American Musician Touring Abroad in the Trump Era — Tour Diary Day 3–4

Tour Diary Day 3, May 26, 2017

I lied.

Nothing big but I brought more socks and underwear on tour then I let on. There’s the set I was wearing and then the emergency set in my carry on so all told I have 7 pair of underwear and 8 pair of socks.

Why is this important?

Because today was a NEW SOCKS DAY! (NSD™) It’s like pillows for my feet walking around in brand new socks and underwear.

And a good thing too — I did a bit of walking. Not “a bit of walking” in the Roman sense* but I probably walked a couple of miles today, down to the bridge and hit a bakery to get a traditional Cornish Pasty.** It was a butter chicken pasty and delicious. I sat in the shade by the IK Brunel monument and read about the bridge he designed that was a technological wonder of it’s time and connected Cornwall to the rest of England. I ate a cookie too.

Then I walked out on the big main bridge to look over at the IK Brunel bridge in all it’s wonder. It really must have been amazing to see this thing get built in 1859!

I made my way back up Fore Street towards St. Stephens Road and peaked in at a couple of little shops, found a present for Tracy and a card for me mum and chatted with the locals. By the monument for Major General Sir William Penn Symons K.C.B. of Hatt — I had a nice chat with an older lady walking her sons dog. She had been in San Francisco recently and went on a cruise through the Panama Canal. “They must’ve really loved this General Symons of Hatt, because Hatt is a town with one street light now, there mustn’t have been anything there in 1899.” We speculated over what war would’ve been going on in 1899 for him to have been killed in but we couldn’t figure it out.

As I walked along St. Stephens road I found myself listening in at this garage, they were in there working on cars and the music that was coming out of the garage — Burt Bacharach! How positively British!*** I felt like I wasn’t of my own time for a moment.

I got back just in time for some afternoon tea with Annalisa and I made some toast with some nice multi grain bread I picked up at one of the bakeries downtown.****

Tonght we’re playing in a school gymnasium, it’s all set up with a nice stage and kids climbing the walls (literally, it was a climbing wall!) and Peter’s band Jakku Dogs is playing and bringing the PA. Jim plays the cajon and Phil plays bass. Nice guys too. We rehearse a couple of songs that I’m going to join them on and we sound pretty good. I forget how much I like being a sideman, just playing guitar is SO easy! Make it loud here, make it quiet here. Originally it was my plan to be the sideman in someone else’s band but I had songs to sing so I morphed into this other thing. It’s interesting, when I do the sideman thing it feels like putting on an old pair of boots that fit really well, you sway side to side and everything feels familiar.

The show is sparsely attended. I actually blame the nice weather on this one. We’re in the U.K. and it’s sunny and in the 70’s and absolutely beautiful out — I don’t blame anyone for not wanting to come be inside on this lovely night.

I played first tonight and had an ok set. I used my looper pedal and my foot stomp making more sound than just me. Something you have to re-get-used-to when coming to Europe to play is when people sit and listen — you don’t have to bang them over the head with your music. It’s a holdover from playing in the states where you have to setting yourself on fire every 10 seconds to avoid folks getting bored. Tonight folks were sitting and listening and I found myself hurrying through the breaks to make sure I got to the next song quickly but they were listening to the stories and the tunes. It is a very different atmosphere.

The Jakku Dogs are great and Peter writes really catchy songs with beautiful parts, I wish we had more time to record stuff and work together. I can hear what they’re doing and the producer in me wants to record and mix.

After the show we came back to the flat, I bought a bottle of wine and Peter got some cheese, meats and crackers and we had a great hang in the back patio and even saw the International Space Station go by.*****

I’m truly sleepy tonight and hoping most of the jetlag is worn off as we have two shows tomorrow.

Word is the rain is coming back to Cornwall this weekend.

  • No, not Romans. Roman. My friend in Vienna. That dude walks everywhere! Shit it is 83 steps up to his apartment!
    **It’s a meat pastry that was originally made for the miners that worked the tin mines of Cornwall. It was made with a big crust so they could eat with their dirty hands and not get the part they are eating dirty.
    ***I know Burt Bacharach isn’t British but his music sure does fit.
    ****Thanks Deja for the toast tongs! Used them for the first time today.
    *****No really, I took my phone out and with SkyView app — we tracked it!

Tour Diary Day 4, May 27, 2017

It’s Saturday!

I say that to remind myself, it doesn’t take long to lose track of what day it is — these Tour Diaries help.

Today we have two gigs and before we go Pete tells me where getting a proper Pasty. I told him I had one the other day and he said “what was in it?” I said “butter chicken.” “That’s not a Pasty.” So today we’re getting a real one.

I do really love regional food. It’s like when I go to Massachusetts and someone says “we have a great new Mexican restaurant” and you know it’s shite without even trying it. I was on the Baltic Sea last year for a gig and they said “We have the best nachos” and I accepted that challenge and it was a basket full of no. There were chips and there was salsa on top but it was the sweetest salsa I’d ever had — as if it was cherry flavored or something. I ate 3 chips and couldn’t eat no more.

Wherever you are — eat what they eat and you’ll be fine.

I get it though — I’m a bit of a burger snob. There’s places that make great burgers, Golden Goose in Sedona, AZ, Park Bench Cafe in Huntington Beach, just about any 5 Guys Burgers — and nowhere in Europe.

So when Pete said I had to have a proper Pasty I knew what he meant and so we went to Oggy Oggy, the Cornish Pasty Company and I learned more about them from Pete like it was a tradition for the miners who ate them to drop the crusts down the mine for the “Tommyknockers” who were, as far as I can tell, the elves of good fortune. If you didn’t give up your crust to the Tommyknockers it was bad luck for that mine shaft. Sounds to me like it was a way of keeping the rats happy.

I had my traditional Cornish Pasty {pronounced Pă/stee} and it had beef and potatoes and some other stuff as well. I took a picture of the bag it came in but by the time I was eating it — I couldn’t get my phone out in time. Pasty = Tasty. {those words don’t rhyme well)

Then we went over to the Ashtorre Rock Hall in Saltash which is a room in a community center where we played unplugged for about two hours. Two hours? Maybe. I lost track of time but it was wonderful, we would swap off songs and Pete, Phil and Jim (Jakku Dogs) would join me on songs and I joined in with them as well.

It was an intimate show but I really dug it because everyone was really listening. You can’t beat listening rooms.

Then we came back to Pete’s flat and he made sausage, salad and mushrooms and shallots.* Pete is a great cook, I’ve been spoiled here and apparently tomorrow we’re having a roast that is already cooking in the slow cooker.

After late lunch/early dinner we headed over to the The Brook Inn in Plymouth — a right proper pub with a great stage and soundman. We tore it up good tonight and I even broke a few strings. I actually said before we started that I would be lucky to get through tonight’s gig without breaking any strings as this was the third day of shows and that’s about how long they last for me on tour. I’ve been working myself like a professional bicyclist with how fast I can change a string — or maybe a pit crew working Indy 500. I got string changes down to under one minute. The first string to go was a D and the second was a B. I’m going to have to change out the rest of them before our show tomorrow.

I played a couple of songs that I hadn’t played yet this week and got my looping pedal going in a couple of tunes. I use it as a percussion thing in one song and as an instrumental part in another. I’m very aware of how using the looping pedal can become annoying to the audience and try to minimize the annoyance. There are some bands, like Whitehorse, that are a two person looping machine that is at a level of performance art of how they coordinate the pedal dance but when I see solo folks do it, I rarely enjoy it for more than a song or two.

So I used it in two songs.

I’ve been joining the Jakku Dogs on stage for a few numbers every night and it’s quite fun. They cover “When the night comes falling” which is a Bob Dylan song covered by The Jeff Healey Band in Roadhouse — which is a very convoluted way to get to a Bob Dylan song but we’ve really been giving it a good kicking and totally underrated Robert Zimmerman tune.

And the Jakku Dogs have been joining me for “No Expectations” as well and we did a pretty sweet version of it tonight.

After the show I find myself talking to a bloke sitting there who, between my having a hard time hearing him in a loud bar, his British accent and him being drunk — let’s just say I was getting about every third word but I can tell you:

He watches “Big Brother”.

Someone on that show recorded a song

His actual brother was most likely involved with the recording of that song.

I am a very good performer.

You need a gimmick to make a million pounds.

I need a gimmick.

The girl on Big Brother was a git. (what is a ‘git’?)

That is the extreme Reader’s Digest condensed version of our conversation.

After the show it was toast and tea for Pete and I and that’s how we rock and roll in Cornwall.

Cheers.

*Only they pronounce shallots wrong. I don’t know how these Brits keep screwing up the English language.

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