West Coast....views from a Van.

4th July 2013


                    I travelled over to San Francisco with ABC a couple of weeks ago to perform 3 concerts. It seemed like a long way to go just to perform 3 gigs however I love playing in the states so it's really more of a pleasure than 'work'. It's so encouraging to meet people that are as enthusiastic about music as the people out in the US seem to be. Of course they have amazing weather on the west coast which means they can hold great concerts outside without the fear of rain storms. How very un-british. Flying out was a day flight which I much prefer. I can't stand night flights where you get a couple of hours service and then all the lights are turned off and we are all expected to just sleep. I don't sleep and continue to pass the time by consuming too much on-board hospitality whilst at no point ever feeling like sleeping.

US - Collage

                  In the bottom right hand corner of the collage pic you can see the window view I had of us flying over far northern Canada heading over Augusta where it finally starts to get a little warmer. It's truly stunning to see a land that is hardly inhabited and so harsh!  I went to the back of the plane sat on the jump seat and enjoyed staring out of the window. Only 7 hours to go...hmmm

             We landed safely and I managed to get through homeland security without any problems. I recommend San Fran airport they seem very chilled out! Upon arriving at the hotel in Santa Cruz I decided to go to my room and chill whilst the others went out to a restaurant. At this point it was about 5pm US time and 9am UK time. Basically you have been up for 2 days at this point so I just had to make it through to about 9pm then I could sleep and hopefully that would see me through until the morning. Of course it didn't work out that way with , I awoke at 3.30am and ended up sending out emails until the day started properly. Below I have included a picture which I feel kind of sums up a lot of the music industry. Sitting in a vehicle....The following day we were met by our crew guy, tour manager and sound engineer. The first gig was on a beach in Santa Cruz. Upon arrival we were shown to the dressing room which was literally in the middle of the beach! As you can see below I soon realized I had some saxophone competition.

santa cruz





                                            After the gig we returned to the hotel to chill and prepare for tomorrows 6 hour drive down to LA. This really isn't a sight seeing tour other than from the window of a van. Hence my many van pictures....obvious I know! The scenery on the drive from Santa Cruz to north LA was stunning. California is such a wealthy state due to having oil fields, wineries and good fertile  agricultural land as well as huge industrial plants. In fact if Cali were a country it would be the 8th wealthiest in the world. Love facts like that, not really sure if it's 100% but it sounds good!


US train

US scape



 The second gig went well at a cool club called the Canyon Club in North LA.  A really interesting venue with loads of carpets, comfy sofas and cool decor. I thought 'what an interesting and  individual club' -  only then to be told they are a chain across the US all laid out and decorated in the same way in every club...it is truly a corporate world. It's so hard to stay 'up' for the gig because I was still on UK time which is 8 hours ahead so at 9pm as you're about to go on your body is telling you it's 5am.

           Here's a bit of Matt Backer sound checking his intro in for the tune Datestamp by ABC.


After the gig the cold reality of a very busy town is you can"t always book the hotels you want.  A hotel booking at the last minute  became apparent. We managed to find ourselves a very, very creepy motel. The weird thing about motels is (if you have seen them on TV they don't look that inviting anyway) to actually close your very flimsy door to the outside world then turning and seeing your bed is a strange feeling. It doesn't make you feel like you have any privacy or safety. On the upside....


  Here's an ABC song we performed at the Canyon Club in the Agoura Hills.


 Anyway I survived (obviously) however to top off the experience my diet for the day started with a breakfast of choice cooked by Mr Donald or another equally fast food  establishment. I've noticed in the states on the food front you can get really good food but you have to hunt. Our tour manger who was fab but was obviously trying to keep 'all the kittens in the basket' as he put it didn't give us an opportunity to find the healthier side. Hence my picture of the Inferno sauce at the top of this blog. We had a shorter drive today down to south LA to play another club this time with genuine character the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano. Now this place was definitly not a chain. It's been around since 1982 and looks amazing inside. I love playing venues with character and history, just something very humbling about it. If you look hard enough at the below right hand picture you can see all the pictures on the wall signed by the artists that have played in the club. Also at the back of the pic the venue has cute little boxes you can pre pay and watch from. It's nothing new but to have that in a hot and sweaty club is a great idea, you could bring your nan!

US - Noddy


 So honestly do I have much else to show for my trip...no. I have to confess it was great fun but I got to see very little. The nature of gigging sometimes. Anyway I am heading back there with ABC in September so I hope to be slightly (don't want to over do it!) more cultured. I will leave you with a glorious pic of my departing plane and then not such a glorious pic of the plane's toilets!  What a classy way to end.



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