The Machine Shop, Flint, Michigan

So this time of year we get to play a lot of fairs and festivals. Usually muddy and usually far from a real city. Sometimes they have a lot of people, but they are not always condusive to having a great audience say the least. So a few weeks when we saw a club on our tour schedule, we got very excited. We all grew up playing clubs and there is nothing like having the people right in your lap so to speak when you play. The club in this case was The Machine Shop in Flint, Michigan. This is known as a Heavy Metal/Hard Rock Club, but they have the occasional country star a few nights a month, so we got booked. I was absolutely blown away with this place. The owners are a couple of guys in their early 40's that came out of the bobber motorcycle culture. The whole bar is decorated with lots of 50's pinups, motorcycle memorabilia and hard rock paraphernalia. It was classy and rock'n roll and rock'n roll at the same time. If I lived in the area, I would hang out there a lot. The hard rock acts they get in there are major names like Hinder. Of course our long, sweaty 90 minute show went great. I hope we end up playing there a lot in the future. Right before the show I took a three hour motorcycle ride around the city and neighboring communities. I wanted to see if all the auto plants shutting down has left the town as poor and partially deserted as I had heard. Partly true, you can get a $250.000 home for $30.000. Pretty mindboggling. Beautiful country around the town. As usual, riding that far north was a nice break from very hot weather. I ended up stumbling into a bike night at a local bar. Very motorcycle gang heavy. Not my scene. Just make sure you visit the Machine shop if you ever travel through the area.


Pubs, downtown Ottawa, Canada

Goverment buildings, Ottawa, Canada (Postcard)

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada Aug 7

One great city after another!! I was shocked at what I found. The gig yesterday was at a horse race track about 90 miles above the state of New York and the border. We drove small two lane highways all the way there, so I figured it was way out in the country. I stepped out of the bus that morning rubbing the sleep out of my eyes and saw that there was nothing to do. At the same time I felt the glorious 73 degree summer day with a borderline cold breeze blowing. It reminded me a lot about northern Sweden, so I rolled the bike out of the trailer right away and talked to the Canadian police officers on site that were extremely friendly. They look more like boyscouts in their questionable uniforms, but the got the whole "protect and serve" thing down. Kudos. They said, turn left for a beautiful country ride or right to go into the city. Since Ottawa is the capital of Canada I decided to check the city out. First shock was that from the racetrack that I thought was isolated, it was only 14 miles to the downtown of one the most thriving metropolises I have ever been in. All the Government buildings were beautiful and I felt like I was straight up in London, England, but cleaner and with less stress. The downtown had a large farmer's market type event going on and the city is bustling with Irish and Bristish pubs. I even saw the Swedish Embassy located on the third floor of a pimped out building right in the pub district..I might have to seriously look into a career in diplomacy I guess. Randy came down on his Harley and we both marvelled at the fact that we were 90 miles from the American border, but it felt like an 8 hour flight least. I could have stayed there for a good week. I will have to come back when I am not working because I fell in love with taht town quickly. We played that night right before Vince Gill. Gig was great, we were loud and obnoxious for a country act. People looked slightly scared, but entertained nontheless and Vince Gill sounded amazing as usual, but his band of old studio pros, David Hungate etc...was like watching paint dry. The night ended with us putting on sweatshirts and jackets for the first time in two months or so. Miss it already. About to pull into Nashville for ONE day off. Who needs more??

Victor's 1959 Cafe in Uptown, Minneapolis, MN

Minneapolis, Days off, Aug 3 & 4

Randy Houser's road manager Weston Mays is indeed a man of genious. It shows up in decisions like putting us in Minneapolis for two days off before the rather infamous WE fest in Detroit Lakes a few hours drive north of the cities. He further showed his genious by asking me what area he should look for hotels to put the band in. I steered him towards Dinkytown on the University of Minnesota campus. An area where all the band dudes can walk to food, bars etc. On the way into the hotel we rode right by the building I first moved into on my first night in the USA as a stundent 16 years ago. I remember beeing scared shitless. Felt good to see it again and remember all that. I rolled out my motorcycle from the trailer on the first night off and headed into a perfect 79 degree Minneapolis summer night. I rode past all the old places I used to live back when I was a student there. The warehouse district now has condo's for days and a slew of new restaurants. Close by is the new Target field and the rest of downtown. the whole area is so clean and full of life. Day two started with Randy telling me he had heard about an amazing neighborhood cuban restaurant on the food network called Victor's. It is located on the edge of Uptown, the area of the city Prince, the most famous native son, named a song after. Uptown is the funky arts center of Minnepolis and features lots of bicycles, scooters, artists, musicians and strange shopping. In addition to this, it is located right by Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet. Two stunning small lakes in the heart of the city. Pretty much paradise in the summer. Of course we had to go. We rolled out on our motorcycles and found the restaurant. The food, needless to say was orgasmic on several levels. We just couldn't believe it. Next to us was three computer repairguys from Helen, GA (or as I call it, wanna be the Alps). They were commenting on the cleanliness in Minneapolis and how they had never seen so many scooters and bikes in Atlanta. I thought to myself "Welcome to civilization", but they were nice enough guys where I didn't want to stir up anything at such a lovely day at Victor's. The tattooed waitress, who was your typical northern artsy broad, couldn't believe the variety of southern accents she was hearing. After the meal I took Randy around both lakes to scope out all the amazing homes and maybe, just maybe some of the jogging women the were bountiful in the area. Randy headed back and I decided to hit Acme Tattoo in St. Paul. The only places I have ever gotten tattooed at. Of course it was amazing to see their designs, they really are an astounding tattoo shop. I was short on time, but was close to getting my new tattoo on my upper back. Next time I am there it will happen. Last stop in St. Paul was Willie's American Guitars, a pro guitar shop that rivals or beats the best ones in Nashville. Eric Clapton and many other world class gunslingers have dropped by there over the years. Spent the evening with lovely company barhopping in Uptown again. Minneapolis is and will always be my homtown. If I didn't do what I do for a living you could find me there year round.

Charity Celebrity bike ride, Columbia, TN, July 11-Finish

Charity Celebrity bike ride, Columbia, TN, July 11-Concert

Charity Celebrity bike ride, Nashville, July 11-Start

July 11, Little Big Town charity motorcycle ride, Nashville-Columbia, TN Three words, int—er—state!!

So I wake up Sunday morning in the parking lot in Downtown Nashville as always, slightly groggy and late after the rest of the band guys have already headed home. Randy (my boss) says, “you wanna do this charity bike ride??” I weighed my other option, which was go to the house, do laundry, pay bills, try to come off three nights of adrenaline and act like a functional adult. Of course that didn’t sound too enticing, so I said yes. We saddled up to ride the 40 or so miles down to the Harley dealership in Columbia, Tennessee where a large stage was set up and a variety of more or less known country acts were waiting to perform. About 200 motorcycles or more slowly rolled out of downtown. For most of the ride we never did more than 30 miles an hour. It was torture in the TN heat. I would rather be stuck in L.A rush hour traffic any day. Big props to one of the most talented acts in any genre of music, Little Big Town for organizing that, but next time 90 miles an hour on the interstate is the key to all of our happiness

Meatballs, sans Lingonberries in Dauphin, Manitoba

July 3, Dauphin, Manitoba, Canada, Where are the fucking Lingonberries???

Look at this glorious plate of meatballs!!! . I mean look at it, served with small summery potatoes. If you are from Sweden, this is the shit, to put it in plain French.  I did not expect this in rural Canada, I mean they know what to do with healthcare, they are multi lingual in some cases, they have given us Bryan Adams and Pam Anderson, but this was indeed a pleasant surprise on top of all that. Of course, since I usually prefer to see the glass as half full, I spent a good minute enjoying this sight, but then the dark side swiftly took over. “Where are the fucking Lingonberries?” I thought to myself. (This is the sugary goo/compote served with this course traditionally back in the vikingland.) It is not too different from Cranberries here in the States. When I was a kid I ate so much of it as a condiment to all kinds of foods, which created some strange food combinations and made me seriously chubby. The plate of wannabe Swedish meatballs brightened up a somewhat strange festival with moody weather however. We had fun on stage as always. It takes a lot for that not too happen. For all my bass player friends, my rental rig that day was a Mark Bass. Too put it mildly, I have never played through a bigger freshly steaming pile of shit in my entire life! No lows, no real highs, just a lot of midrange punch that wasn’t even that clean.  I mean how does that happen, with two 410’s and an 800 watt head?? I’d like to think one of my skills in life is the ability to EQ the living fuck out of a bass rig, but there was no winning with this waste of space. Whew!! I am happy to have that off my shoulders. That is an official anti

Huntington Beach, California, June 16

June 15, Los Angeles, California and Orange Country California. Fresh Air.

My first Califonia break from touring since I started in early May. Since most of the touring this time of year consists of fairs and festivals in the south and midwest, I have been hot, sweaty and dirty for most of the summer. When I got the chance to fire up my Triumph for a mad dash through Los Angeles traffic and the beaches of Orange County it felt like a clean shower after the first month of summer touring. The first goal of the day was to visit Southern California Motorcycles in Brea, They sell the only three motorcycle brands that matter, Victory, Triumph and Ducati. The store has plenty of knowledgeable staff and a great layout. The Ducati dealer in Nashville will not let you test ride anything, so I was very surprised when I was offered a test ride on a Ducati Streetfighter. It is undeniably the hottest streetbike around this year, I declined, but on my next trip down there, I will take that magic carpet ride in a second. After that I spent 10 orgasmic minutes inhaling a complete meal from the California staple In-And-Out Burger. Finsihed with a strawberry shake, gazed over at my Triumph in the parking lot with the California sun in my face and pondered life’s gloriousness for a second. Hopped on the freeway out to the coast again from the hilly country around Brea toward my second goal for the day, Huntington Beach. Pictures are from the pier. The weather was as perfect as Southern California gets and I stayed on the coast until Long Beach. The traffic was getting heavy, the redlights too frequent and so I hit the Interstate back to my temporary home in Hollywood.

Joe Diffie performing the modern day epic "Pickup Man" in Ohio

View from stage in Traverse City, MI

Arena before I decided it was a stairmaster

Captains hangout.

July 7-10, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, Endless bus rides

I love the tour bus, always have, I probably always will. I like the way I sleep with a diesel engine under me and I like visiting questionably truck stops in nowhere, USA to find fashion so bad it’s good. My favorite place however is the captain’s chair (PIc 1) next to the driver (who in our case has driven AC/DC, Def Leppard, Poison, Bon Jovi, Beck, Meat Loaf…etc) whose stories are better than any TV reality show while looking though the large windshield of the bus at America rushing by. This chair has lots of automated functions to get so comfortable that you basically could hibernate there for an entire season….it NEVER gets old, except when you have two 20 hour bus rides back to back. I am not kidding. This run was almost long enough for us to fly but we were on the bus. I survived. The first tour stop was Springfield, MA where I used the stairs of the arena to work out on. The never ending quest to create an ass for myself never ends really. Of course while the south was hot always, the east coast was experiencing a heat wave, so venturing outside was not an option.

Traverse City Michigan was unbelievable. With a short summer and some amazing beaches, the town was at its peak when we rolled in. The view from stage was beyond pleasant (Pic3). After the heat wave we just left behind, it felt like playing in northern California with the pine trees and the clear blue water. It is soo far north that the bus driver’s GPS originally routed us through Canada just to get there.

The next day we were in Ohio. We got to enjoy the righteous country singing onf Joe Diffie…this shot is of him (Pic4), his band and the crowd during one of the few songs involving a pickup truck that doesn’t make me throw up. As a matter of fact I really like it. “Pickup Man”. All is good.

View from Ritz-Carlton, Chicago

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