After a year or two of diminished road activity I’m on my way back to Platinum status on Delta. It has been a great year on the road and I’ve hauled my guitars around the world once again. Some highlights:
It was really nice to get back to my old home state for a show at Kennet Flash, near Philadelphia. Old friends in attendance, many emotions. Good ones. Thanks to you all.
My summer swing through California was great as usual. Nice audiences everywhere and an amazing Condor sighting just south of Big Sur. A half dozen of these big, magnificent birds soaring just overhead and sunning themselves on low cliffs overlooking PCH. Big thrill for me.
I was flattered to be invited to play the Glastonbury Festival this year.
It was a crazy thing, that. Tens of thousands of people, many dressed in odd, fairy costumes, faces painted, crazy music emanating from a seemingly endless number of stages. I played on the same stage on two consecutive days and was happy to work with Matt, a fantastic soundman. When I sound good I feel good. Thanks, Matt! I really wanted to stay for The Rolling Stones but that would have meant carrying my guitars and gear for two miles through a sea of people, stashing everything in our rental car, walking another mile back to the main stage… From what I heard about their set, it would’ve been worth it. Many thanks to Neil Golding and Lisa Naasta for their kindness and for inviting me. Neil hosted us at his lovely country home in and the stunning English countryside was intoxicating.
My second time at the Canadian Guitar Festival was even more fun than the last. Many old musician pals and some new ones. It was really great hearing everybody play and I sure enjoyed my set as well. Fantastic sound (no sound check! Just plug it in and go!) thanks to the excellent crew and to Del Vezeau for inviting me once again.
After the Festival I did a string of clinic/shows for Breedlove Guitars’ Canadian distributor Jam/Erikson and really enjoyed hanging with everybody. Big thanks to Peter Patrick and Grant Russell from Erikson and to my old friend Marcus Vichert for being a fantastic roadie and friend, love you guys.
Got to chill in Toronto for a couple of days with Marcus and his lovely wife Fiona and the relaxation time was good tonic indeed. Great food, many laughs. Marcus and I walked to guitar builder David Wren’s shop one day and spent a couple hours checking out guitars and gossiping. David builds some really fine guitars and is first-rate company as well. Cheers to Canada!
On my way to Italy I did two things I swore I’d never do again: Fly Air France (ever wonder what happens to people when they get fired from their jobs at bill collection agencies for being too nasty? They get hired by Air France) and pass through Charles de Gualle airport.
I’ll never do it again. Everything is messed up, every single time.
Once in Italy I was eventually reunited with my guitars after much wrangling with the horrible baggage service woman (I’m assuming she had been fired by Air France) and settled in to Sarzana, my Italian home away from home. I was glad to be with many old friends and the emotion was large. I’d missed Italy and it sure was great to be back. Alessio, my promoter in Italy, had set up an active tour. We rolled through the familiar countryside with Beatles music playing in Alessio’s big white van. I played in some truly stunning theaters and audiences everywhere were warm, generous and were a joy to play music to. Thanks to Alessio and to Mari and Gianni Giappiccini for their peerless hospitality, friendship and amazing food.
Ah, Japan. My friend and promoter Tanaka-san arranged a nice tour this year.
First show was at Star Pine’s Cafe, one of my favorite places to play in the world. Sound and lights are always fantastic there and I’ve had many a memorable night at Star Pine’s. The cover photo for my live album was shot there in 1998 by my friend and Japanese guitar legend Isato Nakagawa. Isato was kind enough to join me on stage for a couple of tunes.
The big cities of Japan are all clatter and swarm, unceasing. This time I got to see the quiet parts of Japan I’d not visited before and was deeply moved by the beauty. I visited Hiroshima and was flattened by the emotional impact of this place. Standing directly beneath the site of the atomic bomb blast was an experience I’ll never forget. The city of Hiroshima has dedicated itself to the promotion of world peace and the elimination of nuclear weapons. I applaud my Japanese friends for their honor and positivity.
Our hotel near Hiroshima was on the ocean. The Japanese seaside/countryside is beguilingly beautiful. Zen is strong here. I see an old Japan. Sun, water, fresh air, fresh fish.
I was accompanied by my old friend Masa Atsumi at a few shows and workshops and his fluent English was a mercy, as was his friendship and care. Many thanks to Tanaka-San and Kojima-San for their work and friendship for so many years now.
I write this now beneath a cold, November half moon. Distant coyotes yell in the woods and I can feel the world pulling it’s collar up against another winter. I’m happy to be home.
Thanks to all of you who’ve supported my musical endeavors this year. I hope our paths will cross in the coming year.
Wishing you love and music,