The next show in Bristol was only a short drive from Cheltenham, so, not being one to ever let things be easy, I decided to drive a good bit out of the way and visit Stonehenge before the gig. It's been on my bucket list since I was a kid, and the rocks did not disappoint. I'd always imagined them being some remote monument completely isolated from civilization, but you can actually see them from motorway. I thought I was stuck in your typical traffic jam until I crested the hill and saw the stones glistening in the afternoon sun. Turns out that's something of a permanent traffic jam caused by people slowing down to catch a glimpse from their cars.
The visitors center is actually a few kilometers away from the stones, though, and they have buses that transport you to the site after you've walked through an historical exhibit. Turns out prehistoric people were really into this site even before the henges appeared, and they were already building pits and posts there by 8500 BC. There are a lot of theories as to why they chose that site and what it all means, and if you're interested, you can read a great synopsis here. When you actually get to the stones, you're struck not just by how ancient they are, but how utterly *massive* they are. I'm talking roughly 30 feet tall and 25 tons each. It's hard to believe they're real when you look at them up close. They're so perfectly arranged and beautifully constructed that it feels like you're on a movie set, that if you got close enough to touch them you'd find out they're just painted Styrofoam. The fact that humans transported the heaviest rocks you could imagine over huge distances, then erected them by hand in a way that lines up with the solstice and has stood such a test of time is just mind blowing. I tried building a garment rack in my bedroom and it collapsed within three months, but these prehistoric dudes built a built a mega-calendar that millions of people still want to pay money to see more than 4,000 years later.
After Stonehenge, I headed west to Bristol, where I joined back up with Ricky Ross & crew at St. George's. I've played Bristol a few times before (shout-out to the familiar faces that turned up at the gig!), but never anywhere this fancy. It's been a real treat getting to hear Ricky play his songs completely stripped down. He's got such a gentle, evocative touch on the piano, and I could happily listen to him sing the phone book. The queue to meet him after the show lasts just about as long as the concert does, and he warmly greets every single person, signs their CDs, takes photos with them, reminisces about old shows, whatever they want. When I check in on WiFi every day it seems impossible to escape news alerts about famous people doing awful things, so I'm grateful to be sharing the road with someone who treats his fans with such kindness and generosity. Liverpool's up next!