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June 16, 2011

     I get asked all the time “how long are you on the road for?” to which I reply “the rest of my life”. Yes, a cute answer but an honest answer nonetheless. And while traveling in this day and age, with fewer flights, more restrictions, airline budget cuts, along with all our silly and futile security measures, really makes the journey about as joyless as possible, every once in a while our destination more than makes up for the journey’s shortfall. Australia was one of those destinations. I had been looking forward to this trip since it was booked. I had never been to the land “down under”, either as a solo act or with my previous band. Expectations were high and Australia did not let me down.

         First thing you notice as the plane makes its approach is how beautiful the land is. Things grow there in abundance… beautiful things, deadly things, cute and cuddly things, cute and cuddly deadly things. They are all abound. It is pretty obvious as to why so many nature shows are filmed in Australia. However, my sense of adventure is more along the lines of “yes, I would love to try that rum I’ve never heard of. Please put a splash of it on my delicious daiquiri” as I enjoy the sunshine by the pool of my hotel. Hey, at least it’s outside.

         Sydney is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. With its harbor and iconic landmarks how can it not be? Melbourne, is equally as beautiful but in a different sort of way. It’s like the east village…artsy, cool, funky. Music and art are present in one form or another everywhere in that city. There seems to be a healthy amount of support from the local population, which of course helps in keeping the arts alive.

         The main reason we were here was to play the “BluesFest.” Luckily this festival happens to be located right outside one of the most beautiful places in all of Australia…Byron Bay. And we were going to be there for three days!! We were put up in these beautiful apartments right across the street from the beach. I may not venture into a forest or go camping on a mountainside, but I will swim in the ocean whenever possible. It cures all that ails me. From a hangover to a cold it is my favorite cure. And cure it did.

      I know I’m supposed to write about the shows as well. But honestly I don’t know what to say about them (without sounding like a complete moron). Plenty of reviews have been circulated from these shows and they all seemed favorable so I’ll just leave it at that. Lizzote’s was a special night and a beautiful intimate venue.  But this whole tour was a special tour simply because I had never been there. The crowds were amazing and warm and ready to party. It was all the more special because we got to share the stage twice with our good pals, Los Lobos. They were, as always, amazing! Many a young band should see a Lobos show and learn. Another highlight of the festival was Toots and the Maytalls. They had the place grooving and swaying to their music. It was a thing of beauty really. The Melbourne Ska Orchestra put on one of the best shows I have seen in a long time. They were simply phenomenal!

      As usual, (for a wok trip) we did not get to see as much of Australia as we would have liked. What we did see was beautiful and at times even breathtaking. The people were warm and friendly and the reception we received will hopefully translate into us going back sooner than later…At least I hope so…RM



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