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.

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