A hypnotic blend of rhythms, landscapes, tones, colors, styles and moods, with melodies leading the way to certain places that only songs without words can go.
-- Pieta Brown, 2015
Mark Knopfler / Bob Dylan tour, 2012
Brooklyn, New York 21 Nov 2012
Our final day and show of the tour was at The Barclay Center in Brooklyn with a large and enthusiastic audience in attendance. Mark K. and Co. in tremendous form and savouring our last time playing together for a few months.
Last days are transitional, everyone looking back to the first days of rehearsals, the good days out touring, the journey leading to the end and a job well done. At the same time anticipating being with loved ones again and sleeping in our own beds.
We've made many friends in Dylan's camp over these last two tours, everyone was great... the caterers, management and Bob's band... all good folks and we'll miss them. It was also a day of farewell to our own brilliant guys, the best in the biz, who make our show happen every night. If it was left to the band to move the gear, set-up the stage and deal with electrical emergencies.... let's face it, there wouldn't be a show that night or any other. Thanks to you all and we look forward to next April. To Paul Crockford, Tim Hook and Pete Mackay, the guys responsible for moving the band around and management, my thanks and love. Everyone has made our lives as care free as possible so we can arrive at each venue and focus on playing the shows each night.
I've earned my living as a professional musician since the late 1960s and can honestly say this is the best bunch of musicians and guys I've ever had the pleasure of working with. We all gathered last night after the show for a parting glass and fond farewells. To Mark, Guy, Jim, Glenn, Ian, Mike and John go my deepest respect and love. The leave- taking is made easier this time knowing we'll be back together making music and laughing our heads off in just a few months again.
So this will be the last of the road notes for a little while. I'll go back to posting the occasional Nashville up-dates from here. Thanks for tagging along and until the next time.....
Washington, D.C. 20 Nov 2012
It was already an early departure this morning from Philadelphia, compounded by one of these blasted acrylic nails popping off just prior to turning in last night. For better and worse, I've come to depend on the things when playing finger style. If one expires it's like a dog limping on three legs. So, it was up at 7, coffee, shower, pack and scour the internet for a nail salon near the hotel. I found one a half mile away that opened at 9:30 and was waiting on their doorstep when the lock unlatched. Saved. On the way back I spied a neighbourhood pizza joint that was open for breakfast. With an hour to spare, I went in for a couple of scrambled eggs, fresh hashbrown potatoes, toast and coffee..all great, for a whopping $4.50.
We piled on the buses for an 11 o'clock departure and a three hour drive to Washington and tonight's show at Verizon Centre. We'd left Philly so early uncertain what the traffic might be, but as it was the roads were moving and we arrived at the venue at 2 in the afternoon leaving us with a whole lot of time to fill in our locker room digs which was spent between eating, sleeping, practising and computer stuff. Just before soundcheck my friend Gordon Roberts with Headway electronics popped in for a visit and cup of tea. Gordon, the man behind those wonderful Eastman arch-top guitars, now works with Headway who make violin, cello, bass and guitar pick-ups as well an accompanying pre-amp.
We finally got a sound check at 6:10, doors opened at 6:30. I had a very quick bite with Gordon and also a short visit with Mark Bartell of Tone King Amplifiers that both Mark and I have used for years. Good seeing both those guys. Also attending tonight's show was one of our favourite musicians, Bruce Molsky and his wife.
Our final bus journey tonight following the show, 230 miles to Manhattan. Making the miles easier were plates of b.b.q. ribs, chicken and brisket, G & T's, and a musical whiplash playlist courtesy of Jim C.
It's been a long day and I finally got down to sleep at 5 in the morning. Tomorrow is our final show in Brooklyn.
Philadelphia, PA 19 Nov. 2012
Slept late, coffee in the room, gym, read the NY Times, shower and leave for the tonight's show, that was my entire day, never set foot outside today. John and Mike on the other hand went to a fab vintage instrument shop where John purchased a 1916 A model Gibson mandolin that he'd been looking for since the beginning of the tour. Well done and a far better use of time than mine.
We had loads of old friends join us today at the Wells Fargo Center here in Philly, home to the Philadelphia 76ers. Chuck and Jo Ainlay as well as David Conrad and Anastasia Brown came in from Nashville. Our pal and great musician Tim O'Brien happened to be passing through on his way back to Nashville and stayed over to hang with us. Also Dick Boak of Martin Guitars and his daughter came in from Nazareth, Pennsylvania to see the show and visit. It was a joy seeing them all at the gig and later in the bar for a couple of night caps.
We're off early tomorrow for a pre-show drive to Washington, D.C. for a show then an after-show drive to New York for the finale of this tour.
Boston, Mass 18 Nov 2012
I have a theory that goes like this; as a tour approaches, unconsciously I set an inner clock. Whatever the duration of the tour... 2 months, 4 or longer... that's how much energy I have. As the tour winds down so does the energy. The last few days I've noticed the spring getting slack, not to the point of being close to exhaustion, but sort of a vague weariness.
Saturday the 17th was a day off in Boston and apart from going to the gym, getting out and walking Boylston Street, I was happy to stay in, read, practise and freebase Anita O'Day on YouTube. Met up with a friend for visit and delicious dinner at Legal Seafood. Also had a visit with my friend Kate Walker, who hosts a brilliant weekly radio programme called Sunday Morning Country on Boston College Radio WZBC 90.3 FM. Kate very kindly baked a stunning sweet potato pie made with garnet yams, Tahitian bourbon and Vietnamese cinnamon. Those are the ingredients Kate will divulge, the remainder are a well kept secret. A stunning piece of baking. Check out Kate's show from 10-2 every Sunday, it also streams at wzbc.org and is archived at zbconline.com In the meantime, you'll have to imagine how good that pie was.
Today, Sunday was another quiet day, packed the bags and prior to checking out, met up with some of our friends who came down from Booth Bay, Maine. Always great seeing them.
Tonight's show was at TD Garden. After sound check, the next order of business was catering where tonight's dinner was New England clam chowder, steamed lobster, roast beef, Yorkshire pudding and all the trimming. I've taken to not eating just before the show but could not resist that particular line-up and it didn't disappoint.
The Boston audience was as good as they come, incredibly enthusiastic, a full-house standing at the end of our set. Everyone pleased with tonight's show. Mark played a few tunes with Bob at the beginning of his set, then off to the buses for a long 320 mile drive to Philadelphia that was eased by boxes of seafood from Legal, the remainder of Kate's pie and lashings of g&t. We arrived in the City of Brotherly Love at 4:30 a.m. Sleep.
Montreal, Quebec 16 Nov 2012
A couple of cups of Nespresso coffee in the room then out the door for one last wander in Toronto. After another coffee out, I ended up back at a fabulous record shoppe just below Flo's Diner called Grigorian with it's fantastic selection of classical, jazz and world music. By sheer luck and the help of a listening kiosk in the store, I stumbled onto the fabulous new album by Sara Watkins called Sun Midnight Sun. One of the best things I've heard in a while, pop-folk, great songs, terrific singing and very cool production. Got back to the hotel in time to pack the bags and check out of Toronto.
Traffic to the airport was stiff but Jason got us there for the short flight to Montreal. We managed to get a 20 minute sound check tonight, not really enough but we made due. A quick stop at catering, change clothes and on stage. Tonight's arena was the Bell Centre, nearly sold out and the audience was ace, it was like one of our audiences. People knew the songs and were singing along.... a fantastic crowd, they couldn't have been better to us. Although, I find it difficult to think they enjoyed the show any more than we did. We're heading into the final four shows now and all feeling a little bittersweet about it ending. The upside is we get to do it all again beginning next April when once more we'll be doing our regular headlining tour and full length shows. Can't wait.
Following the gig, it was back to the Legacy for our last flight of the tour... the remainder will be by bus. Dianne had the most incredible Indian food, we could not stop eating it. The only thing that put an end to it was we were landing in Boston. A fond farewell and thanks to Dianne and crew.
Yes, tomorrow is another day off. No plans apart from the gym a walk in The Commons and dinner with a friend.
Toronto, Canada 14 Nov. 2012
Beautiful, sunny morning here in Toronto... up early, the curtains open to let it all in. Got the Nespresso coffee machine fired up in the room and it makes a pretty good cup of coffee, an acceptable jump start. Whatever was bugging my back is a memory so I no longer have an excuse to shirk the gym which is conveniently located on the same floor of the hotel as my room. Best gym goes to Toronto, fantastic, all brand new equipment and plenty of it. By half past 11 I was back in the room and ready for something to eat. I remembered a great little diner called Flo's just in the area and set out to find it. A splendid breakfast served all day and the coffee was good as well, fresh and strong, able to stand up to a little creme and sugar. Flo's Diner, highly recommended is on Yorkville near Bay Street. Following my plate of scrambled eggs and peameal bacon, I walked around the city for a couple of miles before heading back to the hotel.
Tonight's show was at the Air Canada Centre, home of the Toronto Maple Leaf hockey team. A cold and cavernous arena but the sound on stage was fantastic, really made you feel like playing. Our 70 minute set flew by as it always does and the whole place was on it's feet at the end. Thanks Toronto. Back in the dressing room Pete Mackay had arranged a large spread of Indian food that was soon inhaled, really delicious.
Back at the hotel for a nightcap or two with the boys. Tomorrow's another day off.
Detroit, Michigan 13 November 2012
Late this morning we de-camped Chicago and after so many days at the same hotel, half the contents of my bag were scattered to the four corners of the room. Gather, fold, zip the case and out the door. I managed to charge nothing to my room, no check out required, straight onto Jason's bus and out to Midway Airport. A fifty minute flight to Detroit this afternoon, most of it spent devouring a large and delicious Cobb Salad with fresh avocado, bacon, chicken, egg, balsamic vinaigrette and crumbled blue cheese.
We landed in Detroit and things were looking slightly bleak. So many abandoned, derelict stores, homes, factories and large buildings.... windows broken out... vacant. The gray skies didn't help. I was told that this mighty city, once the fourth largest in the country with 2 million people, now has a population of 715,000. With a little luck, the auto industry coming back and the economy slowly turning around, Detroit will begin to turn around as well.
Tonight's show was at an opulent theatre that gives a clear view back to those better times, the mighty Fox Theater. Built in 1928 as part of a chain of movie palaces by Fox just prior to the Great Depression, Detroit's Fox was and is a crown jewel from that era. Click this link and scroll down to Fox Theater then click it for the full story and some magnificent photos of the place. http://historicdetroit.org/buildings/ Also, check out Guy's website and diary entry for Detroit, he was a busy boy with a camera. Through many lean years, The Fox fell into neglect, disrepair and on it's last legs in the 80s was showing Kung Fu films. It was purchased privately and restored to it's former glory. Miraculously, 90% of this exquisite theater is still original.
It seemed like Detroit's audience was there to see Mark as much as Bob, great crowd. Last night also marked the debut of Guy playing the banjo-uke he purchased in St. Paul. Guy's an incredibly talented fellow, he can and will play anything thrust into his hands.
Following our set Mark played a few songs with Bob and we were away, back to the Legacy for another quick flight to Toronto, Dianne right there with g & t's waiting and platters of sushi. It all went down well and in less than an hour we'd touched down in Toronto where we'll play next.
Grand Rapids, Michigan 12 Nov. 2012
A gig tonight in Grand Rapids coming off two consecutive days off in Chicago. Meals ranged from Chicago hot dogs to one of the best steaks I've ever had at The Capital Grill. A walk down to the lake, some shopping, a trip to the Jazz Mart Record shop and more than a few gin and tonics. All tempered with plenty of rest and down time at the hotel. I also had breakfast with the son and grandsons of my old friend Seymour Drugan from back in the old L.A. days. I've owned one of Seymour's guitars since his death in 1969. It was great to visit with them and hear some stories about Seymour who originally hailed from Chicago and was a staff guitar player here on WGN Radio back in the 1940's.
Today, Monday, we were two hours late getting off for our flight to Grand Rapids due to navigational system problems on the plane. By the time we arrived in Grand Rapids plus an hour lost due to time zones, we pulled up at the Van Andel Arena at 6:30, the time the doors normally open. Doors were held for ten minutes while we got on stage directly from the bus and blasted through one song. From then on it was a head long dash to taking the stage and in less than an hour we were being introduced. It was one of the most fun shows of the tour, can't explain why, just was. Fantastic audience.
Mark played three tunes with Bob then we piled back on the bus for the flight back to Chicago. Boxes of Popeye's Fried Chicken awaited us and we tucked in, demolishing it all before arriving at the airport. Dianne and the Legacy were waiting as was perfectly made gin and tonics for Guy and I. A short flight back to our digs in Chicago. Tomorrow we de-camp and move on, playing Detroit tomorrow night then flying to Toronto after the gig. It's been a great five days in the Windy City, unseasonably warm until today. In the 70s, plummeting to the mid-20s overnight.
Chicago, Illinois 9 Nov. 2012
You may recall me writing about our visit with Pieta Brown a few days ago in Madison, Wisconsin. Both Glenn Worf and I played on Pieta's latest album, Mercury. Pieta just sent a belated review of the record and I thought you might be interested in seeing it as her and Bo were such a big part of our U.S. tour in 2010. http://www.vintageguitar.com/12359/pieta-brown/
Up and out by 10 this morning, it was a beautiful sunny and mild day here in Chicago this morning. Stopped for coffee and did a little shopping too, then back for a bit of practise. Working up a couple of new tunes that I'll record when this tour is finished and that will complete a new album that I hope to have out this spring.
Our good friend Paul Kennerley is here from Nashville and it's always a joy seeing Paul. He's a great songwriter, musician and pal. We all piled into catering on arriving at the United Center and ate like there was no tomorrow. The show was grand as was tonight's audience. Paul K. couldn't stop enthusing about all of it.
A quick bus ride back to our hotel and we have the next two days off.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 8 Nov 2012
Managed a few hours sleep. There is the sound of water running through pipes in the walls of this old hotel. It was there when I walked into the room at 4:30 this morning and continues non-stop. My back's still rough and the weather's grey. Decision made; no gym, no walk, nada. Feet up, book or guitar in hand until it's time to leave for the gig.
A very small dressing room for all eight of us tonight, the best thing about it is it's right next to catering. Arrived starving as usual and devoured a large bowl of Greek Wedding Soup with lamb meatballs that was delicious, chicken souvlaki, orzo and salad. Cup of tea, ibuprofen and things were looking up. Sound check and show. Great Milwaukee audience... thank you.
On to the buses for a short 90 mile drive to Chicago. Some very kind friends of Glenn Worf's supplied us with cases of Leinenkugel Original Beer and a variety of Wisconsin sausages and cheese that fueled the ride. Arrived Chicago and had a night cap with Guy and Ian. Bed.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 6/7 Nov 2012
Before we get started, a quick correction to the notes from Madison, Wisconsin. The body of water our hotel overlooked was of course, Lake Monona, not Lake Michigan. I often write these notes in the wee hours just before going to bed or along with my first cup of coffee and not always fully awake.
6 November, 2012
Yes it's another day off today, we're in Minneapolis. I'm still feeling the effects of our bowling tournament in Madison but decided to work through it. While this hotel has much to account for, i.e. the heating system is in-op and construction within the hotel on several floors... the gym facility is by far the best of the tour. I decided to go all out on machines and various tools of torture I'd not seen since leaving home. In the process I awakened some monster in my lower back and it's raising hell. I'm usually not bothered with back pain and hoping this is not long term.
Got a call in the afternoon from John McCusker to say he, Mike and Guy were heading to a vintage guitar shop in St. Paul called Willie's and did I want to go. Yes. The hotel had a courtesy car available for the 25 minute ride but as it was officially out of Minneapolis and in St. Paul it was a $30 fee. Split 4-ways, not bad. Willie's American Guitars is located on the corner of a residential neighbourhood next to a 1950's malt and burger shop and a violin repair store. Vintage guitar heaven in there, a great and comfortable hang out and Molly Mare who helped us made us feel welomed. It was John who was looking for an old Gibson mandolin but in the end Guy purchased a 1920s Slingerland banjo-uke and Mike a very sweet all mahogany Martin tenor guitar from 1961. I kept my desires and credit card in check, wandered next door for a old fashioned cheese burger and a cherry Coke. Came back to the guitar store just as Willie the owner came in. Turns out we all know a lot of musicians in common. Willie's a great guy and even gave us all a lift back to our hotel in Minneapolis. Check out Willie's American Guitars... www.williesguitars.com.
A band dinner tonight at the fabulous Bar La Grassa. Fresh pastas, salads, exquisite entrees all served up in an unpretentious atmosphere of a converted warehouse. I had a Crispy Insalata, Silk Handkerchiefs (pasta) with pesto and St. Louis Ribs. The ribs have been steamed for 4 hours then finished on the grill with a dry rub. With very little encouragement from a fork, the meat fell from the bone. Take a look at this menu... www.barlagrassa.com. We were joined tonight by our friend Sam Hudson who we met several years ago while doing the very popular American radio program that originates from St. Paul, A Prairie Home Companion. Sam has been with the show from the early '90s, is talent producer, broadcast engineer and all around good guy.
After dinner we gathered in the hotel bar to watch the election results coming in to confirm President Obama for another term.
7 November, 2012
My back is shit, every step measured. I make a cup of crap coffee with the in-room machine and those little packets of mediocre stuff, a jump start. Grey, cold and a good day to stay in. Read, practise, pack and check out.
It's late afternoon when we arrived at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. I've eaten nothing since the previous night's dinner and make a dash for catering. More like a slow hobble. A bowl of piping hot tomato and basil soup and large tuna and egg salad, cuppa tea, three ibuprofen and am feeling like I might just live to fight another day. Sound check, gig.
We've always been fond of the twin cities and tonight's audience was stellar, the show as well. Following the show we piled back onto the buses for a long ramble down the highway to Milwaukee, arriving at 4:30 in the morning. I don't sleep on the bus so bounced between reading and riding shotgun with driver Jason Holt. Long periods of sitting on the ride didn't do my back any favours. Tried to keep moving, standing or lay down on one of the couches in the front lounge of the bus. I still couldn't sleep when we arrived at the hotel and read 'til 6 a.m. Welcome to Milwaukee.
Madison, Wisconsin 4/5 Nov. 2012
4 November 2012
Another day off today. This tour, like last year's with Dylan, has been a walk through the park with the amount of days off. As it's Bob's tour, that's the way he likes it and we're happy to oblige. I threw the curtains wide to a sunny, blue sky day and full-on view of Lake Michigan, not bad for starters. I dragged myself into the gym for the usual 90 minutes of torture, showered and hit the pavement to find a little lunch.
Madison was quiet and closed, at least the part where we are staying near the capitol building. I walked several blocks then turned a corner to find The Great Dane Brew Pub. I was hungry and it was open so in I went. It's a good sign when you can see all the brewing equipment and tanks within the pub itself. They had an amazing variety of beers that were brewed on premises. I was pleased to see their German Pilsner, ordered it and have to say it was as good as any Bavarian beer I've had. By some miracle on the menu was southwestern green chili with pork, not something easily found outside Arizona and New Mexico, most Mexican restaurants don't make it. What's it doing in a brew pub in Wisconsin? I couldn't not order it, fully expecting the worst. A large steaming bowl arrived and it looked right. I have to admit, it was as good as any I've had or made myself. Two thumbs up to The Great Dane in Madison, 123 E. Doty St. www.greatdanepub.com. Go there.
This afternoon was the big bowling tournament, band vs.crew. I don't know who came up with it but several days ago a plan was hatched for our day off to reserve several lanes at a bowling alley in Madison, gather the band, crew and Bob's crew, throw in some beer and chicken wings and see what happens. It was fantastic. After everyone had a first game under their belts it all started coming back and many of us played four games. It quickly shifted from competition to everyone cheering each other on no matter what their ability. Our Guy F. has acquired all the electronic scores and is busily tabulating the results, but word has it Jim Cox was high scorer of the day. None of that mattered, we couldn't have had a better time. I've not bowled in at least thirty years and didn't do badly but should have quit after the third game, by the fourth I was knackered and couldn't even crack 100. Most of Bob's crew came as well and we all had a load of fun and laughs.
Back at the hotel I sat down for a half hour and realised I was done in from the bowling but also starving. Some of the guys were heading out for Italian, some to an Irish pub. All I wanted was something close and delicious. Back to the Great Dane. Several of our crew were already there crammed into a booth and spilling out so I was seated in another and quickly joined by bowling champ Jim Cox. As good as their beer is, nothing soothes aching muscles like a couple of martinis followed by a Wisconsin dinner of bratwurst steamed in beer, sauerkraut and mashed potatoes. The Great Dane comes through again.
5 November 2012
I hung out this morning with the President of the United States and Bruce Springsteen. Yeah really, the Pres, the Boss and me... and 18,000 other people. On this final day of the presidential campaign, Obama's first rally stop was here in Madison, in fact just outside the hotel about a half block away. Of course it wasn't quite that easy. Due to security the secret service prevented us from entering the rally that way, re-routing us around several blocks to clear security checks. It was a brisk sunny morning and along with Pete and Ian, made our way into the rally. From this point you could barely see the stage, but screens and speakers had been set up and simply being in the crowd hearing Obama speak was pretty cool. It's a tight race and each candidate had a full day ahead of them. Madison was the first of three rallies for Obama, pointing out that today was the last day he will ever campaign.
This afternoon our friends and fellow musicians Pieta Brown, Bo Ramsey, Greg Brown and Iris DeMent all came to Madison from Iowa City to see our show tonight. As it's difficult to visit with people at the venue, a luncheon was arranged at the hotel and it was good seeing them all and catching up.
It had been a full day even before we got to the Alliant Energy Center for tonight's show. Alliant is an old arena going back to the 70s or 80s. The audience in Madison was wonderful and of course it was a home coming for Glenn Worf who hails from here. Following our good show, Mark played a couple with Bob then we hit the highway for Minneapolis arriving at 3 a.m. Tomorrow is... wait for it... another day off.
Omaha, Nebraska 3 Nov. 2012
As per yesterday's post, we pulled in to Omaha at 5:45 a.m. from Tulsa. I shut the curtains tight to ensure not one sliver of light crept through and went to bed hoping for a solid 5 or 6 hours. I opened my eyes at 10 o'clock feeling wide awake and ready to go. I've never been sure how you can sometimes get a full night's sleep and wake up exhausted and other times get by on a couple hours and feel great. Doesn't matter. I got dressed and tossed myself out on the streets of downtown Omaha to see what I could.
I found myself on Howard Street near the hotel. It appears to have been a warehouse and industrial district at one time but now converted to restaurants, market places, antique dealers, fashion and coffee shops and it runs for several blocks. I found a place to pop in and get my nails done, had a coffee and spent some time in a couple of used record stores. I also came upon a small plaza surrounded by red umbrellas and a bronze statue wearing a chef's hat ... a toque. A large sign informed me it was the world headquarters of ConAgra and on closer inspection the tall bronze statue was none other than Chef Boyardee. For those not familiar with the name, he was a real person with a family owned Italian restaurant who came up with the idea of canning spaghetti in The Depression. It was pretty awful stuff but caught on straight away and still sells to this day. Boyardee, whose name was anglicised from it's original Italian spelling was the spokesman for his concoction and appeared in early magazine adverts and TV commercials, a well known figure here in America. Every kid in the States came up eating it. It seems that ConAgra, a not-so-friendly corporate name, owns the Boyardee brand and the chef himself who died many years ago. Legend has it, if you touch the chef's toque it will bring good luck in the kitchen. I left that task to others but still got a smile seeing the good chef standing there in the plaza looking just as I remember him.
After a couple hours I came back to the hotel, packed and met with a fellow who used to take guitar lessons with my old mentor and pal Al Casey in Phoenix. Doug Miers is a long time resident of both Des Moines, Iowa and Phoenix, currently living in the former. He'd purchased a guitar amplifier from Al in the early 90s that Al had used on hundreds of record dates. When I began going around to sessions with Al in the 60s I remember him always using the amp. Doug made contact with me over a year ago explaining he had the amplifier and wanted to give it to me as a gift. As Des Moines is only an hour away from Omaha, we made arrangements to meet for lunch. It was a real tug seeing that amplifier again after all these years, still in beautiful shape, and like Chef Boyardee looking exactly as I remembered it. More important, it was great spending a couple of hours getting to know Doug and exchanging stories about our mutual pal Al Casey.
Tonight's show was held in the Centurylink Center in downtown Omaha. A fabulous audience, couldn't have been better. MK and Co. have hit a very comfortable cruising altitude on this tour when it comes to the shows. Not cruising as in lazy, but effortlessly performing at peak ability. Mark played a couple of tunes with Bob again tonight then it was back on the highway for another long drive to Madison, Wisconsin.
I don't recall ever being in Omaha before, we definitely have never played it with Mark. What little I saw of it this morning I liked very much.... good city, good people. How can you not like a town that's home to America's coolest billionaire, Warren Buffett? While on the subject of do-re-mi, I'll leave you with five Fortune 500 companies that headquarter in Omaha:
1. Berkshire Hathaway
3. Union Pacific
4. Peter Kiewit & Sons
5. Mutual of Omaha
Tulsa, OK 2 Nov. 2012
I may have been in Tulsa before, though can't say for sure, definitely not with Mark K., maybe in the old days with Neil D., but for the life of me I cannot recall. What I know for certain is the name of this city is in the title of one of my favourite songs.. Take Me Back To Tulsa by Bob Wills. Wills held a long residency in Tulsa at Cain's Ballroom and with radio station KVOO in the 1930s and '40s.
I'm afraid Tulsa was not explored this trip, no time. But our show at the BOK Center was firing on all 8 cylinders; relaxed, fun, good sound in our in-ear monitors and top drawer playing all around. The Tulsa audience very enthusiastic and kind to us. On this shared bill tour, folks are there to see Bob for sure and it's never a given that they are there for Mark. Knopfler & Co. never fail to win them over, but last night they were with us from the beginning with a warm reception right the way through to a standing farewell.
We stayed at the BOK just long enough for Mark to joining Bob on a couple of tunes early in his set, then it was onto the buses. This tour has been a combination of Legacy jet and ground travel. Tonight was the highway, seven hours of it from Tulsa to Omaha. I seldom sleep on these journeys... don't like crawling in a bunk but more than that, if I get a couple hours shut eye then wake up when we arrive, I can never get back to sleep. So I tough it through, drink cups of tea and ride shotgun with Jason our driver. Last night we were nearly hit head on. A driver had come up an off-ramp and was driving on the wrong side of the road. Coming onto a highway via an off-ramp is not something accidental, it means the driver is severely impaired. Jason jerked the bus off to the side of the road, saved our bacon and called 911. I hope the driver of that car was pulled off before anyone was hurt. Well done Jason, thanks.
We arrived at our hotel in Omaha just before 6 this morning. One guess as to what my next move was.
Grand Prairie, Texas 1 Nov. 2012
We all had an amazing dinner Halloween night in Denver at The Kitchen. From beginning to end, everything was remarkable. I won't go to great detail just saying this is another 'don't miss' when in Denver, 1530 16th Street. www.thekitchencommunity.com
With bags packed we bid a fond adieu to Denver, a wonderful city, always loved it and felt I could easily live there. We spent four good days, had two great shows and several grand meals.. etc., everyone had a splendid stay in the mile high city surrounded by the majestic Rockies. I hereby award Denver the best re-visited city of this tour.
Aboard the Legacy for a sushi fueled hour long flight, landing in Arlington, Texas and driving to Grand Prairie, all towns on the outskirts of the vast and sprawling Dallas/Ft.Worth. Our show was at the Verizon Theatre, all tiered seating and more shallow than the usual arena. I didn't recall ever playing in Texas with Mark, though Guy says we did in 2001 and I'm sure he's correct. In any case it has been a long time and this Texas audience was great to us.
Following our portion of the show, Mark played a couple with Bob, Girl From The North Country and Things Have Changed.
Then.... massive amounts of Texas b.b.q'd ribs were devoured.
Broomfield, CO. 30-31 Oct. 2012
Yesterday the 30th was our second show at the arena in Broomfield and like the night before it was a wonderfully confident, but not overly, gig.
It was a full day leading up to leaving for the venue. I was awake at 8, coffee and a bagel in the room, down to the gym to gasp my way through 40 minutes on the treadmill followed by my usual measure of humiliation with the weights. Followed by a trip down to Guy's room at noon to do a bit of recording at John McCusker's request for an album he's completing for his wife, the brilliant Irish singer Heidi Talbot. I've been a fan of Heidi's ever since John first introduced me to her and am flattered to be a part of this new record. With a very simple set up in the hotel room we were able to overdub my part onto two songs. While I tend to favour more traditional recording methods like a studio and analogue tape, I cannot deny how convenient it is with just a good mic, pre-amp and lap top to record almost anywhere with such little fuss. It certainly worked out that way yesterday afternoon as I wandered in with a guitar and small amp, in t-shirt and shorts, plugged in, flopped down on the couch with a vista of the Rocky Mountains behind me and did a session. Mike McGoldrick engineered, Guy helped out with some sonic and musical suggestions and John produced. Everyone seemed pleased and I couldn't be happier.
After last night's gig we all ended up back in Guy's room for a night cap or two and plenty of great music and vibes courtesy of DJ Fletch.
Today is Halloween and another day off here in Denver. This morning I met up with an old friend who I'd not seen for 35 years at least, Don Burns. Don and I came up in the same music store, Skaggs Music Center, in Phoenix through the '60s. For a while I taught Don and later he took my place teaching for Skaggs when I'd moved to Los Angeles. He still plays but as things worked out he's made his career for many years as a programming engineer for the Honeywell Corporation and lives just outside Denver. We spent a couple of hours catching up on several decades this morning over eggs and green chili at Sam's No. 3 and promised to stay in touch now.
Later in the day a few of us wandered our way over to the world famous Rockmount Ranch Wear shop. It is still a family owned and operated business now run by Steven Weil, grandson of founder Jack Weil. Jack introduced the first commercially made western shirts with snaps. He is to western wear what Henry Ford is to the car. The finest in western shirts from elegantly plain and simple to extravagantly ornate stitching and designs. Rockmount makes everything themselves and the selection can be a little overwhelming. I managed to get out of there with only four shirts, but could have done some real damage to my credit card if I'd have stayed longer. If you ever find yourself in Denver don't pass up the opportunity to go to Rockmount Ranch Wear, located at 1626 Wazee Street, Denver, Colorado 80202. Meantime, check out their beautiful shirts for ladies and men at www.rockmount.com.
Tomorrow we de-camp this excellent city. While I should be in the gym, I'll probably opt out for one last visit to Sam's before leaving.
Broomfield, CO. 29 Oct. 2012
Sunday the 28th was a day off, I dragged myself down to the gym and immediately felt the effect of the mile high city when I got on the treadmill. Winded quickly, I scaled it back just a little and pushed on. Ready for something to eat after, I fell in at one of America's great diners that was conveniently located near our hotel here in Denver, Sam's No. 3. It's been featured on "Diner's, Drive-In's and Dives", episode #1113 on the Food Network and is worthy of the exposure. Established in 1927, it's menu is the definition of an identity crisis; American, Greek, Mexican, breakfast, lunch, dinner, beer, booze, coffee, malts, burgers, burritos and that's just the beginning. I'd eaten here years ago, introduced to Sam's by a friend, but had forgotten the name and it was just a distant memory until I walked past and recognized it. At 2 o'clock on a Sunday afternoon it was jam packed with a 15 minute wait for a table, I found a stool at the end of the counter and took it. I ordered the Mazatlan Omelet, a delicacy the size of a small third world country... three eggs, onions, tomatoes and cheddar cheese smothered in Sam's signature pork green chili, home fries and toast. Washed down with a couple of cups of their good tasting coffee that can stand up to a little cream and sugar. The whole thing set me back 13 bucks. I'll be revisiting Sam's again before we leave Denver. Check it out at: www.samsno3.com
As soon as I got back to the hotel I picked up an e-mail saying we were gathering in the hotel lobby for a band dinner at The Capital Grill. The Capital is one of our favourites having dined at one in Chicago. After that lunch I never thought I'd eat again, but at 7:15 we all were seated around a large table in the welcomed quiet, dark wood and oil paintings that is The Capital. Lunch still a current event I decided to eat light, a cup of lobster bisque laced with dry sherry and one of their specials of the night, lollipop lamb chops. Wafer thin chops with plenty of bone to hang onto, giving it the appearance of a lollipop. Both were remarkable and somehow I managed to make my way through most of the plateful of chops that arrived. So there you have it, two 'must go' restaurants in one day.
From the window of my hotel room I can look out to the Rockies and it seems I can see for at least 100 miles. Denver is a city I've always liked and felt I could live here easily. I spent most of Monday enjoying that view and keeping an eye on Hurricane Sandy as it barrelled in to the east coast making landfall in Atlantic City. It's devastating and wasn't long before nearly 6 million people up and down the eastern seaboard were without power. It will be days before the damage can be fully assessed and weeks if not months of clean up from flooding and wind damage.
Tonight was the first of two shows in Broomfield, a community about 20 miles outside Denver. It was the 1st Bank Center arena tonight and as with so many shows on the last few tours, we've mastered the relaxed yet sure footed approach...no one over playing but playing with power and imagination, not cocky but very sure of where it's at. A wonderful audience and reception and like all the shows we've done on this shared bill, the 70 minutes that make up our part of the show flew past and we we're backstage having a glass of wine wishing we were still out there on stage.
Back at the hotel by 10 or so, I opted for an early night.
Las Vegas, Nevada 27 Oct. 2012
Saturday afternoon we bid a fond adios to Santa Monica, California where we've based for the last week. The sunny blue skies, Pacific Ocean, Main Street cafes and beachy vibe will be a warm memory as winter approaches.
Back on board the Legacy our hostess Amy served trays of roasted vegetables, sliced salamis and breads for a light lunch on the way to Las Vegas. I was expecting 95 degrees but when we got off the plane it was very mild. I don't think there's much 'in between' about Vegas, you either love it or hate it. I'm afraid I fall into the latter camp, having no interest in gaming would be part of it and I find the hotels and downtown grotesque and obscene, I just never got it. Sorry.
Tonight's show was the arena at the Mandalay Bay Resort. Very spotty attendance, not even the floor was fully seated and the balconies pretty thin. Those who were there got a great show and were really good to us. We were all wonderfully relaxed, in fine form and as Glenn Worf is fond of saying... there was a man in every corner. That would make it an eight sided room, something that exists no doubt somewhere in Las Vegas.
We left before Bob's set was finished, to the airport and back on the Legacy for an upbeat flight to Denver made all the better by tandoori chicken, a delicious vegetable curry, rice and garlic naan, drinks of choice and freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Upbeat is really the defining word of this tour, happy to be together and playing music.
We're slowly making our way back east and north, and there was a decided chill in the night air here in the mile high city. Sunday the 28th is another day off, lots of days off on Bob's tour, and as I peck this out it's a beautiful, clear blue, big sky day.
Los Angeles, CA. 26 Oct. 2012
Yesterday was a day off and I spent it with my brother Jon and his wife Leslie at their home in Torrence. It had been a couple of years since seeing them last and we had a wonderful, easy-going day and dinner at their home. Jon's a fantastic drummer having played with Weird Al Yankovic for over 30 years as well as recording for others and playing in several other bands at the moment too. He stays busy. Leslie, now retired, excels in painting, jewelry making, dog training and Indian cooking among other things. She also strums a pretty mean ukulele.
Got out early and walked for an hour this morning, stopping at Peet's Coffee on the way back then spent a quiet few hours in the room reading and practising before an earlier than usual bus call.
Traffic in L.A. lived up to it's hype this afternoon and it took us 90 minutes to get from Santa Monica to Hollywood. We crawled for a good part of the trip, but finally arrived at tonight's venue.... The Hollywood Bowl. Built in 1926, it is an iconic amphitheatre carved into the hill at the top of Highland Avenue above the city of Hollywood. I lived just around the corner from the Bowl from 1977 to 1985 and have been to many shows there. The last one I remember going to was Procol Harem playing with a live orchestra... the L.A. Philharmonic I think. Anyway, it was fantastic. While having attended shows here, I've never had to opportunity to play the Bowl. Tonight I can say I have. When you haven't been to place in a long time you tend to remember it larger than it really is. The Hollywood Bowl was just the opposite, it's really huge, far bigger than I remember it, with a capacity of 17,000. Standing on the stage and looking out at sound check I was surprised how large it really is yet gives the impression of being intimate when you are in the audience. I must admit to being a little nervous when we took the stage and I think everyone was slightly in awe of this legendary, landmark venue.
We pull up stakes tomorrow. Off to Las Vegas for a show then on to Denver tomorrow night. It has been a wonderful couple of weeks working our way down the west coast from Vancouver to San Diego. Now we'll begin making our way eastward.
San Diego, CA. 24 Oct. 2012
Breakfast with my friend Jim Silvers in Santa Monica. I produced a couple of albums on Jim back in '78 and '80 that are now tricky to find. Both albums were country, leaning hard in a bluegrass/rockabilly direction and good stuff if you can get hold of them.
We took a couple of tour buses down south to San Diego, an easy ride, traffic not bad. I couldn't believe how much the city has grown, spreading far north before arriving at the city center. San Diego now boasts a skyline of high-rises, a far cry from the quiet town I remember from decades ago. Guy mentioned as we approached town that America sure has a lot of stuff. He's right. Jam packed.
We pulled in at the massive Valley View Casino Center sports arena, found our dressing room and began our usual routine that leads up to a 7:30 start for us. A fantastic audience tonight and a particularly good show, everyone in top form and firing on all cylinders.
It was 1 when the bus pulled up to the hotel. Knackered. Sleep.
Santa Barbara, CA. 22 Oct. 2012
Yesterday, Sunday, was a day off in Santa Monica. A turn in the gym followed by a stop at Cha-Cha Chicken right on the corner, a Caribbean/Cuban/inddoor/outdoor kind of place. Fast food that wasn't quickly prepared. A corner full of contradictions, but the important part being it is massively delicious. I had a half Cuban pressed sandwich of chicken, cheese, pickles, mustard and mayo. From there it was a dash to Peet's Coffee for a tall, double extra shot latte and a slice of banana bread.... all before 1 in the afternoon.
I walked it all off along the beach for a while then headed back to the hotel. Later in the evening, met up with an old pal who I've known since the late 60s for a a couple of drinks and a vegetarian Indian dinner on Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica. Delicious.
Today was a gig day and I woke far too early, read for a while then dropped back off to sleep 'til 9 this morning. Dragged myself out to Peet's for another tall one with a couple extra shots of the good stuff. Walked along the beach on the way back to the hotel and got ready to leave for an early bus call and drive north to Santa Barbara.
Tonight's show was the Santa Barbara Bowl, an outdoor amphitheatre we've played before when we did the tour with Emmylou Harris. A beautiful setting in a beautiful town. It was an early show, no doubt due to a noise curfew in S.B. Our part of the show began at 6:30!! It was still light and a great gig, everyone bundled up a little tighter than normal as it was breezy and cool. A good show for all, a couple of drinks backstage then onto the buses for the 90 miles or so back to Los Angeles. Our hero St. Peter Mackay arranged Mexican dinner for our trip back to LA. Chicken and steak chimichangas, green chili enchiladas, rice, beans, guacamole and various salsas. It could not have been better including DJ Fletch starting things off with Tony Bennett's The Good Life. We arrived back at our hotel at the early hour of 10:15. Unheard of, but there you have it.
Another grand day off tomorrow. Gym and ?????? Hope it is warm and sunny.
Sacramento, CA 20 Oct.2012
Another very foggy morning in San Francisco, like waking in a cloud. Coffee and pack. We decamp S.F. early this afternoon and in the 5 nights there I'd managed to get the entire contents of my bag strewn everywhere. I don't know how all this stuff migrates to various parts of the hotel room but they have and must now be corralled, folded and repacked.
It was a 90 minute drive north to Sacramento for tonight's show at the Power Balance Pavilion. The usual headlong dash to catering for a late lunch which now substitutes dinner. A large plateful of greens and tuna salad and half a sandwich backed up with a tall, strong latte. Sound check, change, gig. Some of the boys complaining about the sound tonight but it didn't seem to affect the show in any way with a standing ovation audience at the end of our set.
We left smartly after the show for a 50 minute flight down to Los Angeles. The Embraer Legacy 600 crew and Dianne there to welcome us aboard... drinks waiting, pasta and salad for the meal. It's always good coming back to Los Angeles, a city I lived in for nearly 2 decades. Tomorrow's a day-off and it will be a trip to the gym, a walk down to the nearest Peet's Coffee for a large one and dinner somewhere.
I've had a few folks asking about the on-line guitar lessons I'd mentioned. Here are links to a couple of guys I really like. Justin Sandercoe, as you'll see from his website has so many lessons available for the beginners right on through to very advanced players. All styles covered. The link I've listed is simply the first one I watched. He's very good and explains things so clearly. The second link is to a series of lessons from Tom Hynes, also great, usable information, incredibly clear and friendly approach. I like both these guys very much.
Tom Hynes http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5XbVHvIQcY
Justin Sandercoe http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hFBa3EMyWE
Berkeley, Calif. 19 Oct. 2012
Slept until 10, opened the curtains and couldn't see down to the street for the fog. No gym, just a pot of coffee to the room and a day of puttering. More on-line guitar stuff. Amazing how much great stuff there is out there. In the next few days I'll post links to what I've been watching.
Bus call at 3:30 this afternoon and a ride across the bay to Berkeley and one of our all-time fave venues, The Greek. We've played here so many times that is it old home to us. The weather turned this morning as mentioned above, no longer 80 degrees but more like 70s, overcast and foggy. Arrived and piled in to catering for late lunch/dinner. It's is the way ahead, eat loads of salad and entree before sound check and have enough time to work some of it off before getting on stage.
Tonight's show might well have been the most relaxed so far and the most enjoyable. The audience at The Greek seemed to confirm this. We were off by 8:40 with tacos and burritos waiting in the dressing room not to mention our Martin Miller gin, cocktail shaker, ice, olives and.... real martini glasses. I shook a couple up for Guy and I and we basked in what a great evening it was. We hung out tonight for a little bit and went out to see the first half of Bob's set. Bob in good voice tonight and the band in great form.
We piled in the bus and were back in San Francisco by 10. Mike and I walked 'round the corner for a pint at an Irish pub then back to the hotel. Tomorrow we de-camp, play a show in Sacramento then fly on to Santa Monica where we'll base for the next week.
San Francisco, CA. 18 Oct. 2012
Jim, Ian, Mike and I had a little expedition to Haight-Ashbury this afternoon for a visit to Amoeba Records a small chain of shoppes specialising in new and used CDs and vinyl. We grabbed the first cab outside the hotel manned by an insanely aggressive driver that happened to be a woman. All of us hanging on for dear life as she sped through the streets of San Francisco, the radio blaring a political talk-radio show. While I tended to side with the message, the messenger and the volume were so loud and annoying the only thing that took my mind off it was the terror I felt in taxi. We arrived 20 minutes later at Amoeba thankful the whole thing was over. Once in the store we all migrated to various interests and formats. I bypassed the CDs for vinyl and came away with some great albums in wonderful condition for a song; Kenyon Hopkins, Johnny Smith, Jerry Byrd, Homer and Jethro, Flanders and Swan to name a few. That was mercifully before I even found the jazz section at which point everyone was ready to leave. Just as well, once in that aisle it could have become expensive. After checking out we hailed a taxi and were treated to another terror filled journey complete with screeching tires. Fuckin'ell. What gives with the cabbies here? Mercifully, the radio was not on but the driver talked non-stop on his phone. Pulled up in front of the hotel and was again relieved to vacate a taxi for the second time in two hours.
Show number two at the Bill Graham Civic. A later than usual sound check which meant it was more abbreviated than usual, only ten minutes or so. Most of us had gone to catering on arriving at the gig so bypassed dinner which was just as well since there really was hardly any time after sound check. Got dressed and took the stage for another fab show, tonight's song line-up a little different than last night's. Just before we went on we got word that the pick-up in Glenn's string bass had lost all it's bottom end. I don't think it affected things much and certainly didn't dampen any one's spirit or game. It would take a whole lot more than a pick up not behaving to accomplish that.
Backstage after the show we made quick work of bbq'd ribs and chicken. Our own Pete MacKay getting a big nod tonight for thoughtfully purchasing a cocktail shaker, extra dry vermouth and a bottle of Martin Miller Gin. I know nothing about this brand of gin but it is now my all-time favourite. Our caterer Scott supplied the olives and I shook a couple up before heading back to our hotel.
Tomorrow is The Greek Theatre in Berkeley, an outdoor show in the bay area in October. Although the weather's been unusually warm, it promises to be a chilly one tomorrow night.
San Francisco, CA. 17 Oct. 2012
From my room on the 48th floor the windows open to the bay, Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz not to mention looking down upon this densely populated and magic city, San Francisco.
We arrived Monday night after our show in Portland and had a day off Tuesday. I never could get myself jump started even with three cups of Peet's coffee, a trip to the gym, lunch and a wander 'round the town ...I still felt groggy all day. I ended up back at the hotel for a nap before meeting my cousins who live here for drinks and dinner. My cousin Neal and I keep in touch somewhat regularly and I see him every time I come to the city, but his older brother Ron I've not seen in well over 20 years and a bonus was meeting Ron's wife Barbara. We started with cocktails at the hotel then moved on to several more with dinner. The restaurant, Boulevard, was touted as the best restaurant in San Francisco. Now that's quite a claim in a city known for it's brilliant cuisine. As soon as I stepped in I knew I loved Boulevard. The food didn't disappoint and the martinis were perfectly mixed. Highly recommended, Boulevard is located at One Mission Street, S.F. CA. 94104. A wonderful evening reminiscing with close family who know where all the skeletons were hidden. It was an early dinner, I ended up back in my room by 9, in time to watch a re-run of our presidential debate, then put on a little music and drifted off to sleep.
I was up at 6:30 this morning and honestly could not have done anything less with my day. Slightly ashamed to say, in this wonderful city, I never left my room until it was time to go to the venue. A perfectly luxurious day of reading, prowling You Tube for some great on-line guitar lessons and practising. It is unseasonably warm and gorgeous here, 80 degrees today and more of the same tomorrow. I threw the curtain wide, the windows open and let the outdoors come to me today.
Tonight's show was the first of two at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium named after this city's famed rock impresario and concert promoter. A curious venue, wide and shallow, a standing floor with seated balconies. A fantastic show, loads of fun playing tonight and our 70 minute set really sped by. One minute we were stuffing our in-ear monitors in and the next eating sushi after the gig backstage. We're all having the best time on this tour.
Back to our hotel and a couple of perfectly mixed gin and tonics in Guy's room. At some point into the second G&T, Last Train To Clarksville by the Monkees came on the stereo and we both marveled at what an absolutely great record it was.
As this is coming from San Francisco, I'd like to share a link with you all. A film made in 1906, four days before the massive earthquake destroyed much of the city. A camera was attached the the front of a cable car as it made it's way down Market Street to it's termination. A brilliant glimpse at a city that had no way of knowing the devastation that was imminent. Horse drawn carriages, automobiles and people all vying for the right of way and dodging the cable cars. Apparently this film was sent to N.Y. to process and that is the only reason it survives otherwise it too would have perished as did so much and so many. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozXvAIOtifE
Portland, Oregon 15 Oct. 2012
3 cities, 2 flights, 1 show.
I began the morning in Seattle with a short walk to the Seattle Coffee Works Cafe for an eye opening large latte with four shots of their spectacular espresso. A real jump start to any day. Walked downtown Seattle for a a couple of miles after that then back to the hotel for a couple of hours before bag call and check out. A bus ride to the airport and boarded our Embraer Legacy 600 for a short 20 minute, bumpy flight to Portland. Ace flight attendant Dianne managed to serve a a beautiful Greek salad and cold cuts in that short time while deftly keeping her balance through the turbulence and we devoured it with no problem.
We arrived at Rose Garden Arena with just enough time to sound check, have a quick dinner, change clothes then hit the stage. It was superb show in spite of the stage sounding a little thin tonight. They are all different, still very little deters us from making the best of every situation and having a great show. Tonight's highlights: Marbletown, Song for Sonny and Hill Farmer Blues. The rest of the set was no slouch and the audience was thunderous. A glass of wine backstage, change back to our civilian clothes, a quick bus ride back to the airport and the Legacy.
Once again, Dianne had everything under full control, gin and tonics for Guy and I, wine and beer for the rest. Exquisite Indian dinner, garlic naan, chicken tikka masala, sag paneer (spinach and cheese cubes) and vegetable biryani all tasting like a million bucks. A few laughs and before we knew it we'd landed in San Francisco.
What do you know.... another day off tomorrow in this fabulous city before our two night stand at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. Too lucky.
Seattle, Washington 13-14 Oct 2012
Continental breakfast in the room and a good hard workout in the hotel gym that overlooks Puget Sound. Apart from that, in the words of our own John McCusker, I couldn't have done less. I spent the rest of the afternoon chipping away at the basket of muffins and fruit that had come with breakfast and playing guitar. It was breezy and grey with the occasional drizzle, much welcomed as the Pacific Northwest has been without rain for many weeks, unusual for this part of the country.
We arrived at the venue late in the afternoon and made a dash to catering to find lunch was still on, a Mexican fiesta. Albondigas soup, chicken enchiladas, tamale pie, beans, rice, flour tortillas, guacamole, salsa and salads. It's rare that anyone has more than a bowl of soup prior to sound check but most of us piled our plates high and made it an early dinner. Delicious. Another bonus to eating early was having a little more time after sound check to play our instruments and warm up a bit before the show. As with the last tour we did with Bob, we sound check late and go on early. When you squeeze dinner in between the two it leaves very little time for much more than changing clothes prior to hitting the boards.
Tonight's show, the first one in the States this tour, couldn't have been better. An incredible audience, with us at every turn, appreciative and not shy about showing it. We spun through our 70 minutes and had finished before we knew it and hung around long enough after our set to watch the first two or three tunes from Dylan and Co. before heading back to the hotel. It was a full band ensemble that made it's way to The Pike Pub & Brewery, a fabulous, funky brew pub. At least a half dozen pitchers of their superb amber ale was enjoyed by all.
Sunday the 14th is another day off and we'll stay in Seattle. I plan to get out early for breakfast, maybe go down to the farmers market and do some walking in this wonderful town, another of my favourite cities. Showers are forecast but the temps will be shirt sleeve mild and I'm really enjoying being on the west coast again. Tomorrow we'll decamp Seattle, fly to Portland for the show and fly afterward to San Francisco for yet another day off.
Vancouver, B.C. Canada 11-12 Oct 2012
Vancouver, one of my favourite cities, a place I could live very easily. We arrived late after the show in Calgary.
The 11th was a day off. A turn in the gym then out for a wander. Starving, I walked to Robson Street and came on a restaurant called the Thai House. Up a flight of stairs and ordered Gai Pad Namman, chicken with black bean sauce, celery, snow peas, peppers and pineapple. Served with a bowl of hot and sour soup, salad and spring roll. It couldn't have been better and under $8.00. All washed down with a delicious Granville draft. From there I walked down to Coal Harbour and walked along the water watching the sea excursion planes and yachts. Made my way back to the hotel for a day-off nap before a fantastic band dinner at Cin-Cin, a stunning Italian restaurant on Robson (again). We'd had a wonderful dinner here back in 2008 and this outing I had a steak and salad that was remarkably delicious.
Up early this Friday morning the 12th. Overcast and raining I puttered around on the computer and guitar. I met a couple of friends for lunch at a restaurant called the Italian Market. Back to the hotel to shower and pack.
Tonight's gig was at Rogers Arena and was a great one as usual, the audience so up and into it.
A glass or two or wine before leaving the venue for the airport and our Legacy flight to Seattle. We were ably looked after by Dianne who was with us in 2010 and great seeing her again. It was short flight, but Dianne had shepherd's pie and perfectly mixed gin and tonics for Guy and I, wine and beer for the rest of the crew.
We landed in a drizzly Seattle and were whisked away to our hotel where I joined John and Mike for a nightcap down at the bar and now peck this note out. It's a show in Seattle tomorrow followed by a day off.
Calgary, Albert, Canada 10 Oct 2012
Though we'd arrived at a reasonable hour last night, I'd slept the last 40 minutes of the bus ride in from Edmonton and it wasn't 'til the wee hours I was able to get to sleep. I managed to stay down until 9:30 this morning which is very good for me. Opened the curtains and stared straight into another corner of our hotel and a shaft between. I managed to see enough of the sky to know it was cold and grey. A perfect alignment to stay indoors. I ordered the continental breakfast, read the Daily Globe and Mail, fiddled around on the computer and enjoyed a day of solitued.
An earlier than usual bag call and check out, delivering us to the famed Saddledome by 3:30 this afternoon. I made a beeline for catering and the remnants of lunch, a fantastic rocket and tomato salad and baked chicken breast with pesto. That followed by loads of hanging out while Bob's band sound checked. Finally it was our turn and we spun through three songs before it was time to open the house.
After the show we changed, packed and made our way to the vans that drove us to the airport and our private jet, an Embrear Legacy 500. After many nights in a row on the bus, we were all very grateful to be back on that plane. Our flight attendant is Amy and she is great. Tonght's dinner was loads of fresh, delicious sushi and ribs. By the time the ribs arrived I was full up with sushi and passed on the ribs.
We arrived in Vancouver about 10:30 in the evening. Mike and John off to see some mates who are playing here in town. It's a day off tomorrow in Vancouver and I am off to bed.
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 9 October 2012
I didn't fall asleep until 6 this morning, the dawn seeping in through the edges of the curtains. I made the fatal mistake of dozing for the final hour of last night's bus ride and was wide awake when we arrived in Edmonton. At some point around 5:30 I began thinking of going down to the gym and getting my workout in, then trying to get some sleep. I did manage to drop off for about 3 hours then got up for the rest of the day.
I opened the curtains to see the beautiful view of the trees in fall colour and once again the rolling Saskatchewan River out my window. I immediately recalled this hotel from previous visits. This old turn of the century hostelry opened it's doors in 1915 as the Macdonald Hotel and is now part of the Fairmont chain. Fixed a coffee, checked the e-mail then went to the gym. After a shower I still had two hours before bus call so headed out the door and found a Vietnamese sandwich shop. A lemon grass chicken sandwich and cup of jasmine tea was just what the doc ordered and took me through until dinner tonight at the venue.
Tonight's show was at Rexall Palace, the home of the Edmonton Oilers hockey team. Our dressing room was their home team's and I speculated how much blood had been spilled on that floor over the years. As for the gig, we had loads of technical problems tonight, none of which really hampered the show but kept our crew on their tows and scrambling. It's a testimony to both them and us that we never missed a beat and I doubt anyone knew the difference with the exception of those on stage.
An after-show change of clothes and glass of wine then back on the buses for a 200 mile drive to Calgary where we play tomorrow. Indian food along for the ride as well as gin and tonics courtesy again of G. Fletcher. Arriving at the civilised hour of 1 this morning, I hope to log a few more hours sleep than last night and am off to do that very thing.
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan 7-8/10/12
Before we get started, I stand corrected by a couple of good folks who wrote to say I have indeed been in Regina before, July of 2008 in fact. Turns out I was, though in my defence it was a show that we flew in for that afternoon and left immediately after the gig. Apologies Regina, you surly left a big impression this time.
Sunday the 7th was a day off, it is also Canada's Thanksgiving weekend. After a late start and a visit to the gym, I stepped out to take a walk around the city. Due to the holiday Saskatoon was deader than Hank Williams, the shops shuttered and the streets bare. One establishment was hopping though, Hudson's Tap House. The last time I'd eaten was dinner the night before in Regina and I was past empty. I wheeled in to Hudson's, a pub-grill-sports bar that is an off shoot of Hudson Brewing Co. Fairly quiet, big screen TVs showing Sunday NFL but mercifully mute, loads of dark wood and a huge bar. Things are looking up. Had a sandwich, bowl of soup and a pint of Hudson's Ale all hitting the mark. I ran in to Colin Barton our tour production manager and Simon Tuchner our lighting designer there as well. After lunch I walked the quiet Sunday streets, stopped in a shopping mall that was open and decided I needed/wanted nothing and left. Took a walk along the the picturesque South Saskatchewan River which has a beautifully designed river walk along it's banks. The weather, while overcast, was warm enough for shirt sleeves. I made my way back to the hotel for a day-off nap.
By 8 o'clock I was ready for dinner and a re-run of Hudson's sounded just fine to me. I arrived to find nearly all of our crew boys bellied up to the bar where I joined them. I've mentioned in these notes before, we have the best crew in the business and they're the finest guys in the world. Because we travel at different times and generally stay in different hotels, I seldom see them outside of a gig setting. So, it was great to spend an evening with them as well as having a remarkable "Canadian" burger, thick, slathered in beer caramelized onions, sharp Canadian cheddar, lettuce and tomato. Martini? Oh I couldn't possibly. Two please. Back to the hotel and in bed by 10:30, it was a good day of rest.
I guess as I'd turned in so early the night before, I woke Monday morning at 7:30. Coffee and paper in the room, e-mail, practise etc. Today is officially Thanksgiving here. If yesterday was quiet, today was deserted. I walked for a couple of miles along the riverside, the temps colder today and the wind was stiff but it felt good being alone along the Saskatchewan River. Finally made my way back to town, virtually everything was closed with the exception of a small restaurant/bar called The Rook and Raven. Cold and hungry I went in and had one of the best bowls of soup I've ever tasted, creme of portobello mushroom with shredded smoked beef that was smoked on the premises. It couldn't have been better.
Shower, pack, check out and a great show at the Credit Union Centre followed by a 6 hour bus ride to Edmonton after the gig. However, the real show tonight was an appearance of the Northern lights. A little hint of them turned up early on the drive but shortly after everyone retired I was in the lounge and felt the bus slowing then coming to a stop. Jason our driver said, you've got to see this. The sky was absolutely flaming and alive, flashing and swirling, purple, green and running wild. In all my days I've never seen the aurora borealis. A serious wow.
We pulled in to Edmonton and the hotel at 3 a.m. where I peck this out and sign off still thinking of the Northern lights.
Regina, Saskatchewan Canada
With less than 4 hours of sleep under my belt I was woken by a shaft of gleaming sunlight slicing through the crack in the curtains that didn't quite join up. No matter, I felt as though I'd had a full night's rest, got up and threw the curtains wide and was greeted by a gorgeous, sunny Saturday morning. I fixed a quick cup of coffee in the room, got dressed and took myself out in it. On past tours I've made a point of getting out almost every day, wherever we were, finding a little coffee shop, having breakfast and reading the newspaper then wandering around the city for awhile. Seems like the last couple of tours I've not done as much of that, I've missed it and hereby resolve to pound a little more pavement this outing.
Regina is a beautiful city, clean as a whistle, flat as a pancake and the weather couldn't have been better, crisp but not cold, the trees sporting their autumn colours, the leaves starting to fall. Took a left out of the hotel and down Victoria Street a few blocks I came across a terrific breakfast restaurant called Fresh and Sweet specialising in freshly baked goods, the usual and some unusual breakfast fare. A coffee shop that actually had great coffee, just a straight up large cup of joe that didn't fold to a little sugar and cream. Armed with the local Regina newspaper it was a perfect breakfast, a plate of scrambled eggs, hash browns, grilled ham and thickly sliced marbled rye toast. It couldn't have been a better early beginning to this Saturday. Wandering out after that, to my great delight I came across a cool used record store, really well stocked with all kinds of music. How much better can this day get? I spent an hour in there thumbing through loads of desirable vinyl but in the end decided against dragging records around for the seven weeks of this tour and left empty handed. I saw a couple of old Canadian fiddlers there on the streets with their bows coaxing tunes, their fiddle cases open and full of coins. It's the first time I've been to Regina, named in the late 1800's after Queen Victoria, and was struck by what a nice city it is. With the sun beaming down as I crossed through the park back to the hotel, it was one of those mornings that makes you glad to be alive.
Pack, shower and a late afternoon check out then off to our gig at Brandt Centre. It was a hurried sound check followed by a quick dinner in catering... perfectly seasoned grilled flank steak and salad. We were on stage before we knew what hit us, a 7:30 start and it is prompt. It was a fully sold-out arena and we sailed through our set, a slightly different one from the night before, with great playing and much joy. A glass of wine backstage, change clothes and back to the bus for a 3 hour ride to Saskatoon fueled with food, perfectly mixed gin and tonics (courtesy of Guy Fletcher) and more than a few laughs. Arriving at the hotel just past 1 in the morning, I had a nightcap with Mike and John, closed down the bar and called it the end of a great day. It's a lucky life.
Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada
Having gone to bed early the night before, I woke early this morning. Opened the curtains to a bleak dawn... snowing, grey and the wind howling, blowing the snow sideways. A great morning to ring room service and have a large pot of coffee sent up. I found a very usable gym in the hotel though the first order of business was locating the remote control units for the three televisions that were blaring a chirpy morning talk show in unison. I suppose it could have been worse if they were all on different stations. Why do people think noise equals motivation? I found the remotes and as I was the only one using the facility, the screens went mercifully dark.
The weather never relented so it was a day of mopping up a lot of e-mail and falling into the black hole of a website devoted to children's records that my wife sent http://www.kiddierecords.com/2005/index.htm Being a record collector and having once been a child, I remember many of these wonderful discs from when I was a kid. The guy who put this site together has really spent an enormous amount of time and attention to detail in making his personal collection available to all.
A late check out from the hotel and off to the MTS Centre for our first show of the tour. It was like we'd never had a year break from touring, the old routine of dumping the bags in the dressing room and rooting around for something to eat, sound check, dinner, dress etc. seems to be encoded in our DNA. It was great seeing Bob's band and crew again, loads of hellos and catching up on the year gone by. It was time to do our first gig and what a great one we had. I can't remember a first show where everyone was so confident and relaxed. I won't give away the tunes that we're doing but will say that there's a healthy selection from the the new Privateering album and they went down brilliantly with the audience. It couldn't have been a better launch to this tour. That followed by a 7 hour bus ride to Regina, Saskatchewan, arriving just past 3 this morning and playing tonight. We're officially on tour.
Notes from the road return
It was a great last week of rehearsals in London ending with two shows for contest winners at the facility where we rehearse. 200 lucky fans, 100 each night, got to see a sneak preview of some of the songs we'll be playing on this tour with Bob of North America.
I arrived home in Nashville the evening of September 27th, immediately had a large gin and tonic and off we went for a fab Indian dinner at our favourite spot, The Bombay Palace. The rest of the week home was like a holiday, visiting with our children, dinners out with friends and a couple of quiet evenings in. It was just enough time being back home that it made it difficult to leave again this morning. The car arrived at 9:20, Glenn Worf already in it, and off we went to the Nashville airport.
So, we are officially on tour. Well, sort of. Glenn and I flew into Chicago where we met the rest of the band and a private jet and flew to Grand Forks, North Dakota. Grand Forks? Yes. Turns out Bob Dylan and Co. have spent the last three or four days at a large arena/convention centre rehearsing and getting ready for the tour. They graciously vacated today so our crew could come in, set up and we could do a 'production rehearsal' to finalise the lights and sound in a gig setting. We played through a half dozen songs to everyone's satisfaction, went back to the airport and boarded the plane for a short 45 minute due north to Winnipeg where we will play our first show of the tour tomorrow night.
We're all ready to go and really looking forward to hitting the boards for this seven week run. I'll try to stay current with these notes from the road, so check in often.