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Compiled by Terry Kilburn

Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 18th September 2019 – Berkeley CA

Hearst is a name which reverberates through the publishing world as William Randolph Hearst Sr. made his name developing newspapers and media. His flamboyant methods emphasised sensationalism and human interest stories, the journalism we all know today. His life story became the core inspiration for Charles Foster Kane, the lead character in Orson Welles’s film ‘Citizen Kane’. The Greek Theatre in Berkeley, on of the most magnificent in California is know officially as the ‘William Randolph Hearst Greek Theatre’ as its construction was financed entirely by Mr. Hearst. It opened in 1903.

Every visit here is memorable for so many reasons. The audiences in this part of the States are tremendous, the exclusive promoters here, ‘Another Planet’ are hell-bent on making sure all artists have a great visit and the catering in the basement backstage area is seriously second-to-none.

Across Elliott Bay, the haze this morning was thick and rain was in the air. The outside temperature had dropped noticeably since yesterday, it was time to leave Seattle. We’ve had an amazing 6 nights here, drunk quite a lot of beer and had far too much fun… and it’s flown by, as everything seems to lately. A sure sign we are having the time of our lives.

Readying bags, I zipped up my brand-spanking new Briggs and Riley Spinner case. My previous one actually developed a rare crack due to extreme baggage handling (not Peter) so I emailed them and they immediately sent a replacement. One of many reasons to buy Briggs and Riley bags. Lifetime Guarantee! If they can’t fix it, they replace it. No quibbling. We left the hotel at 2pm and headed to Boeing Field airport and got on board the plane for our trip down to Oakland. It felt like a long way compared to recent short hops to and fro.

Sliding into the SUV, Mark and I headed off, briefly stopping for a few fans outside the airport gate, running with their LP’s for Mark to sign. Mark obliged as he always does when possible but there were the inevitable e-bayers in amongst them, Peter asking one guy what his favourite song is, he simply couldn’t answer.I’ll say no more. Soon we were at the gig, straight downstairs for soup and a barista coffee courtesy of Berkeley’s own ‘Peets’ coffee. Delicious. Sound check was swift and we prepped ourselves for an early show. 7pm I believe it said on the tickets.

The gate count was only 50% at 6:50 so we held until 7:20. Even then the place wasn’t full but Mark decided we would go on and play out the intro a little. Mark, enjoying being quite chatty with the audience this evening and in between verses in the first sone, he singled out the lone guy with a camera light on. It’s amazing, even though he was filming, he didn’t realise it was him. The rest of the crowd respected the band’s wishes and filmed without the ‘headlights’ on for the rest of the night. And what a night it was. This place totally rocks. It was all over too soon of course and we were back in the cars and on our way to the airport leaving behind a din I’ll never forget. We could have played all night. Back onboard, we headedSouth once more, bound for LAX and a short drive to Santa Monica where our beloved Casa Del Mar hotel awaits. Our penultimate hotel stay of the tour. What a day.

Guy Fletcher’s full Tour Diary, including photos and more tour diary entries, can be found here.

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Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 16th September 2019 – Vancouver BC

Gastown was in fact the original Vancouver. Named after a Yorkshire seaman known as ‘Gassy’ Jack Deighton, a steamboat captain and barkeeper who arrived in 1867 to open the area’s first saloon. One can only guess as to the origin of his nickname. Our journey to Vancouver today involved us crossing the US/Canadian border twice as we have been hubbing from Seattle for the past 5 days.

At 2:15pm, we were all ready to leave, passports in bags, in the Four Seasons lobby. The regular autograph brigade were waiting outside, as always. Some of the e-bayers wait around all day for an opportunity. I’m not sure what to think about that. We left in convoy with Mark, myself and Glenn in  the ‘Fletch-mobile’. Our driver’s Christian name is Fletcher. The talk was of yesterday’s Seattle Seahawks win various other NFL quarterbacks. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs and Aaron Rodgers of the Packers in particular.

Stunning conditions for flying prevailed as we pulled up alongside the aircraft. I snapped a quick selfie with Fletch. On board, Natalie was ready with a speed service. Turkey subs and lettuce wraps. No sooner had we climbed to our cruising altitude, we descended into Vancouver International airport.

The Orpheum theatre is the permanent home to the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and there were many items and photos of their concerts here. Dating back to 1927, the then Vaudeville house was the largest theatre in Canada. It is certainly showing its age but has clearly seen many touch-ups and renovations, the most recent a new set of toilets in the basement dressing rooms. There was plenty of space for us all to stretch out, unusual in most old theatres of this size.

Once again, Steve Bond made sure catering was up to scratch, he rejected the bread, made a trip to whole Foods and remade the soup. Sound check was moved forward as one of our backline crew, Ben Byford was sick and needed a doctor. Thankfully, nothing serious and he made the show with a thumbs up to me as we left later on. We took to the stage at the agreed 8:15 but there was a potential issue lying in wait. The US immigration offices in Seattle were set to close at 11:30 for a shift change so we needed to arrive before that time. It meant that to be safe we shortened the set by one song. So sorry Vancouver.

We had such a great time up there, maybe the knowledge there are a mere 5 shows left after this one focuses our energies. The audience were beautiful, rowdy, excitable, respectful and slightly annoyed by the security who made their presence very much known. Towards the end of the show, an excited room full of people, who were bursting with joy had their fun dampened as the team with earpieces and furrowed brows refused to let anyone dance in the aisles. I was concerned as we do brief all venues pre-show BUT, I also learned later that it is the law that aisles must be clear at all times in these venues. So all in all, they were right. I did notice some of the security clearly, secretly enjoying the band.

Night rain accompanied our swift but safe, 30 minute ride to the airport. we climbed aboard and Natalie dished out plates of Spicy Noodles with Pork with dizzying speed. Tim helped her serve the ravenous band and once again, we were descending and sipping delicious mouthfuls of Sokol-Blosser 2011 Pinot Noir. we arrived at the Immigration building and parked up at 11:20. The immigration lady came on board as we were filling in our landing cards and said “oh, you don’t need to do all that, just come on inside and we’ll get you processed”. She was an absolute delight, efficient and charming, an illustration of how a welcome into America should be. We got to the hotel before midnight, just missing the closing time at Pike’s. Fortunately, the Irish bar across the road, slightly scuzzier, stayed open until 2am. 7 of us closed the place, the slightly blurry selfies revealing accurately the exact emotion of the band. Happy and Fuzzy.

Guy Fletcher’s full Tour Diary, including photos and more tour diary entries, can be found here.

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Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 14th 15th September 2019 – Woodinville WA

Chateau Ste, Michelle winery is probably Washington’s largest and most successful but what sets this place apart are the outdoor concerts which take place throughout each Summer. Producing over 2 million cases of wine each year, Chardonnay, Cabernet, Merlot, and Riesling, the winery has been in existence since 1954. Over the years, many Washington winemakers have gotten their start working for Chateau Ste. Michelle. Promoting these concerts for 25 years now, Dave Littrell has looked after us many times here and his invitation for golf the other day was both kind and memorable. The dressing rooms are housed in a separate house from the concert area, lovely rooms, great kitchen, dining area and a collection of several beautiful Dale Chihuly glass sculptures.

Here we are with only a handful of shows left on this incredible trip. Coming now toward the end of the season here, we were all looking at the forecasts carefully. Remarkably, and considering it’s been so wet in Seattle this week, our 2 shows here were both dry (almost). Show 1 was overcast, humid and we managed to get through the set dry but as soon as we started the encores, we noticed the rain coming. This seemed to excite the crowd as opposed to dampening spirits. Our driver this week, whose name is Fletcher (we now call each other ‘Fletch’) said that people from here LOVE rain and respond with joy when they get wet. Rather like plants. “Seattle, You’ve got to love the rain”.

As soon as we left the area in our customary ‘runner’ the heavens opened and the rain didn’t let up until the crew arrived to set up the gear again for show number 2. Our crew are hugely experienced and know all too well the havoc adverse weather can wreak on our instruments so they literally stripped the back-line and put everything back on the trucks. Whilst they were doing that, the band were back at the downtown hub-tel, and ready to walk across the road to one of our favourite pubs on the road, the Pike Brewery. The beer is just perfect, especially after a gig, particularly one called ‘Nellie’.

The next day we all wok to a typical Seattle morning, low cloud and perpetual rain. The view across the sound was a wall of grey but as the morning went by, it started to clear and by the time we arrived at the winery, it was dry. The gear was all set up and we decided not to sound check. The catering is always top notch and not having really eaten at all, I dived into a fabulous home cooked Paella.

Evening was upon us once more and doors opened at 5pm. Mark asked Mike and John if they would play an opening set, just as they had done in Turin. They obliged and played a mesmerising folk set of around 30 minutes. John, rushed back to the house, where the dressing rooms are located and still found time to prepare everyone’s Lemon, Honey and Ginger teas. Yes, we still do that!

As the clouds dissipated, I decided to take a few selfies with the band, the thought of not seeing these guys in a few weeks compelled me. We took to the stage once more to what was now a lovely evening. No rain even threatened. It was humid though, which made guitar necks a little sticky. An occupational hazard for outdoor shows. That explains the talcum powder often seen on the back of Mark’s Les Paul necks.

Under clear skies we romped through the set, the European contingent were here in full force and were determined to enjoy themselves in the front rows, no doubt adequately lubricated on Chateau Ste, Michelle’s finest offerings. Lovely to see. Before we knew it, we were in cars again and heading back into Seattle where Pike’s bar waited. It was only 9:30pm when we headed out which left us 2 and a half hours before closing time. Dangerous!

Guy Fletcher’s full Tour Diary, including photos and more tour diary entries, can be found here.

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Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 13th September 2019 – Portland OR

Portland, Oregon is one of my favourite places to come in the US. Partly a fascination with the Hood River (a tributary of the Columbia River) and its nuclear wind potential and partly everything else. ie. Beer, Wine and Roses. (Portland is often known as Rose City) It’s difficult to fly into Portland from the North, in daylight and not notice the range of Stratovolcanoes that form a line known as the Cascade range. The first one into view on the Port side of the aircraft is Mt. Rainier at 14,410ft. It’s a breathtaking sight even from the ground and is clearly visible even from Seattle. Then next up on the short trip today is the awesome Mount St. Helens which of course erupted in cataclysmic fashion on May 18th, 1980.

The difference between the appearance of the volcano pre-that date, and now is stark. The remains of Earth’s awesome energies clearly visualised. It is photographed below with Mount Adams in the distance. Then comes the beautiful Mount Hood on the South side of the Columbia river. Being the windiest spot on mainland America, it is a popular windsurfing destination, a location I have yet to experience. Of course it was windy today but without a day off in Portland, there’s no chance. I had arranged to meet my windsurfing friend from here Tim Ortlieb and his lovely wife Layne. Tim distributes Ezzy sails across the mainland so we always have a lot to chat about since that’s what I use. Dave Ezzy makes the best sails ever. I’m not biased. It’s a fact.

Our day off was in fact yesterday in Seattle and I had an invitation to play a round at the beautiful Sahalee Country Club with Dave Littrell, who promotes the St. Michelle winery shows we are playing this weekend. The weather was spectacular and the golf was quite good, though I say so myself. I had so much fun and walked away with one birdie and many pars. Not bad for a 15 handicapper on a tough PGA course. It was such a relief to be indoors today for sound check in Portland after the battle in Utah. We enjoyed the sound of the theatre and our system before I rushed out and met Tim and Layne. Also in town was Russ Rosner and Susan Sokol Blosser from the Sokol Blosser winery who kindly donated a few bottles of their finest. We opened a 2013 Pinot Noir on the plane after show. It was utterly delicious.

With just enough time to get changed, have the tactical coffee and readied for the show, we commenced action. Another classic show which flew by as all good things seem to do. The band left the stage and stepped outside where the cars waited to take us to the plane. There were a few autograph hunters who couldn’t understand why we didn’t stop and sign. The reason is we are in ‘runner’ mode. Sorry but we don’t stop at these times. As I’ve said before, Mark will always try and stop and sign autographs, even at the FBO terminal BUT, and I must emphasise this, never when we’re eating and we do not entertain e-bayers, ie. folks who are not real fans and will sell items on e-bay and of course, haven’t been to the show. Pete came across one guy in Chicago who denied being one so Pete asked him to name one MK song. He couldn’t. Or the guy who swore it was his guitar so Pete asked him to play something. He couldn’t. Sadly they ruin it for the real fans.

Night flights of short duration pose a challenge for Flight attendants serving up dinner but this 15 minute hop was no problem for Natalie as she plied us with a Latin platter that was sumptuous, especially accompanied by Sokol Blosser 2013 Pinot. We all look at each other and shake our heads, “where did it all go right?”

Guy Fletcher’s full Tour Diary, including photos and more tour diary entries, can be found here.

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Tour Diary of Guy Fletcher: 11th September 2019 – Salt Lake City UT

Unbeknownst to us, tonight’s show was going to turn out to be one of the toughest of the tour. The weather in Denver was gorgeous and after the Oxygen-starved, euphoria of a Red Rocks show, it was time for me to visit Target once again and replace my dysfunctional Fitbutt Charge 3 device. As expected, no problem, except that they didn’t have the black version, so I took the other one, a worrying shade of purple I discovered when I got it to the room and unboxed it and thought, “yuk”. No time to return it yet again, so I thought… “I can do that tomorrow in Seattle”, plus, they carry the black in stock. I checked. I love America like that, you can return goods to stores in cities a thousand miles apart. In the meantime, there was a show to be done in between these two important Targets. Salt Lake City, home to the progeny of the great exodus of the Church of the Latter Day Saints (LDS) in 1847. The fact that the Mormons crossed the Great Plains to the East and then negotiated the Rocky Mountains with their two wheeled, hand-pulled, wagons, seeking a refuge to safely practice their religion away from the violence and the persecution they had experienced in the East, is thought provoking, especially as we cruise across America and Canada at 32,000 feet..

Take-off from Denver was swift and we climbed and headed West across the Rockies. There were thunderstorms ahead and Chris and Gary kept the bird as stable as they could as we hit the customary turbulence, experienced every time we take this route. It was 7 out of 10, bumpy although if you were to ask Natalie, she’d probably only rate it a 4. I say this as she continued to serve a delicious Lobster Cobb Salad, unhindered. We soon pulled through the grey and gazed at the vista the travellers saw when Brigham Young, the Salt Lake Valley, president of the church exclaimed…”This is the right place, drive on” back in 1847, albeit from a greater altitude. The boys took the aircraft into approach and we swung around the great Salt Flats, so colourful in the afternoon sun. Touchdown and we bundled into the limos for the drive through the city to the University campus and the venue, the Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre. We played here 4 years ago and we all recall the rain. It didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits though.

After an extensive sound check, we retired to the cramped dressing rooms and had a bite, catering was lovely. We’ve been looked after so well on that front, Steve Bond may have had something to do with that! We soon dressed for the show and a few of us stood outside the dressing room area and noticed the temperature dropping, not unusual as the sun was setting. Pete came along the corridor and said, It’s cold and getting colder, so we all added an extra layer. We finally took to the stage at 7:45 and everyone in the band immediately knew, we were fucked. It was freezing. The temperature had dropped further and there was now a cold breeze from the North which whistled through the stage with ease as its rear was open. By the time we got to the end of the first song, ALL our hands were numb. The extra layer was a futile attempt and did no good for any of us, with the exception of Danny who donned his French puffer jacket. Even the Galvin Green golf top I ran and got halfway through the show didn’t make much difference. I wondered if Mark would make it through the show as he was the one exposed to the worst of the breeze, at the front of the stage. Totally exposed.

Hardly a bar went by without some silent exclamation of pain from the band as fingers simply refused to operate in the unknown conditions. Everyone had to adapt to ‘plan B’… whatever that may be. The crew did their best to A, stay warm themselves, and B, bring on hot bottles and towels for the bands, hands. If we had spent a minute and actually gone out and witnessed the audience wrapping up in their winter gear we might have acted accordingly. It wasn’t exactly the scene in ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ where the North eastern seaboard freezes, but it was simply, very cold. The look of shock on everyone’s face when we came off from the main set confirmed no-one got off lightly. Jim, Richard, Glenn, Mark, Mike, John, Tom and Graeme all struggled with inoperative digits for the whole show. Mark’s hands couldn’t even hold a cup of tea, which Steve so cleverly provided. We piled back on for encore number 1. We rocked as hard as we could as it was our only way to generate some warmth. Then we came back on for the final number and go through it unscathed. The end couldn’t come fast enough, I’ve never thought that before, and we were back in the limos with the heating on full blast. The 30 minute ride was only just enough to bring our body temperatures back to normal and as we got on board the plane, I was still shivering. It took me another hour before normality was restored. 2 hours later we descended into Seattle. It was a day that felt like a week. Time flies, sometimes.

Guy Fletcher’s full Tour Diary, including photos and more tour diary entries, can be found here.

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