Diary: March 4 to March 31
A day in Toys R Us, it is a great place to walk. A great day of adventures.
Then I called back all the venues from last week that had asked me to. Most said call back again next week, but I can not call back until April now. Shame it is all always made so difficult.
A Nottingham gig is confirmed for day two of the 30 gigs thanks to a friend called Kenny. I met him when he was working in our area and he was staying at or near The Trap, he came to the buskers’ nights. We Steal Flyers went and played two nights in Nottingham with him last year.
A nice night at the buskers night and people all happy for us going to Texas. Asking questions and telling nice stories of their own travels.
Always good to hear what others did and do with their time alive.
And now there is one more sleep and two flights until we are in the USA.
Melanie is still sorting out all the things only she can do. I stay out of her way as Mel knows the plan and it will be done.
Final vindaloo and bhaji before I leave for the United States of America.
It has been a wish of mine to tour America since I was in the band Clear Blue Skies – we were offered a tour to Detroit and split up before it happened. Now in just four hours at 4am I will be waking up to leave. It will be emotional.
4am and time to wake. Mel kicks in and gets kids up and ready and makes sure I have everything.
I am not too great at the packing and remembering, as my head is full of bookings and songs and novels.
We picked up Shaggy for 5.30am and then said goodbye. This is one deep breath to be brave for the kids.
The last leaving glance is an important picture, as you take this last site of your family with you on tour. We were all excited so the smiles were real, a very exciting time.
Got onto the plane from Newcastle, which was good and easy. Then once on the plane, delays were announced and the change-over was a worry as we had a connection from London.
Somehow we made it to London on time, we moved quickly through the long walkways, got on the train and onto a very very big plane. Leg room, TV each and headphones.Ten new films and some older ones and radio stations.
I watched a film at the same time as Shaggy – Wreck It Ralph – which was great.
I also listened to Ronnie Wood on the radio and a PG Wodehouse play of Jeeves and Wooster. Brilliant.
But 10 hours on a flight is 10 hours on a flight. It is far from easy. I spent half of the time at the back of the plane standing up and talking to people and looking out of the window at the amazing places below. Shaggy joined me for most of this.
I am better at standing 10 hours than sitting, walking about would have been even better.
An hour to get through customs and then John Castle picked us up in a Limo, pure class. It is times like this when you look back at where you came from and forward to where you are going more than ever before.
We still have seen nothing of Chuck Norris, but we woke up in Texas and after 24 hours of no sleep and 18 hours travelling we woke up at 7am because the time here is six hours behind.
Shaggy is a great touring buddy and this is so important. He will go anywhere I book too, which makes it all so easy and real. We get so far from going so far.
Shaggy was pleased he had to drive in the USA. JC had to pick up a hire car for tomorrow’s transport to Austin so Shaggy had to follow in JCs car. Magic.
The first gig is sold out on Monday. 600 tickets are sold.
Today was a great day in Texas just looking back on the magic of life and remembering times and friends from school days to now. So many people are a part of each other’s time here. When you are winning it is easy to forget the game.
Meeting people is a great thing and I love hearing stories. Inspiring stories. People have always inspired me. A lot of thought went into today’s thinking. Can’t believe 600 tickets have sold for the first gig on Monday. Wow.
The drive from Dallas to Austin was great to see. You can feel that you are in America and it is a good feeling.
When we got here and met with CJ it was heart stopping knowing what we had done and what we were doing. His wife Julie is an amazing person and they have made their life here special. It is inspiring. Music rooms, swimming pool, outdoor stage. Beautiful and large house and so much family happiness.
Meeting another Derek was always a good thing. He was a happy, friendly bouncy person and good to be around.
Time for our first gig. It is a very exciting and calm feeling. Going to play songs in America. On arrival the stage was huge and the outdoor beer garden was too. It is a lot of fun going for food and being asked ‘Can I help y’all?’ Everywhere you eat people are so well-dressed in America. The people are always super friendly and will all welcome you with a friendly few words and a handshake. CJ and Derek set up the sound. We also have a great new friend called Rick who was playing the same stage. He plays with his great band Sun Salutaion. He also plays with CJ in a band called Jamfoot.
CJ was the guy who came to see us at our local buskers night in Broomhill to see if we were good and friendly enough to be a part of his world. He played some songs in the UK. Good people find good people and it is simply how it works. The gig was amazing and they loved us before we reached the first chorus of a song. There is little to compare to standing on a big stage, playing songs in the baking sun, with a slight breeze, in America and everyone loving what you do! The albums were gone in minutes. The next tour is already obvious. CJ played solo and it was great to watch. Sun Salutation were brilliant and such nice people. I am going to be helping them a lot with a UK tour. There is so much going on everywhere.
Waking up and knowing it was not all a dream is a nice feeling. Still in the amazing sun. I do not remember much about the sun, but here it is, it has been here all along. I have decided here is the best time to write poems again and I wrote three. A road runner ran past and a few buzzards in the sky. These times of magic are here. We play music and talk about everything all day in the sun. Nip off for some amazing food with great views and then talk about everything under the really bright stars. The food here is so nice to me and so very new.
Mike is the drummer for Sun Salutaion. He stayed over a few nights as he too was meeting CJ for some practice for the gig on Monday. He decided to stay around. He is a great lad with a life-building past, he deserves the present life he has made for himself. He also got us a rooftop SXSW gig with a lot of people and other bands. It was mind-blowing. This is a time for music in America and they wanted it. It was so powerful being a part of it. We met a lot of people and like I say, pretty much everyone wants to make you feel happy and welcome. I love this country. We have now been offered over 15 new dates. Already we are going to have to choose, which is not the nicest thing to have to do. Derek, the bass player, is also a shark fisherman who catches them from the shoreline four hours’ drive from here. He told some great stories. He also has a tour his way and a shark-fishing night.
This was a great day because it was the arrival of a great friend of mine, Mike Slaughter. A local friend and musician, he helps me too, which is always kind of anyone. It is a very long trip, around 18 hours to get here and not easy to do with all the lining up and security. It is a great feeling of freedom when you get out and walking out into America is something else. Tomorrow John Castle comes back and that is always a good thing. Mike loves music and loves the Texas scene. He has read up on it and watched many programmes about this amazing place so it was somewhere he was always going to be heading. There was a lot of music played by CJ, Shaggy, Mike and Julie with a little from me. I walked around the garden enjoying the feeling of friends all being in Texas.
The food and sights here fill you right up. The friendly people make you all happy too. It is all so far an inspirational trip. The bars, coffee shops and promoters are coming out to meet us everywhere we are. If we took their offers the next tour could easily go on for months. I am thinking March and April next year.
There is a lot going on with work for Acoustic Magic back home. I have been trying to set up a line of bars so I can book gigs and tours for players, but that is not working. There is a lot being arranged by me from here and by Melanie at home. All kind of gigs and all around the UK. Now there are talks with a big sponsor, Mel and I are happy to work hard as this is all we do.
I love the night-times with the stars by the pool and everyone playing songs. I do my usual walking around, but now it is in the USA.
Putting in order a lot of serious business for back home. Yet everything is real calm. Texas is a very inspiring place.
Julie took us out to see some more amazing sites and venues that are very famous here. Musicians are well loved here and being from the UK we are loved a lot. Walking about and seeing the size of the place and everything in it. It is muckle! I am sorting out a lot of radio and so on back home for We Steal Flyers. The new album is doing so well on iTunes and the hard copy will arrive soon, probably in time for the Yorkshire tour in April.
Mike likes music history from parts of the USA so we get to go and visit a few places that he has always wanted to see. It adds to the excitement of our tour as I do not know so much about the music around here. The Steve Ray Vaughan statue was a good place to be. Makes you think, as does everything when you are not at home, in a whole new world away from what you know, or think you know. Today we shot a video for our song Down We Go from our album Sidecars And Sideshows. It was an amazing time on a giant Indian-enchanted rock. People here see and hear us and from their phones instantly add us on Facebook and download songs or albums of ours. The video is already up on Youtube. CJ shot it and did the edit throughout the night and day until it was done.
The Austin time is over now and once we wake and have breakfast we will be heading back up to Dallas. It has been a lot of fun and it will be tough to leave as these are friends who have become great friends. They have been so kind. We have tried so many foods, recorded a song, Wagon Wheel, in the studio, played SXSW gigs and more local gigs, shot a video, played pool, talked lots, listened lots, played lots. It was some of the greatest few weeks of my life outside of my family.
A nice drive back to Texas. Exciting to move on again. A few goodbyes but we will be back. The sponsors for Acoustic Magic have been pretty much sorted. The work for this all starts with Mel when I return home. We are all about working hard and enjoying life together. Christmas is coming so we have a lot to save for in order to do all of the things we like to do. There are a lot of musicians’ songs to sift through as more and more people from UK, USA and Canada would like help with touring. We like to help everyone we can. The 30 gigs in 30 days is not so easy. I hope things change for the bars and venues in the UK.
I am looking forward to the weekend. Just a real calm day of doing little. I have been watching a lot of ice hockey as we are going to see some live on Monday. Dallas Stars are the team to follow from here. Since I have been here they have played four games and have won the last two. It is nice seeing ice hockey in America, seeing something live changes the way you feel about a sport or a gig. I also watched a baseball game. I have watched baseball at home on Channel 5 in the past. I understand it and like it. I like most sports, but there is not enough time to follow them all. Cricket is by far my sporting love and darts follows.
Another day of calm. The weekend is here. We went to meet our friend John’s sister. She is the one who drove with her sister-in-law for 14 hours to see us play. It was a good time sharing and hearing the views of everyone. Texas is a real great place. It is so very, very big. If someone asks, ‘what is America like?’, I won’t be able to answer. The scale of the country is huge and each place is so different. I have seen a minute area of it…so far
This was a good day all day. When we got to the gig I was ready to play. It felt good coming in from the backstage area onto a stage in a real music venue. There was a good feeling all round. We now have a great gathering of friends and fans to make it feel like a home gig. Everyone here wants us to do well. Before we finished a verse the crowd was with us all the way. By the time we got to a chorus I could feel what music is all about, running right through me. This is like nothing I know.
You can do nothing wrong when everyone in the room is enjoying your songs. This is how life should be, it feels like this is what success is. Selling albums is easy here too and getting more bookings is easy. Some people walked in off the streets to buy tickets to hear us and the room was filled. Inspiring for us and the ones we know.
The last gig of the tour and it was a real nice gig and a surprise. Playing with a full band called Shed.
Once more, most of the people at the gig had heard that we were coming. Many had already downloaded our albums and had played us on Youtube. We were able to play our songs and people could and did join in…amazing!
For me this gig ended with feelings of ‘we did it’ and ‘it is almost over’. So it was good and bad. The bar owner was from Sunderland and had some nice stories about home.
It is not a small world, Willie Fog knows that. You can always meet someone from your world if you go on an adventure.
It was a good feeling throwing darts at the board like I have done many times in the past. Thinking about the days I lived to get to this day.I am in America, playing music and am also just about to see a live ice hockey game. I thought a lot about the cricket and darts friends I have made from the past, I like how sports bring people together. At the game they really knew how to entertain you.
Movie clips were flashing on the screen, the lighting and music were perfect, an amazing atmosphere. We all stood for the American national anthem, they are proud people and they love what they love. This is how it should be everywhere, we should all share life this way.
The game was gripping and when a goal was scored the roar and music and lighting filled you with a new and exciting feeling. You could not help but get caught up in all of this. The Dallas Stars lost, but it was a good night and I will always remember it. I will be going to see a local ice hockey game for sure back in the UK. I would like to see more sports, there is something about seeing, hearing and feeling it live.
We went back to the English bar today. Shaggy and John stayed in for beers and I went on a four-hour walkabout with Mike. We had a coffee like we said we would and talked about a new Acoustic Magic venue for when we get home. The coffee and the coffee shop was real nice. I talked to the owners and we are going to be playing there in March next year when we do next United States tour. We found Christmas decorations too! It has been an amazing tour and it is almost over. The Yorkshire tour is next. Mike got his hair cut in an American barber and was so pleased. He looked at me and through a smile said: “I am getting my hair cut in America”
One more sleep and then the 18-hour travel home (if all goes well). Saying goodbye is always hard, but we will be seeing some of our friends when they travel to the UK later in the year. Plans are being made for so much more. Booking tours is what Mel and I do, so this is going to be easy enough to set up and live.
There is so much to miss, this is the way it is when you see many places and meet many people. The internet means I can speak to them all when I am home. With all of the heat and new sugar-filled foods, it has been hard to keep my diabetes stable. It has been difficult to join in with meals and drinks, but I have done my best. I have also only had one very short fit and that was on stage when the lighting man sent everything flashing. I knew I could write away most of my illnessess and ignore them until they meant nothing. I can feel that my whole self is ready to break down as I am overwhelmed by what I have just done and because I am going home to my family. They are coming next time so this will make it even more special and we have new places to play too.
It is the last day in America and then home. There is no need to write how great it has been as it is obvious. There is a lot to look back on.
A day of looking back mostly and packing. I did not realise I had bought so many gifts but I am pleased it did. I like buying gifts for people, it is nice to think of people and nice to be thought of.
Waking up for home is a good wake. Everything seems to move fast in your mind as you think up what you did and what you would like to do once home. Time, travel and security move very very slow though. We recorded a bathroom session song for YouTube with Mike on guitar. Good little something to do. Around 3pm we left.
Then it was a taxi and checking into the airport through security. We flew all through the night. Then off the plane and more security.
Ellie and Rebecca did the magical run and call to daddy. It is like little else. Mike and Shaggy go to their homes and I head home too. It is an amazing feeling being home and knowing that I toured Texas, I am looking forward to next time.
I slept for a few hours but sleeping is not something I like to do, once awake I watched cartoons with the kids. They told me of their great adventures.
I tuned up the guitar and listened to my new David Grissom CD. He was a highlight of the tour, his music is great. Take Me back To Texas is the song that stands out the most.
It looks like we will be sponsored by Constant Contact from July so we have a lot to sort out.
We Steal Flyers are booked up for a whole year and the third album will be out to start the year.