Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Joad To Nowhere

This has been a productive trip for getting some reading done. I polished off "The Fountainhead" in about 10 days. Plenty of highlighted passages in that one. Bob Britt and I swapped gift books, and he bought me "Grapes of Wrath". I read all but the last chapter and then forgot it on the nightstand at a hotel. I bought another copy this morning and read the last chapter - at a cost of $30NZ - but it was worth it.

I know that book is often required reading on high schools, but after reading it for the first time this past week, I empathize with the characters in a way that few high school kids could. What constitutes a family? What is the definition of "head of the family"?

My parents were at the tail end of the Depression era and always had a tangible aversion to debt, their own parents even more so. The story must read like some strange cautionary tale to kids growing up with laptops and iPods. The Joad kids are thrilled to get a box of Crackerjack.

Next book on the list is "Under The Tuscan Sun", which has been made into a movie, I think. I found the "house diary" premise interesting and it cost 40 cents at the Salavation Army in east Nashville. We are about to do some home improvement and I'm hoping to get a few insights from a project much larger than the one I have in mind.

After that, I'll re-visit the financial planner workbook "Smart Couples Finish Rich". At least they do if they stop buying cameras.

Auckland Is Your Land...

Wellington's show was maybe the best yet... lots of dancing and singing and carrying on by the audience, who seemed primed to hear a rock and roll show. They got one. Extended solos and great pacing made it a night to remember. No technical glitches, no problems!

We had an 11:00 a.m. lobby call for a 12:45 flight. Smooth and easy and still no I.D. checks. The view of Wellington from the air was superb, but I did not have my camera out. One hour later, we landed in Auckland and spent the rest of the travel as an off day.

Harbor Ferry, Auckland NZ

Above is one of the commercial ferries that take you around the harbor in Auckland. It's a 20 minute walk from the hotel to the water.

Boats Against The Current

A beautiful warm, sunny day with enough breeze to give the sailboater's some fun.

Auckland Skyline

Bob On The Dock

The Fabulous Britt Girls will be happy to see that Dad is well and getting some sun.

Bob's Art Photo

A flat chain link fence caught Bob's eye, so he gets the Art Photo post of the day

Britt Depository

On the walk back to the hotel, we stopped at a CD/DVD shop and took advantage of the "1 for $15, 2 for $25 or 3 for $30" CD special. I grabbed the triple-disc "The Essential Bruce Springsteen" and a Country compilation. The CDs, although new, are already opened and the discs are behind the counter. As usual, they were playing Fogerty when we walked in, in this case the live version of "Fortunate Son", which Bob played on.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Wishing Wellington

From one exotic country to another. The flight over, which lasted three hours, was uneventful until we hit the coast of New Zealand. Wow. What a gorgeous view. I have wanted to visit since I saw the Lord of the Rings. Unfortunately, our free time won't allow much sightseeing this trip. I'll have to settle for airplane window shots for now.

Flying Into New Zealand aka Middle Earth

Mountains and Glacier

This mountain reminded me of the snowy pass the Hobbits had to cross in LOTR. Real-live mountains with snow and sharp, pointy peaks.

Lord of the Rings

After an excellent show in Christchurch, we are now in Wellington, home of Peter Jackson's movie studio complex. The boat from King Kong is in the harbor at his site. Some of the battle scenes in LOTR were shot in the surrounding woody hills, very nearby to homes and businesses, and about five minutes from the airport. Cool.

The photo below is of the harbor outside tonight's venue.

Wellington Harbor

Water sports seems to be a big thing here, Kayaks and swimmers everywhere.


Monday, November 28, 2005

Travelin' Band

The down side of traveling the world with a band is...traveling. We are flying everywhere we go, so no tour bus to crash/hide/eat in. The hotels have all been great, the food is excellent, but the airport ordeal can be tiring. Qantas and Air New Zealand are fine airlines with superb service, but the waiting and riding in vans, shuttle buses and cars, and the constant checking of bags, waiting in security and immigration lines adds up to many hours spent "on que".

Bleary Bobby Britt

Either Bob is tired or he cannot handle being beaten in mid-flight cribbage...well, I guess we both won about the same amount of hands...must be tired.

Restless Matt

Someitmes you gotta get up and stretch... and get in the flight attendant's way.

Christchurch Airport

No security at all in Christchurch's airport. Odd, to us at least. We were getting on a turboprop to fly an hour to Wellington this morning.

15 Minute Nap

The indominatable Nick Pitts catches half a Z sitting at his desk in the Christchurch production office.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

"Hobart Me Up" b/w "Melbourne on the Bayou"

Whew! Lots to catch up on since my last post. Deciding that words are not enough, despite e-mails proclaiming the contrary, I bought yet another camera and now must qualify as a "digitally optically conspicuous consumer". Of course, Sony had an new version of the camera I bought to replace my lost camera - the T3 I left on the dining room table before flying to Australia. The new T5 is even cooler (of course), sexier and has 5.1 megapixels, which is actually very many pixels, come to think of it. I think the .1 pixel cinches it.

The photo below is the "fresh-from-the-box" first shot, taken about 100 meters (see, I blend) from the camera shop. I took it whilst (blending) seated at an outdoor cafe. Coffee with milk here is called "flat white", which coincidently half-describes my rapidly shrinking belly. After the indulgence frenzy of a wedding and honeymoon, it was time to get back on the Atkins diet and drop some weight. So far, so good.

Anyway, here's the hatchling:

Elizabeth Street Mall in Hobart

We had a good show in Perth, then flew the next day to Hobart, Tasmania. I never thought I would type those words, but Rock and Roll will not only clothe ya, it'll let you see the airports and hotel lobbies of the world. This is the harbor across the street from our hotel, the Dickensian-sounding Hotel Grand Chancellor (never did find out if they had any Exchequers at the concierge desk).

From Hotel Window, Hobart, Tasmania

Hobart Harbor

Ex-checkers aside, Bob Britt and I did manage a few hands of cribbage, the Game of Kings, and a glass or two of some the tasty Australian wines. This one was called "The Stirlings", a blend of three grapes. Very good.

Cribbage in the Afternoon

Like all hotels the lobby is a meeting place for band and crew during bus call. Below, the inexhaustible Albert Bermudez chats with the affable George Hawkins in Hobart.

Albert and George

New friends are made on every overseas tour and the crew we have working with us down here is exceptional. Lighting guy Andy Mutton from Bytecraft and our own Dave Davidian await a trip to the airport.

Andy and David

I felt as blurry as this picture looks, having slept until 10:00 a.m. after a glitch-ridden show. Gear stopped working and although I fixed the problem (dead wireless transmitter) rather promptly, I let it get me off my game and missed a few cues. Never again...I hope!

Lobby in Hobart

This leg of the tour has a new yet familiar face behind the drumkit. Future drum legend and current icon Kenny Aronoff is keeping time with us and he is truly a pleasure to hear. Kenny and George make a formidable rhythm section.

George and Kenny

We had a band and crew dinner at Mure's , the seafood restaurant across the street and on the dock. I had an excellent fish and chips, breaking my diet just a little. Everything was delicious and freshly caught.

Speaking of food, Bob and I chanced upon a gourmet shop on the Elizabeth Street Mall. I wanted to get some salami and cheese to snack on since chips (errr...crisps...), candy and Atkins-tolerant peanuts abound in gift shops and mini bars. I asked the clerk for some sharp cheddar (I am from Wisconsin, dammit), and the guy behind the counter recognised my accent. Wis-cahhhn-sin. Which is how it is correctly pronounced, by the way.

Turns out he used to run Brentwood Liquors in Brentwood, Tennessee...about 15 miles from Nashville. Turns out further that he is a bass player, sold Willie Weeks a bass and wants to buy it back. Turns out even further that Willie played with Bob's brother for years in Vince Gill's band, so Bob is going to pass the message along. In Tasmania. Cue the Disney ditty.

Dinner at Mure's

We flew this afternoon from Hobart to Melbourne. We have two shows here and a third an hour out of town at a winery.

Dinner with Bob and Albert at an Italian joint tonight was just OK, but on the walk back Bob spotted this sign and suggested a photo op was in order. So, my beautiful new bride, here it is:

Two Of My Favorite Things

Friday, November 18, 2005

Workin' In The Land Down Under

Well, I finally have a chance to catch up with the blog. I left my camera at home - for my first and possibly only Australian trip - so unless I buy another one, it's text only for now. Some of the other guys have cameras and may end up being featured photographers in subsequent posts.

It was a long flight to Los Angeles and after a four hour layover, 13.5 hours to Brisbane, Australia. The first show went fine. We then flew to Newcastle to play at a winery. Very beautiful. I saw my first kangaroos - in the wild, no less - at the homestead on the winery property. There are two main species of kangaroos - grays and reds. These were the smaller and more common grays. They reminded me of Wisconsin deer, shy and quick to turn tail and hop. If cornered, they can defend themselves by rearing back on their tails and using their sharp claws to rip open dingos and whoever else might be unlucky enough to threaten them up close. Our driver said Australia is one of the few countries that legally hunts and eats it's national animal. They are considered vermin in many areas. Interesting.

The winery gig was great, since the crowd started partying at about 4:30 and we hit the stage at 8:00. Well-fueld Aussies certainly like their rock and roll.

We drove from Newcastle to Sydney for a day off and two sold out shows at the famous Sydney Opera House. Both shows came off well and the reviews so far have been very positive.

From Sydney we flew to Adelaide. Hooray for Qantas and their American Airlines applicable miles. Last night's show in Adelaide was also went down great. All of the local crews have been excellent, and out traveling Australana crew is top-notch.

The set list has a lot of classics in it in support of the new Best Of career compilation called "The Long Road Home". We flew into Perth this morning for a show tomorrow night. I finally broke down and bought a Vodaphone cell phone for use in Australia. It's cheaper than internet access and the digital roam my Sprint phone is offering. Hotel internet access has been running about $24AUD for 24-hours. Here at the Perth Hilton it's 55 cents a minute.