All work and no play…

…is not what this tour is about.

After a very hectic and exhausting (though rewarding) week in Chicago it’s been great to get a couple of days off in Huntingdon in beautiful west Pennsylvania.

I should come clean and admit that it’s really the band who have been having the time off: James (stage management and lights) Stevie (sound) and Emma (staff director) have been disappearing to the venue and/or their hotel rooms to do WORK every day.

Except on Tuesday, we, with the aid of our generous and hospitable local presenter Chad Herzog, managed to prise Stevie and Emma out for a few hours sightseeing. (James remained attached to his laptop as firmly as a Scapa Flow limpet to a rock.) Chad took us down some caverns, and up some mountains. But the highlight of the afternoon was a company game of volleyball (the college’s speciality) overlooking Raystown Lake.

Impressive, huh? Sport and mime in one brief YouTube clip!

Thursday evening, after some tech and rehearsal in the afternoon, we persuaded an excellent local cafe, the Standing Stone Coffee Company, to let us set up and play a few songs and tunes. It was great to be in front of an audience again after the break, especially doing a completely relaxed musical set – no need to remember scripts and lighting cues, just heads-down, no-nonsense northern swing for 45 minutes.

Well, I say no nonsense…at one point Dick did attempt to walk out the door during an electric mandolin solo, aiming to perform for the audience while looking in through the plate glass windows at them. Unfortunately his lead was too short, so before he could even stumble past the mic stand he unplugged himself and fell silent. Unlike the audience, who guffawed and applauded this tour de force of musical professionalism: ‘Slick, Vegas-style showbiz,’ as Cornell Hurd likes to say.

Luckily, Linda was on hand to wow the cafe with her swinging fiddle…

All in all, a good warm up for this evening, which will have us performing Long Gone Lonesome to its biggest ever audience, in a 600 seater auditorium at Juniata College. Speaking of which, I must stop now and head off for our tech check and dress rehearsal.

Duncan

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Pennsylvania!

Seems like ages since I posted anything here. The days have been whizzing past… We’ve now made it to the 4th of our 5 destinations – Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. Chicago was full of so many great experiences, especially the sell out shows at the iconic Hideout Club so it was kinda sad to be moving on. Such a fantastic city, and for me one that perfectly captures beauty, serenity and city mayhem. But it was time to hit the road. We landed here Monday, to a contrasting landscape to Chicago but an equally beautiful one – rolling hills, wide open fields and classic American red farm barns speckled everywhere – like where Superman grew up, as Dick put it. We were met by our host Chad Herzog, the Director of Performing Arts at Juniata College, where our next show will be on Friday this week.

As in Chicago we arrived to unseasonal winter weather of blue sky sunshine, and no snow. We took a stroll over to Huntingdon for a look round – a gorgeous little town, and recently voted by Budget Travel Magazine as the 5th Coolest small town in America.

A fine feed and a few beers in the local diner rounded off a day of travel. Chad has been taking great care of us and has shown us some local sights these past couple of days including Raystown Lake, a beautiful 28 mile long man made lake – probably pinned with people in the summer but deserted this time of year so good chance for a stroll. Plenty of bears around apparently, but snoozing this time of year thankfully.

Then for a tour round Lincoln Caverns, a network of underground caves with gorgeous sparkling formations.

As I’d feared, there was a bat, but only one and he was asleep. Dick got his first Billy Connolly since we got to the States! A common occurence for him apparently in Scotland, Dick tells us his record is 20 in Glasgow, including a drive-by roar from a passing vehicle.

Thomas Fraser popped into my head when the guide was telling us the caves were discovered in 1931, the year he was diagnosed with polio, and the beginning of his 2 years confinement to bed. Not sure what he would have made of the being 30 feet underground. Good acoustics though so he might have been keen to get reel to reel down there for a few songs.

Got in another few local sights today, including lunch at Spruce Creek Tavern, famed for their ‘tray of fries’. Too much for Duncan to resist.. Och, well not quite… they were for us all. In usual ‘Lone Star Swing’ banter style, it was too good a opportunity of revenge for Dick to miss tho… (you’ll get the idea from the photos below). The Duncan & Dick Show could be a go-er…