Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Home in Raleigh

On my morning bike ride the greenway trail was pretty busy. I saw 3 rabbits, 1 beaver, 1 huuuuge turtle, 1 Blue Heron, and 1 very squished brown frog.

Very.

Squished.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Home in Raleigh

Went to the Unknown Hinson show at Hideaway BBQ tonight. Damn good, damn good. He is such a funny fucker and I had no idea he was such a great guitar player.

If you don't know who Unknown Hinson, I'd suggest you Google him. No way to really describe him to you.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Home in Raleigh

Got offered the White Stripes tour today. Not interested. This is the third year in a row I've been offered that gig, but the timing's always bad. I'm committed to my current tour until next March. It doesn't help that if you work for the Stripes, you have to wear a vintage suit. WTF? I told them before that I got into the rock & roll business because I’m not a suit & tie kinda guy.

Saw the Nevers opening for Hobex tonight at the Pour House. Lots of old friends there playing in both of the bands and also in the crowd.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Headin' Back To Raleigh

Didn’t see Jen this morning – she had an early flight back home to Nashville and had to split the hotel before I got rolling.

Had a leisurely breakfast with Dave and then did some CD and DVD shopping with him. I snagged the new Mandy Moore (I have a fixation on her, I'll admit it) and Dave bought some stuff that was much cheaper here than at home in England.

Eventually headed out to the airport for my 3:30 flight home to Raleigh. Dave's friend came and picked him up from the airport for the drive back down to DC. Guess I'll see Dave again in the fall, assuming we go to the UK again this year.

Got home to a job offer from Nickelback, which I had to turn down. Can't just bail out of a tour once you commit to it. And I committed to my current tour until early next year.

Oh, yeah, and it's nice to be home…

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Hanging Out in Baltimore

Visited a bunch of cool places today. Dragged Dave to the American Visionary Arts Museum across the harbor. It's probably the coolest museum I've ever been to – you should check it out if you ever have some free time here. We could have walked to it in about 20 minutes, but I wanted to go ahead and get water taxi tickets (good all day) because we'd need them later.

Our early lunch consisted of the biggest prawns (shrimp) I'd ever seen. HUGE! And delicious.

Spent most of the afternoon bumming around and shopping. Dragged Dave out to Fells Point late in the afternoon. I found a really cool lamp in an antique store about 10 years ago, which I had re-wired and had a shade made for. It's some sort of 50's kitsch piece, a female elf-like person wearing a large dagger at her side, standing in a field of mushrooms. I call it the Tinkerbell lamp. It's pretty strange, I gotta admit.

Made it to Obrycki's for dinner. Best damn seafood in Baltimore, if not the entire state of Maryland.

Then off to the show. Jen watched with Dave and I, first downstairs where the sound was a bit muddy, then up in the balcony, which sounded much better. A few photos:






Audley only got to stick around for about an hour after the show. They had a long drive to Chicago for their day off tomorrow and needed to hit the road.

We were back to the hotel and asleep by about 1…

Monday, June 18, 2007

Short Vacation in Baltimore

Flew to Baltimore today for a little break. My buddy Audley is playing guitar in Peter Frampton's band this year and their Baltimore show tomorrow is the only chance I'll get to see them this year.

The good news is that they had the day off here today, so we actually got some hang time.

My buddy Dave from England flew over yesterday to visit a friend in DC for a couple of weeks, so he came up this afternoon as well, and is gonna crash in my room for a couple of nights.

My plane landed around 1:15 and there was Dave to meet me. His friend (who hates to drive in the city) had dropped him off at BWI. We grabbed a Super Shuttle into town (won't make THAT mistake again), checked in, and headed out. We're staying at the Renaissance Harborplace Hotel because that's where Audley's staying. Great location, right on top of the Inner Harbor area, which I love. I've actually vacationed here a couple of times and really like this area.

View from the room:



Dave and I went off to kill some time window shopping as Audley and his lovely wife Jen had taken the water taxi out to Fells Point and from there were gonna head to Fort McHenry (of Star-Spangled Banner fame). We weren't up to chasing behind them via the water taxi system, so we eventually found a bar by the water and sipped a few cold ones until their return late afternoon.

Wound up going to Little Italy for dinner later on. Poor Dave was totally knackered with jetlag and dropped out, so it was just Audley, Jen and me. Went to La Scala, which gave every appearance of being a mob-run place. Food was awesome, too.

Jen went down fairly early, too, leaving just Audley and me to go grab an after dinner drink somewhere and get caught up with each other.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

At Home

Saw a huge deer on the greenway this morning while riding…

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

At Home

I almost ran over a big ol' turtle on the greenway today riding my bike. I so would have wiped out if I had hit him.

Wanted to go pick up my new deck furniture today, but the rains came down. No furniture for me…

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

At Home

Drove down to Charlotte to spend the afternoon with Mom.

Happy Birthday, Carina!

Monday, June 11, 2007

At Home

Finally! The first morning bike ride since returning home. Saw a damn coyote on the trail about 5 miles from my house. Yep, coyote, not a fox. Sumbitch was way bigger than a fox.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Travel Day - Heading Home

Flew home today from London. Had a nice stretched-out seat in Business Class. Watched the Mark Wahlberg movie "Shooter" not once, but twice. There just wasn’t anything else on worth wasting my time with.

Jesus Jumped Up Dancing! It's fuckin' hot here at home! I'm gonna hide inside.

The time change kicked my ass and had me in bed by 10pm (3am London time).

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Show Day in London

Blaine and I cabbed over to the crew hotel to ride to the gig early with them. Ran into Davey Johnston, Elton John's guitarist, outside the hotel. He's staying there also -- turns out a couple of our crew guys know him.

Got away from the gig far too late. Not gonna get much sleep tonight and I have to be in the lobby tomorrow morning by 7:30 for the trek to the airport.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Day Off in Charlton, UK

Dave's house is called Ferndale. There isn't a street address number, so what you write as an address when sending mail here is the name. Cool, and so typically British.

Ferndale is out in the English countryside. It's a lovely stone cottage.


The grounds are beautiful. Here are a few shots of the garden.




The resident pheasant:



The neighbor's sheep:






Next door neighbor is Roger. Across the lane are neighbors Bob & Tricia. Their home is called Lilac Cottage. It has an honest-to-god thatched roof. Don't see those too often. That's pretty much it - the next nearest neighbor is hundreds of yards away.


John made breakfast around 10. I had a single goose egg (HUGE!), scrambled, with beans and toast. Fab.

After that, a walk around the garden and a stroll to the neighbor's place, to feed dried pineapple chunks to the two enormous pigs. One if blind and the other one's deaf – what a pair they make. I was petting the larger one through the fence yesterday and found a sweet spot on his ear. I swear to you, within 60 seconds, he was laid out and fast asleep, snoring his ass off. Hilarious!

The neighbor's pigs:



video
Folks, this is my first ever posted video - be sure to watch it!

Did some birdwatching with John for a couple of hours, and then Dave took me on a drive up the tallest hill nearby. It's the highest point in the county of Dorset (911 feet above sea level, according to the plaque there), and as you see from the shots below, it's got a hell of a view.



John sometimes comes along on Dave's excursions to the top of the hill, but his ankle was bothering him today. Dave couldn't quite put his finger on it, but from this vantage point John can point our Guy Ritchie and Madonna's estate, just over in the next village.

Yes, that Madonna.

I guarantee you that you can't get close to it by car. I'd envision a bunch of guys dressed head-to-toe in black, roaming the grounds in black Range Rovers.

We sat at the peak on a bench for about 90 minutes, chatting. The breeze was cool and all you could hear was the wind blowing through the trees and the occasional small airplane flying by. Mostly talked about music stuff. Dave's currently working on two projects for Island Records. He's putting together a 2-CD deluxe version of Free's "Fire and Water" album, featuring some really cool outtakes and alternate mixes. He's also working on a box set of Paul Kossoff's stuff. Paul was the guitarist in Free – after the band broke up, he started a band called Back Street Crawler.

And we made plans to meet up in Baltimore in two weeks to see our friend Audley, who's playing with Peter Frampton this year.

Back to the house for lunch and more conversation with John.

Dave drove me back to the train station at 4:00 so I could catch the 4:42 train to London...

Monday, June 4, 2007

Day Off in London

As always when travelling from Paris to London, we took the good old P&O Ferry Line from Calais, France to Dover, UK. All the buses, trucks, cars and motorcycles park in the belly of the ferry and everyone is supposed to get out of their vehicles and go up on deck. A bunch of us had breakfast together and hung out for the 90-minute ride across the English Channel. I also changed out the remainder of my shitters (Euros) at the currency exchange booth on board.

White cliffs of Dover in the distance as we approach the English coastline:




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Once we got to the docks in Dover, everyone heads downstairs. Back in your vehicles and be on your way!

I went and laid down in the back lounge of the bus and got another 2 hours sleep, waking just as we reach the outskirts of London.

Our buses are going away today, so everyone grabs everything they own and hauls it into the lovely K West Hotel, which will be home base for the next 3 nights. I love everything about my room except, of course, the bathroom. Another set of shitty, dim, misplaced and misdirected lighting. And another full-sized tub/shower combo with no curtain, only the glass partition that seals, oh maybe, 1/3 the length of the tub. Needless to say, I once again made a gigantic mess of the floor. I was flinging water in every direction there was. Big fun!

Jumped a cab to Victoria Station, where I bought a ticket and took the train 2 hours south of London to Gillingham, the nearest train station to where my buddy Dave Clayton lives. He's actually in Charlton, in the county of Dorset. He's waiting on the platform when I step off the train. Big hugs, then off we go.

He'd asked me in advance what I'd like to do tonight, and he pretty much filled it to a "T". We stopped at the chip shop on the way to his place and picked up fish & chips. A local favorite here (instead of mushy peas) is mushy pea fritters, which turned out to be pretty good once we got it all back to the house.

Dave moved down here from Nottingham a year ago, to help care for a friend of a friend. That would be John, the 84 year-old gentleman who is the owner of the home. He's a terrific fellow, fun to hang out with, and tells wonderful stories that span his lifetime. His wife Margaret passed on 10 years ago, but John just keeps on chugging along.

So lots of great company, fish & chips, and beer (for me and Dave). A little later in the evening, John decided on the telly news, so Dave and I bopped off the Half Moon, the pub down the road about a mile. Four rounds of some damn fine beer later, we headed back to the house. John was busy playing games on his computer (I know, the guy's 84. Can you believe he's playing computer games? He's great…), so Dave and I got down to the business of burning me a few copies of DVD's and CD's from his wonderful collection. Among them this trip:

The Faces
Thin Lizzy
Rainbow
UFO
Cheap Trick
Jimi Hendrix
Alice Cooper
and more…

All the while this was going on, we're drinking pony bottles of Budweiser. Next thing we know, it's 2am, so off to Snoozieville…

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Show Day in Paris

Due to some bus parking and bus power issues here in Paris, I had to get off the bus at 2:40am when we got here. I had managed to squeeze in a little over two hours sleep in my bunk before being rousted and sent to my room. I found the room to be somewhere between 100 and 1000 degrees and the air conditioner was complete shit. No top sheet on the bed, just the type of comforter that would keep you alive down to say one million degrees below absolute zero. So, I laid down atop the bed and finally fell asleep around 4:30. My alarm went off promptly at 6:30, and off we go to another lovely day at work…

The catering today was probably the best of the entire tour.

But screw the French, anyway. Just for always being uppity.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Show Day in Brussels

A few more photos I've been meaning to post:

Check out the cost of Budweiser at the grocer's in Dublin. Comes out to about $18.75 usd for a 10-pack:
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My hotel here in Brussels:
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The view from my room:
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Some buildings in the square a block away:
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Monument near the gig:

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Friday, June 1, 2007

Travel Day / Day Off in Brussels

I was afraid I'd sleep through my alarms, which caused me to not sleep very soundly. Getting up at 3:30am ain't exactly my idea of fun, but we had no other options for flying to Brussels today.

We pulled up to the Dublin airport at about quarter to 5. It was complete chaos. Our very nice Aer Lingus group check-in liaison told me that all hell breaks out at the airport between 5 and 8 every morning and again sometime later in the day, but it was dead at all other times of the day. It was really annoying, in that people and bags were everywhere. You can't even buy a bottle of water on the other side of security without standing in line behind 25-30 people. Sucked.

We were on the ground in Brussels around 9:30 and headed to the hotel. Blaine and I immediately took off for our last laundry adventure of the tour.

After that was lunch down the street at a cool cafe.

Back to the hotel for some sleep, which was nice considering I didn't get much last night.

Met up again with Blaine to go do some sightseeing and then some drinking. We stopped at one cafe for pommes frittes with mayonaisse. Uh, that would be french fries for those of you who don't speak French. Got them with both mayo, which was homemade, and ketchup. Mayonaisse is the standard condiment to serve with fries here, unlike in the US.

Had our first beers there while munching the pommes frittes, and a steady stream of crew guys walked by us, stopping to check in to see where everyone was drinking and hanging. We joined a few of the lighting guys at a bar down the street by the "Piss Boy" statue. The Piss Boy statue is pretty funny; there are crowds around it all day long. The story goes that the King's son wandered off one day and the King's guardsmen, after looking all over creation, found him in this spot, taking a leak. So they put up a statue. Boy, them Belgian people is whack!!!!

The Piss Boy:
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Close up of the Piss Boy:
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