Archive for the USA Tour 2008 Category

Murphie’s Law, Savannah, GA

Posted in USA Tour 2008 with tags , , on March 20, 2008 by craigherbertson

As the music festival begins in earnest the Savannah Morning News reveals that Murphies Law, scene of our musical endevours was tipped as the bar of the week.It’s pleasant to think we contributed to that atmosphere and will again on Friday as we play our last gig.

Next morning its up for a last visit to Randy Wood’s place to ogle at the guitars. I can’t touch any of them as they kind of itch at the soul for years afterwards. Then its goodbye Savannah. …

The word oggle is probably related to the German word äugeln, which means ‘to eye,’ from Auge or ‘eye’

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Storm in a Beer Glass

Posted in USA Tour 2008 with tags , , , on March 17, 2008 by craigherbertson

Murphy’s Law 5-00 o’ clock; we arrived with some Martin guitars and a dobro. Shelley is outside chatting to the customers about the storm. 

The storm occured late on in the evening when everyone was in bed. On Wilmington Island we heard its effects, at first advertised by a siren. Miles got up and we headed off in the car to both pick up the radio news and see if they intended to evacuate. The automated news reader revealed that the eye of the storm was ten miles off and that it would be over in about 20 minutes. Thank God for beer which can get you through most national disasters.

The stage in Murphy’s is large enough to accomodate two flea circuses (is it circi, circuminem?) Fortunately, three musicians are used to making do and to be fair, Chris had left us with a good mixer and some in house speakers, which saved a lot of back breaking work. When first looking at a stage, it always appears larger than you need. That’s because the mind can’t visualise the leads, wires monitor boxes, microphone stands, drunks and pint glasses that are going to be up there with you.

Americans are keen about music. They offer a lot of encouragement and will wait for you to start playing  before they request ’The Unicorn’ written by Shel Silverstein and popularised by the Irish Rovers n the 1960’s. Although the song doesn’t mention leprechauns, or Ireland, or indeed Guinness, it does have a unicorn, which is both a magical creation and ends in the sound,’ orn’. It also has references to God, and the band has ’Irish’ in the name of the band.

I have come through these somewhat bewildering perambulations to explain why Americans will confront a band playing traditional music on Pat’s Night, with the request ‘can you play ’The Unicorn?’

We managed to avoid it last night. Instead we stuck to a set from ’Bonnie Ship the Diamond’ to ‘The Irish Rover’ (Any irony there?)

The evening was progressing nicely. Shelley would have been pleased to see the place fill up. Perhaps more pleased when a bunch of Irish men came in and turned out to be the nicest fellows. They sang loudly and in tune, drank several beer wagons and generally enjoyed and created the craic.

At one point we persuaded Donal from Galway (the kind of man who buys you a drink before being persuaded to get on stage) to sing Caledonia by Dougie Mclean. This was a fair exchange, an Irish man singing a Scots song in opposition to two Americans and a Scot singing Galway Shawl for him.

Sand Gnats. Evidence, perhaps not of God but certainly the Devil.

Posted in USA Tour 2008 with tags , , , on March 15, 2008 by craigherbertson

Mosquitoes or Midges. Evidence, perhaps not of God but certainly the Devil.

Many Scotsmen came to Savannah. Life must have been very different for them except in one respect. The local sand gnat is the only thing that comes close to approaching the terror induced, like stories of the bogeyman to children: The terror of the midge.

For a creature not much bigger than a pinhead, the midge’s sheer contribution to the volume of humanity’s suffering would exceed a couple of eternities in Dante’s inferno. In small Scottish pubs, large muscular men will stare darkly at their pints and shake their heads before embarking on harrowing descriptions of ‘the night they camped out and found a hole in the tent’ or ‘The time I walked shirtless by the burn.’

As one American remarked ‘come prepared to do battle’

Once, on the isle of South Uist, I asked a local man if the islanders had an effective remedy for midges. He replied. ‘Yes, we stay indoors’. Savannah is the only place where I would consider applying the same remedy

Wiley’s, Savannah, Georgia

Posted in USA Tour 2008 with tags , on March 13, 2008 by craigherbertson

It’s one in the morning. Flushed with bourbon, buds, Guinness and music we take the big American truck back through the Savannah swamplands. The great thing about being a musician is the opportunity to meet other musicians.

For over five years Wiley’s place has been offering the kind of oasis in the desert that a thirsty musician yearns for. Here instruments line the walls, next to Wiley’s paintings, the history books and the vast workshop where among other things, Wiley seems to have constructed a house that Aristotle would have bent the head to in approval.

Morgan switched between Bass and guitar, Miles injured on his band-saw (where he was touching up his own self made house) gave a try on the dobro (Originally coined by the Dopyera brothers) while Wiley moved between bodrhan and guitar. Everyone here can produce a fair noise on a number of instruments; everyone is capable of producing these magical moments that spin across the universe. One hopes the universe is listening.

The big kick this time was the discovery that Miles injury produces a Dobro sound that seems to belong to ‘celtic’ music. We have to record that sound.

Cincinnati Kid

Posted in USA Tour 2008 with tags , , , , on March 12, 2008 by craigherbertson

Its a long way from the cold wee dorf of Witten to the grand city of Cincinnati. I left at four in the morning. It was raining lightly.

The drive to Frankfurt flughaven was uneventful except for a momentary panic when I ran out of petrol just after Cologne. When you drive a tiny old Renault Twingo you come to expect catastrophe. Fortunately, it happened yards from a petrol station and I was able to push the vehicle the remaining distance. I had a few euros left so I filled up with petrol and performed my usual trick of lodging the car in a free car park a few kilometers from the airport. More doom approached when I thought that the bus wasn’t going to make the airport on time but it did with a few minutes to spare. I saved about forty euros and lost about ten years life span. European Airports are part of the general global conundrum. In my next life I am going for architect and have made a life plan to construct airports with some means of getting on the plane. It seems simple. Planes leave, planes arrive. You get on and you get off. How humanity reached the stage where that process bears a similarity to a blindfold game of simultaneous chess remains a mystery.

The interrogation at the Delta gates was a wonder. Armed with the memory of past bad experiences I had come with a selection of identification papers including pictures and phone numbers, addresses, telephone bills and a bunch of plastic from credit through medical to christmas cards. The guy let me in without so much as a white spot lamp and a good cop/bad cop routine. The previous encounters had ended with me saying ‘look, its a passport, its my passport, that awful picture is me and it entitles the bearer to pass the port’.

The flight was uneventful. The word ‘uneventful’ can conjure a number of images. In this case it means that failure to sleep meant I had to watch three edited films and a set of bland sitcoms for nine and a half hours. This was ameliorated by the usual proficient steward service and the first intimations that Americans are good people and their air hostesses are kind of cute. They are all older women in these long flights. it makes you speculate if there is a pecking order in this once glamorous activity or that it has been recognised for what is: Bus conductresses in the air. I listened to their soft drawl and began to think of Georgia.

If you have never been to the states before prepare yourself for the shocking revelation that you can detract an extra hour from your life on arrival. Filling out a green card and a customs paper can occupy only a fraction of that lost time. The rest is spent staring idly at the back of another emigrant’s neck while contemplating the chances of getting through the gate. Its the Great Escape in reverse. Will you be able to break in? Steve McQueen’s tennis ball is your only hope to relieve the boredom but there are no walls to bounce it off.

Digits and retinal pattern faithfully recorded you enter the airport foyer. We are only on orange alert apparently. Perhaps orange alert describes the profusion of flickering television screens which are clearing trying to make something convulse in your brain. They are supported by light effects from Starbucks and other shopping mall things.

Cincinnati airport was thankfully smaller than the metropolis at Atlanta. I was able to pick up a couple of tee shirts for ten dollars a go. Already I was profiting from the veteran travellers trick. You only need one pair of y’s and socks.

Travel light, buy all that shit when you arrive. I like the colour of the tee shirt and its bold proclamation that I was now the Cincinnati kid.