Hollywood, California

There's a coffee maker in my room and it's a welcome way to begin the morning. I was certainly mindful of what happened the last time I made a cup in a hotel room and very carefully got a jump start on the day. Went down to a small but well equipped gym here at the hotel and pounded it out for the usual 90 minutes after which I was absolutely ravenous. Walked outside and followed my nose to the first place I saw on the corner of Pico and Ocean: an outdoor restaurant with corrugated metal siding, tables and awning and a Cuban/Caribbean menu called Cha Cha Chicken. I ordered Ropa Vieja, beef that's been stewed with onions, tomatoes and peppers until it falls apart, served over rice and beans with fried plantain washed down with a guava/mango drink. It was a miracle on a plate, monstrously delicious, enough food to feed a small army for the princely sum of $14. From there it was a stroll up Main Street to Peet's Coffee with my old buddy Dennis St. John. Dennis and I used to do loads of record dates together in the early 1970s here in L.A. and played together in Neil Diamond's band for nearly ten years.

The midday trip from Santa Monica to Hollywood took an hour; the traffic's ridiculous. Hollywood itself is scarcely recognisable as the town I spent so many years working in. Apart from a few landmarks, the entire face of it has changed. The musician's union building, Capitol Records tower and Pantages Theatre (tonight's venue) have remained the same. The last time I was in the Pantages was for the filming of the final scene of The Jazz Singer with Neil Diamond in 1979. So many years ago it doesn't bear thinking about and could have been terribly depressing if it wasn't for our old pal Jim Cox being there to greet us. Jim is an exceptional keyboard player, a veteran of the Los Angeles studios and one of the grandest guys to walk the planet. Jim did the 1996 Golden Heart tour with us and has played on the Sailing To Philadelphia, Ragpicker's Dream, Wag The Dog, Shangri-La and All The Roadrunning albums. Always a joy to see him and we all had loads of catching up to do.

The stage of the Pantages felt great and the theatre sounds wonderful. The show was so confident, we've really hit our stride and the audience was outstanding. I'm still having a bit of trouble with the right hand having to make small adjustments how I play certain things but all in all I'm getting on just fine. I felt tremendously proud being on the stage of that legendary Hollywood theatre playing music.

So long,