Marco… Polo…

I touched down in Boston on the 4th of June, and was picked up by Mick of The Guggenheim Grotto (or The Guggenheim Brothel, as people often mishear it). Kevin & Mick are in Boston to play at Club Passim, an old haunt of Dylan, Baez, and countless other folkies down through the years. Siobhán, Kev’s lovely cousin, puts us up and puts up with us too, which is most tolerant and generous of her. I come bearing tea… like Marco Polo back from the Orient. Speaking of whom, he cropped up in conversation the other day. Why do Americans play Marco Polo when they’re kids? Would it not be more logical to play Christopher Columbus? Auld Marco didn’t have any connections to the US, did he? (…yes, we do have unusual conversations. I’d blame Bill Bryson, but that’s another story.)

I’m supporting, or “opening for” as they prefer here, The Guggenheim Grotto (from now on referred to as “TGG”) for two months. This is good news for Mick, because he’s been the sole driver ’til now. It’s also good news for Kevin, because Mick likes sleeping late, so we go swimming, jogging, or for breakfast. This is in theory though. In practice, we could all hate each other by the end of July.

I’m not playing every show, so for those that I’m not, I’m generally to be found taking photos, selling merch, scribbling in my notebook, or staring at my shoes wondering if those are indeed my feet.

We had an amazing night at Infinity Hall in Connecticut, which is a gorgeous venue in a fairly remote and beautiful part of the country. It was an old dancehall/theatre about 150 years ago, but they’ve restored it beautifully. The sound engineer records TGG’s set, and plays it over the sound system before we leave – it sounds incredible. He’s also a dead ringer for Tommy Lee Jones, which is no bad thing. That’s yet another reason never to mess with a sound engineer.

We stayed at an unusually large and deserted Holiday Inn near Elmer, NJ, after the guys played at a gorgeous outdoor festival at Appel Farms. There have been a few places on the tour that seem a bit like purgatory… but this was purgatory designed as a 1970s futuristic office block. It hasn’t dated well at all. The food is odd too. A friend of mine repented from militant vegetarianism after a few tours in the US. The cities are usually fine, but it’s quite hard to get decent veggie nourishment when you’re in truck-stops and the like. They’re what break you. At breakfast, missing my toast, I asked politely if the waiter could bring me some (as I had ordered after all). He said, “shoot, I forgot Sir. One second please…”. He then returned with four slices of toast in his hands. Yes. In his hands. I was too gobsmacked to point it out to him. And yet… thinking about it. How would the toast get to the plate in the first case? I’m guessing someone would use their hands.

My first show is in Exton, PA. Concerts on the Square. As luck would have it, lightning strikes and the day is humid and dismal. It’s close, as they’d say at home. Surprisingly, instead of cancelling the show, the rig is dragged indoors to a local bar, and we perform to a mix of ardent fans, some new converts, and some bemused folks who came in to watch the 2nd game of the basketball series between the Lakers from LA and the Magic from Miami. It’s not the first time the weather will poke us in the eye, but it’s good to get my tour underway. We didn’t moan about it. That’s an in-joke, by the way. Hilarious to no-one but two other people in the world… yet I still leave it in. Shameful really.

More to follow soon!

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