The miracle of human flight.
Hello from seat 9F, American Airlines flight 1358 to Los Angeles.
I am ready and settled. I've seen the baggage throwers do what they do best, play toss the caber with people's belongings, and I am about to ask the stewardess if there is a 'Bucket Of Wine' option on this flight.
We have been delayed half an hour. You will not believe the amount of whinging and whining 1,800 seconds can prompt. Good grief, get a coffee, use the loo, and then we'll be boarding. Perhaps we'll all get lucky and this horrific, major life event will put you off travel altogether.
The last show was marvelous. Having done my fair share of long distance solo driving this tour, I invited my friend, Tarik, to hop in our Honda Fit and drive with me to Council Bluffs, Iowa. I am glad he agreed, and I was very glad of his company. It's a hefty drive from Chicago. I introduced him to Sandra the GPS, and they got along great. We pretty much laughed the whole way there, and the whole way back. We didn't laugh very much in the Cracker Barrel in Clive, Iowa though (Clive?! The town is called Clive?!). The lady serving us had a very difficult time, bless her, in differentiating between the two types of iced tea available. After several attempts to provide the one requested, I gave up and ordered hot coffee. Which is pretty much the exact opposite of iced tea. Also. That roast beef sandwich had never been a part of a cow in its life. Perhaps a cardboard box, but certainly not a hooved animal.
So ahead of me are the two final gigs of the tour with George Thorogood and Brian Setzer. I'm flying into L.A a little early to see my co-manager, Jason, and take a few meetings around town with him. How mad does that sound? "Just nipping to California to take a few meetings". 13 year old me would have laughed his arse off.
Anyways. I must dash. The wine is becoming more crucial and necessary after I just heard the lady next to me ask the stewardess;
"Is there gluten in the snack pack?"
If I had been the stewardess I may have replied;
"yes, there is - and you must avoid it like the plague! However, that menu you are holding is entirely gluten free, and probably just as nutritious and flavourful!"
I am going to ask if I may upgrade my Bucket Of Wine to a Trough.
As I walked into Dayton Airport after the show at Huber Heights, Ohio, Jackson Browne's beautiful tribute to his road crew, 'The Load-Out', was softly playing through the tinny speakers of the check-in area. A more appropriate song there never was. It gave me a big grin, knowing I was off home after a cracking week on the road with George Thorogood and Brian Setzer.
More correctly, I was off to move home...
The apartment I have shared with my beautiful fiancée for the last 4 years had just gotten a little small (perhaps due to an increasing collection of musical paraphernalia, perhaps not), and so instead of resting up ahead of the next batch of gigs with George and Brian, I am now packing our lives up in boxes and moving them a mile down the road and into a much nicer, bigger place. We even have an outside deck, upon which I fully intend on persueing the most serious and intense of American pastimes. Grilling. I believe the enthusiasm for it here is topped only by the Australians.
I have had a short few days of this, broken up by a fantastic quick pit stop of the tour up in Mikwaukee at the BEAUTIFUL Riverside Theatre. But come Saturday I will be back out on the road again, this time to Council Bluffs Iowa, then back to Chicago, then to San Diego, then to Lincoln CA, then back down to San Diego, then back to Chicago, then to take my Mother to see my Sister in Malta.
The life of a musician. Beautiful, transient, difficult at times, but good god I wouldn't trade it for anything.
I'm writing this from a restaurant in Chicago O'Hare airport, waiting for my connection to Dayton, Ohio. I'm nearing the end of this first leg of my time opening up for George Throrogood & The Destroyers and Brian Setzer.
I still uphold and maintain the same romantic sentiments I have about solo-travel as I wrote about in the first installment, But this very short run has been very difficult at times. Just me and the rented Nissan Versa. I nicknamed him Percy on the very last drive we took together, just before I surrendered him back to his rightful owners underneath a nondescript concrete monster at BWI airport that I shall nickname 'Dollar Rent-a-Car'. FYI Percy was more than a Dollar. False advertising.
Percy and I did lots of talking during our time together. Sometimes he felt small next to Brian and George's tour buses. I told him not to sweat it. I've been in lots of them, and the view from your bunk is normally someone else's sweaty bunk, with a sweaty foot sticking out of it. I had a great view out of Percy's front window as we ambled up and down the East coast. Plus, Percy isn't as thirsty as a big bus.
Often, we both swore at Sandra, the GPS.
But more than anything, we talked about Dad.
He would have loved this trip, we could have done it together. We kinda did. He'd have liked Percy too. I'd still have driven though. The drives would have taken a lot longer otherwise.
He'd have loved loitering around these big arena stages, sparking up friendly conversations with people trying to work. They would have stopped to talk though. They always did.
So here I am, en route to the next show, and it's your birthday, Dad. So I have a beer in front of me to toast to you while i'm writing this, trying desperately to hold it together so a whole bunch of strangers don't look at me like the Airport Weirdo.
After a fun start to the tour with George Thorogood and Brian Setzer at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank NJ, I travelled up to see some friends of mine up in the Finger Lakes of New York State, ahead of the next show in Canandaigua.
I've been a bit spoiled. After navigating my way out of the state of New Jersey, I parked the car at my destination and was immediately greeted by the wonderful Rose and Jason with copious amounts of wine, (Jason owns the beautiful Hector Wine Company ) a barbecue, impromptu jams, and enormous amounts of laughter. I've spent the last two days either on Lake Seneca with a drink in my hand, in the garden with a drink in my hand, in the pub with a drink in my hand, or asleep (perhaps with a drink in my hand, I don't remember).
It has felt marvelous to be with good company on these couple of days off, in one of the most beautiful places I have been (if you haven't been to upstate NY, you are missing out!). For me this is the spirit of traveling, of being a musician. Meeting great folks, in a beautiful place, never far from a guitar or a little inspiration.
I am writing this from my hotel in Red Bank, NJ. Tonight is the first show of this short run with George Thorogood and The Destroyers, with Brian Setzer at the Count Basie Theatre. Last time I was at that venue I was opening up for Styx and REO Speedwagon with Back Door Slam. We weren't old enough to drink yet.
I am doing these shows completely solo, no tour manager, sound engineers, or band. Just me, a rented Nissan Versa, two guitars and a suitcase. I thought I would keep a little diary on here (this will also be posted to my blog on the main [a href="http://www.davyknowles.com"]website[/a]) to pass the time I have by myself.
Yesterday I flew into Laguardia Airport, New York, got in my rental car and drove past Manhattan towards New Jersey just as the sun was setting, sending a beautiful stream of red and orange through the concrete canyons. It was a beautiful moment. There's a romanticism to traveling alone, an independence and a freedom that I really do love. The feeling of being in-between, not belonging to any one particular place for any length of time. It's a nomadic experience, and while I crave it often, it certainly makes me appreciate the time I have at home in my own little corner of the world.
This also gives me the chance to play more acoustic guitar. It's something I have been enjoying increasingly of late. There's nothing wrong with bashing out some loud, aggressive, distorted electric, but why can't you do that - AND some of the more subtle acoustic side of things? One of the things I admire most about Rory Gallagher, was that he was always sure to include at least a couple of acoustic songs on his albums, and in his live performances. That's something i'd like to work on too. I admire Richard Thompson because of his incredible ability to straddle both acoustic and electric, sound undoubtedly like no-one else on both, and treat them as entirely different instruments. It's something to aim for, and you've got to aim high, eh?
So I am going into this tour with enthusiasm and high expectations of myself. And a grateful heart. Definitely a grateful heart.
See you out there,
I'm waiting in Chicago airport to board my flight for the East Coast . I have 3 bags checked in, two with me, and a whole bunch of things in my head. I'd only been in Chicago for a day.
Before that I had been back on the Isle of Man with my Mum, Sister, and Fiancée after my Father passed away. I'm not going to talk about that though. He wouldn't want to be splashed about the Internet too much. He complained every time someone invited him to play some insignificant game on Facebook. I will say that I miss him, and it hurts.
But ahead of me now I have a load of shows, with an amazing band, and the support of some incredible friends. Music is joyous, therapeutic, and vital. Now is the time to lean on it, to use it, and to move forward with a piece of the puzzle missing - but still a view of the picture. This tour is crucial for me, keeping busy, a chance to express and release, and a big reason to smile.
Hope to see you out there
I am now completely addicted to www.dustandgrooves.com. Great blog/website on record collecting, and a great resource to dig for new music.
I was reading an interview with Sheila Burgel on there, and came across this beaut of a quote that I thought I'd share with you;
"The internet is spoiling us, turning us into children who have all the toys in the world but not enough time or patience to appreciate those toys. I think the internet and mp3s have devalued music. Vinyl, on the other hand, demands value because it takes up more of our time. It makes us engage with it and take care of it if we want it to last. You can view vinyl as a way of life; it’s an acknowledgement that taking time and effort to do something yields far more gratifying and enriching results than what comes easy."
My sentiments exactly, despite having read, and now sharing, on the same internet that she speaks of.
EPISODE 1! 'INSIDE THE OUTSIDER'
Welcome to the first of a new series of videos, 'Inside The Outsider'! We will take a look into some of the key tracks from the new album 'The Outsider' , break them down and show you how (and why!) they were written, and a glimpse at the sounds used to record them! First up, the title track!
You can download The Outsider from iTunes here:
Or - from the online shop on this website!
From DAM Productions! Here's a clip from Island Bound with me playing with the brilliant Manx Musician, Greg Joughin.
We filmed and recorded so much material and so many wonderful interviews with Davy Knowles for his documentary Island Bound, that we couldn't possibly fit it all in to one programme! So, rather than see it sit on the cutting room floor, we thought we'd share a few choice moments with you. CLIP ONE comes from an interview Davy did with the lovely and very knowledgeable Manx musician and historian, Greg Joughin of 'The Mollag Band'. Throughout the course of their interview, Greg paused to play Davy several Manx songs - and even got Davy to join in on a few! This is one of them, a Manx love song. Greg's delivery of the song is heartfelt and very touching, beautiful stuff.
"Island Bound" will be released as documentary on DVD in early February 2015. Follow www.davyknowles.com @davyknowles (Twitter) and @damisleofman (twitter) for updates.
Here's the video!
Well. A new year is looming ahead of us. 2014 was a strange year for me, filled with both good and bad.
But maybe that's what a 'good' year is? Enough 'good' to feel grateful, and enough 'bad' to learn from. Granted, I didn't do everything I wanted to do, but that just leaves more to accomplish going into 2015.
At this time of year, we start thinking about what we'd like to change about ourselves. Normally 'exercise' is top of the list (partly out of guilt that comes with the enjoying of the season!) But I am always drawn back to Woody Guthrie's New Years Resolutions from 1942, particularly numbers 18, 19, and 20 on his list;
18. Stay Glad
19. Keep Hoping Machine Running
20. Dream Good.
I am adopting these resolutions for 2015.
Dream good everyone, and all the best for the New Year.
I am in-between places, once again.
A friend of mine recently posted something brilliant on Facebook. Facebook is not normally the best, or most reliable, source of wisdom, but this was a rare gem. It was just one word, and it's definition.
'Sonder' : N. The realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own - populated by their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries, and inherited craziness.
Across from where I am sitting, cradling a cup of coffee with my laptop in Dublin Airport, is a group of lads on their way to a stag do. It's 9AM and the drinks are already flowing. The Groom is easy to single out, as he is the recipient of slaps on the back, and has more empty glasses in front of him. They all have matching T-shirts. Poor sod is going to feel like death tomorrow.
There is the obligatory traveling business man. Black coat, rimless glasses, briefcase and overnight bag. He's going through the motions. Travel is no longer the thrill it used to be, his ambition has been drained from him like an empty swimming pool.
Across the cafe, on the other side of the room, there's a mother and father with a toddler. The father is pointing at the planes on the runway and the toddler is enthusiastically pointing and already making up stories about planes. Maybe he'll be a pilot someday.
Then there is the girl clearing up the empty glasses. She is here every day. Clearing up the debris that serves as the only reminder that anyone was ever here. I don't think she sees people the same anymore. We're all just moving cardboard cutouts that she'll never see again.
She comes to my table.
"Another large black coffee please"
I often wonder what is was like to grow up before all of the distractions.
I caught the beginnings of it. Our first computer in the Knowles household was an old Amstrad. It was an electronic typewriter really. It had a couple of games. One was 'Hal'. I think my Dad nicknamed him that, referring to Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy. You typed in questions to ask this artificially intelligent being on the other side of the screen. It was great. You'd receive a clever answer back. More often than not it would say "ask me another" .
I remember getting the first Windows PC hooked up to dial up Internet. I was big into Cricket at the time, and was looking up my favourite teams online. I remember my Dad looking over my shoulder and telling me that this Internet thing was just full of absolute rubbish. He now has a Facebook account. Just like the rest of us.
As a professional musician, I spend more time answering emails, taking and posting pictures, and generally working online, more than I actually play guitar. It's a fact of life, it's part of the job, and I actually really enjoy it. I love people. I love interaction. I love how easy it is to interact. I love the people I work with, although it took a while to find them. My songs are about people, and if I didn't meet anyone... well I'd have nothing to write about. So I don't think it is necessarily a terrible thing. This very post is a distraction I guess. These distractions are, at their very best, utterly inspiring. At their worst, crippling.
I just wonder what it was like before them.
My generation is a grey area. I'm 27. We still remember saving our pocket money and having to decide which album we could buy with it. We couldn't download the ones we wanted for free. It doesn't matter what the medium was. CD, cassette, vinyl. The same principles applied. But we're also an online generation. Our whole adult lives. It's how we keep in touch. We spend more time socializing with the clicking sound of a keyboard than with our voices.
I don't wish things were different. I really don't. I just wonder what they used to be. When reading a book on the subway was what playing a game on your phone is now. When we wrote letters in our own handwriting, and not in binary.
Some of you may know I have been working on a documentary entitled 'Island Bound' .
To find out more, and watch the trailer, click HERE!
Here's a photo of myself and Christy D of DAM at the gorgeous Gaiety Theatre during the festival!
It's a good job I love to travel.
I think I caught the bug from my father, he is a retired deep-sea commercial diver, and traveled all over for his job. From the tip of Scotland, all the way through the middle-east. I've seen the pictures. They kinda remind me of what I do. I also kinda look like him... It's uncanny actually.
I think I may also be one of those very few that actually likes being in an airport. I like being 'in-between' places. It gives you time to think about what lies ahead, or where you just came from. I will say, however, that airports tend to bring out the very WORST in normally ordinary, sensible, people. Why are you stopping right in the middle of the airport when there are literally HUNDREDS of people walking directly behind you? Spacial awareness, I think it's called. Pet peeve...
I never did understand people who don't like travel. My questions of "why?!" are usually met with predictable answers like the narrow-minded "because I have all I need here" or even the dreaded "I don't have the time". Travel isn't about replacing your home, don't feel threatened. I'm sure your home is lovely. It's about garnering a new perspective of it, perhaps a new appreciation of it. It's about understanding the world we live in, the world YOU live in. Your world cannot start and end at your hometown's city limits.
As far as 'not having the time'. You're only here once, and travel can be the most rewarding thing some of us will ever do. Not to mention the confidence boost. It's a lovely feeling being completely out of your depth, in an unfamiliar place, knowing you are going to be just fine. Look at college kids, or gap-year kids. They save up for a few months, and they have their round-the-world ticket in their hands. And experiences to last a lifetime.
We live in a beautiful oasis (and a 'Fragile Oasis', as Astronaut Ron Garan perfectly puts it), where no country is 'better' than another, no nationality above any other. No culture richer than the next. I feel an obligation to find out about as many of them as I can, to become as balanced an individual as I can be, to experience as much as I can, and to learn from as many people and places as I can.
I believe travel is the only way to truly learn.
I am totally hooked on the blog 'Brainpickings' . If you haven't checked it out, head on over to it NOW (click!). Be prepared, arm yourself with a big mug of tea and some biscuits. You shall be there a while.
The latest installment has some wonderful insight and wisdom from the author Anna Quindlen, including this lovely phrase that I shall leave you with;
'It’s so much easier to write a résumé than to craft a spirit.'
Love this photo of 'Ellie', my main guitar, taken by genius photographer, Phil Kneen
Ellie is a prototype to the 'violin guitars' (#2) that Paul Smith had built in 2007. It's got some cool quirks, no truss rod (but a really dark, solid Brazilian rosewood neck), a different neck shape (hand-carved by Paul) , and experimental 'bowling ball' lacquer, among other, more subtle, things. It quickly became Paul's main guitar that he'd bring to trade shows, clinics, and gigs with his band.
When Paul sat in with us at a show in Virginia a few years back he brought this guitar with him, and I fell in love with it. I played it for our entire first set, and when Paul came up to jam in the second set, he addressed the audience and told them it was 'now Davy's guitar'. I told him later that night that I couldn't possibly take his personal guitar. He smiled and said, "I can build another one, you can't" .
Ellie is the one guitar I come back to, can't put down, and has never let me down. I can't describe what it feels like as a musician to own that one instrument that is undoubtedly 'yours'.
Ellie is absolutely mine.