It was a dreamy leg of my American road trip and I couldn't have asked for better companions.
So one of Hurricane Dolly's major disabilities, especially when it comes to a musical adventure, is that she doesn't have a working stereo. Not a problem though when you have a car full of instruments and three passengers hungry to play them and sing all the way down the road.
It was a dreamy leg of my American road trip and I couldn't have asked for better companions.
So one of Hurricane Dolly's major disabilities, especially when it comes to a musical adventure, is that she doesn't have a working stereo. Not a problem though when you have a car full of instruments and three passengers hungry to play them and sing all the way down the road. It was a dream American highway road trip and I couldn't have asked for better companions.
Wednesday, November 13th 2013
Great drive down Sunset Highway through misty, forested, Oregon hills. Arrived into Portland and caught my lovely friend, Chris for lunch before he headed back to Vancouver. Explored the Downtown Portland.
Thanks to an introduction from the wonderful Ricardo Hubbs (view his photos here) I met beautiful, fairy godmother, Gwen in her beautiful home lovingly created by landscape artist, Jeffrey Bale. I was so fortunate to be staying in Jeffrey's home next door, an urban sanctuary full of his worldwide collections.
After heading out for some local blues I returned to Jeffrey's totally inspiring haven and wrote blogs and songs, practised, edited, and took a soak in the tub. I even recorded some of my bath time wailing which you can listen to below! Blissfully fun evening of good ol' home entertainment!
Portland accordion tattoo
As planned, I connected with Sarah who I met at the Sou' Wester in Long Beach. And as planned we discussed the possibility of sharing the road to California together with her friend Mirami, also a musician. We had a great bonding session the Saturday before leaving Portland early on Monday morning.
On Sunday morning, I returned from King Farmers Market to discover that Jeffrey, my gracious host, had made it back from where he was working hard on a project up on Bainbridge Island, near Seattle. I knew we'd have a lot to chat about as his work is fascinating. You can see and read about it on his blog. I had the opportunity to hear about it straight from the man himself so it was only a few hours of my head on a pillow before I was up to go meet Mirami and Sarah.
Saturday, November 9th 2013
Hurricane Dolly (verse 1)
Hurricane Dolly, what are we going to do?
You took us up onto the ridge so we'd enjoy the view
Of sun-blazed rolling mist and snowy peaks
That must have been the Heaven's gates.
And though we took the tow-truck down the hill
We're still the best of mates
Sunday, November 10th 2013
Port Angeles, WA
Hurricane Dolly back on the road.
Applause for my music echoed around the Farmers Market and I left with arms full of produce.
Into the wild; camping alone by Crescent Lake.
Monday, November 11th 2013
Woke by lakeside fireside. Flame toasted croissant loaf from Pane d'Amore before my first view of my new right-hand-girl, the open Pacific Ocean. More incredibly stunning natural beauty at Hoh Rainforest, Olympic National Park.
Outskirts of Aberdeen, WA, hometown of Kurt Cobain, revealed that the world is not always beautiful. Dolly dies by the roadside. Sought refuge, rest and safety in her leather interiors.
Tuesday, November 12th 2013
Dolly resurrected and finally breezing down the beautiful coastline until 30 miles later she dies on a tight bend and ends up with her front wheels in a ditch. Cops. Another tow truck. Head scratching. Road trip plans withering.
Arrived at The Sou'Wester Lodge, Long Beach, WA, numb to the beauty of this amazing place.
The show must go on and the music that night turned the day from a nightmare to one that I wouldn't have missed. So enjoyed myself!
Wednesday, November 13th 2013
Woke to face the music with the motor...
Well, some they like the cream cakes
And they just can't get enough
And for some they have a chemical
They can't but help and puff.
And like some that start to struggle
With no whiskey for a while,
Our Dolly guzzles gasoline
At half a pint per mile!
Turns out the old girl was just too shy to ask for another drink and her fuel gauge had stuck!
Time to enjoy the beauty of Long Beach and the magic of the Sou'Wester Lodge.
Thursday, November 14th 2013
More exploration of Long beach on my bike, Fergie. Set up a free gig at top-notch restaurant, Pickled Fish. Very cool, "yes" people who bring in lots of live music to compliment their fantastic food and drink which I got to sample quite heavily!
Must remember to turn off Dolly's lights when not in use...
Friday, November 15th 2013
Really must remember to turn off Dolly's lights when not in use... Early morning jump-start before getting on the road to Portland, OR.
Thursday, November 7th 2013
I drove Dolly into position, right up at the front of the boat so I had a view the whole way of the mountains ahead falling into darkness. Then I drove through the dark, only shadows against the night sky to suggest at the grandeur of the landscape I was working my way through.
I arrived in the Victorian port town of Port Townsend just after 7pm and made a B-line to The Roadhouse for an open mic I had found advertised. This cavernous, edge-of-small-town bar and restaurant wasn’t exactly cosy, but I put my name on the sign-up list and worked my way though some bar grub, which really didn’t do much to lift the new-arrival blues.
My turn came around and I went out there and gave it my all as usual. It always feels good to be introducing myself to a new place through my music and the audience didn’t hold back their friendly curiosity. After playing I exchanged some great conversations with other musicians there. I learned that the night had recently moved to this venue from a miniature, Shakespearian style theatre called the Uptown Theater but apparently the leaseholder had been ordered to make extortionate earthquake alterations or vacate the premises. The Uptown Theater currently stands derelict and with it’s original floor decaying. Dan Coven rounded off the evening on a high with blues songs and guitar. Feeling good about the new friends I had made, I headed Downtown to open mic venue #2, Sirens Pub. As I was parking outside I bumped into a lady walking home in her tartan PJs (pajamas). This kinda shit I can’t ignore and she complimented me back on my beloved wooly jumper, handcrafted by my mum. Rosie, with the fine pajamas, then declared she was going to go home to change and come back to watch me play. Ahha… this is the Port Townsend I’d heard about!
My old pal Nicholas was hanging out and other friends were made inside and as the music started, the part a venue plays on the music was really telling. As our little crew settled after restroom, smoke and various other breaks, Andrew Fridae started up we sat engrossed in his thoroughly musically and lyrically accomplished and witty performance. What an act to follow but Gerry Sherman held the energy with outstanding blues. Then it was my turn. I’ve got to say I was nervous about dropping the standards of the stage that night but then I just told myself to just keep on feeling the music, it didn’t matter that it was in my hands. And it worked. I really enjoyed myself, as did the audience as I had such a strong interaction, and dancing is always a good sign too!
Friday, November 8th 2013
The next day I went outside to find Dolly surrounded by the friendly neighbourhood deer. I then went off to find the local Coop for some groceries and also met mouth-organist, Roger from The Roadhouse the night before. After a few errands, I followed a tip I’d received and went back to the Coop to jam. I think the first time I’d jammed at a super market but it went down really well and I had loads of fun. I also met Sarah who’d also been at The Roadhouse. She told me about a sea shanty song circle that was happening that night. So after more music and a bite to eat, we headed up to catch the song circle, hosted by Port Townsend favourites, The Whateverly Brothers. It was such a good time and I won a draw for a free copy of the group’s songbook of maritime folk songs. I did a rendition of Greenland Whale Fisheries, which was a special moment for me in a night of great music and company. I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I actually pressed record for my turn at the circle so you can listen by clicking here.
Afterwards I headed to the Boiler Room for their open mic night. A great comfy, accessible haven, mainly aimed at youth. The highlight was jamming Smells Like Teen Spirit with a local young guitarist. Then it was a late-night stroll down the town’s grand Victorian streets with Sarah before sleeping in her vacant gypsy caravan.
And here's the video from the open mic at Connor Byrne that I promised on the last blog. Getting stuff done in Portland and I'm starting to not completely suck at technology!
So I have found such a sanctuary here in Portland with lovely Jeffrey and Gwen. Here's me having a little sing-song in the bath last night to Dean Martin's Sway.
Last month, I had the pleasure of being interviewed and photographed by WE Vancouver and they've written an article about me which will be out on the streets tomorrow. If you're not living on Vancouver's streets however, you can read the article by clicking -->HERE. I would like to say a massive thanks to Rob Newell for the photographs and the gorgeous Kelsey Klassen for a really enjoyable interview and an article that I am delighted with. Maybe we can do a follow up when I'm back in Vancouver in May...
Wednesday, October 30th 2013
Big, big place, especially with a bike, bike rack, accordion, and 150lbs on my back. Failing to give quite enough notice to my friends who were hosting me in Seattle of my arrival I had to camp out with my stuff for a while. However, coffee and wifi got me through the first few hours and then I made my way up to the Hopvine for their open mic. I took to the stage 2nd and all the back pain flew away with a rapturous, smiley reaction from the packed house. After that, the good music and conversation kept on rolling. Vibes were so good that I was persuaded to head out for a drink or two in bustling Capitol Hill with lots of spirited, young souls including a Bellingham friend, Nicholas, who I just happened to spot from the car we were cruising in, walking on the side walk with his friend, Joie. More magic!
Thursday, October 31st 2013
Happy Halloween! I had crashed at Joie’s place, a basement suite of a family of avid Coca-cola collectors. The clash of Coke red and Halloween orange was enough to make my Halloween a scary one but it was great to recover a bit from the long day before.
150lbs of possessions loaded up, Nicholas and I hiked up to the University of Washington Campus before going to explore the Ballard neighborhood. While chowing down on some well-needed happy hour fodder, Ballard Avenue started to come to life with all sorts of little monsters and their parents. I decided to go out by the town clock and provide some organ-y music on my accordion. Gave out some stickers and got a few more wee accordion fans on board.
Coffee next at Caffe Fiore and it sent me straight to heaven while waiting for a ride from my friend Mark member of 90s band Before or After.
We finally got to shed our packs and Fergie before heading to Capitol Hill for a pre-open mic drink with Mark. We got a little carried away and unfortunately ended up missing the open mic at The Scratch. However we still hung out at this cool spot and applied copious amounts of Halloween makeup and hairspray. Then we headed to the epicenter of the Halloween madness on 5th Ave where, having missed out on the open mic, I thought I’d rip out my accordion in the street where I met a Lady Gaga interpreter so we rocked out together with my Gaga cover set. Continued the night dancing with other costumed freaks to some Macklemore-esque, Seattle hip-hop in Neumos.
Friday, November 1st 2013
Accompanied by Nicholas and Sean, a friend we had met the night before, I got my coconut fix in early with brunch at Into the Bowl, a great little Thai restaurant on Capitol Hill. Afterwards I headed for the legendary Pike Place Market and had a jam outside the first ever Starbucks Coffee shop, after listening and chatting to a great, friendly singer and guitar player named Alan.
I also met fellow accordionist, Lulu who I had met once before the first and only time I had played at Pike Place back in September. She was throwing a party that night and pretty much everyone there was going to be a musician or street performer. Sounded like an amazing night! And it was. International music, Halloween themes, circus and clown comedy. The best fun and a great jam afterwards, which was 5 or 6 accordions strong!
Saturday, November 2nd 2013
I woke up fairly early for a Saturday morning so I could head to U-District Farmers Market. I looked out of the window and, although Seattle was still unusually dry, it was blowing a gale out there. Tents lined both sides of the street and between gusts of wind, vendors were selling while the public browsed and shopped. But when that wind hit it was all hands on deck to keep those tents from taking off! With that Scottish constitution of never letting adverse weather come in the way of anything, I took out my accordion and started to jam while enjoying the view of people banding together against the forces of nature, for the good of all farmers market produce. Unfortunately it was shut down after less than two hours but it was fun until then.
My friend Nicholas and I got coffee and browsed around u-district for a while before he went to forage in a park and I went to try and retrieve a wooly hat that I'd picked up in Bellingham but lost at the snatch while preparing for Halloween. I also did some jamming in the Capitol Hill area including practising Smells Like Teen Spirit in Cal Anderson Park. I then met my friend Sean from Halloween night before heading back to Mark's place. As everyone seemed to be in bed I ended up scaling the front of the building to get in but it was worth it for the good nights sleep.
Sunday, November 3rd 2013
I woke early again to try and catch two farmers markets; Ballard Market and Fremont. I hopped on Fergie and had a great cycle by Ballard locks, got myself some desayuno Mexicano and hasn't been wandering around for long before my friend Karma, who gifted me some of her soap in Bellingham, had spotted me and hollered my name. I started jamming music in front of her stall and soon after a great young sax player, Jonathan started jamming some jazz standards with me. I also saw circus/uke/clown/accordion extraordinaire s, Molly and Luz of Duo Finelli who I'd met at Lulu's party and who gave me advice on Mexico and of where to eat at Fremont Market. As I made to head there I passed a trio of clarinet, tuba and percussion called Nighty Tiny. We jammed and even played Mairi's Wedding as an homage to my homeland!
I then hopped on Fergie and rode to neighbouring Fremont to check out Tandoozy, that amazing food suggestion which is free for musicians who jam at the market. So yummy! I played a few songs after talking with some new mothers with 4 month old music fans.
As the market was shutting up. Some t-shirts with giraffe prints caught my eye as I was wearing a pin badge with a giraffe on. The designs were by Seattle artist Boma Cho. He was playing his guitar behind his wares so we had a beautiful jam of Autumn Leaves and I bought one of his Jimmy Hedrix t-shirts; definitely a treasured souvenir of Seattle.
I ended the night back in Ballard at Conner Byrnes legendary Sunday night open mic, by invitation of my friend Morgan Pate who I met my first night in Seattle. She duet-ed with awesome musician, Kitt Bender and I met some of her other musician friends. I was also so impressed with the music of Jesse Tepper from Brooklyn and would implore you to check out his band, Sound of a Smirk. I closed the night with a sleepy but enjoyable performance. I'll be posting video clips from it next so look out for them.
Monday, November 4th 2013
The next two days have little to do with music or happy things, so feel free to skip. It was all part of the journey though so I figured I'd include it all.
Today was to be all about cars. With the help of my friend Sean, as my cell phone was still acting up, I started dedicating some serious time to finding the vehicle that would take me onwards in my adventure. By afternoon we had set up a trail of potentials to go see and the wonderful Sean had got his friend to lend us her car too.
Sean went for lunch with his dad, I went to jam at Pike Place Market and we reconvened early evening. The pressure started to mount as before we got to the first car it was sold. And the second turned out like a scene from a movie. We felt very removed from the bright lights of the city in this back-road town and the property, shrouded in darkness and mist, erupted with angry barks from a chained up dog as we entered the driveway. "I'm so thankful you're here with me." I almost whimpered to Sean before making my way to the front steps of the house. Before I even climbed one, the door burst open and despite just having spoke to the man on the phone, he growled, "wha-do-ya-want?" We got the old diesel motor going in the cold air after several tries and lots of smoke but we took her out for a test drive and I started romancing about low gas prices and sleeping in the roomy back of this VW Dasher and noted I also have a thing for Germans, so I was pretty much sold by the time we got back. My 3rd potential car owner was going straight to voicemail so it was back to the city to sleep on things.
Tuesday, November 5th 2013
Next day I called up the VW Dasher owner to say I was taking transit out to pick up the car and I'd be there in 2 hours. He called part way into my bus marathon to say he had someone willing to pay more than the asking price so I begged him to hold it for me. He did but I wish he didn't. Feeling the pressure and intimidation heavy in my gut but wanting to retain faith and hope for the best I hastily did the exchange. The feeling in my gut didn't leave. I drove a few miles to get the vehicle properly registered and drove about 50 feet, just for the hell of it, to park up outside the insurance broker. I emerged with my paperwork, arranged it in the glove box and started the engine. Down the clutch. Into reverse. Into reverse. Into reverse. Damn. Ok. Into neutral. Nope. Anywhere. Nope. The shift stick was stuck. The new ride wasn't taking me anywhere.
Completely at a loss after pacing round the car a few dozen times, I paced down to an auto shop 3 doors down for some advice but instead got moral support from friendly mechanic, Nathan and his mum which was what I really needed. We discussed life lessons and gut feeling and the like. In the end I cut my loses, got full refunds on registration and insurance and arranged to sell the car back to the previous owner later that night for just over half what I paid.
I then got in touch with potential car number 3 from the night before who met me with a Cadillac de Ville, the car who I would later name Dolly, and who would take me home that night for some much needed sleep!
Wednesday, November 6th 2013
The next day I had a long lie to recover from the day before, did laundry and some more vehicle paperwork stuff and got Dolly some gas and maintenance provisions. Eventually I was on the road to Edmonds for the ferry to Kingston and the Olympic peninsula, the next leg of my adventure.
Monday, October 28th 2013
Spent the morning getting the house back in order while listening to some good music including Mike McGee’s old band Tons of Fun University. I then got ready to make my greatly anticipated trip to Lookout Arts Quarry a community on the outskirts of Bellingham. With no vroom-vroom wheels yet, I loaded my accordion on the back of Fergie and started the steady incline of a ride up to The Quarry. Although pretty physical, it felt good to move around and the weather was gorgeous. At around the 2/3 point, I hit up a gas station for some snacks and met Seattle-based country music singer, Joe Patrick who gave me his number so we could hook up in Seattle or maybe in San Diego where he has a beach house and studio. That would be alright! I found a spot for snacking resting, and sunning on the bank of Lake Samish where I also found a singular ripe blackberry to see me on my way.
I arrived at the Quarry just as the Sun was setting and explored the festival ground that holds Shabang every September, looking for signs of life; log burner smoke stacks and the glowing edges of curtained camper-van windows.
I found Vaughn making amazing Venetian-style leather masks for Mardi Gras, Tim making amazing soup and Kelsey and I made amazing music in the music yurt, satisfying fully my architectural passion for powerful space and my musical passion for a right, good jam session! I then headed to bed in my friend Noodles’ magical little home on wheels, complete with wood burner, sheepskin rug and chocolate.
Tuesday, October 29th 2013
My first night sleeping in a trailer was followed by the first frost I’d experienced this year. So it was a race to throw on as many clothes as possible followed by a race to the Airstream Camper kitchen for some porridge and tea. Then I commuted into Bellingham with Kelsey to go play some music at the Old Town Café, and receive our bonus free-breakfast reward.
After perusing around Bellingham and freshening up, I went to meet Jef and we headed to his studio. We recorded a surprise Pacific-Northwest tribute, my song, The Fog, and Dougie Maclean’s, Caledonia, which I started singing as “California” as the fatigue kicked in at the end! You can tell I’m looking forward to heading south too. We called it quits and headed to The Wild Buffalo for a large whiskey and to watch Vaughn from the quarry ripping up the bass in a blues jam and to see if he could give me a ride back to the beloved quarry . It turned out Vaughn was going to spend the night in Bellingham but Jef and I were more than aware that there was an empty recording studio we were starting to feel comfortable in very close to hand. Jef’s friend Tara, a singer and guitarist, was in a bar around the corner so we went there, serenaded her with my accordion and persuaded her to come and jam in the studio until 3am. Rock-n-roll, baby!
Wednesday, October 30th 2013
I woke feeling the effects of an intense night in the studio and my 6th night on a couch plus the idea of up heaving from magical wee Bellingham to the big smoke of Seattle wasn’t thrilling to me, especially as the right car to take me there hadn’t come up yet. But with the help of some friends with cars, I made it to my bus and to the Emerald City.
Thursday, October 24th 2013
I had a very hospitable arrival in Bellingham. After spending my train journey writing my previous blog, talking to some besties back in Vancouver and enjoying the romance of train travel in the carriage with the bar in it, served by super cool Misty, I completely forgot to plan my onward journey with the on-board wifi. So with my amazing hosts' address in hand, I went old school. I hopped on the first bus that came along and took the scenic route to Downtown Bellingham. Had a great chat with John the bus driver who called into the depot and got me directions to my digs.
After a pretty arduous hike up York Street, I unloaded Fergie (my bike) and flew down the hill to the Cabin Tavern, a pub straight out of a movie set in my eyes. Brick walls and boos signage everywhere. The open mic that I had seen advertised turned out to be a karaoke night but they were happy, if a little bemused, to let me get up there with my accordion. It was a great time there, all appreciating the music we were sharing and I was reacquainted with cheap beer too which I feel I'd been estranged from during my time in Vancouver!
I then went to meet my new house mate and very talented poet and performer, Mike McGee, at The Shakedown. Mike's friend Sarah rocked Barracuda by Heart and Creep by Radiohead. Already I could tell this was a rocking wee town. What an awesome first few hours.
Friday, October 25th 2013