Musical Meanderings

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July 6th 2006
Published: July 23rd 2006
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The Great Man, BB KingThe Great Man, BB KingThe Great Man, BB King

Yes Kim & Alan, we were this close, and we have a free badge for you
Howdy Y’all….. this has been the southern part of our tour, and yet again, is a complete contrast. It has been hot and humid, almost tropical....... you expect to see giraffes drinking at the water's edge, not long horn cattle.

As I write this we are sitting out in a warm balmy night, after a crushingly humid day, chirruping things chirping, bitey things biting, fire flies glowing and in the background , country music being performed from the porch. Yep we are most definitely in the South.

It has been a great time and full of all those things you think are a “cliché of country”. Elegant southern houses, cowboys , long horn cattle & horses, Blues & Country music, catfish and gumbo.
The last few weeks have been a bit more urban based than normal, as we have visited the southern cities in search of music and history. We have also been lucky enough to catch up with some friends which was really nice, but I’m a bit ahead here, so lets carry on from where the last blog left off.

After Marion left we headed back to Albuquerque, supposedly to get some work done on the
No Aliens hereNo Aliens hereNo Aliens here

As you drive through the main street there are aliens lurking just about everywhere. We thought the street lamps a nice little touch.
rig, but that’s another story. It was Graeme’s birthday on the 29th and we discovered that BB King was playing at the Sandia Casino Amphitheatre, so decided to try for tickets. We had a slight delay to the day, as it started with us squashing the steps of the rig on the curb! By the time we had dismantled them and sorted a few other things out, it was late afternoon before we drove to the casino to see if there were any tickets available. As it had sold well they had just released some extra tickets. We assumed that they would be “restricted view” , but decided that, as the venue was not that big, it should be OK.
Graeme was really pleased as Alan & Kim has been to see BB in London for their birthdays and he was quite envious of them.

So, how pleased were we when we arrived to find that our seats were in the middle of the 2nd row, about 20 ft from stage, we settled in to watch the show.
Then there was a late arrival of a not so young, or natural blond, woman,who seated herself next to me. Once
No star hotelNo star hotelNo star hotel

See why we felt just a little guilty? The wind was so strong, it blew his boot off across the car park! We did offer room service though.
again the “the Looney on the bus” syndrome had struck

As the 8 piece band struck up, out came the mobile phone. God knows how the person the other end could hear her , I couldn’t ,and believe me I tried hard enough.
Now, whilst still talking on the phone ,and although seemingly not listening to the band at all, she fitted in, whooping loudly in all the right places, answering out loud the rhetorical questions from stage, and called out each member of the bands name just before each introduction. From here on in I was transfixed…..

Not content with this distraction, she then managed to produce quite a large camera from her bag ( big signs everywhere saying, No Photos) and THEN a pen & paper. At this point, I wondered if in fact I was sitting next to a multi-limbed alien, disguised in human form, (we were not too far from Roswell). I can multi-task but this was really impressive.

By now I was really distracted from the show. I should have moved, but I couldn’t, I was like a rabbit in headlights, I had to stay and see how many other things she
Rodeo experienceRodeo experienceRodeo experience

Graeme was quite shocked that I enjoyed watching the bull riding, but it was OK. I think the bulls got the better of the Cowboys everytime.
could do at one time. Even Graeme took a sneaky look .

It really reminded me of Ab Fab. I was now caught up in the dress code discussion with “Janie” for the next night.
She continued to scroll through her address book, ringing everyone in it. Those lucky enough not to answer, then got a 5 minute blast of the concert on their answer phone.

What I will never know is....... where was Frank that night? She just kept trying him. About halfway through the concert she ran out of numbers to call. Now what would she do? I almost offered her our phone.
Then, with no more phone calls to make, just as swiftly as she came......... she was gone………!!

By the way the concert was excellent.

A big part of our travels has been our meetings with interesting people. It always amazes me just what other people do / achieve.

Our next experience was to be the vast spread of Texas.

Through North West Texas, across the flat plains, you can just drive and drive for hours, and hours and hours ………. passing only a few ghost towns, solitary cows and
lazy stampedelazy stampedelazy stampede

These steer would have done this on their own but, it was great to see these magnificent cattle.
oil derricks. We decided it was time to stop for the night, and in the middle of nowhere spotted a picnic area. Here we met a chap named Hank. He was cycling from Las Cruces, NM, home to Oklahoma (about 750 Miles) & had also stopped for the night, only he was sleeping on the picnic table, and we had a lovely comfy bed,with a pillowtop mattress.

We chatted a while, admired the beautiful clear night sky and stars and went to bed. Later we were woken by a loud crash of thunder, and the pounding of hail stones on the roof. I got up to look out of the window to see how our neighbour was faring, thinking to invite him in. I opened the window. It was like someone had thrown a bucket of water at me, you could not be heard over the noise of the storm... I was not going out there to get him.
A flash of lightning illuminated the scene of a bundle lying on the table. It was like something from a horror film, there was no sign of life. Guiltily I snuck back to bed.

Later, when it had settled a bit, Graeme went out to see if he was OK, but there was still no sign of movement, or a limb he could shake, so left him and went back to bed. That morning we were so relieved to find he had “weathered the storm” and was still alive. He was quite unperturbed if not a little damp, had probably slept better than me, worrying about him out there. We offered tea and toast, wished him good luck, and then left him drying out before he commenced the next 400 miles to home.

We drove off quite amazed.

After a brief stop in a place named Livingston, (whose only claim to fame is a lake ,and death row!) , we joined a club named, appropriately enough for here, Escapees! & Re-registered the rig before carrying on to Dallas.

This was another workshop stay but we had chosen this area because;
1) It was sort of En Route to Indiana 2) why not; we haven’t been here before ,and 3) Graeme had a friend here we hoped to catch up with. Due to these reasons, we had not given much thought to Dallas itself ,so we
Billy BobsBilly BobsBilly Bobs

Great club, the saddle is covered in rhinestones and featured in the film.
were delighted to find it was such an interesting place.

The first misunderstanding to clear up though, and at the risk of disappointing you all, is.... I have to tell you that the women in “Dallas” were not real. There is no way in this humidity, you can keep your lip gloss intact and your “big hair” big. Also those shoulder pads would just become soggy.
I think it was all fiction! (You can visit Southfork ranch though).

For us, this area was the beginning of the real cowboy experience.

For several years Graeme worked with Buddy when he was in the UK touring with John Mayall and the Blues Breakers, foolishly he uttered those words" if you are ever passing by"...... So we met up with Buddy & Cathy, who kindly showed us the sights of Fort Worth. Also, Buddy, who is a wonderful guitar player, took us to some clubs to hear a selection of excellent musicians, including himself, jamming together & playing the Blues .........Graeme was in his element.

On the first night Buddy was playing a Country gig so we went along to meet him. The first noticeable difference to the UK
That  windowThat  windowThat window

This is the Book Depository from which Kennedy was shot, it is claimed. Top window on the right
was that there were loads of young girls in hats & boots line dancing. I looked around and saw my first Texas size steak; it was the size of a small Sunday joint for a family of 6!
During the show Buddy, having read the last blog, did a rendition of “Take it Easy” for us. Thanks Buddy.

Whilst here we had to go and see the biggest Honky Tonk in the world called “Billy Bobs” It was built to compete with Gilley’s, the one featured in the film “Urban Cowboy” They decided it would be bigger, better and unlike Gilley’s which had a mechanical bull, they would have real ones. It is 3 acres or 127,100 sq ft big, has 32 bar stations, 2 stages, where all the big county stars play, 2 dance floors, an indoor Rodeo ring and up to 6000 cowboys……. It was great, we attended our first bull riding, watched the line dancing, (dancers 18 - 80 yrs here), checked out everyone’s hat and boots as they passed by and listened to the bands. It was at this point I knew I just have to have a hat.

Walking down the Stockyards Main
Suspicious CharacterSuspicious CharacterSuspicious Character

Or was it from behind the fence here? This is the site on the grassy knoll where the shots were said to have been fired from.
Street was like going back in time. In the mid 1850s the area became a famous stop for the cattle men. The Long Horned Steer that roamed wild on the range could be claimed by anyone. So the Cowboys rounded them up, branded them, and drove them north to sell at a profit.
Many travelers looking for a break in the monotony of traveling the open range frequented Fort Worth Stockyards. There they found hot meals, saloons, gambling and bordellos. The town soon earned a reputation as "Hells half acre." Even Butch Cassidy and The Hole-in-the-wall Gang found the city an entertaining place to stop.
The cattle drives actually only lasted for a brief period before land ownership, fencing and the railway put them out of business.
We went to watch the daily “stampede”. It was really funny, the Steer were like cast members, they meandered down the middle of the road with no sense of urgency, and that resigned attitude of “here we go again”

On a more serious historical note, we went to visit the JFK Museum, which is housed in the Book Depository where Lee Harvey Oswald is said to have fired that fatal shot
Natchez TraceNatchez TraceNatchez Trace

400 miles to go. This is part of the original Trace, luckily the parkway is now a bit wider and smoother
on November 22nd 1963. We were in a taxi when the driver said “do you want to go to the grassy knoll?” We had sort of forgotten about the historical events in Dallas (only excuse for that is information overload), so off we went. It was really peculiar; it is one of those places where, despite having never been there, you have a strong sense of Deja Vu
The museum is really excellent, as it gives you an overview of world events of the time, as well as the assassination. For a contrast, across the road there is the “Conspiracy Theory” Museum ,which examines the findings of the Warren commission, the official Governmental investigation, and offers several different versions of the events.
Here we met another interesting guy, who collects all the information he can on all the possible Conspiracy deaths / assassinations, and opens museums. An interesting hour or two was spent in conversation.

Whilst in Dallas we did a quick poll and asked everyone who mentioned it, who did they think shot JFK? Result…….. there was someone on the grassy knoll. Our opinion? , so do we. You don’t have to be too technical or
Magnificent Muddy MississippiMagnificent Muddy MississippiMagnificent Muddy Mississippi

The "Old Man" river at approx 2350 miles long is the biggest in the US. In some places it is 4 miles wide and 200 ft deep. A raindrop falling in Lake Itasca(the source) would arrive at the Gulf of Mexico in about 90 days
forensic to know a bullet cannot rotate 180 degrees before striking its target….. or can it?

Despite still not achieving all the repairs we wanted ( don’t ever moan about English service again. This is the first time I have ever seen Graeme give up on an issue) we had a great few days here, but it was time to get out of the city so we headed off towards Natchez to drive up the Trace Parkway.

The Trace was an old Indian pathway, used by the Chickasaw & Choctaw Indians as a route of trade and communication. It stretches diagonally from the Southern part of the Mississippi River to Central Tennessee, approximately 450 miles long.
As time passed it was used as a thoroughfare by Conquistadors, pioneers & poachers, trappers and traders, preachers and marching armies. Eventually it became one of the first postal routes for the area.
Its heaviest use was in 1800s by the tough “Kaintuck” boat people. These men would float their flat boats packed with goods, from Tennessee or Kentucky, to New Orleans to trade. Having sold their goods they would then sell the boats as lumber and commence the 3 month walk
Antebellum HouseAntebellum HouseAntebellum House

Our next home! Only 399 more to look at! These beautiful homes give you a taste of the life of the cotton Lords.
back home.
Today it is a 450 mile tree-lined, beautiful, scenic national parkway, with a 50 mph speed limit, no trucks,where you can tootle along at a leisurely pace.

Before we commenced the drive, we visited the town of Natchez itself. Here we got our first taste of “Gone with the Wind” Country. Natchez is the oldest settlement on the Mississippi river. It became wealthy during the Steam boat era with trade and cotton. Many millionaire cotton Lords built their homes here. It escaped much of the destruction in the Civil war, as the Confederate Army considered it too beautiful to burn down. It is now famous for having over 500 Antebellum houses, many of which you can visit.

The good times didn’t last though and when the railway took over from the riverboats, hard times struck. We were told that it became so poor, that by the time the depression hit the rest of the USA, Natchez didn’t even notice.

Whilst here we decided we had to try our first real southern food. I had read that if you like balsamic vinegar, fine herbs and fresh salads (sounds familiar) that this may not be the cuisine
Dodgy duoDodgy duoDodgy duo

Fancy meeting you here! Graeme and Danny reflecting on the strange coincidences of life.
for you.
We went to Fat Mammas Tamale hut (highly recommended) but guess what, if its not beef it has to be Pork. We asked if they had any veggie or chicken items to which the lady said “ you must be from California? Actually that about sums up the Americas cuisine divide, How come all the veggies moved west? Anyway we passed on the Tamales but Graeme tested their “Knock-you-naked” margarita, and with swizzlestick in hand, in only 100 F of heat we cycled back home!

Natchez is a pretty place and our camp site was right next to the mighty Mississippi, so we lingered a day or two extra (actions that will have significance later on) before setting off up the Trace.

The Trace is a quiet two-lane road. We drove at a leisurely rate, stopping to admire the views, look at the single remaining Stand (Inn), walk in bits of the old Trace and generally check it out.

On the map we had identified where to stop for the night and arrived early evening. We drove around the woodlands to pick a spot. Having completed a circuit, we returned to the one we saw
Now where were those crossroads?Now where were those crossroads?Now where were those crossroads?

Our 3rd lot of crossroads. The others 2 were in tiny quite villages and more atmospheric,this one had traffic rushing by but I guess it is a focus for the camera touting tourist.
first, to settle in.

As we pulled up a chap on a Honda Goldwing was also looking at the space. We were not sure if he also wanted that space, so Graeme stopped the bus and I walked across to see what his intentions were.
Now, for one of those “can’t believe it” moments. We were deep in discussion, when Graeme joined us.......Graeme & the man on the motorcycle just stared at each other in disbelief......
Darrell is a very fine songwriter & almost 2 years ago Graeme worked with Darrell, & Danny Thompson on their UK Tour.
During this time Danny had said that one day he would ride the Natchez Trace & only that morning Graeme had wondered if he had ever achieved it.
Darrell said “you won’t believe who is with me, Danny is just down the lane “
He got Graeme on the back of his bike and they went off to surprise him. They were biking southwards down the Trace. What are the chances of 3 people from different continents meeting up in woods on a 450 mile route?
We had a lovely evening catching up & chatting with Danny, Darrell & Darrell's brother Dale, during which Darrell asked us to join him and his family in Nashville for a boating trip the following weekend.

The next day, after a hearty breakfast of tea, porridge & marmite toast, we went our separate ways. We decided to detour from the Trace to visit Memphis, home of the Blues & Elvis. Trish had insisted that we must not miss it.
Whilst we were heading that way, Graeme wanted to look for THE Crossroads, where Robert Johnson had sold his soul to the devil

The legend goes that Robert Johnson, a struggling young Blues musician, who was dissatisfied with his hard and tragic life, his musical abilities and, due to the premature death of his wife and unborn child, was angry with his creator, went down to the Crossroads one windswept midnight.
Upon reciting an ancient incantation, he began to hear the sound of sweet music in the distance. As the sound became louder he found himself in the presence of the Devil, who offered to make him the greatest blues man of all time in return for his immortal soul.....
He accepted the offer and struck a deal with the Devil, who then tuned
Great Guitar,.... Great Guitar,.... Great Guitar,....

In the shape of a "silver bullet" RV. Graeme not so impressed he wants a "Lucille"
his guitar, thereby giving him the abilities he so desired.
Following this event he went on to record 29 songs in 2 years which became a blueprint for the modern day blues.
A fair swap you might say......
Did the devil call in his debt early? Tragically, 2 years later Johnson died at the age of 28, poisoned by a jealous husband..... or so they say!......... Don't try this at home kids.

As both places claim the honor of being The Crossroad we had to visit Rosedale & Clarksdale and several others in between as well, just in case…. I was hoping to find it too, Graeme needs a job when we return and I thought with luck he could do a deal also.

Taking this route took us along miles of empty roads, past fields of rice, Soya bean and cotton. The countryside must look much the same as a century ago. It was not difficult to imagine the hardship people endured trying to survive here during the depression.

Following a quick stop for a photo opportunity at yet another Crossroads we arrived in Memphis.
We were amused to find that the RV site was situated
Lorraine Hotel , Room 306Lorraine Hotel , Room 306Lorraine Hotel , Room 306

Room 306 is displayed much as it was on that fateful day. The cadillacs remain in place. This was an amazing, thought-provoking museum
right next to Heartbreak Hotel. As you can imagine Elvis' music played all day long.
Memphis turned out to be an incredibly busy stay..... there was so much to do.
It is a music lover’s paradise and, it also really made us think about American modern history.

In one day we managed to Visit Sun Studios, (the first recording studios of so many great musicians) tour the Gibson Guitar Factory, (Graeme now wants at least 5 more guitars) spend hours in the Rock and Soul Museum, visit the Civil Rights Museum and spend the night wandering down Beale Street, home to the Blues and Jazz, where live music plays everywhere, all night long.
At the end of the day it was difficult to remember who had been shot, died of drugs, was still alive or played what instrument,……. It’s a hard life this.

We started with the Sun Studio tour, most commonly famous as the place Elvis commenced his recording career, under the tutelage of Sam Phillips. Graeme was much more interested in the history of Jerry Lee Lewis, Howling Wolf, BB King, Johnny Cash to name a few. If you are into Blues music & the beginings
Guitar in the makingGuitar in the makingGuitar in the making

One of the many stages and processes the instrument goes through. For those interested this will be a semi-solid ES175!
of Rock & Roll, it was actually quite a magical place.
A lot of current bands still record there, to become part of the legend, including U2

Being a guide there must be a nightmare job though, as you get a lot of “anoraks” who think they know more than the guide does.
Our excellent guide told us that the day before he had the punter from hell who ruined the tour. Apparently it became like a mastermind competition, who knew the most unusual facts….

Our visit to The Civil Rights Museum was enlightening. It is housed next to, and incorporates the Lorraine Motel, which is where Martin Luther King was assassinated on 4th April 1968 at the age of 39.

Although we knew about the segregation issues in the USA, I don’t think I had stopped to consider how recently, it was all going on. Having just been to the JFK museums this visit fitted in more parts of the jigsaw. I started to wonder just how many influential, pivotal people had been assassinated in this country where gun laws make it much safer for the individual! (Useless information; there have been 12 gun related assassination attempts on Presidents alone, 4 died, 2 survived, the others failed.)

I found it all very depressing. One of the most disturbing facts I couldn’t get out of my head was that, although they still underwent the daily humiliation of segregation at home, more than one million Black American solders fought in the 2nd WW for the USA & freedom and democracy. Those from the Southern States, on return were still not allowed to sit at the front of the bus, be served at a café counter or use the same entrances as the whites, amongst other things.

The slaves were freed following the civil war in 1865, but segregation then commenced. 100 years later they were still fighting for equal rights, and it was not until the late 1960s that segregation began to break down.
As well as the famous people we know about like Martin Luther King, ordinary people of all races performed incredibly brave deeds and risked their lives in order to forward the cause. Reading about them in the museum was very inspiring.

Sadly we have met a few people on our travels here that still think there was no problem with the
Our CaptainOur CaptainOur Captain

Great day on the lake Thanks Darrell.
system and are not afraid to express their thoughts! We say nothing……..

On a lighter note, the tour of the Gibson guitar factory was fascinating, you always understand why things cost so much once you have seen the workmanship that goes into their creation. From start to finish these instruments are hand made, taking several weeks to make. At the end of the line there is a row of beautiful guitars that may, or may not make the grade. Once here they get just one more chance to be tuned and if not satisfactory, the guitar is destroyed .....but not wasted. We were told that the sawdust is sold to Jack Daniels and used to fire the stills. Funny, we thought it was Jack that fuels the music, not the other way around (ask Keith).

Being so close to Gracelands, we had to do the full “Elvis” experience comprising of Elvis’s house and garden tour, a film, Elvis’s cars, Elvis’s airplanes & Elvis’s clothes ,all of which was hugely entertaining and, can you believe, we only had one look alike on our tour? We will probably not listen to another Elvis record for the next 10 years.

Beale Street is a great place. This is where originally all the Jazz & Blues clubs were, many are still there. I think a lot of the buildings are in the original condition, very atmospheric best describes them. You wander through the street with live music in every bar. We dipped in and out, listening to blues & jazz. The bands change all the time. Here we tried the “world famous” Gumbo and Fried Catfish and, whilst sipping cold beer watched the cool-dude-suited world, boogie-on-by. As you may be able to tell we think Memphis is a good place to spend some time.

Having done the full “Blues” thing it was off to Nashville where there are only two kinds of Music.... “Country” & "Western" , to take Darrell up on his offer of a day on the lake.
We drove past cypress swamps and Bayous, miles of green creepers, muddy coloured rivers and isolated farmhouses. It was so humid even the inside of my ears were sweating. At night the fireflies glowed. ( Did you know the firefly is actually a beetle? The female is known as a glow worm)

As we entered the city limits we

Over the previous few days we had watched these vehicles being pain stakingly put together!
noticed many huge beautiful buildings, churches of all denominations. We were later told that Nashville is known as the “Buckle of the Bible belt” apparently there are 27 churches per sq mile.
Surely that must beat the amount of pubs in an English town?

Nashville was another music experience. This time based around Lower Broadway and Honky Tonk row, only this time the music, with lyrics,( which are great,) of angst and misery, came from Cowboy bands. Again, all day long bands are playing in the bars
Graeme is getting a little worried as I seem to be developing a growing fondness for the clothes, music and accent of the South

Nashville is famous for the Grand Old Opry. A theatre where all famous country stars played. It has now moved to a huge new site in Music Drive, but we went to see the original one “The Ryman Theatre” in town. It is a real old fashioned theatre with wooden bench seats and ornate surroundings.
In fact we saw a concert there of Phil Lesh, he is an original member of the Grateful Dead so Graeme was very excited. I drifted off a bit during the show
Cloud gateCloud gateCloud gate

otherwise known as the Bean. The 110 ton 33 foot high piece of sculpture is by Bristish artist Anish Kappor. It reflects the Chicago skyline
but the audience was hugely entertaining, most had come on from the nearby Bonaroo festival, it was party time and looked like the 60's revisited.

We also visted the Musicians Hall of Fame, which is dedicated to the talented musicians behind the stars. It is not quite finished yet so we got a reduced entrance fee and a personal guided tour by the owner Joe , during which he took us into a back room to show us his latest acquisition......... The very stage Jimi Hendrix performed on in the early days of his career, or so he says.

One thing about travelling as we are, is that you have time to investigate things. I have really enjoyed looking at music in its social context. The museums really take you through the development and evolution of the people, their lives and situations. I have learned loads of info about musicians I know my Dad already knows and has all the records of. Watch out Dad we will be rifling through that collection when we return.

As a break from the music we did a quick pit stop at Indianapolis for the F1 Grand Prix. This is definitely the way to see an event. We parked opposite the circuit, could wonder across for a few hours, and go back for lunch etc Very civilized. Due to the fiasco last year they were very keen to get the punters in, so made things very accessible. We were able to wander through the pit lanes and watch the teams working, assembling and preparing the cars for race day. Also the tickets are much cheaper and easily available, probably something to do with the fact the venue holds 500,000 people.
On Sunday when it was all over we sat in the field, had a cold beer and watched the queue to leave the venue pass by.

Whilst here we decided that it was time to take a moment and put our GB sticker on the rig
Now whilst we have been traveling we have seen very few Brits. We were walking around the circuit when we, along with several others, had our attention taken by a group of drunken, shaved headed, tattooed, shirtless, swearing, mooning, adult men. Guess what? Yep, they were English and parked not so far away from us in the field. We went back to reconsider the
Pritzker Pavillion ChicagoPritzker Pavillion ChicagoPritzker Pavillion Chicago

There is an old law which prevents the construction of any new building on this land, so they built this Pavilion as a piece of sculpture. It seats 11,000 people and has a revolutionary sound system that is suspended above the lawn which makes it sound to everyone in the audience that the sound comes from the stage, rather than the speakers
sticker situation ,and decided to wait until a more suitable time. Some things you just don’t miss.

On to Chicago, to finish our tour of the Blues. Unlike Memphis and Nashville much of Chicago’s colourful history has disappeared.
Chicago suffered the same fate as many US cities in the 1900s and burned down. In 1871 Chicago ignited, & according to legend, the inferno was started by Mrs. O’Leary’s cow. Although the “bovine is blameless” campaigners suggest that Daniel “peg leg” Sullivan was the pyromaniac. Whichever, I think the suspect list is wonderful, imagine the line-up.

As per normal it was the best thing to happen to the city, as the rebuilding attracted some of the world’s best architects, leaving Chicago with a wealth of innovative design, which is still ongoing.
One of the latest successes is Millennium Park, which is essentially the roof of a huge underground garage.
To celebrate the millennium they decided to reclaim the derelict area between the last city street and the lake and develop it into a public space. 4 years late and $325 million over budget it was finished. However unlike our Millennium Dome in London, it was an instant success & still has a use.
It is a 24 acre site on the lake front with beautiful gardens, fountains, modern sculpture, and interactive art projects.

Now Chicago is an innovative city and famous for inventing many things including, deep crust pizza, the cafeteria, sky scrapers, roller skates, controlled atomic reaction, and Al Capone to name but a few. The city council does not promote Chicago’s gangland past, there is no museum or exhibit, but a few places remain and you can drink in The Green Mill, a former speakeasy and favorite hangout of Al's.

What the council does promote though, is free entertainment and arts.
There are over 200 free concerts, days and events throughout the year. We managed to make the 4th July celebrations and a Taste of Chicago Festival down by the waterfront.
They also offer free Greeters (you can book your own tour guide for an hour), information tapes, park events, free trolley buses that cover the tourist routes, tour train rides, and films in the park. It has cycle paths and is the first we have seen to encourage recycling, a great tourist city....... maybe not in the winter though?

So, a year after leaving the UK we were sitting in the park, sipping cold beer (why am I putting on weight?) watching Ray Davies (The Kinks) from North London, singing his heart out.
It was quite funny when the compere opened the show by saying “welcome to the biggest 4th July event in the world”. Which I suppose technically, is true as no other country celebrates it.

We are preparing ourselves to a few weeks of captivity in the Monaco workshop to get all our warranty work done.
After that it is time to leave the music behind and head off for some wildlife and wild scenery, so will be heading up to Nova Scotia and Halifax to visit the Puffins and eat lots of fish! Unless we change our minds, we will let you know…….
Y'all have a great summer now.


9th July 2006

Oh Moira - how could you!!
Hi Ya Dudes! Been keeping up with all your Blogs, what a wonderful experience, especially all the music bits! But Moira -"Jimmy Hendrix"? surely Graeme would have put you right! Good you got to see BB - we saw him in London too. Where are you in September? Hope you the rig gets sorted out ok. Take care and look forward to your next blog. Love S and K +boys
10th July 2006

Great to hear from you again - keep well Alison xxx
21st July 2006

The best blog ever
I loved reading your latest blog two are really eating up all the culture of the US...I think we are mostly bored with it....your description of the 'blonde' at the concert cracked me up...I might have smacked her!! I will look forward to the sequel as you head north...hugs to you both.
23rd July 2006

oops, big sin
Kam Have sacked my proof reader, I dont know how Graeme let that one slip through, mistake now rectified. Moi

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