Dawson musician planning water tour of Europe

·2 min read
Dawson City musician Holly Haustein, who goes by the name Driftwood Holly as a musician, performs with his friends on his houseboat, The Wooden Pearl, on the Yukon River in Dawson City. (Photo submitted by Driftwood Holly. - image credit)
Dawson City musician Holly Haustein, who goes by the name Driftwood Holly as a musician, performs with his friends on his houseboat, The Wooden Pearl, on the Yukon River in Dawson City. (Photo submitted by Driftwood Holly. - image credit)

When Holger Haustein moved to Dawson City 22 years ago, he brought with him little more than a thirst for adventure, and a willingness to try anything.

A lot has happened since then. He and his wife, Kirsten, have raised two children and built a home on the west side of the Yukon River. Haustein has renamed himself Driftwood Holly and launched a music career that has seen him play all over Yukon and Europe.

Last year he sailed his small wooden houseboat down the Yukon River from Lake Laberge to Dawson City. It gave him the idea for his latest adventure: building another boat in his native Germany and sailing down the Elbe River, putting on concerts along the way.

"What does it really take to build one of these vessels and travel a river anywhere in Europe?" asked Haustein.

"It turns out it's pretty possible. These rivers aren't so dangerous like our rivers here, so there's no driftwood or rapids or stuff. It's pretty organized, there's a lot of signs. And with the technology we have today, we can put everything on the vessel and be self-sufficient and perform gigs from the boat."

Dawson City musician Holly Haustein is planning to build this floating stage and sail it down the Elba River in Germany this fall.
Dawson City musician Holly Haustein is planning to build this floating stage and sail it down the Elba River in Germany this fall.

Haustein has a lot of followers in Europe, and they've rallied to his cause in the past and helped him realize his dreams, however outlandish. He raised $1,000 to make a record in the ancient city of Venice a few years ago, a place that has a long history, but not much of a music scene.

He said some of his fans in Europe have already expressed interest in supporting this latest venture.

"I think that's the best [thing] about it, that everybody's so excited at a time when there's not much good exciting stuff going on, and now we have something to work on. I can't think about anything else right now."

He also knows it won't be like building a raft in the Yukon, where materials are easily found along the river.

"This will be a problem, there's no driftwood in these rivers because they're pretty cleaned up on the beaches," he said. "We'll have to go into the forest and drag a bunch of wood out of there, but there will be a lot of help."

Haustein is planning to go to Europe in the late summer and begin working on the boat with an eye toward launching the craft, and the tour, in the fall.

Driftwood Holly entertains paddlers during a concert on the Yukon River at Dawson City.
Driftwood Holly entertains paddlers during a concert on the Yukon River at Dawson City.