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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