Fare Thee Well Ol’ Yanksville

The San Francisco show, I’m pleased to say, revised my opinions of the town. Fickle of me, I know, but it was gratifying to play a great show to a packed bar. With heavy heart I bade farewell to Steve Soto and the band (thanks again to him, Mike, Veikko, Mike and James) and got into the Look Mexico Mobile. It’s an old bus that’s been converted to run on vegetable oil, which makes touring cheap and makes everyone smell of chips. It trundles along happily and comfortably with a double bed in the back and room for everyone to sleep. So, after a night in a communist squat in SF (after which I ran headlong into the open arms of McDonalds) we drove north.

While not quite as bad as west Texas, northern California certainly does go on a bit, beautiful as it is. Our aim to get to Portland in one day (a day off) eventually came off, but some Olympic-standard faffing on our part, plus some hills (bad news for the bus) meant we got into Jordan’s house at 4am. Portland is great, very bohemian, with weather to make an Englishman feel at home. A cool-as-hell show ensued (complete with old friend Josh English), after which we descended into debaunchery which is best left undocumented.

Portland to Nampa, Idaho, was a long slog through dramatic scenery which reminded me of Scotland, alongside a massive river. I failed, alas, to see the state of Idaho in daylight; we arrived late, played a small but cool show, and then set out for Utah. Our original plan was to drive a few hours and then stop at a motel, but we hit a blizzard in the mountains. A couple of hours of extremely tense, fraught driving, with visibility at zero, jack-knifed trucks and more, left everyone too wired to sleep, so we drove on through to Salt Lake City, arriving at 8am.

Grubby and tired, we had two shows in Salt Lake City (SLC). It’s virtually impossible to get drunk in this town, as the beer is mandated at 2% and the liquor is obviously watered down. The first show was great fun, the second not so great. We met mormons who told us they’d be alcoholics if they had one sip of a beer (?! God help me), so we drank their share for them. Annoyingly sober, we decided on a hotel, as another overnight drive might have killed us.

Our final day took us on yet another mammoth drive through Wyoming to Denver, Colorado. This country is bafflingly huge. I have yet to think of a good reason for Wyoming to exist – the emptiest landscape I’ve ever driven through, hundreds of miles of nothingness, which has a kind of survivalist appeal for a short while but soon becomes relentlessly depressing. It was with some relief that we finally pulled into the mile-high city, where, in a mirror image of SLC, it’s very easy to get wasted because of the altitude. After a careful beer with Virgil from Suburban Home Records, we played a final intimate little show at the Marquis Theatre (with support from Chad from Drag The River). Another sad farewell to the LM crew, and I was in the car with my sister, off to spend some family time in Longmont.

So, there it is, my US travels. Thanks again to Look Mexico, Steve Soto / Twisted Hearts, Caitlin, and everyone we met / stayed with / rocked along the way. Good times, and I should be back for a tour in September, all being well. Now to the UK, to start working hard on album 3…

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