Audition for a local talent contest

A few weeks back a friend suggested we sign up for a local talent contest, Het Rotterdams Open Podium, organised by Theater Zuidplein. The grand prize is to appear on the stage of the “Kleine Zaal”.

After um-ing and ah-ing for a while, we decided, “Why not”? In due course I received the email telling us when our audition would take place: 15.44 on Saturday, 27 October. We had two minutes to do our stuff and wow the judges. Two minutes. That’s two-thirds of a three minute song. We had opted to sing, Life’s like that. It had to be the short version, obviously (with one verse instead of two).

Waiting our turn in the foyer of Theater Zuidplein we were struck by the way the other contestants geared up for their shot at fame – subdued, or filling the space with their sound (we were not intimidated!), or pacing about.

Our friend, Alan, arrived out of the blue to encourage us. Of course he was disappointed he wasn’t permitted to join us in the audition room. He took comfort, though, from the fact that he’d heard us perform the song the night before during our set at Room Rotterdam.

In due course we were asked to go in, to discover that that jury was made up of 3 men, all around the same age. Producer-types. They asked us to introduce ourselves, but did not reciprocate. (They did have place names, but that wasn’t much help).

Two minutes later there was a warm applause, followed by some technical “criticisms” and some candid remarks. Our age-bracket offers them scope to encourage more people over forty to apply for the contest. Further, they asked if the song is original (it is) and if we had more material (we do).

We should hear later this week if we’re through to one of the “semi-finals”, when we get six minutes to entertain and win over the judges and/or the public for a place in the final. We’ll keep you informed of developments.

Jamming with locals in Malta

On Wednesday, 10 October, Irene flew in to Malta. Just outside her hotel she noticed a man with a guitar on his back, and decided to approach him for information about possible open mics on the island. The man, called Charlie, wasn’t too optimistic, but he did know of the owner of a suchi restaurant in St Julian’s (a short bus ride away), who hosted jamming sessions on Wednesday nights.

The restaurant, Gochi, was surprisingly easy to find, and Miro (the owner) suggested Irene return after 9pm. Not many musicians turned up, but Miro and Hishi (a young bass player) and Irene managed to have a go, playing some of the Two Doors Down songs. Hishi particularly enjoyed ‘Mr Spitz’, about Mark Spitz, and his seven gold medals – especially the “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah” at the end of the song (the other verses only have 5 yeah’s).

below: Irene, Hishi and Miro in front of the music alcove at Gochi’s

above: Hishi and Miro with their instruments

Two weeks as an artists’ community


From 10 to 23 July 2012 Margriet and I, together with our friend, Katrin, from Berlin, formed a temporary artists’ community, based in my brother’s home in the Gerard Scholtenstraat in Rotterdam. (My brother and his girlfriend had agreed to swop houses with Katrin for two weeks, to make this possible.) My sister, Daphne, joined us for a few morning sessions, to draw us.


Here are some of the things we managed to fit into this two week window:

– play at two open mic sessions in Café de Bel (Gerard Scholtenstraat)
– attend a screening of a music documentary about Talking Heads at the beach in The Hague
– go sailing with friends
– attend a live recording of the TV programme, “Beste Singer-Songwriter van Nederland”, in Amsterdam
– go to the Boomtown festival in Gent (Friday night)
– experiment with paper
– experiment with improvising
– introduce Margriet to the basics of playing the ukelele
– work out four Dutch songs for our “Crème Brûlée” repertoire (incl one new tune)
– make a start on two other tunes for the “Crème Brûlée” repertoire (Irene)
– watch a BBC video series, “How Art Made the World”
– perform at ROOM hostel (thanks Arto from Brazil for listening so attentively)
– do some recording, incl a recording of one of Katrin’s songs
– make video recordings of the four “Crème Brûlée” songs we had arranged
– go to two music shops (incl a ukelele shop, where we met Marco and Shelly)
– check out books on songwriting from Irene’s collection
– cook, eat, sleep and get on with living …


We were so busy, there was hardly enough time to work on our own individual projects.


Dot to Dot Festival, Manchester

On Monday, 4 June, in the middle of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, Margriet and Irene attended the Dot to Dot Festival in Manchester.

The highlight was “Pearl and the Beard”, the band that drew us to the festival in the first place. A close second was “Pond”. The Ritz had the best sound system, but the Deaf Institute was the coolest venue by far.

below: Pearl and the Beard in the Sound Control Club

above: Pond at the Deaf Institute

Irene and Margriet’s Programme

17.45 – 18.30: Lucy Rose

16.15 – 16.45: The Dunwells

15.30 – 16.00: The Night
18.30 – 19.00: Pond

20.15 – 20.45: Pearl and the Beard

14.00 – 14.30: Being There

Full line-up


On the radio – Amsterdam FM – Songwriters Live

On 24 May 2012 we played live on the weekly radio programme, Songwriters Live, presented on Amsterdam FM by Rufus Kain on behalf of the Amsterdam Songwriters Guild.

Here are recordings on the four songs we performed that day. (Sound engineer: Carlos Manso)

I really like it Lyrics
Poor world Lyrics
On repeat (Missing you) Lyrics
Life’s like that Lyrics


You can listen to the whole radio programme by clicking here. We feature at the following times:

20:55 – I really like it
23:24 – Interview (Part 1)
33:42 – Poor world
37:17 – Interview (Part 2)
44:47 – On repeat (Missing you)
52:55 – Life’s like that

“Mirror Mirror” – entry for

Irene writes: I selected the painting, “Het oorbelletje”, by Breitner to inspire my song for the competition. The recording features me on guitar and vocals, and Margriet on glockenspiel.

Mirror, mirror, mirror
When it comes to love I’m a real beginner
Does it show?
Mirror, mirror, mirror
Help me feel like a winner
Help my confidence grow.

Check out our entry on the website, and take a moment to listen to the ten finalists and the other submissions:

Margriet and I hope to attend the final, and take part in the public vote in a few weeks time. We’ll keep you informed of developments.