Just a few observations and opinions from a frazzled mind after I’ve dragged it over 12,000 miles from California to Newfoundland…and places in between… in less than two weeks:
I used to travel like this all the time. 200-days a year, and sometimes more. The miles seem longer now. I wonder why? Surely it has nothing to do with age!
Flying on commercial airlines is not nearly as much fun as it used to be. Security, security, and more security…not to mention crowded airports and airplanes…has taken a lot of the joy out of it. “Take off your shoes, remove your belt, empty your pockets.” It’s like it never stops.
Plus, I miss the food, pillows, blankets, and other amenities we used to take for granted. Airline food was the subject of many jokes back in the day, but even a bad sandwich would taste better at 30,000 feet now compared to a bag of peanuts or pretzels. And did I mention how much I dislike having to pack my shaving cream, toothpaste, and hair spray in those annoying little plastic bags and planting them inside my checked luggage? Guess we all know who we have to thank for that!
Southern California on a sunshiny, smog-free day is still one of the prettiest places in the world. I took a long morning walk along the sidewalks of Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills and came back to my room totally exhilarated. And singing my little hillbilly songs inside the historic House Of Blues was truly a hoot.
Phoenix still feels like a big outdoor oven this time of year, but it’s still beautiful. The Musical Instrument Museum where we performed should be declared a national treasure. I got the feeling I could spend a week there and still not see it all.
Getting on the plane in Phoenix and getting off in Nashville should never feel the same, but this time it did. Only Nashville had more humidity. Both places had temperatures well over 100-degrees.
How cool is it to answer your cell phone and hear, “Hey, Bill, this is Willie,” coming from the receiver?Some people never have to use their last names, and Willie Nelson is one of them. I was honored that he was calling to invite me to fill-in for Ray Price at his annual 4th of July picnic in Texas. Never having been to one, I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect, but the people there could not possibly have been any nicer or treated us any better. Other than the brakes going out on our bus and our having to chase airplanes all night in order to get to Ft. Worth, everything was perfect. Our tour manager, Lee Willard, earned his stripes that night, believe me.
I pray that Ray gets better soon. I might not even be in this business today were it not for him. Willie says he wants all three of us to perform at the picnic next year.
Three consecutive mornings of crawling out of bed at three a.m. tends to get a bit tiresome, but when we arrived on beautiful Prince Edward Island, Canada, we realized it had been worth it. What a breathtakingly gorgeous place. Temperatures in the 70’s, gentle breezes off the water, and some 20,000 to 30,000 welcoming fans at the Cavendish Music Festival made us forget quickly the weary miles we spent getting there. I’m already planning a vacation there in my mind, with a layover next time at the Montreal Jazz Festival en route.
From PEI to Newfoundland we travelled aboard a chartered plane. How much more convenient a private plane is than a scheduled airliner. And I didn’t have to take off my shoes or fiddle with those annoying little plastic bags.
Newfoundland was much warmer than it was last March when I went there for the first time. I didn’t know if the fans would turn out for our second show there within 16-months, but they did. What gracious and welcoming people they are, too. They don’t get a lot of live country entertainment there, so they go out of their way to let us know they appreciate our coming. I could get used to that!
Our final leg from Newfoundland to Nashville was not without its hiccups, but we arrived safely and that’s the main thing. They had a fire inside the control tower at the Newark airport causing us to have to circle out over New Jersey and Pennsylvania for an extra hour…and then our luggage didn’t arrive in Nashville on the same flight that we did…and THEN when I went to retrieve my car, I found it had been hit and dented rather severely in the parking facility while we were gone. Not much time to worry about it or to rest and recuperate, though, because we leave for Pennsylvania on Friday afternoon.
“There’s no business like show business…..!!”