I flew out of La Guardia last week on what was just about the only flight out of the airport that day and I was amazed we got out. The airport was almost deserted as most flights were cancelled due to the snowstorm. I have flown on well over 50 Air Canada flights in the last five years but this was the only one where some of my luggage didn’t arrive! Maybe it was a token loss as it was the lone plane to get away and someone had to lose something. This past week has seen me driving through Ontario playing in Toronto, Cobourg, Peterborough and Merrickville near Ottawa. Watched the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver from a Welsh pub in Cobourg!
On Monday I drove down a road to Toronto called the ‘Highway of Heroes’. Folk gather on the bridges across the freeway to pay their respects to the soldiers who have lost their lives and are brought home down this route via an air base. It was moving to drive beneath all these gathered fire trucks, police cars and people braving the cold with Canadian flags in their hands.
Am now in Memphis for the final leg of this five-week tour. I played a show here on Tuesday and, after some early morning TV, am now encamped downtown at the Marriott hotel where the North American Folk Alliance is taking place. I play about 4 times a day here and it’s a meeting place for performers, promoters, festival bookers, industry etc. I can’t sleep because I can hear accordions and I get woken up by banjos! It’s tough at the end of such a long trip not to have my eyes on home but this is something I have to do to open up the market, not so much in Canada, but in the USA. Managed to escape last night to watch some tennis as a friend had tickets. The pro tour is in town and I saw Andy Roddick play and after him Maria Sharapova which was a welcome distraction. Outside all this it is Elvis who still dominates this great music town. Having read two huge volumes on the man this past year, the ghost is even more real for me here. Last night on the way back to the hotel I found the South Coliseum where he recorded a live album back in the seventies. It’s a great album (called Live In Memphis with pictures of Graceland on the front and back) and something I played so many times as a kid. The huge venue is now in mothballs and surrounded by high wire fences and it was sad to see. But I can still hear him singing the song.