RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: August 2013

Overland LA to Texas

I’ve just traveled over 1500 miles overland, from Los Angeles to Austin, Texas, in a Chevy van with John Egenes.

Four days on the road watching the desert flying past, calling in at dusty little towns and strange curiosities but mostly just doing long miles across the forbidding wilderness. The highlights for me were the big Wild West desert country along the California/Arizona border and the wide plains as New Mexico stretched out towards Texas.

This is a grand, vast landscape. When a train passes in the difference, you can see the whole train at once (this is a novelty for someone for New Zealand, when you usually only see handfuls of carriages at a time.) In this country, trains, even ones that stretch for well over a mile, become tiny models on a giant movie set. It’s awe-inspiring.

Of course you’ve gotta stop and see some of the tourist attractions – here’s John “standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona,” and below that, examining the evidence at the Roswell International UFO museum and research Center.

standin on the cornerjohn roswell

Tacos in “TJ,” Mexico

I’ve been on the road with Delaney Davidson for a few days and last night we headed across to Tijuana, where Delaney had a gig. Tijuana is a Mexican city of around 1.5 million crammed up against the edge of the America, on the other side of the world’s busiest border crossing. Tijuana has a reputation for gang-related killings and kidnappings, as well as theft and dodgy cops, so I was a bit wary about taking my video camera across there. But then a camera’s worth nothing sitting in a suitcase, so I tucked it under my jacket and off we went to Mexico. I was glad I took it – shortly after crossing the border our local friends took us to their favourite roadside taco stand – and…well, hopefully this video sums up our experience of Tijuana, or “T.J.” as it’s affectionately known by the locals. Whatever else it may be, Tijuana is also a bustling cultural capital, full of music and good food and I really look forward to going back one day.

 

 

Seattle: Kurt’s cardie and a chance meeting

This morning I headed for the train with Seattle wrapped in a low early morning cloud that swallowed the tops of the tallest skyscrapers. I’ve spent three days here, doing the tourist thing until I’ve pretty much had enough of that. Ticking off boxes –  Wednesday was the Pike Market and Aquarium, both crammed with cameras and kids. On Thursday I visited the Art Museum and the EMP museum where I gazed at Kurt Cobain’s old op-shop cardigan and the mangled remains of one of Jimi Hendrix’s ill-fated Stratocasters. Yesterday it was the Museum of Flight with its JFK-era Air Force One, the Blackbird bomber and a bit of the moon in a glass case. Seattle takes pride in its aerospace industry – the Boeing factory has been an economic mainstay here for decades and the 747, which was the first plane able to cross the Pacific in a single leap and thus ushered in the era of global air travel, was designed and built here.

But as a teenager of the grunge years, Seattle means music to me and so last night I went looking for the rock and roll soul of this fabled town. I was torn between the Felice Brothers at Tractor and Dale Watson at the Sunset Tavern – accordion-shaking folk revivalists vs Telecaster-slinging country traditionalist. Forced to choose I went for the Felice bros but while the support act was playing I thought I’d wander down the street to see if Dale had started yet and if I could poke my nose in to check it out. I couldn’t believe it when just three doors down the street this poster caught the corner of my eye:

Delaney poster

Delaney Davidson, a friend from Lyttleton was right there and had just started playing! What were the chances? So in I went and watched the first half of Delaney’s set before heading back to see the Felice brothers. Both shows were top-notch and complemented each other perfectly, I was lucky to see them  concurrently just a few bars apart.

Anyway once the Felice brothers were done I headed back across to have a chat with Delaney and as a result I’ve now headed down to this little town Silverton outside of Portland and have just filmed his show there tonight. Delaney’s just finishing his set outside as I write. Lowlight of the day was the “hamburger” I was served on the train. Highlight was driving along an American country highway for the first time on a stunning Oregon day, watching grain fields and old barns go by out the window.
Delaney Seattle 1