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Greetings my children!
I proudly write this email from the comfort of my hotel room from my very own Laptop! I bought a carrier case large enough to handle the little belter and I have to say I'm looking very much like a grown-up walking around with this thing. All that's missing is a suit and tie and a G and T (though the latter holds a distinct possibility).

I believe I left off last time in Madison where I was hoping to grab a cab into town for the afternoon before the show. I did indeed and had a wonderful afternoon. Mission: hit every used record store in town.

Picked up the new Frames live in Dublin, Ray Wilson live, Best of Patrick street and a whopper of a boxed set of Fairport Convention for Wallace as a thank you for giving me the laptop. The biggest discovery of the day though had to be Teddy Wedges at the corner of the block the Theatre was on. It's just a little take-out place but the guy makes these killer pasties (for the North Americans that may not know, a pastie is a pastry pie sort of thing not unlike a panzerotti from the outside but instead of pizza stuffing they have things like beef and onion and meat and potato and stuff).  They were unlike any pastie I have ever had ANYWHERE.  I can still taste the bugger!  Turn out was a little low but not bad for a thurs. (about 700 or so)

About a four-hour drive to Davenport the next day. On arrival I had just enough time to get some exercise in and was able to walk to the show from the hotel. Thank God for that as, yep, forgot my Bodhran. I kept my gob shut at soundcheck and had a quiet word with the sound boys and asked them not to ask me to play this drum during check. We always check to a tune with the kit but wouldn't you bloody know it they suggested a tune that starts with the frickin' bodhran! I looked at Eric the monitor guy and he was smirking away.  I kept my cool and began to fake the Bodhran on the floor tom and fortunately they didn't twig.

I slipped back to the hotel after check and quietly returned with the drum. I had to enter through the front doors though and Betsy (tour manager) was looking at me with quizzical suspicion and briefly glanced down at my drum.  Feeling like an undercover agent I responded with phlegmatic disregard for her demeanour ("Doreen look up Phlegmatic would you and where's that bloody G and T.") even though she glanced down briefly at my drum. "Aren't you supposed to be in Sound Check?"  I shook my head dismissively with a slight hint of derision. It worked.  Once passed the guard and into the compound...sorry, getting a bit carried away there ("Doreen!!"). Once in the theatre I quietly but casually sneaked up stage right as Wallace was doing some tuning. I plugged in the Bodhran and gave the thumbs up to Paul on front house. "You owe me a Guinness" he whispered later. Fair enough.

The Adler theatre in Davenport IA. has to be one of the most beautiful old theatres I've ever seen. Before the show as the theatre was filling up this monstrous frickin' white organ rises up out of the pits complete with impeccably besuited organist playing the cheesiest music I've ever heard come from such a magnificent instrument. It was however completely suited to the venue and therefore extremely cool. As I watched him from the wings descend majestically to the house applause I could have sworn I was 5 years old in Blackpool with my Nanna. Sadly Davenport has fallen on hard times of late with some factory closures and apparently events of all kinds have been very poorly attended.  Except for Daniel bloody O' Donnell that is (that one reluctantly is for you mum). We had about 600 I would say which looked pretty small in such a grand theatre. Especially on a Fri. night. But we gave them a good show and they were extremely appreciative at the signing afterwards.

The following shows in Joliet Ill. and Appleton Wi. were much better and the bugs were also starting to be worked out of the show. Off to Michigan next where we had a day off and two or three sellouts of 12 to 1500 seaters. I was able to tag up with a couple of my mates from Windsor (Jake and Cheez) who came out to the Dearborn show and we went for a few pints after which were far too few but relished all the more for the limitations of time. Next it was off to Sandusky Ohio where our hotel was situated right across from the huge fairground I used to travel to from Windsor in the summertime when I was a young lad. This show was also well attended and received. A set of reels in particular I have to say are starting to shred and are becoming a highlight of the show.

I had an interesting cab ride into town the next morning going to church. I'd arranged for a 9:15 pick up but he had arrived ten minutes early with someone he was taking the same way. He was a big old gentle hearted black dude with a hooded winter hat with the ear flaps hanging down and a grey beard and big untied winter boots even though it was sunny and about 50 degrees out.  The woman next to him was very typically black (I don't mean that in a racist way but, as with the driver, definitely in a stereotypical sort of way) She was going on to him about how she was 'gonna be late an' how we bin' hangin' around waitin' for ten minutes.'

"What time you got?"  She shouted back to me. "9:15" I said "that's what time I ordered the cab for" She was going on but she wasn't excited or violent or anything so I just sat and listened as the old cabbie tried to distract her. "Now don't you worry I know the fast ways an' I'm gonna get you there on time. You don't have to worry about that."

"I don't care which way you goin' I only got 15 minutes an' you ain't gonna drop him off an' git' me there in 15 minutes It can't be done."

"You know if you hadn't turned me down ten years ago you wouldn't be in this cab right now. You'd be home looking after our beautiful children."

"I got enough troubles as it is without takin' care of any children"

"But you wouldn't be on yo own. You'd have a husband who loved you an' took care of you an' you 'd have a nice place to live an' a family blessed by the Good Lord above ain't that right?"

"you ain't got no money to take care of no children"

"I did twenty years ago when you were a beautiful lookin' lady I would have married you"

"well you ain't never been married either"

"I nearly did"

"who you nearly get married to?"

And so it went. He did a fine job of distracting her and once she saw that I was going to church she seemed to lighten up towards me as well. As I paid I touched her shoulder and apologised for keeping her waiting and explained that had I known she was there I would have come down earlier.

"that's alright I'm ok I just said a little prayer. I'm just gotta take my mom to church but that ain't till 10:30."  "Ok" I said and asked the driver if he could arrange for a cab to meet me there in an hour.

"say a prayer for me" she said as I got out. I said I would and I did.  On the way back it was the same old dude.  I asked him if she got to her place on time. "oh she wad'nt in no hurry she was just coming home. she'd been out celebratin'."  Which was the way it had seemed to me. She was definitely appeared to me as though she was on something. "you know when she was younger she was a beautiful young lady but the fast life taken it's toll"  I told him I thought he was just joking around about her turning him down. "oh I was just joking around but I did know her a long time ago and she was a beautiful young lady"  He was one of these simple but sage-like sort of guys who don't say much and aren't in any hurry (and he certainly wasn't. It took him about 5 minutes just to write me out a receipt on a piece of notepaper which he carefully creased before ripping (and it tore anyway) but there's something honest and true and wise inside.

When I got back the boys were just about ready for the 3hr drive to Erie PA. for an early show.  An impressive 1200 showed up for a sunday afternoon show which went well and we drove on another 100 miles after the show to put a dent into the long drive to Kentucky the next day.

With it being an early show it meant that in spite of the 100 miles we were still at the hotel by 7:00pm and with only a drive to do the next day we were all thinking the same thing. Drop bags and head for the bar. The Guinness was flowing like John's week-long bout with gall stones and diarrhea (that would be, ahem, thick brown and gushing) and I put a sizeable amount of Bass ale in me while they were at it. John unfortunately really did have a scare and spent one night in Michigan in the hospital when they diagnosed him and has been understandably trepidatious about what he has been eating and drinking since. The stones cannot be removed till he gets home.

And so the 6-hour drive today finds me just outside of Louisville Kentucky once again right off the highway with bugger all around except a gas station. Which is why I've used the time to document at large my recent tour moments.

Nighty night. ("Doreen!!!!")