Well that’s it. I’m in Los Angeles airport ready to fly home. It was of course a rather shorter trip than originally planned and the preparation for the tour was undoubtedly the most stressful thing I’ve ever gone through in my career but the tour ultimately was pretty damn good! I saw a fair bit of a beautiful state and I tell you what it is a beautiful state. The drive in northern California was right up there with New Zealand and the Scottish highlands in the pantheon of my great drives. I enjoyed the 1967 vibe of San Francisco and surrounding areas and the beach-tastic sun of San Diego. But most of all I enjoyed the gigs and the wonderful people I met. Thanks must go to Jon Berger, the crew at Red Rock, Gregg Moore, Joe Rathburn and special thanks to Karen Carchidi, Sally Greenberg and Mark and Cindy Lemaire who went well beyond the call of duty in keeping me sane and helping me in the midst of the visa crisis (see previous blog for details, if you are of a strong heart…).
The remaining gigs to catch up on then – after Berkeley it was off to beautiful Arcata, a delightful hippy haven which was the destination of a quite stunning drive with some of the most amazing forest and woodland I have ever set eyes on. The gig was pretty good too – a cozy gathering at Gregg Moore’s. Of course my nice tour plan had been completely thrown out by the visa crisis as I tried to reschedule the shows that had had to wait! This meant another long drive next, to Grass Valley but again it was totally worth it. A lovely little town with an astonishing amount of quality live music and a cracking venue in the Open Book. Best of all, just prior to the gig who should walk in but my great hero Debby McClatchy who is one of my favourite banjo players and people and I had no idea she lived in California! A really great night this one.
Then it was off to San Diego. More on the journey later, but two gigs to report on at Folky Monkey and San Diego Folk Heritage. The former is a songwriters type gig with a theme (in my case songs about home) and was good craic while the latter is a sort of US version of a folk club and an absolutely delightful gig. I also had a welcome day off in my time in San Diego and got to explore the beaches, quirky high streets and quite stunning botanical gardens. All in all a cracking time ahead despite all the stress that began it all…
And so the Walsh travel chaos continues abroad. My original plan had been to drive everywhere in California as I had days earmarked in which to do it but as mentioned before quite a bit of rescheduling had to be done. As a result of this I had to get a few domestic flights. I had been informed that the US had plenty of domestic flights but what I hadn’t been told is how shockingly crap they are at being on time. It’s rather like German trains which you would expect to be unfailingly punctual but are in fact not so much. Even as I write I’m hearing all manner of announcements here about planes being delayed while some ‘maintenance’ is being carried out – always comforting just before you fly though thankfully this doesn’t apply to my upcoming flight (he says hoping to god it stays that way). Anyway, my journey from Sacramento to San Diego involved two flights the first of which was to LA. This flight was of course delayed severely with the result that I missed my connection despite rather a lot of time exisiting in the plan for things to go wrong. The flight from LA to San Diego was of course not delayed at all. I was put on standby for the next two flights, both of which were fully booked. This was not good. I went to the gate and discovered that not only that but the blasted thing was delayed by an hour and a half. I managed to sweet talk my way into being bumped up the ‘standby’ list owing to my having to play to lots of people that night (an English accent helps in this situation). Then when it came to boarding time we were instead told that maintenance word again so were waiting another forty minutes…thankfully I did make it but please stop screwing my life up!!!!