US Tour Summer 2009 – Stately Homes of Staten Island

NB. I’ve had some previously unpublished blogs from the US tour this summer that I’ve decided to release into the wild. They’ll be appearing here over the next couple of days. Hope you enjoy!

The strange thing about New York for me, is that apart from the relatively new apartments, and slightly older skyscrapers… there are all the older Second Empire buildings, built from the 1850s onwards influenced by the French styles of the time. It’s so easy to forget that modern bustling New York used to be New Amsterdam, an old Dutch settlement back as far back as the 1600s. Although, when you drive a few miles in New York state it’s not so difficult to imagine that these roads could be 400 years old; cracked, split and pot-holed by the bitter New York winters.

The Grotto and I (which could be the title of a future travel book we’ll compile from our tour blogs) trundle slowly across Goethals Bridge dodging these potholes when we can. Ray & Maureen are our hosts for a house concert on Staten Island. The house is one of the aforementioned old Second Empire houses, and it really reminds me of the French chateaux… except it’s on a street… in America. The house has been lovingly restored and looks spectacular. We’re glad to be bedding down there for a night in utter comfort before returning to the Motel 6’s of America. There’s nothing like a home to make you feel… well… at home. O, the relief in knowing that there will be no unofficial wake-up calls in the morning from the Stasi-trained Housekeeping Division!

The show goes even better than I’d expected. The sound carries beautifully upon the old wooden floors. Such a wonderful experience to play there and for such a great appreciative audience. One of my favourites for the tour. RH Tugs, not far from the house, lays on a splendid feast after the show. We’re stuffed and chuffed… and end a lovely night with a drink or two at a local bar.

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