Part Two of Tom's Tour Journal
to be continued!
Part II UK Tour November 2005
Sorry I was late doing this journal but with the holiday season, gigs, songwriting, and all the other nuts and bolts of life I got sidetracked.
On day 7 Graeme and I stopped at a close friends house in Doncaster and we had a fine time having a day off and doing whatever we wanted to do. Our friend Alfred and his wife treated us so well, we went out to dinner and met two mutual friends, Andrea Reay and Jonathon, her son, and John, her boyfriend.
Andrea gave me a most beautiful, hand-made (by her) cross-stitch tapestry of an American Indian portrait beside an eagle by a scene with an Indian on horseback. What a beautiful work of art. I shall always treasure it. I have it on the wall right beside where I write my songs. It took Andrea several years to create this and I was so touched.
On day 8 Graeme, Alfred and I had breakfast at a breakfast cafe that looked like one you would have seen in America around 1950 or seen in black and white Robert Mitchum films of that same era. The food was great and I loved the atmosphere. I really expected to see Claudette Colbert walk in.
We bid goodbye to our dear friend Alfred but I didn't feel so bad or sad because I knew I would be seeing him in a few days at a gig I would be playing at "Barton on Humber."
Onward we drove to Leicester, about a 3.5-4 hour drive. It was Thanksgiving Day in America, but after living in Ireland for 10 years where they don't celebrate Thanksgiving, the holiday doesn't mean as much to me anymore. It has become nothing more than a tableful of people eating so much food that their stomachs practically explode. So much food is wasted. People fall off to sleep from the narcotic effect of too much turkey. Families usually end up arguing and everyone realizes they've gained the first few pounds they will continually accumulate right thru the Christmas and New Years holiday season until by January 2nd, they've all gained 20 more pounds and are depressed thru the long, dark snowy nights of the winter ahead. No. I was glad to be in England.
As we rolled into Leicester I noticed the town had become shabby and almost menacing from the first time I'd been there fifteen years ago when I loved the night time crowds walking the Christmas card city streets. Everyone singing, talking and having a great time. Families were everywhere then. Now it looked dark, empty and sinister. There were gangs of weird kids lurking in every closed up storefront entrance. Leicester is a city on the skids. It reminded me of my home town city of New Bedford, Massachusetts; once also a colorful and vibrant city, now cold, lifeless and dangerous at night.
The club, called "The Musician" was great though as it always is. It has expanded to twice the size and my old friend Paul with the pork-pie hat was there to greet me at the door. Ken did his usual great job at the soundboard and the crowd was as warm and enthusiastic as it always is. So many new and old friends. I forgot I was in Leicester. Hans Theesink, the great dutch blues artist was in the crowd.
After the gig, Graeme and I drove about 20 miles to a big farmhouse and farm where the house had been converted to a beautiful B&B. We had stayed there before several times and June, the proprietress opened the door. I was sad to hear that her husband, who I also knew, had passed away of cancer a few months before.
The last time I saw him, a year before, right after he was diagnosed, he and June were sitting outside on a bench talking, holding hands and trying to squeeze in every last moment they had together after so many great years of marriage, kids and running such a beautiful farm. Life can be so unfair. Kissinger is still alive.
Gig Number 8- Bury
This is near Manchester and was held in the Arts Theater and promoted by my old friend Dave Jessup. Dave is a school teacher and humanitarian and has all the best traits of the English and we agree on just about everything except he thinks Paul McCartney is the "Bees Knees." I'm a John Lennon man myself. The Arts Center was totally sold out thanks to Dave's promotion and hopefully my reputation.
After the show we all went to the fine hotel he put us up in and had a great and funny conversation over beers, wines and diet cokes. There are a lot of people I look forward to seeing on my once a year tour of the U.K. and Dave is one of them.
The next morning Graeme and I met in the hotel lobby and started oout on the 7 hour drive to
Sittingbourne. It was a sunny cold day but I love seeing the English countryside on the journey.
Gig Number 9-Sittingbourne
This was held at the Fulton Manor School and run by Allan Brooks, the headmaster, an utterly charming, intelligent fellow. You can see the intelligence and kindness in his eyes the moment you meet him and his love for the kind of music I write is honest and true. His favorite song is "Just a Little Bullet" and I played it for him at the soundcheck. It was a full house, double the crowd I had last year. One of my favorite gigs.
Sittingbourne is in southeast England in Kent not far from where Chaucer wrote his "Canterbury Tales" which I read as a kid in the original "old" english. Chaucer's "Tales" had an influence on me. Sittingbourne is also a short distance from Gravesend where the remains of Pocahontas were buried in an old church, long burned down then rebuilt. I vistied there a year before and saw the church cemetary's gravestones had been removed in a doomed effort to find her bones. I heard Wayne Newton, the Las Vegas singer, wants to do it all over again. What an idiot.
To be continued...
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