TOUR DIARY: A Very British Thanksgiving
Glasgow has always been one of my very favorite cities to play, but the two sold-out nights at St Luke's supporting Ricky Ross on this tour were hands down my favorite shows there. The space was beautiful, the sound was great, the food was delicious, and the audiences were everything you could hope for. Glasgow is also a very generous city: a fan brought me a copy of a new Glasgow history book, which I'm excited to read, and the super talented guitarist Paul Tasker opened up his flat for a few nights so I had a nice break from hotel life. Between gigs I paid a visit to Kelvingrove, a wonderful museum that combines some world-class art galleries with natural history of the area. I happened to be there in the afternoon on a Monday, which meant I was able to enjoy a bit of the free organ recital they host every week in the main hall.
I was also joined in Glasgow by my girlfriend Jane, who flew over from New York so she could be here for Thanksgiving and my birthday. After the two nights at St Luke's, we were lucky enough to have a few days off, and Jane and I tried to make the most of them. We drove up into the Highlands, and though the weather was pretty abysmal (a Scotland tradition), we were blown away by the stunning landscapes. Lush greenery, enormous rocks, tall mountains, pristine lochs, it was hard to know where to look. The roads were narrow and often flooded as we drove up past Loch Lommond into Glencoe and on up to Fort William, where we stopped for a seafood lunch, so there were definitely some white knuckle moments, but they were worth it for the moments of beauty we encountered. At one pull-off, we found ourselves face to face with a majestic stag who didn't seem at all bothered with human presence as he looked out over the scenery.
We spent the night north of Inverness in a small town called Dingwall, where there's a castle that's been turned into a hotel. All in all, the journey took about 9 hours, so I was happy to park the car for the night and enjoy a local Highlands beer with dinner. The peace and luxury of the castle was short-lived, though, because the next morning I had to be up early to drive back to Glasgow to tape a session on Ricky's radio show on the BBC. His program is called Another Country, and it's how we originally met four or five years ago. I still try to listen online when I'm in the States because he plays the best music, and I've discovered all sorts of bands through his playlists. After the session, we met up with Kevin Morris, who puts on a lot of concerts in Glasgow and Edinburgh as well as the Glasgow Americana Festival, and enjoyed a well-deserved fun night out on the town.
The next day was Thanksgiving, and though we spent much of it in the car, we treated ourselves to a delicious turkey meal in Ullswater in the Lake District and spent the night in a gorgeous 1800's English Manor called Gisborough Hall. The building was an incredible feat of architecture (one that's supposedly haunted by no fewer than three ghosts), but I found myself most drawn to the resident llamas who live on the property.
This marks roughly the halfway point of the dates with Ricky, and I can't believe how fast they've been going. As much as I miss home, I'm not ready for these shows to end!