It’s all over… Apart from Lynda, who is no doubt soaking up the music in Nashville’s Lower Broadway, the rest of us are back in the UK. We Orcadians are not yet home, though: we have a five-hour layover in Glasgow airport before the flight to Kirkwall leaves. What better way to while away a few hours than compiling a ‘Top Ten’ or two? Here’s the first: Top Ten Miscellaneous Highlights of the Tour.
1. Most touching moment. Tallahasee, FL: Dad took his young daughter to see the show for her 6th birthday treat. She told Dick it was her best birthday ever. Both dad and daughter were wearing very cool trilby hats.
2. Standing ovations. I think we got four: one in Austin TX, one in West Laffayete IN, one in Huntingdon PA, one in Tallahassee FL.
3. ‘Cool jazz solo, man’ round of applause for Dick’s bluesy mandolin solo in ‘Long Gone Lonesome Blues.’ Especially as it came in blues capital Chicago.
4. Most embarrassing moments of tour. No 1: Iain ‘Sprinkler’ Tait drinking too much coffee and having to relieve himself in highly inappropriate public places in both Nashville and Tallahassee. Luckily these cities have many more trees than Orkney and Shetland. No 2: Homeless hobo in Chicago tapping Dick for a few dollars, then saying, ‘Thanks very much buddy, and by the way, your flies are undone.’ Ever since Dick has carried out a ‘hobo check’ before leaving his hotel room.
5. Funniest moment 1 (according to Dick): Dick trying to teach Sir Peter Maxwell Davis’s ‘Leaving Stromness’ to Lynda – who promptly turned it into ‘Let It Be.’ You had to be there. Funniest moment 2 (according to Lynda): Dick asking our statuesque Tallahassee van driver, Samantha, if he could put his guitar case in her booty. Forgetting, you see, that a boot is called a trunk in the States. And that a booty is something else entirely…and putting a guitar there would be very painful.
6. Miscellaneous musical (LSSB but non-show) highlights: 1. Surprise gig in the Standing Stone Coffee Company in Huntingdon PA: 45 minutes of fun (for us) – just playing music to mixed coffee drinking/laundry washing audience, no need for scripts, lighting cues, costumes etc. 2. Doing interview and song selection at famous Austin TX singer-songwriter venue The Cactus Café. 3. Duncan and Iain sitting in with excellent honky tonk band Moonshine Mason and the Rot-Gut Gang in Lafayette IN’s Black Sparrow pub.
7. ‘Just like home’ moment on St George’s Island, Florida. Beautiful beach, palm trees, the Gulf of Mexico…and a howling gale, lashing wind and temperatures in the mid-thirties.
8. Most serene moment (experienced only by Duncan, Iain and Dick, I’m afraid): drifting down the Wakulla Springs on a flat-bottomed boat, watching manatee swim lazily by, alligators lurking in the weeds and an amazing profusion of colourful birds wading, flying and swimming by.
9. Best view: from 96th floor of the John Hancock Tower in Chicago, at midnight. Runners-up: Wakulla Springs, FL, for its huge trees draped in Spanish Moss, and Huntingdon PA for Jamestown Lake and Lincoln Caverns. And very special award for the Chicago Art Institute and its awe-inspiring collection of art of all sorts from all over – but especially for US icons like ‘Nighthawks,’ ‘American Gothic’ and various Pollocks, Rothkos etc.
10. Meeting people for the first time and immediately striking up a great rapport through shared loves of odd old music, barbecue, lefty politics, quirky honky-tonks, second hand bookshops, orange Gretsches, microbreweries, roadtrips, quality hats, and small-town bohemianism. Too many to mention by name, but heartfelt thanks to all of those wonderful, creative, hard-working, fun-loving folk who educated and entertained us.