Before I blah blah blah about my this and thats I have a question. I am making custom commemorative Way Over There Tour (thats the name of this tour) Tea Towels (dish towels). They are going to be somewhere between astounding and incredible. Very simple design. They will have outlines of the south and north islands with all my hosts first names jutting out from all the towns I’ve played in. It’s quite a site all put together. Don’t be alarmed hosts it’s just your first names. I’m saving your sir names, phone, email addresses, blood types, and bank account numbers for the commemorative netty pots. Trying to get a feel for how many I should make. I think I’ll offer em up for about 15 bucks a pop which would include shipping! They will be high quality and should last a long time. Just to get a temperature check can everyone who would be interested in getting a tea towel click the little bubble next to the title of this blog post and leave “I’VE GOT DISHES” as a comment? Or send an email to email@example.com with “I’VE GOT DISHES” in the subject heading. Also if your interested in a copy of my sliding scale pricing chart drawn by visionary van driver Raf Kelman make the note say “I’VE GOT DISHES AND EYES”. Thanks so much. I’m excited to share some towels with you! On to the blog!
The other night, at the home of Wayne, Paula and Charlie I played my 60th show of the Way Over There Tour. The evening began with a dozen ukelelists playing me a welcome song that stuck a big fat smile on my face. It was a great crowd of 50+, 48 of whom seemed to be ukulelists, in a beautiful home including 10 or so of the most attentive children I’ve ever encountered. Every one of them sat and politely and listened through the whole evening. I kept thinking “what is wrong with these kids?”. From what I could gather kids from Te Pahu go to concerts all the time. The show was set up by a most enterprising journeyman troubadour named Graeme who founded the Mcgillicuddy Serious Puddy party. From what I could gather many folks voted for this spoof party. People would ask about my upcoming stops and when Te Pahu came up they’d say “where’s that?” I’d say “Mcgillicuddy Serious Puddy set it up?” They’d say “oh sure Mcgillicuddy Serious Puddy!”. It’s a house hold name.
Since my last post, almost a month ago, I free dove for paua (abalone) and as I struggled to return to the surface I peed in my wet suit, well… it was my friends wet suit. Sorry friend. First time in a wet suit. Last time I pee in one. I played a show at Phil and Cree’s house. Cree’s garden is like Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory if all the candy was veggies and all the chocolate was flowers. Phil is a brilliant animator who made this (watch the whole thing. True story!) I biked 450 kilometers in 4 days across a desert with an ailing Beowulf (my bike). At times Beowulf seemed to be arthritic while at other times, in particular ascending hills, he seemed epileptic. I had worn out my discs and chain, parts were special and couldn’t get em so had to keep riding with gears snapping and skipping and popping. Not fun! Very stressful and difficult. I ate fish and chips, got my pulses re-situated by a healer friend, met a man who actually built a town and flooded a hosts kitchen by accident (5 hour furious clean-up before they got home. Then I told them and cooked them dinner and pudding to win them back).
For the most part I have been talking about the wonderful moments of this tour. I have been sharing the brighter gum drops of the sunnier days. This is in part because I’m having an incredible time, traversing a stunning landscape, being welcomed into interesting peoples homes and worlds, learning how to be a better performer, learning what kind of show I want to build and pushing my body and mind to my outer limits. This is all true, but there are those other pieces. It’s hard to talk about the more challenging elements of a trip like this for fear of it sounding like a complaint. I have nothing to complain about. On the spectrum of life experience mine has been dandy charmed and continues to be so on this journey. I feel compelled to share some of the harder moments, feelings and realities of this tour, because they are as much a part of the experience as are the shimmering rainbows. I would say recognizing the difficulties in this process, understanding them and moving through them has maybe been one of the most rewarding parts.
Here are some challenges: I am always tired. I am never in my own space. Constantly moving and in any break between riding and playing and socializing I’m furiously working on organizing, updating website/blog/facebook, trying to improve show, contacting press, contacting hosts, travel planning for the next day, fueling the body, washing the body, laundry, fixing broken items, charging the video camera, the audio recorder, transferring data from equipment to hard drives etc. I did not come out here for a vacation. I came out here to push myself and learn a great deal. The balance between planning many shows and having space between is a tricky one. I often feel I am leaving places and people too soon. Trick is I couldn’t have known where to spend more time and with whom until I had a first experience there. I hope to come back to tour another project and make use of this incredible network I’ve built. Next time the planning will be infinitely easier and I will make more time in between to know better these most remarkable places and people.
I’m working through a deep frustration in having the space and time on the bike to have my most creative thoughts, but then no time off the bike to develop them. I’m doing my best to hold on to those ideas (an electric car literally powered by song. A musical onion tour on horseback.) Everyone has great ideas only some of us write them down and then even fewer go back and grow that seed into a big biggy, a good goody, a yum yum. Knowamsayn? This difficulty is reminiscent of a great challenge in NYC. I have often found there is so much going on, so much inspiration to be found it’s easy to get lost taking it all in and never giving yourself time to process, time to react to that experience and create something of your own.
I never have time to play music. I end up only playing music an hour a night or every other night. While I feel I’m growing my understanding of showmanship my musicianship has regressed. I only have time to develop brief relationships, however powerful the connection might be. I connect and say goodbye. Connect and say goodbye. This is emotionally and psychologically taxing. I want to go further but time is up. Packing all the time and unpacking. Trying to keep track of a billion items, feeling tied to stuff, to objects, carrying the weight of all my baggage not just on my trailer but in my body. These items that I daily interact with become an extension of my body and I feel clunky and heavy and jagged. I day dream of nakedness in an emptiness carrying nothingness.
Those are just a few off the top of my head. Not so bad I know, but I wanted to make some attempt to illustrate that it’s not all jolly pedals and mountain candy. Sometimes it’s frowny pants and crazy brains. I do believe that I have learned much more from the challenges then the triumphs and I’m continually taking stock of that.
Beowulf and Wiglaf send their regards. During a show in Tawa a beautiful 90 year old woman named June thought it unjust that my pushbike and trailer should have names, but not my banjo considering I’ve had my banjo for a much longer period of time. I told her she could name my banjo. She gave it considerable thought over the next few hours and finally said that she thought it really seemed like a Rosana. I looked at my banjo and realized she is indeed Rosana and always has been. Thank you June!
Note to all motorists! Honking is lovely encouragement both to cyclists and guys who have just bought bikes. Being a guy who just bought a bike, I love when people honk. It makes me feel like I have a friend on the road. I like the different kind of honks: the long and extended, the double tap, the honk with outwindow vocal woop accompaniment. They make me pedal a bit harder. They make my elbows less achy. But pleassssseeeeeee!!!!!! Honk well before or after passing me, us, them, the we on wheels un-motored. I have been startled by many a honk that was too close to me. Please honk, but honk from a distance. My great cousin Marvin sponsored a honker for Beowulf so I could honk reciprocally, but it sadly fell off one rainy Invercargill day without me noticing. I lost my Marvin, but left the rusty metal attachment on the bike as a momento. On the longer days when the brain is turning to lint and the legs are turning to apple sauce I talk to my Marvin, this little bit of rusted rattling metal on the handle bars. He rattles back and I’m grateful for his companionship.
People are always asking me “What’s the craziest show? What’s the craziest show?”. Truth remains they haven’t been so crazy, just good people in good places. Recently a brilliant muso friend was saying “holy shit man! I bet you could write a book with all the crazy shit you’ve seen. I bet you’ve had some crazy shows!”. Later I heard a story about how he had a few drinks one evening before a show and the night ended with him swinging a baby around the room in a car seat cause he thought it was a doll and that the rest of the group was playing a trick on him. The group was horrified cause it was a real baby! Maybe I haven’t had the crazy crazy times cause I’m a fairly sober party man.
I have decided to be monkey nuts drunk for the last month of the tour and see if I can’t find me some babies to swing. Wish me luck.
ps. anyone who would like to get very occasional updates on My Name Is Gideon please go to my website http://www.mynameisgideon.com and sign up for my mailing list via the contact link.
pps. some video coming soon. Have over 3 terabytes of footage. Looking for time to edit.