Day 20 of this tour, and after a goods nights sleep, I am now in optimum touring mode: ie in a supine, child-like, highly suggestable state. Basic decisions, like, shall I have another cup of coffee, take on the weighty significance of say, 'shall I take out a mortgage' or 'should I write a will' would, back home. I get in cars, eat food, I appear on stage with the other Ukes, almost as if we have a piece of string tied between us, after being told - play: - it seems like my will has disappeared.
Here's my tuxedo, which is holding up pretty well considering it's ten years old, and while it might look smart from the stage, after all those years of getting sweated into, folded up and shoved back into a suitcase, if you get too close, you'll see its pretty frayed. I remember a friend of mine was invited backstage after a Prince concert, which had been brilliant: music, lights, pyrotechnics, costume changes, dancing etc. By chance, he came across a room where the costumes were stored, and there they were, a bunch of tatty old gladrags - all cheap fabric, smelly and damp with sweat - the sort of thing you'd pass up in a street market. But thats the illusion of showbiz I suppose.
So the day started off after having woken up at the Goodlands hotel, with its incredibly stupid record players, replacing the basic coffee machines that most hotels offer. I heard that two of the band, who enjoy the odd cigarette were stopped by police officers today walking down the street (while engaging in said activity) and informed that Santa Barbara is a completely smoke free/vape free town, and that cannabis, while legal here cannot be smoked on the street.
So our first job in the morning was to do some outeach at the local school, we've played this school before a couple of years ago, and having done the session at the school in Texas, I was now feeling more relaxed about it.
I remember this school well from our 2016 tour - this is where Ben (pictured, happy) stepped out of our van and dropped his prize ukulele - an expensive Kala model which had been gifted to him by the company as promotion, onto the concrete. There is no sound in the world quite like the exquisite 'CRACK' of expensive ukulele on a hard surface - I myself have smashed several in this way.
Setting up at the school
More setting up
I grabbed this photo at the end of the session - which was good fun. One thing about playing to kids (age range at least 9 -12) is that they haven't had the chance to become 'cool' yet, so instead of thinking 'what a bunch of old farts' they just take it for what it is - a highly polished performance (from a bunch of old farts) who just happen to have been playing a long time. I did my standing up routine, to gasps of wonder etc and all the songs went down well (especially Pharrels 'Happy'). Ewans dancing during his song "The Old Home Place" continues to impress - it ought to, he was principle dancer in Matthew Bourne's 'Swan Lake'!
California is pretty eco-friendly and they start 'em off young here!
Snapped a pic of the Pier at Santa Barbara on the way back from the school.
I remembered it was pretty much ninety years ago that my Uncle George passed through Santa Barbara on his trip across the States, and I posted his photo album online
Ramen for lunch
When I got back to the hotel, I found the police, fire brigade and ambulance in attendance at one of the rooms - not exactly sure what happened - but something tells me it wasn't good.
Come four o'clock it was time to go off to the theatre to soundcheck - this must be our 4/5th time here and we always get a good welcome. Tickets had sold well too - I read this interesting blog post about a recent Michael Buble concert, he has VERY loyal fans who will travel to see him and we are very lucky that way too - and that we do good business on the road. However jaded I sound (and Doug, our sound guy and a wise old owl to boot) tells me he can guage my moods by this blog - I will always be grateful that I'm still managing to make a living at music (though touring will probably kill me in the end!).
Bikes, Bikes Bikes, - like I said Santa Barbara is very eco concious and there are lots of bike lanes (the theatre is on the campus of UCSB) It's wise to make sure you don't step into a bike lane by accident as you'll get knocked over.
Ben at soundcheck
More fantastic food, we all ate outside, which was a bit chilly - according to our promoter - the weather has been weird in California the last few years - last year there was a drought and this year its been raining all the time. The hills overlooking Santa Barbara are all a verdant green, whereas normally its just scrub up there. After the show we did a 'sweep' of the table with all the snacks on it (we're not flying tomorrow) but taking a bus to Los Angeles for our next gig.