Sunday, November 11, 2012

Roadie Report 62 - Argentina & Creeque Alley

December 7th is a memorial day in our country’s history. In 2011, that date stamped in our passports will remind us of a wonderful trip to Argentina.
The song, “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina,” whistled through my mind during the airplane boarding process for the nine hour flight to Buenos Aires. A scheduled concert at the Coliseo Theater in “The Paris of South America” was bringing us to our next adventure.

Fernando and Jorge guided us from the airport terminal to the cars waiting for us in the bright South American summer morning. My sleepy eyes were drinking in the scenery during the drive into Buenos Aires to The Sofitel hotel. The palatial architecture gracing the wide boulevards reflects a strong European influence. The city streets are like so many we navigate throughout various continents. The amazing similarity of our world’s cities is very evident in city traffic.

Our early arrival, a week before the concert, provided the opportunity for Roger to talk to reporters, visit radio studios and perform on local TV shows. It was exciting to be living in this vibrant city for a week.

Fernando and Jorge wanted us to experience the excitement of their city. We ate at gourmet restaurants, visited the amazing Opera House and listened to a famous Tango singer. We always thought “Tango” was just a dance, but the lyrics are as passionate as the dance.

Saturday, December 10th, Christina Fernandez, the first female elected president for two terms, was being inaugurated. Friday night, I told Fernando and Jorge that I have never been in Washington DC for an inauguration. I didn’t want to miss this opportunity to take part in their inaugural festivities with the people on the streets. They looked alarmed. I noticed their dismay. I quickly told them, “Oh its okay. You don’t have to take us. We’ll just catch a bus.” They quickly told us what time they would pick us up for the inauguration
Inauguration morning, they didn’t want to drive to the “pink palace” because they were sure the streets would be packed with celebrating folks, but a common occurrence kept the streets almost empty…the bus drivers went on strike. Traffic in Buenos Aires can be backed up for hours when the many “worker strikes” take place. That was the biggest complaint we heard about this beautiful city.

We walked the near empty streets, listened to the bands playing but never saw Christina come out to the porch where the beautiful Eva Peron stood wooing the masses..
The heat of the day moved us to the famous Café Tortoni for a refreshing respite with a very entertaining waiter.
On Sunday, we enjoyed a family cook out at Fernando’s house. Charlie Garcia, an Argentine rock pioneer, joined Roger serenading the guests in an impromptu sing along. Roger asked Charlie to join him on the Colisieo stage to perform songs from “The Sweetheart of the Rodeo.”

The Colisieo theater is beautiful. The audience was overwhelming and joyful. “The Paris of South America” is vibrant with art, music, dance and wonderful food. Parting a lovely city and new friends is always a sweet sorrow. While waiting to board the plane to take us home, a lady approached Roger and thanked him for the wonderful concert. She and her husband detoured to Buenos Aires when they heard Roger was performing. Music does make the world smaller.
The airplane touched down in Miami on December 15th. Driving back to Orlando, we reminisced about the fullness of our South American experience and made plans for our next adventure. Friday was the only day for unpacking and packing before boarding Amtrak’s Silver Meteor bound for New York City.

Winter suddenly blanketed New York by the time the train pulled into Penn Station. Patrick, Roger’s son, arrived at our hotel for an early dinner. I wanted to join the festive Christmas shopping crowds, but the next destination, a Caribbean voyage, didn’t prepare Roger for winter weather. Patrick became my “Knight in Shining Armor.” He maneuvered me through the brightly lit crowded sidewalks. We saw a couple become engaged on the cold ice rink of Lincoln Center, smelled the roasting chestnuts, stared into all the store windows filled with Christmas decorations and froze our noses off. I couldn’t wait to feel the warm breezes swirling around the islands.
Celebrating Christmas and New Year’s Eve on the aqua Caribbean waters was too good an offer to refuse. Tim booked Roger for two lectures and one Q&A for the 2011 Holiday Voyage on board Cunard’s regal Queen Mary.

The itinerary included St. Thomas, the home of "Creeque Alley." In 1963, John and Michele Phillips were fellow residents with Jim (Roger) McGuinn in the musician’s hotel in Greenwich Village, The Earl Hotel. Jim had met the duo years earlier in San Francisco. John was singing with the “Journeymen” while Jim was working with the “Chad Mitchell Trio.”

Jim would often go down to their suite to share songs, food and other forms of entertainment prevalent in the sixties. John and Michele were not impressed with Jim’s renditions of “folk music with a Beatle beat.” They were “folk purists.” History proves they changed their minds.

While penning the song “Creeque Alley,” John mentions two friends who had number one songs on the music charts. “McGuinn and McGuire just a-getting’ higher in LA, You know where that’s at.” Jim McGuinn was soaring with the BYRDS and Barry McGuire was singing “Eve of Destruction.”

The Queen Mary docked in St Thomas. We walked the few miles into town to search for the infamous alley where the Mamas and Papas formed their sound. It wasn’t an easy find. The town had changed. We walked in circles, asked local folks and no one knew the answer to our questions. All of a sudden, we found ourselves in a small alley. We felt we were close to our destination. Suddenly, our eyes spotted a historical plaque on the wall.
It confirmed our suspicion! The alley had changed names, but we were in the right place. We found Creque’s Alley!

The spelling of "Creeque Alley" is different on the historical plaque than the way John spelled the name. Maybe someone had fuzzy vision or a short memory? No telling who spelled it correctly. Anyone out there in St. Thomas in the 60s who might remember how the alley was spelled then?

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Roadie Report 61 - The Beautiful Fall of 2012 by Camilla McGuinn

September..always in our memory.

Leaving the rural countryside of Ohio after celebrating a dear friend’s wedding in the crisp autumn air, charged the excitement of our short September tour.
The lovely bride.

The joy of a wedding!

After a stop at the “Heart of Ohio” antique mall to add to my collections of Russell Wright dishes and Roger’s collection of transistor radios, we were headed for Chicago for a concert at one of our favorite venues, the lovely Beverly Center.
Our short tour consisted of five concerts in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan. Folks at the Beverly Center kept commenting that the next place we were going was a town in Wisconsin they have never been or even knew existed.

Wautoma, an Indian name, is located in the heart of Central Wisconsin, an hour’s drive from Madison. The “McComb/Bruchs Performing Arts Center” was made possible by the generosity of two Wautoma residents. Ina Taylor McComb left over one million dollars to the Wautoma Area School District for the construction of a performing arts center. Her generous gift, along with another donation from the Pearl Bruchs Estate, were combined to build the McComb/Bruchs PAC.

Ina McComb, an avid theater-goer, envisioned a performing arts center which would not only serve the City of Wautoma, but would also be a first class facility available for use by all those living in the Central Wisconsin area, with special encouragement to local area school groups. The day before the concert, a crowd of students filled the theater to hear Roger share how being prepared with his craft, took him to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The night Roger performed, the center welcomed folks from the surrounding area and four different states. Over two thirds of the audience were new to the The McComb/Bruchs Performing Arts Center. But in the audience were five of the thirteen loyal readers of this blog, who encouraged me to write more. God Bless ‘em! The concert was sold out and the audience was an amazing singing group.

Rochester, Minnesota was our next stop, home of my second cousin Zach. It was fun to spend two days in one city. With days away from the concert in Ironwood Michigan, we moseyed our way through the back roads of the pristine Midwest countryside. As I was driving I saw a sign announcing a county fair. The billboard was an old one, but the memories the billboard evoked made me long for the State Fairs I used to go to in Raleigh, North Carolina in the early 60s.

The Mall of America was walking distance from our hotel. After an early meal at the Twin City Grill, Roger and I walked into the center of the mall and our eyes opened in wonder at the twirling carnival rides. The State Fair of my youth was right in front of me. We couldn’t resist. We bought wrist bands so we could ride every ride we wanted, as often as we wanted.

The crowds were pretty sparse but on the upside, there were no long waits to board the rides. As we got in line for the “Fairly Odd Coaster,” two young boys were standing in front of us. The youngest one turned to us and asked if we would ride with them. We were amazed and honored. Once the four of us got buckled into our seats I began asking all the questions I always have about people I meet. Tyler and Noah were from Fargo, North Dakota. They were six and seven years old. I smiled as I thought we’re almost the same age; Roger and I each just have a zero after the six and seven.

The ride was exhilarating! We all wanted to do it again. The four of us scrambled out of the ride, ran around to the entrance and back on board. The boys won the race. This time each of them boarded the car facing each other, leaving the seat next to them empty. We were delightfully humbled when we were told where to sit. After the ride, they introduced us to their father who had been patiently watching his children play with some rather odd looking older children. I asked if I could take their photo and post it on our BLOG. The father insisted we both get in the photo with the boys. When I read the business card he gave me, I was hoping we had passed scrutiny because he was a sheriff in Fargo. I went to sleep that night thanking God for one more chance to enjoy a carnival with childlike excitement and the wonder of Tyler and Noah.

Roger is very faithful about putting up a traditional song on the Folk Den on the first day of each month. Unfortunately, he had forgotten the adapter he needed to record on his studio-in-a-box, Pro-tools, on his computer. The Mall of America has everything even the microphones that connect directly into his computer. After buying a “Blue” USB microphone, he was ready to go with the October song. He chose a song about mining because our tour was taking us to the mining country of the “Upper Peninsula” or “UP” of Michigan. We used our next day off for recording and washing clothes in our hotel on the way to Ironwood, Michigan. Ah… the world of modern conveniences!

The town of Ironwood was originally an iron mining town settled in 1885. It is a small town with a heart for art. The Ironwood Theatre is supported by mostly volunteers. It was a volunteer who lobbied the Board of Directors to bring Roger to town. I think a reporter tells about the concert better than I can.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera to capture this beautiful auditorium.

Driving the 121 miles to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in the clear Fall October sunlight was a treat and colorful. It was the day of our next show in Calumet.
The promoter knew we would need a meal at 2pm which included a protein and broccoli. He arranged for a table at Carmelitas. Even at 2pm on a Saturday, the restaurant was packed. We told the hostess the secret name and were immediately escorted to a quiet booth. The restaurant boasts of Southwestern cuisine - "Food With An Attitude!” I have a rule - if Chili Rellenos are on the menu, I must taste them. In the 70s I worked in Puerto Vallarta for a month. Maria, the cook, made Rellenos that have never been equaled…until Carmelitas! If it had not been the day of a concert - our menu is very strict on those days - I would have ordered everything Mexican on the menu. I think I will have to ask Andrea, Roger’s agent, to book us back there so we can have an extra day in Calumet, just so I can eat!
The Calumet Theatre is also a volunteer supported non-profit organization. It opened in 1900 because the community treasury had prospered with the help of the copper mining industry. Walking on a stage that has hosted Sarah Bernhardt, Douglas Fairbanks Sr., Lon Chaney Sr. and scores of other artist who had desired to travel many miles to grace a stage, is always an honor for Roger.
The Calumet Theatre

I always like to research a town before we go to it. I was a little concerned because the 2010 census recorded the population of Calumet as 798. The theater holds over 700 people. I emailed my contact there and asked if all the babies were coming too. He replied that there were people in the woods. Whew…that set me at ease.

The people in “the woods’” came from all around. In fact, as we were loading out of the hotel the day after the concert, we enjoyed some wonderful conversations with those “wood people’” who came to town just to see Roger’s concert.

Sundays are always great days to head home after some wonderful theater experiences. We decided to take the long way home through the entire state of Michigan. The trees in upper area of Michigan were turning to an amazing palette of colors. Driving by Lake Superior was a first for me. The lake is so immense, it’s hard to grasp that it is really just a lake. I had to put my feet in it.
Lake Superior..where I put my toes!

The next story will be backwards. I’m going to tell you how we found “Creeque Alley last December in St. Thomas on an cruise of the Caribbean. Thank you for your patience.

McGuinn and McGuire still getting higher!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Farewell Dear Special Lady by Camilla McGuinn

We usually turn the telephones off after 5pm, an old habit of mine. Sad news always comes to me in the dark hours. Tonight, I went for a walk before turning off the phones. The evening summer air was refreshing after the hot summer day. Neighbors were watering their lawns, the trees were gently moving with the light breeze.

Dorothy McGuinn was diligent to keep a daily record of her life. I asked her during our last visit if she would trust us with her journals. She said yes as long as she got credit if I used them to write a story;she was always the consummate publicist. I tucked a few of the journals in my bag to read during the airplane ride from Tucson. Tonight my plan was to fall asleep while finishing her diary from 1955. The daily life of this special woman was fascinating. I couldn't decide if my fascination was because I knew her, or because each page is a glimpse of history.

Just as I turned on my reading light the phone rang. I didn’t want to pick up the receiver. The sun had set, there were only shadows lurking outside my window. I knew why the phone was ringing. Brian, Roger’s younger brother and devoted son to Dorothy, whispered a quiet “Hi.” “Brian, are you okay? “ I asked. I knew what was coming. “I am, but mom’s not. She’s gone.” His voice cracked slightly.

Roger was in his studio listening to music with headphones. He hadn’t heard the ring of the telephone. The walk to his studio was a long one.

For the past couple of days, the life of a 45 year old Dorothy McGuinn sprang from the words of her journal into my heart. We had just returned home from celebrating her 102nd birthday on July 28th in Tucson. Roger and his grandson James spent two days by her bedside playing guitar and singing. Her eyes lit up when they played her favorite songs.

Old friends and family called throughout the day to wish her happy birthday. She couldn’t hear them well, so I often relayed the good wishes. One caller, the granddaughter of one of her Chicago friends told me that Dorothy was a bridesmaid in her grandmother’s wedding. When our conversation was over, I asked Dorothy if she was a wild girl in Chicago with her friend. She told me how there were four of them that went out every night. “Single women on the town?” I teased. “Oh no! We all had dates.” She quietly spoke with just a bit of distain in her voice at my thinking she would go out alone. It just wasn’t done in 1936.

Dorothy was a thoroughly modern woman. Born in 1910, educated at Northwestern University, married while in college against her parent’s wishes, divorced a short time later and declared she was never going to marry again. Then she met Jim McGuinn.

Jim was the whirlwind that swept her off her feet. When she called her friend and said that Jim had asked her to marry him, the friend replied,” Go for it! You will have a ball!” The ball continued for a long time. They were a team in writing a book, in business and in life.

Their first son was a surprise. They called him James Joseph McGuinn III. Their second son, Brian, was a much wanted child. They were living in Tarrytown, NY and their house had a wonderful backyard – just the right place for children to play. When Brian was born, Dorothy declared to Jim, “We must take care of this little one.” It was Brian who ended up lovingly taking care of her.

This morning, a nurse emailed me and told me that Dorothy had been waiting for her birthday so she could see Roger one last time. Dorothy’s intestinal fortitude was so strong that we were sure we would be spending Thanksgiving with her. We told her we would see her then as we left her room. But her body was tired and she wanted to join the love of her life, Jim.

We are now a little numb. I cried yesterday when I was telling Roger about the vibrancy I felt from her journal. It was as if I was being prepared for today.

Grief takes a different road with every passing. This grief will be different for all of us- Roger, Brian, Patrick, Henry, James, Ciaron, Callie, her extended family, her loyal friends and me.

More about Dorothy McGuinn-

Wedding photo-Dorothy is stage left.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Roadie Report 60 - UK & NL - October & November 2011 - by Camilla McGuinn

When I was six years old, the days crawled and crawled from one birthday to another. Every day was an adventure. Just learning the intricacies of living consumed daily emotional ups-and-downs. Sense memories were imbedded into the recesses of my mind. At that precious time, one year was merely a sixth of my existence.

Now, one year is one sixtieth of my life. The years no longer crawl; they are rocketed from birthday to birthday. I am blessed that the years are still filled with adventures. Sense memories often spring forth with vivid recollections of moments past. A few memories are traumatic but most are all so sweet.

The sweet memories include the night Roger and I toasted the Eiffel Tower from the palatial suite Capitol Records parked us in; to the night we slept in our van in a Howard Johnson’s parking lot wedged between two eighteen wheelers.

The champagne night in Paris was exciting even though the next day we were feeling a little woozy while we sought out the Louver and its Mona Lisa. The memory of the cold night nestled between the trucks in our sleeping bags with ski toboggans on our heads, gloves on our hands and our noses freezing brings the same smile as the exciting Parisian night.

A group of friends insisted that I come up with an idea on how to celebrate my 60th birthday in October 2011. I didn’t think it was a priority because we were going to be on a concert tour in Europe and the United Kingdom. Asking our friends’ to fly to Ghent Belgium on October 22nd just to light a birthday cake seemed outrageous to me, so I came up with a plan – not as outrageous but still an adventure.

We would all take the train from Orlando to New York City, and then do something I had always wanted to do - walk across the Brooklyn Bridge after a scrumptious dinner prepared in the River Café in Brooklyn.

Amtrak is not the Orient Express, but Roger and I have figured out how to enjoy the trip. We get a compartment and order all of our meals in suite. There were five of us on the train. We were meeting Theresa in New York City. Pat had been on the train with us before, but Laraine and Phil were experiencing their first train sleep over.

The dining cars on Amtrak have tables which seat only four people. Roger was very happy staying in our compartment. Antoinette, our compartment steward, promised to make sure he ate a proper dinner. When I returned from dinner in the dining car, Roger was sheepishly eating ice cream that Antoinette insisted he have. Yep, she took good care of him.

Amtrak’s Silver Meteor #98 pulled into Penn station around noon. The luggage porter knew exactly where to find us a taxi to take us to the Hilton. Patrick, Roger’s son, was meeting us for dinner at The Grand Central Train Station Oyster Bar at 6pm. (Phil still can’t get over how much we like train stations!)

There was time to explore before the evening meal. Not far from our hotel is the “Church of Apple.” The name I give to all Apple computer stores because Apple devotees are religious about their products. Our group included four devotees. I giggled as I watched them and everyone else reverently walk through the store. I was a Blackberry person and devoted to the Windows PC world. I did try an Apple computer once. I smiled when Roger accidentally stepped on it, destroying the hard drive, after I had thoughtlessly laid it on the floor by the bed. That accident opened the door for me to go back to a wonderful Toshiba PC. As for the Blackberry - Roger had a plan. We were going to take an iPhone to the UK and Europe. We would buy a prepaid SIM card and not worry about all those nasty charges that pop up when you take a US cell phone across the pond. Roger was sure that constantly using the iPhone for email would convert me…darn...he was right!

The day after teasing my friends about their devotion to APPLE, I opened the door of our hotel room to pick up the newspaper. The headline declared the death of Steve Jobs. He was a visionary who will be missed, even by me.

The official birthday celebration dinner was scheduled for the next evening. Timing the sunset over the Manhattan skyline meant we had to have an early dinner at the River Café in Brooklyn. Our gang of six was the first to enter the restaurant door. The cocktail lounge overflowed with our small group while we waited for the dinner service to begin. There was another couple seated nearby. I felt we might have been a bit too loud, so I engaged them in conversation.

The concierge of their hotel suggested they have dinner here before they boarded the Queen Mary 2 bound to Southampton the next day. Roger and I were going on the same ship! As usual we were working our way across the Atlantic. Roger was scheduled to give two lectures on “How Folk Music Took Him to the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame.”

The maitre’d led us to our table and a bottle of Dom Perignon was waiting. Bill and Linda, friends from Ohio, had arranged the treat. We ordered the Chef’s menu, watched the sunset and then the fireworks began. Our waiter told us that our champagne friends had ordered the fireworks just for my birthday celebration! We knew he was teasing, but I thanked Bill anyway.

The walk across the Brooklyn Bridge surprised Roger the most. He used to live in Greenwich Village and never had any desire to walk in Brooklyn after dark! He wasn’t sure if was safe but the bridge was filled with folks walking, biking and enjoying the city lights and the crisp October air. I couldn’t decide if the experience mirrored the family atmosphere of Walt Disney World or the excitement felt while strolling the streets of Paris.

The next morning we all hugged goodbye before we loaded our luggage into various cars.

Roger and I were headed back to Brooklyn to board the majestic Queen Mary 2. There is no better way to ‘ferry across’ the Atlantic Ocean. The guitars would be safe and we would be relaxed for the first concert in London’s lovely Cadogan Hall.

My fantasy plan for the perfect “birthday tour” was to wake up Scotland on the day. The train traveling north on the English East Coast is one of our favorite train adventures. One problem, I forgot to send Roger’s agent, Nick Peel, that memo. He put together a wonderful Netherlands tour with one date in Belgium. Even though I didn’t see some of my favorite cities - Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen – the cities we did see now echo as beautiful in the recesses of my memories.

I always prefer touring the UK and Europe via train, but this schedule wasn’t working because the connections were too tight for someone who couldn’t translate the language written on the train signs very easily. Nick didn’t understand why I thought driving in a small country would be so difficult. My reluctance was established by previous driving difficulties. We had a tour years ago which involved driving to Denmark from Brussels. The wonderful folks of Denmark all speak English because as they told us, “We are a small country. We can’t expect people to learn our language, so we learn theirs.” The one thing that they didn’t do was write the signs for gas stations and parking meters in English. There were a few alarming situations. We weren’t sure how to pay the tolls, park the car or even how to get gas in a self serve station. We survived those moments of feeling totally stupid but I decided that when possible, all future tours would be traveled by train and taxis in countries where we couldn’t read and translate the language.

The other problem we were concerned with was credit cards. European credit cards contain a computer chip and use a PIN, American credit cards don’t. We weren’t sure we would be able to purchase gas. Hotels don’t have a problem with American credit cards, but small vendors aren’t comfortable without a PIN.

Unfortunately, the train logistics just weren’t working, so I capitulated and rented a car to tour the Continent. We took the Eurostar to Brussels and spent a wonderful evening in the Conrad Hilton, thanks to Hilton frequent guest hotel points. Staying at all those freeway Hampton Inns really paid off by supplying a wonderful room in downtown Brussels.

On two previous tours we’d rented cars in Europe and even with a GPS, we always got lost in Brussels. One time I asked a policeman, “ Ou est la gare?” He replied with a yell and hand signals pointing us to the corner, “ A droite!” I was so excited! I spoke French and understood what I heard. Well almost. We did turn right…right into a shopping mall. The marble floors of the Mall gave us a hint that we shouldn’t proceed. Gare du Norde was the second right.

To make things less complicated this time, I decided to rent a car from an airport rental location on the city’s fringe. Taking a wild taxi ride to the airport from the hotel proved to be very dangerous and expensive. The driver talked on two cell phones simultaneously while going extremely fast. The charge was 90 Euros for less than 10 miles of travel! When we returned the car, the car rental agent encouraged us to take the train directly to the Eurostar station. It was a much better choice. Two Sunday First Class tickets cost 15 Euros. Safe and comfortable!

Our first drive of the 2011 European tour was 81 miles from Brussels to Heerlen, Holland where I found a castle to spend the night - Hotel Kasteel Terworm. Time is limited when doing ‘one night stands.’ We try to experience as much as possible in a very short time. After checking in and watching a hail storm from the turret of our room, we ate lunch. Later we were picked up by Remco, the MOJO tour manager who would be with us for all our Netherlands concerts.

Nick understands that Roger just wants to play theaters and the folks at MOJO had just the right venues. Not only did they supply a road manager, they also supplied a sound engineer, a lighting technician, a guitar technician and trucks that carried the equipment, including the plants I always insist upon. I don’t like to see Roger sitting in a ‘black hole’ on stage. The plants, enhanced by lovely lighting, soften the visual experience and create an intimate setting. He often feels like the audience is in his garden.

After the first concert, I began feeling like a princess and a little bored. All of my usual tasks were being done by four different people. Wait a minute – four men were filling my normal positions! I think I’ll give myself a raise!

We did have to leave our crew to drive to the Ghent, Belgium concert because it wasn’t a MOJO promoted show. Ghent is the beautiful city where we officially celebrated all 60 years of sprightliness.
We had a wonderful lunch prior to Roger’s concert. Our favorite way to celebrate special occasions is doing what Roger loves – performing in a lovely theater.

Roger only performs two days in a row. His voice stays clear when not stressed with days and days of concerts. That rule also gives us a little extra time to enjoy our adventures. The next morning we drove 136 miles to Amsterdam and had time to have a relaxing lunch with our friend Renee.

I had one other concern about this tour. Roger’s concerts are a mixture of songs and stories. Would the audience be offended with the stories all told in English? We shortened the stories and I kept reminding him to speak a wee bit slower. He gets excited about a story and the words spill out in rapid succession. The audience didn’t seem to mind. The beauty of Europeans is they not only learn several languages, they use them. In the states, we study languages, but seldom have the opportunity to put them into practice, though Spanish is a language we can now put into daily use, especially in Florida.

I’m always surprised to see fans coming to every show on a tour. One couple from Germany decided to use Roger’s tour as their vacation. Hanni brought us marzipan and daily enthusiasm. I always enjoyed seeing the couple at the shows. In Rotterdam, I kept looking for them before the concert, during the intermission and after the concert, but they weren’t around. Later, she emailed and told me that on the way to the concert her husband had fallen and was injured. He is okay now. We hope to see them next time we’re in Europe.

The Netherland driving experience was delightful. All of the silly concerns quickly dissipated once we began navigating the well constructed highways. Even buying the only extra tank of gas we needed to complete the whole tour was an easy task. Our longest drive was the interesting 200 miles from the last concert in Leeuwarden back to Brussels to catch the Eurostar to London.

We arrived at the St. Pancras train station at tea time. The St. Pancras station is also home to the beautiful St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel. I made reservations. The building was first opened as the Midland Grand Hotel in 1873. The high ceilings and beautiful furnishings made us feel like we were sleeping in a castle.

The next morning, with our BritRail passes in hand, we boarded the train to begin the final leg of the concert tour.We were delighted to find the best coach on all the UK trains is the "Quiet Coach." We were usually the only people on the entire compartment because no cell phones are allowed. We don't really want to talk on the cell phone, email is a much better way of communication for our business. Concerts were in Leeds, Gateshead, Worcester, Poole, Milton Keynes and finally Abedare in Wales.

CMP Entertainment has been Roger’s UK promoter since 1986. The managing director, Chas Cole, has two children - James and Camilla. We always smile at that coincidence.

Tilo was our CMP representative for the tour. After our last date in Abedare, he drove us to Southampton to board the Queen Mary 2. Tilo is into gadgets as much as Roger, so he trustingly put our destination into his GPS. As the terrain changed and the roads got smaller, Roger and I quietly kept looking at each other with knowing smiles. We have been on the same type of roads in the States - back roads you will only see if the GPS routes you the shortest way, not the fastest. Halfway through the trip, Tilo quietly mentioned that this was probably not the best way or the quickest. Then we could both laugh out loud. Driving through the English countryside was a delightful way to say goodbye to England - especially since we had allotted extra time.

Boarding the Queen Mary 2 was like coming home. The minute we walked into our stateroom on the grand ship our days changed from precision time lines to total relaxation. Roger did give two lectures and a Q & A, but the lectures are a treat for him.

He loves using the media of video and photos to tell his story. He even shows the first airplane ticket he used on his trip to Los Angeles to play his first professional gig with the Limelighters in 1960. His concerts are the sound tracks to his lectures. The ship is like a small town filled with happy neighbors. To cap the whole experience, there is a delightful crew that anticipates the needs of their guests.

On November 17, the Statue of Liberty appeared in the morning mist. The early morning disembarkation at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal gave us plenty of time to board Amtrak’s Silver Meteor #97 to Orlando. When we got to our compartment, there was Antoinette! She was going to care of us all the way home!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Roadie Report 59- July- September 2011 by Camilla McGuinn

July 2011
The downtown in Mobile, Alabama is easy to navigate on foot. Skyscrapers have been gently nestled next to historical renovations in this 300 year old port city. There are several hotels, but the Hampton Inn and Suites was perfect for us and the van. By arriving a day early we were able to enjoy walking the streets and a delicious dinner at the Café Royal on Royal St.

The historic Saenger Theater was erected in 1927 and has been beautifully restored. This European-style stage has been graced by thousands of performers throughout its many years and on July 23, 2011 Roger was honored to be singing, telling stories and playing his guitars and banjo on that stage.

Our next stop was Tucson, Arizona for two very important occasions. Roger’s mother, Dorothy, was going to celebrate her 101st birthday and Roger was performing at the Fox Tucson Theater. We had hoped that Dorothy would be up to going to the theater, but she is very comfortable staying home.

We did have a gathering at her house. Celebrating 101 years is an amazing moment, but there was another highlight in the evening. James McGuinn, Roger’s grandson, walked in wearing a shirt we’d had custom made for Roger in 1978. I sent the boys, James and Ciaron, a large box of Rock and Roll memorabilia the year before. The shirt, embroidered with the Thunderbyrd album cover on the back, was in the box.

As the evening progressed, a few guitars came out. We were delighted to hear James playing. He hadn’t had lessons yet, but we are sure the music legacy is continuing. I drafted James to be Roger’s guitar tech for the concert on July 30.

Interstate 10 has long stretches of desert. The one advantage is that in parts of Texas the speed limit is 85mph on the highways that have long sightlines. We were headed to Austin for a concert but we scheduled our driving time to arrive in Fredericksburg in time to explore the small German settlement nestled in the Hill Country of West Texas. The town boasts of a variety of good restaurants, but we always walk from the Hampton Inn to the Navajo Grill. Some places are just like going home.

After a few days rest in Orlando, we hit the road again. A concert in Bartlett, TN at the lovely Performing Arts Center gave us a chance to explore a part of Tennessee we had never seen. In September we headed north to some of our favorite venues in Albany, Syracuse, Bay Shore, and South Orange,NJ.

While we were traveling from city to city, Roger’s International Booking Agent, Nick Peel was working on the paper work for a December concert in Buenos Aires, Argentina. We needed to get a work permit from the Argentinian Embassy in New York City. Fortunately we had a few days to get to the Grand Theater in Frankfort, KY. I made a reservation at our favorite hotel, the Sheraton Lincoln Harbor, and arranged to meet with an official at the embassy for a fast track procedure.

I am an optimist and thought if we got to the embassy as soon as it opened, our passports would be stamped and we could be on our way to John and MaryAnn’s house in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Well optimism doesn’t hold water with bureaucracy. No matter how I worded my request the answer was always the same. ”Come back at 4:30pm.”

It was early, so we spent the morning sitting in the embassy enjoying the art work. At 11am, I checked one more time with the official gate keeper. ”Come back at 4:30pm.” We had checked out of the hotel, but we did not want to join rush hour traffic, so I called Michael, the concierge, and asked if he could arrange a miracle since the hotel was booked full. He found us a last minute cancellation.

Now all we had to do was amuse ourselves until 4:30pm. One of our favorite restaurants wasn’t too far away. Our stomachs began making noises; our feet began walking to Café Fiorello at 1900 Broadway.

I found this Italian restaurant one Thanksgiving when Pat, Theresa and I were cold and thirsty after watching the Macy’s parade. That day we sat at the antipasto bar and didn’t move until we were to meet Roger and the rest of our friends for Thanksgiving supper at 7pm. That is the Thanksgiving I will always remember as having had two feasts.

Roger and I arrived at the Café just as the doors were opening for lunch. We settled on our favorite stools at the antipasto bar and chatted away with the server. There was no rush, so we ordered slowly and when we weren’t ordering something, the server would surprise us with a tidbit to taste. The restaurant filled quickly and I noticed the maitre d’ was in a bit of a flutter about someone. As the lunch crowd left, and we were still enjoying the ambience,conversation with other folks sitting at the bar and the slow stream of food, I saw three people move from the back room to the table right behind us.

I knew I recognized the man, but I couldn’t place him. I told Roger that the man behind us is famous and I think his name is Roger too. I received one of those knowing smiles and was offered some more champagne. My husband never turned around to look, so I was left racking my brain by myself. Roger who?

The threesome left and then shortly afterward, a man came to our section calling for Roger. I turned and recognized Gary Louris from the Jayhawks. The Jayhawks recorded the bonus tracks for “Live From Mars” with Roger in 1996. I said, “Here’s Roger.” Gary was stunned and immediately came over. “Roger McGuinn! Wow, this is amazing, I was looking for Roger Daltrey. I was told he was over here.” So THAT was the Roger I couldn’t place! The dude from THE WHO! The re-union with Gary was very sweet. We hadn’t seen him in years.

After almost five hours of watching the world go by at Café Fiorello, Roger and I slowly walked back through the bustling crowds on the sidewalks of New York to the Argentinian Embassy. Our passports were stamped! We were going to Buenos Aires in December.

Well you never know what a day may bring forth!

Next adventure - A train ride, a ship ride, a birthday and a drive through Europe!