The Woodcarver’s Cave - A Leap Day Tale
by Romei & Dijkema

File under: guitar duet

A single guitar duet and a diary entry.

We decided to go on tour again, this time was up to me and I was supposed to organize some gigs in Italy, starting from Germany though.

Thanks to Marcus Obst, Joost Dijkema and I would play at Galerie Rademann in Schwarzenberg, somehow a place of worship for what I like to call “our niche”, before us, among others, even Daniel Bachman and Ryley Walker had played there.

After Germany, we’d go down to Switzerland for a living room concert at Sebastian Bischoff’s house. Sebastian, a.k.a. Son of Buzzi, would later become a great friend and fellow of ours, one year later, the three of us, would tour Europe once more...but that’s another story.

I stopped for the night in a motel just after the border between Austria and Germany, hanging on a dream between my car and the road.

The next morning, at the train station, Joost arrived with a simple backpack and a pouch of tobacco, I carried all of the gear and guitars since I was the driver.

We smoked a cigarette staring at the platforms of the small station, only a few miles between us and Schwarzenberg.

The roads of the Ore Mountains reminded me somehow of the Pennsylvania Dutch Country’s landscape that I had explored a few years earlier to see the hex signs, in search of the Great Koonaklaster.

We arrived at Galerie Rademann in the early afternoon, greeted by the warm smiles of Marcus, Ute and Hartmut, the owner of the place. Together with his wife Ute, Hartmut runs his shop selling wooden toys, novelty items, collectibles, souvenirs and pieces of art. A place out of time, where the labyrinthine tables, display cabinets and shelves containing the most disparate wooden shapes give way within a few steps to a silent place at the backroom where the artworks handmade by Hartmut are displayed in a sober exposure. Wooden trunks of different shapes and sizes that he carves until he reaches the heart of the wood and from that tender center slender human or animal shapes of a gaunt primitive beauty stand out, thin watchers of emptiness carved in the wood.

After the gig we found ourselves drinking in the carver's cave in the dim light of a green lamp and what was said will remain in the dust of the furnishings of the room dug into the rock. How much will we be willing to carve to shape our heart? How much will the hole let our strings ring?

We ended up playing guitars together one morning before leaving Ulm, the tune was already there waiting for us, in that hotel room, like it was lying on the sheets of the beds, lit by the white German sun. We just had to carve it the right way to let it shine. On a warm winter afternoon, in a campsite near Castelfranco di Sotto, the whole song that took shape during the journey showed itself for the first time.

A few days earlier, in Zürich, during the gig at Sebastian's house, the owners of the Italian venues told us that Italy was closing its borders and a lockdown was starting to be the solution for the fast spreading of a dangerous and yet unknown virus.

We drove back to Italy in time, but the gigs in Emilia-Romagna were canceled due to the start of what would later be the Covid19 pandemic.

No Bologna, no Reggio Emilia, my places were among the most affected by this obscure threat.

It is well known that February 29th is a very peculiar day, it exists once every four years. On that very day we were supposed to play the final concert of the brief tour in a club in Reggio Emilia, my hometown.

Since the gig was cancelled, we decided to spend the afternoon setting a recording studio up in my living room and by dusk we recorded the right take.

That afternoon and that recording would remain suspended there for years, during dark times. Later on, wandering waves in my car stereo, through long days of deserted cities and empty roads, on the edge of an unseen precipice. Those waves would continue to carve into my heart for four long years, until the new leap day.

Simone Romei (Des Moines), February 29th 2024