Tuesday, May 31, 2011

the land down under

     In late February, The Donavon gang headed to the Southern Hemisphere for a month long stint through Tasmania OZ and the Land of Kiwi. We were there for just shy of a month. Touring those territories are very easy and well planned. We started out in the South and made our way to the West coast for few shows in Perth and Margaret River.  It was the beginning of their Fall season so the weather was nice with mild temps and very little rain.
     The tour seemed to fly by as we seemed to spend more time in the air than actually on the ground. We had at least 20 flight over those 29 days. It's always such a pain in the butt to have to drag a 70lb keyboard, Trumpet, cable bag and luggage through these airports especially with all the baggage overages. Our poor tour manager Tito and the promoter rep had to sweet talk all the gate agents in an effort to lower our overages which in some case would run as much as 2000.00 per flight. I am so thankful that I don't have to deal with that mess. It's hard enough to live out of a suitcase, constantly be on the move and perform almost every night.I think the hardest part of touring is coping with airports and the lack of sleep. 
     This was my fifth trip to Australia and let me tell you it is so expensive. The U.S. dollar has been sliding against the Aussie dollar for the last year and prices of food and necessities have been on the rise. The average fast food meal runs upwards $10 U.S and a six pack of beer is around $22. Our per diems do not go very far. Restaurants actually charge for condiments. How about a $9 dollar Big Mac? At least there are lots of options for dining all throughout Oz. Meat pies a plenty!
     We traveled over to the East coast for the second half of the tour. All the shows were great and we were well received. I managed to get a surf in with Donavon, Will Conner and Taylor Steele at the point in Byron Bay. What a great wave! There was talk of a session with Kelly Slater but he was busy after winning the contest at Snapper Rocks. Byron is my favorite place in Australia. The vibe is super cool and the town is laden with great foods stops, shopping and street vendors. There's definitely a hippie vibe happening throughout that whole area. 
     We left Oz and headed down to New Zealand for the rest of the tour. Donavon was scheduled to do a show in Christ Church but in wake of the recent quake there, the show was cancelled. Bummer! New Zealand has to be one of the most beautiful places in the world. The landscape is very lush with breath taking harbors and tropical rain forest. The Kiwi people are so genuine and they have such a warm welcoming spirit. Plus the beer is amazing and I do like a good beer. The locals are hungry for good music and it shows in there attitudes at the concerts. After two shows in the land of kiwi, we headed back to Jacksonville.  Fifty-two hours of delayed flights and airport layovers we finally made our way home. That was the longest travel experience in all of my years as a touring musician. The good news is we are heading back down to New Zealand for New Years. Bring on those frequent flyer miles and thank God for the Red Carpet Club!


Sunday, May 29, 2011

D.R. photos

Heading South.

     Well, it's been too long since my last post. A lot has happened over the past 3 months. We have been burning up the airways. After Brazil I had the priveladge of traveling to the Dominican Republic with pro surfers Asher Nolan and Cody Thompson and up and legendary film maker Luke Thorpe . My wife and I were invited by our friends from Zapstix Surf shop in Salisbury Mass to come down to their new surf camp in D.R. This was my first trip down to the Dominican. It is such a beautiful place chalked full of great waves and beautiful beaches. After a few days of surf and sun, Our friend/personal tour guide Pat Hall and I played a couple of super fun shows for the local peeps and tourists in Cabarete. First of all, I never realized how heavy the waves are down there. The area around Cabarete has some sketchy reefs and pounding beach breaks. Needless to say I sat out a couple of sessions in fear of having my butt pounded on the reef riddled with spiny sea urchins.
     The fellas at Zapstix surf camp treated us to an island style BBQ while Pat and I entertained the campers with an impromptu Jam session/rehearsal. The weather is grand year round and the waves seem to pump during hurricane season into well into Winter. The water is crystal clear and so warm year round. The beaches are beautiful and uncrowded. It's nice to take walks along the coast from cove to cove climbing over mounds of volcanic rocks.
     As the sun sets in Cabarete, The parties begin and don't seem to stop until sun up. Outdoor bars and discos line the beach and people flow in and out from club to club. It becomes quite a scene after 10pm with street vendors and locals selling everything from ice cream to boot-legged dvds.
     Pat and I played two shows and we seemed well received. It's always fun to play music with friends and for people who appreciate live music. It is truly a universal language that knows no borders. A local musician was kind enough to let me use some of his gear which is very hard to come by in the Dominican. Especially with the prices of baggage fees by Spirit Air. They love to take advantage of weary travelers. You even have to pay for carry-ons!
     After a week of fun in the sun it was time to head back to good old Jax. We had a grand old party the last night before our 3a.m. flight back to Florida. I want to say thanks to Mike, Pat, James and John for making our trip possible and for the unbelievable hospitality that they all arranged for Cat and myself. so until next time...