Friday, July 18, 2008

Albequerque, NM

Albequerque. Even the airport is comfortable. We had an all to brief stay in Old Town for 2 days for a show at the zoo. yes, the zoo. The kind with animals.
As memorable as it was to play with the sound of roaring lions, seals, ducks and peacocks in the background, the downtime hanging around Old Town in all it's historic, touristy glory also left a lasting impression.

Where we played

After the , for me, almost inevitable flight delays and missed connections, decided to fight the temptation to rest my weary bones as soon as I checked in, and instead went for a ramble - time was short, and this place is cool. Anyways, I was kinda hungry.

The mexican food in the old town plaza, is cheap and cheerful. After spending a relaxing hour walking around the various chochke stores and soaking up the easy pace, I decided it was time for a bite, and a cold cerveza on a hot day. Chile Rellenos washed down with a cold one? I think so, and with the help of outside seating, no need to miss any of the streets' atmosphere. As vibrant as it was, the whole place shut down at 9pm. Not a sound to be heard on the same streets that held droves of tourists just a few hours earlier. I took the hint.

San Felipe de Neri. It's been standing since 1706

The desert sun came a-knockin' nice and early, and before i knew it , I was eating breakfast at the Church Street inn - huevos rancheros - with smilin' Brian Mellick , our percussionist who got in late the night before, and, just like the tourists milling around us, we snapped shots of the adobe architecture, cactii, dogs etc.

Smilin' Brian

Mona, who joined us for breakfast

And of course we bought souvenirs. A plastic medicine man in a wooden booth told me I had good fortune ahead and that each day is something to be grateful for. Not bad for a dollar.

As I said, the time was short, but that just makes me all the more determined to return, although I think I might be saying that after every trip down here, no matter how long i stay.

Wichita, KA

There's something odd about playing on a christmas tree farm on the fourth of July, but here we were. I'd never been to Wichita, and were it not for my have-guitar-will-travel lifestyle, I'm not sure it would ever have been on my radar.

We had three days in one place - for a touring band, that's like an oasis in a desert, so I took the opportunity to walk and explore, situated as we were right on the river.
After a night in a comfortable bed , and with a little time to wash the airport off, I headed downstairs, out on to the river and turned right. It was as good a plan as any. The Arkansas River is flanked by well kept pathways with ample room for walking, jogging and biking, and seems to support plenty local wildlife.

About a half mile down, at the confluence of the Big Arkansas and the Little Arkansas rivers, stands The Keeper of the Plains , a weathered steel sculpture of a Native American warrior paying homage to the morning, his horn raised to the rising sun. The Sculpture was give to the city by it's creator, Blackbear Boisin, and has become a symbol of the city and a reminder of the roots of this prairie cowtown.

For a guy who grew up on cowboy movies and TV shows, this town evoked some boyish excitement, exposed as i was to pictures and photos of Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson and their peers gazing down from shop windows eager to remind the casual passer-by of the local history, and occasionally , the remnants of those gunslingin' days of yore made themselves very clear :

Breakfast at the Beacon, a downtown Diner with plenty down-home character and walls covered with oodles of paintings of light houses. Yes; light houses. In Kansas. The omelets were handsome, and did the trick.

The Beacon is in the OLd Town area - what was once clearly an industrial area, with a train station and factory buildings has now been transformed into a restaurant that was once a train station and bars and shops that were once factory buildings, the whole area having a very hip and cool ambience, with something for everyone I'm sure:

On the way back to the hotel, Douglas Street boasts a number of life-size, and extremely lifelike bronze sculptures by Georgia Gerber, ranging in size from a frog, to a busy diner bar. Eye-catching , and worthy of a click or two....

The band try to sell a few CDs

The gig site itself, the afore-mentioned Christmas tree farm, was resplendent in it's summer glory, not to mention an innovative music venue; a converted barn (affectionately known as "Barnegie Hall") the inside designed for chamber music , with the performance being fed to a big screen for those outside in the garden.

The Garden

All in all, Wichita served up more than I expected, and the friendly folk we met made it clear that we were welcome back anytime. I might just take 'em up on that.