After three hours of driving we emerged from our dark van like moles squinting into the bright sunlight and were led into a large space that looked like a large garage or storage space. In one corner was a van covered in radio station decals. In front of this stood three microphone stands and, on a tripod, pointing at the microphone stands was mounted a video camera. In the opposite corner stood a large wooden shipping crate which, as Paul observed, “Looks like there could be a gorilla inside”. In the centre of the room, arranged in two rows were chairs, the type you might tie a kidnap victim to before filming a ransom video. The rest of the room was filled with a bizarre collection of junk from stacks of old computers to a gameshow style spinning wheel. There was also, worryingly, a cage.
What was going on?
Had Karen bought us here after I called her a Kraken in my last tour diary? It looked a bit like a kill room.
We were actually here to record a radio session for WQBK called, appropriately, “the garage sessions”. A small audience of competition winners were bought in to sit in the kidnap chairs and listen to us perform a few songs and ask a few questions. Disappointingly, there was no Gorilla.
This done, we drove on via a diner lunch to our second bit of radio promo in Troy, NY. We had a little sing-song and a chat with the nice people at radio WEXT and were once again in the van, watching the Tom-Tom count down the hours and minutes to our time of arrival in Burlington, Vermont. If you look at a map of the north east of America (as we should have done) you’ll notice a large body of water reaching down from Montreal into Vermont. This is lake Champlain. If you’re driving from Troy to Burlington, it makes sense to drive up the east side of this lake. We, of course, having blindly followed our digital guide, found ourselves on the west side where, upon investigation, it became apparent that all means of crossing the water, i.e Ferries, had stopped for the day. Our only option was to head South where the water was narrower and there were bridges. Aware that this would add another hour to our 3 hour drive, Iain Graham applied a tiny amount of extra pressure to the accelerator. In the interests of writing an exciting tour diary, I considered describing a Cannonball Run style police chase through upstate New York with Iain Graham as Burt Reynolds and Paul Sayer in the passenger seat as Farah Fawcett but the reality was that when the flashing blue lights appeared behind us, we obediently pulled over with our tails between our legs and waited for justice to be served. The female officer who would decide our fate didn’t appear to be the type to respond favourably to Scottish charm or wisecracks so we sat silently whilst she wrote out the ticket. Had she been wearing one, I might have considered asking if I could wear her hat for a photo but antagonising police officers in a foreign country is never a good idea.
Driving on at precisely the speed limit, we finally reached Burlington.
Vermont is beautiful! The view that awaited me as I opened the curtains the next morning was simply stunning. A crisp, blue sky above a still frozen lake and snow capped mountains gleaming in the distance. The air smelled clean and pure and I instantly felt like I’d received an injection of vitality. We received an alert from Damon that he’d discovered a coffee twattery nearby so no time was wasted and before long we were experiencing probably the best coffee of the tour so far. This place had it all! Beards, Bicycles, exposed brickwork and Maple soaked brioche. That’s it – we’re moving to Vermont!
Seriously though, Burlington, from what we saw, had a really nice laid back feel to it. Everyone seemed happy and healthy and went about their lives with a smile. I could see myself opening up my own craft pizza twattery there. Maybe Luke could open a coffee twattery next door? We’ll travel to work on skateboards!
First things first, let’s get this band off the ground! The show in Burlington was great. The reason I don’t write specifically about the shows is that, unless something out of the ordinary happens like Damon’s drums explode or we do a whole gig without a guitar solo, I’d rather leave it to the audience to pass judgement. I can only compare to other shows we’ve done and getting up to play with this band of lovely brothers is always a joy.
I shall briefly summarise the day today for you as I think I’ve rambled on enough. We’ve arrived in Portland, Maine and I have a dinner date with Luke, Iain and Paul downstairs in 5 minutes. Here it is….
- wake up
- leave hotel room after 2 idiot checks
- drink amazing coffee and eat ham and gruyere brioche from our new favourite twattery
- drive to radio station and discover a print shop next door
- commute between radio station and print shop whilst simultaneously performing acoustic session and overseeing getting second run of posters done
- drive to Vietnamese restaurant for delicious Phô
- investigate curious Bric-a-brac shop across the road but upon finding myself in a basement reminiscent of that belonging to Buffalo Bill in “Silence of the Lambs”, get scared and leave.
- lovely scenery
- more driving