Coming Home

Made it home late Sunday night after almost two straight weeks on the road.  Managed a 36 hour turnaround the previous weekend, which was a whirlwind, trying to spend time with the important people in my life, tossing in laundry, packing and back to the airport early Sunday.  As tired as I am, it’s not all bad.  I am in the middle of an amazing training course (week 1 done, 2 more to go) and got some great work done last week with a very favourable outcome.

And squeezed in some fun along the way. Didn’t really know what to expect when I got to Kansas City last Sunday, only that it’s a long trip  – there are no direct flights from Vancouver to KC.  What I found was a lovely, gracious and very attractive city on the banks of the Missouri River, a city that was once an important junction for wagon trains heading west, for slaves escaping north and cattle drives heading east.  It was the capital of the heartland.   Out of this came a city with some beautiful buildings and a very interesting culture.  Listened to some amazing blues, ate some great BBQ and found a little bit of New Orleans everywhere I turned.  Amazing.

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And I don’t know if I was just lucky, or if karma said, “girl, you need some lovin’ right about now” but there were so many amazing shows playing while I was in KC.  Had planned to see Lyle Lovett and John Haitt at the Uptown Theatre when I arrived last Sunday, but an unfortunate flight delay scuttled those plans.  KC has so many gorgeous old theatres I lost count.  This is the Mainstreet,  in the Power and Light district.  It shows movies, is a craft beer alehouse and on Fridays is a live music venue.  KC is making the most use I’ve seen anywhere of these cultural treasures.

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Monday night a band from Seattle that I have somehow never managed to catch at home was playing in town.  Ivan and Alyosha are some really talented guys from the Seattle area  and the Riot Room is the sort of dive bar music venue that makes my heart glad. As might be expected on a Monday night it wasn’t sold out, but the band put on a fantastic show anyway.

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I also knew that one of my music heroes, Butch Walker, was going to be playing the Riot Room Saturday night.  Despite having listened to his music for years, I still hadn’t seen Butch live, so although that show sold out immediately, I kept the faith that a ticket would materialize.  Posted a message on Craigslist in KC that I was a Canadian in town looking for a ticket for Butch Walker and just hoped.  And the universe answered.  Monday I got a message from a guy in Chicago who had tickets for the KC show, but his friends had bailed on the road trip and he wanted to sell the tickets.  After a few messages back and forth turns out Jason is an ex-pat Canadian living in Chicago and a huge Butch Walker fan.  Trusting that all would turn out well with these credentials, I sent him the money on PayPal and hoped.  And the next day by FedEx . . .my ticket arrived!  Thanks for paying it forward Jason, you were amazing.

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It was a long week of work and I had at least one day where I woke up before dawn in a strange hotel room and had absolutely no idea where I was.  Lost my rental car in the parking garage one day . . . walked all six levels trying to remember where I parked the damn thing.  And spent a lot of time in the gym making up for the restaurant meals.  But knew I had been in that hotel too long when I found myself riding down the elevator, walking through the lobby and across to the parking tower to fetch something I’d left in the car . . in my pyjamas.  Note to self, it’s time to go home when you are in the lobby in your PJ’s!

But all work weeks do come to an end and Saturday I had a chance to explore more of Kansas City.   Had a wonderful morning in the warm sunshine (it was 65F) walking around the River District and City Market.   Spent a lot of time in a vintage musical instrument store.  Fabulous find.

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After all that walking and shopping it was time for an authentic Cafe du Monde beignet at Beignet.  So delicious.

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Had a late BBQ lunch and headed back downtown to Kansas City Live to see the Heroes Show.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but as it turned out, I got to be part of a moving and authentic slice of real life in the heartland of America.

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The show was a tribute and celebration for the local veterans, and no matter what people’s philosophy on the US military might be it, it was clear that a great deal of respect and honour is paid to all veterans.  And it wasn’t just the Marines in full dress uniform getting attention, although I saw a lot of people lined up to have pictures taken with them.  There was also the guys in jeans and patch vests from the annual Veterans Ride.  Must have been 50 Harley’s parked out front.  There were older vet’s from WWII and guys wandering around who looked like they had never really made it back from some of the overseas conflicts.  And there were families everywhere, either with veterans or current serving members.  Or, sadly, paying tribute to loved ones they had lost.

A clip from a documentary called The Invisible Ones, about homeless combat veterans, went up on the big screens, it showed incredibly moving photos of injured veterans; it was so powerful it silenced that big, rowdy, country music loving, beer drenched outdoor venue.   There was a mom with her arms around her 10 year old son, both of them crying, and I’m guessing mourning their husband and dad.  There was a young dad, a big, very fit guy, who looked like a marine sitting next to me with his two baby girls and he had them both in his arms with tears running down his face. What was he remembering I wonder?

Saturday night it was back to the Riot Room for my long-awaited Butch Walker show.  It was fantastic.  Epic.  Couldn’t have asked for more.  And I’m so glad that fate, or the universe, or whoever, saw to it that I was in the right place at the right time.

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Here’s an acoustic version of Coming Home from Butch’s new record, Peachtree Battle – it’s a different version from the one I saw Saturday night, but I’m all about the new look!

And just because I can, some older Butch from Sycamore Meadows  “Here Comes The . . ”  And check out the gorgeous Gibson he’s playing . . . I’d love to own that baby, but an Epiphone Hummingbird will have to do for me. If I can ever play as well as Butch I’m getting me one of those.

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Dog Days

Where did Autumn go this year?  The dog days of summer rolled on into September, the weather stayed warm and sunny and evenings at the beach were magic.  And there was more than one that had a special magic, when it was still really hot, the sort of hot that leads to drinking all the beers in your cooler and then waiting for the beer vendor guy to come around so you can buy a couple of tall, cold Stellas.  As the light and warmth lingered on you might find yourself later in the evening renewing friendships and celebrating the sunset to the sound of bongo drums with all the other sun-worshippers.   The sort of nights that make you re-think why you ever have wanted to leave paradise on the West Coast.

Then it was Thanksgiving (Canadian – in October) and we started a new tradition of spending Thanksgiving on the beach.  Hard to believe this is Vancouver in October.

My own special place in The Kingdom, thanks R!
And without really remarking the change, suddenly it was November.  The Kingdom retained it’s magical beauty, even as the seasons belatedly turned.  The weather remained warm, but brought with it a blanket of marine fog, blocking the sunshine, making it cool and damp, but with an eerie spell.
It feels like I’ve traveled about a bazillion miles since August, mostly for work but some for fun.  Exhausting, but I’ve got to see a lot of amazing places.  Went back to Toronto and caught up with S, my very first friend in Canada.  We haven’t seen each other in a long time, but as her husband put it, thanks to Facebook it’s like we saw each other yesterday.  I miss her, but not Toronto.  Work takes me regularly to Kentucky, a place that was so completely different from my expectations and that I’ve grown to love.  In August I went to the Forecastle Festival in Louisville, hands down the most impeccably curated music festival of the summer.  I’m usually in Lexington (work), it’s a stunningly beautiful part of the world, but I also learned to love Louisville, a quintessential “Main Street America” town.
The Amazing Grace Potter.
Some down home boys from Virginia, Old Crow Medicine Show (stole my heart!).  Thanks R for the amazing shot.

It wouldn’t be Kentucky if we didn’t drink some moonshine . . .well actually a whole lot of ‘shine!

Louisville is also home to the Louisville slugger factory, where all Major League Baseball bats are produced, a must-see.   It’s only short coming as a city – a shocking shortage of places to find breakfast of any kind, never mind the sort of hangover breakfasts the South is famous for – waffles, fried chicken, red eye gravy, grits and pails of Pimm’s or Bloody’s.  New Orleans has that s*&# totally covered, and despite Hillbilly Tea, a gem, needs to up it brunch game!
And who knew that the quintessentially Canadian game of curling would make me a pretty darn fine shot at Cornhole!  For Canadians who, like me, are somewhat askance at the name, check out this blog, an Ode to Cornhole.  It looks sort of like this (well at least from what I can remember . . .see note above regarding ‘shine).
Every so often I managed to gather a few days in Vancouver, where I basked in the total west coastness of The Kingdom and caught up with the music scene at the Vancouver Folk Festival at Jericho Beach.
And was front row for Blue Rodeo at the Roots and Blues Festival at Deer Lake Park.  Some love for Jim Cuddy, although clearly taken at the end of my long day!

What else has this Autumn meant for me?  It’s been a time of reflection and considerable thought.  I FINALLY got my US work permit, something I’ve been waiting for a long time.  This Canuck is now legal to live and work in the USA for at minimum the next 3 years.  Richmond, VA was where I was headed, but in a somewhat unbelieveable turn of events, I’ve been unable to sell my house in Vancouver, one of the hottest real estate markets in North America.  So the house is off the market until circumstances become clearer.  And I’ve always believed that life will work out as it’s meant to, but that sometimes we just can’t see what that’s going to be, a valuable lesson learned last year.  A friend said to me that when things are meant to be, they will be easy, that the pieces will fall into place, but when they are difficult, pay attention to the message.  And there has been nothing easy about this proposed move to Virginia.  It’s been one stumbling block after another and now there are some compelling reasons for me to stay in Vancouver.   Life is funny that way, you are walking down one road and then when you least expect it (or without really knowing it at the time) you get caught completely off-guard.  I might have to be home for more than a day or two at a time though, patience with my crazy schedule might start to wear thin.  I’m home for 8 whole days in 6 weeks.  Sitting in a hotel in Kansas City, MO tonight, got to finish writing and head out to see John Hiatt and Lyle Lovett at the Uptown Theatre. When in Rome . . . .

There has been so much absolutely great music come out this Autumn, I just can’t decide.  Saw the Avett Brothers again in Vancouver, they are touring their new record “Magpie and the Dandelion”.  By luck caught this amazing shot at the Orphpeum Theatre.
Seth was singing Morning Song . . .   http://youtu.be/09ljktjxHpI
And I’ve been completely obsessing over the new Amos Lee record, Mountains of Sorrow, Rivers of Song and this amazing song, Chill in the Air.
Enjoy y’all, hope to write more soon, time and travel permitting.

 

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