The Sleeping Years
Café Westend, Hotel Fürstenhof, 2008
The first snowflakes of the year are dancing in the wind when we meet up with The Sleeping Years on this cold Saturday in November. Of course it’s beautiful, but not exactly the kind of weather we are hoping for, as we have already done an outdoor session with earlier on that freezing day. Singer and band mastermind Dale Grundle – you may also know him from his previous band Catchers – happily agrees to our ad-hoc-plan to stay inside. It takes a few words to convince the concierge but soon The Sleeping Years’ warm, melancholic folk pop unfolds in the empty dining room of their hotel, while outside the window pedestrians and motorists pass by on the snowy Gürtel and Europaplatz. The Sleeping Years play a more uptempo version of “You And Me Against The World”, a song about people drifting apart from each other and becoming isolated, which is in fact the main theme of their debut album “We’re Becoming Islands One By One”. As a contrast, there is a classic Viennese café next door, which is one of the few places where people still use to meet for hours and share stories and ideas. The Sleeping Years gather round a table and finally collect a deserved applause after having played “Setting Fire To Sleepy Towns”.
The classy Café Westend opened on the threshold to the 20th century at the corner of Vienna’s longest shopping street Mariahilfer Straße and busy Gürtel street. Just a stone’s throw away from Westbahnhof, Westend invites travellers, commuters and many other people to relax while sipping a cup of coffee, lean back with a good newspaper and observe other people hurrying by when eating at a table next to the huge windows. The interior has not changed a lot in the last century: exceedingly high ceilings with art nouveau stuc, simple wooden chairs and cosy settees, round marmoreal desks and lead crystal lustres; even the waiters – in their tradition tailcoats – can be called with the erstwhile quite popular, but now more and more out of use “Herr Ober”.
Fürstenhof is a popular accommodation for alternative musicians on tour. The family-run hotel on Neubaugürtel next to Westbahnhof offers special discounts for artist. The house was built more than a century ago; dark red carpets, wooden furniture as well as the dedicated family working behind the counter all contribute to an old-fashioned, yet warm and friendly ambiance. The wall in the lobby is full of photos from bands that have chosen to stay at Fürstenhof. It is quite likely to have breakfast next to some musicians in here. During the Bluebird-Festival the number of musicians might have even outreached the number of non-artists.