Indianapolis-Kansas City 27, 28, 29 August

27 August

We decamped Toronto this morning, everyone having had a good stay int that great city. Natalie is our new flight attendant and she’s already hit a homer with platters of fantastic sushi for lunch. Tonight’s show in Indianapolis os at the Murat Theatre, a Shriner’s temple built in 1910 and a very intimate theatre seating 2,500. Good memories of past gigs here. My daughter and her family live in Indy and came to tonight’s show arriving in time for me to take my grandkids up on stage prior to the show and let them look out across the footlights to see what I see. Also joining tonight was my old friends Frank Dean and LuAnn Lancton. I’ve always had a soft spot for Indianapolis and even more so now that my daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren live here. The audience was spectacular right from the opening of the show, a standing ovation that didn’t settle down for the first three or four songs. It was the kind of audience that is so welcoming you don’t even think about what your playing, you are simply playing. When you hit that “mindless” zone it is really what it’s all about. We all hit it tonight. On the last song I finally found my family in the audience and both of those kids were still awake far past their bedtimes and beaming at me. Nothing beats that… nothing. Unfortunately we’re not staying the night in Indy but flying on to Chicago so I won’t see them all again until the tour wraps. Natalie came through again with perfectly made gin and tonics with loads of fresh lime along with meat loaf, mushroom gravy and mashed potatoes, served, devoured and cleared in the 39 minutes it took to fly from Indianapolis to Chicago. We gained an hour on the clock in the process thus arriving in Chi-town prior to wheels up in Indy.

28 August

A one hour flight this afternoon from Chicago to Kansas City, Missouri and tonight’s show at the Arvest Bank Theatre at The Midland. Opened in 1927 as The Midland Theatre, it is a shining example of how ornate and artful movie theatres used to be in that golden age. The venue seats 2,300 with an additional 200 standing at the very top tier balcony…. the nose bleed section as Neil Diamond used to call it. Our Graeme Blevins and Tom Walsh made a pilgrimage to the grave of native son and alto saxophone be-bop legend Charlie Parker. On their return I asked Graeme (our sax man) if he’d brought a few extra reeds along to throw on the grave for Charlie. As usual for these old theatres, cramped quarters backstage. Tonight’s venue contracted catering left lots to be desired. You’re really in trouble when you walk into the dining area and it smells like the steamed food you were offered in your high school cafeteria. The salad was too tired looking to even bother with. An industrial warming container filled with what was supposed to be chicken fried steak also some very overly cooked and soggy asparagus, rice with spaghetti sauce and mushrooms??? and a few other atrocities. I poked at a few things but never really ate any of it. Very often this is the typical American catering. As for the show and K.C. audience, that’s another story. A wonderful stage to play on and a grand sold-out reception. Back to the plane after the show and once air borne platters of Kansas City barbecue were served…. ribs, chicken and smoked sausages with b.b.q. bean and potato salad. A nice light late-night snack. I know all about regional allegiances to barbecue, it’s not unlike being loyal to your sports team. Memphis, Alabama, Texas, the Carolinas, Georgia…. all have their own distinct styles of this smoked delicacy and K.C. is no different in that regard and just as delicious.

29 August

It’s down to the last couple of days in August, I can’t believe how quickly this year is flying by and particularly this North American leg of the tour. Today’s a day off in Chicago. Up to the rooftop gym again that overlooks skyscrapers and Lake Michigan. Followed by a “Char Dog” at Downtown Dog on Rush Street. Real deal Chicago-style Vienna hot dogs on poppy seed buns with fluorescent green pickle relish, onions and mustard. If you choose to put ketchup on your hot dog that’s your business but I would ask for it that way as you’re libel to be tossed out onto Rush. The Char Dog is just that, cooked ’til the outside is blackened and crisp. Right next door is another favourite hang out, Pippin’s Tavern. Nothing quite like sitting in a dark tavern in the middle of the day drinking a pint of Smithwick’s. From there it was down the Magnificent Mile… Michigan Ave. Shopping is the preferred sport down this street and I obliged three of my fave stores leaving skid marks on my VISA card in each… H&M, Zara and Express. Shoes, shirts, jackets… a new wardrobe as I’m sick and bloody tired of what I’ve been carrying around in my suitcase for not only this tour but the same old tired stuff for previous tours too. As someone who never gets rids of things that still fit, these new additions to my suitcase then closet can look forward to at least another 30 years of non-stop action as long as I don’t put any weight on. My clothes will wear out before I do. Shopping done there was only one thing to do… a pre-dinner martini in the hotel bar which is far too inviting with perfectly concocted potions. It was a fuck-off band dinner tonight at still another Chicago haunt, The Capital Grille. A CAPITAL idea and I hope my doctor isn’t reading these notes. A tenderloin filet and lobster tail with truffle oil fries and plenty of health giving red wine. A perfect day off.

Richard Bennett