de Iessel / Op ‘t platteland / Prachtig mooie dag // Op fietse / Ik haal mij ‘n hond op / Mis mien engel / Ha’k mar ‘n gitaar / Wat ze zee / Annelie / Jij Veurbij / Terecht bij joe / Elk mens die hef zich ‘n kruus te dragen // Allennig / Angst is mar veur eben, spiet is veur altied / Als de liefde mar blef winnen / Hier kom ik weg

I Remember Every Little Thing As If It Happened Only Yesterday

It started on a sunny day in April 2003.

I was sitting in front of Amsterdam’s Heineken Music Hall—reading a book, minding my own business, waiting for the doors to open—when I was joined by this girl. We chatted a bit, passing the time, until I had to report to the artist’s entrance for this meet and greet I had managed to sneak myself into. After the show I our paths crossed again, but after a quick review of the show, we went our separate ways.

A year later I walked into the lobby of a hotel in Hamburg, and there she was again. We weren’t the only ones there, as we were both part of an international group of people who made an effort to see the same show at the same time. During that weekend, we saw each other several times, had a lot of fun getting drinks with a friend down at the Reeperbahn, but in the end, we went our separate ways.

Over the next few years, we saw each other irregularly, but kept in touch as a result of sharing the same musical interests and hanging out in the same corners of the internet. It’s a small world, after all. But by and large, we went our separate ways.

It’s been a sunny day in August 2013. I’m just about to take my rented bike and head back to Maastricht, which is twelve kilometers through an unfamiliar terrain, and I have to return the bike in less than an hour. I’ve said my goodbyes—it’s also been the annual meet-up for people with an appreciation for a certain American singer—as she walks towards the road with me, she says that she’d like to see me again, you know, just the two of us. And without thinking about it too much, I say that seems an excellent idea to me. Then, I spend the entire drive to my hotel going, “omygodomygodomygod!”

From there on, events progress rapidly. After three weeks of taking things slow and keeping our heads level, we get to the stage where I’m with her when I don’t necessarily have to be home in Amersfoort. On January 1st, 2014, I’m officially moving in, and three months later, we’re married. This summer, we’re moving back to Amersfoort, where we’ll work on our happily ever after.


Remember when I mentioned my Most Awesome Girlfriend? As of yesterday, I cannot say that anymore:

We didn't want a wedding with sketches, stuff and fuss. That's why on April 1st, 2014 we sneakily became Mister and Missus.

Seen Live: Wende

According to her website, Wende‘s “Last Resistance-The Theatre Sessions” is a cinematic theatre concert in which the worlds of theatre, pop and electronic music melt together. It is about the resistance to letting go of old truths and embracing the unknown and the desire to surrender and to confront emotions and challenges head on. In a combination of music, dance, performance and visual arts, she’s is back where it all started: in the theatre!

These Theatre Sessions form the third tour in support of her 2013 album Last Resistance. To me, the try-out I saw seemed to be the second one with a bit more theatrics, which apparently it is supposed to be. So, yeah, the same assessment largely applies: the more conventional songs work best for me. The fact that I was sitting in a theatre was also a plus for me, as I was better able to take it all in.

By now, the show has premiered, and the press loves it. Rightly so. The tour runs until early May.

Seen live
Wende, “Last Resistance: The Theater Sessions” (try-out) at Theater De Flint, Amersfoort on March 6, 2013