Madison, Wisconsin 4/5 Nov. 2012

     4 November 2012

Another day off today.  This tour, like last year's with Dylan, has been a walk through the park with the amount of days off.  As it's Bob's tour, that's the way he likes it and we're happy to oblige.  I threw the curtains wide to a sunny, blue sky day and full-on view of Lake Michigan, not bad for starters.  I dragged myself into the gym for the usual 90 minutes of torture, showered and hit the pavement to find a little lunch.

Madison was quiet and closed, at least the part where we are staying near the capitol building.  I walked several blocks then turned a corner to find The Great Dane Brew Pub.  I was hungry and it was open so in I went.  It's a good sign when you can see all the brewing equipment and tanks within the pub itself. They had an amazing variety of beers that were brewed on premises.  I was pleased to see their German Pilsner, ordered it and have to say it was as good as any Bavarian beer I've had.  By some miracle on the menu was southwestern green chili with pork, not something easily found outside Arizona and New Mexico, most Mexican restaurants don't make it.  What's it doing in a brew pub in Wisconsin?  I couldn't not order it, fully expecting the worst.  A large steaming bowl arrived and it looked right.  I have to admit, it was as good as any I've had or made myself. Two thumbs up to The Great Dane in Madison, 123 E. Doty St.  www.greatdanepub.com.  Go there.

This afternoon was the big bowling tournament, band vs.crew.  I don't know who came up with it but several days ago a plan was hatched for our day off to reserve several lanes at a bowling alley in Madison, gather the band, crew and Bob's crew, throw in some beer and chicken wings and see what happens.  It was fantastic.  After everyone had a first game under their belts it all started coming back and many of us played four games.  It quickly shifted from competition to everyone cheering each other on no matter what their ability.  Our Guy F. has acquired all the electronic scores and is busily tabulating the results, but word has it Jim Cox was high scorer of the day.  None of that mattered, we couldn't have had a better time.  I've not bowled in at least thirty years and didn't do badly but should have quit after the third game, by the fourth I was knackered and couldn't even crack 100.  Most of Bob's crew came as well and we all had a load of fun and laughs.

Back at the hotel I sat down for a half hour and realised I was done in from the bowling but also starving.  Some of the guys were heading out for Italian, some to an Irish pub.  All I wanted was something close and delicious. Back to the Great Dane.  Several of our crew were already there crammed into a booth and spilling out so I was seated in another and quickly joined by bowling champ Jim Cox.  As good as their beer is, nothing soothes aching muscles like a couple of martinis followed by a Wisconsin dinner of bratwurst steamed in beer, sauerkraut and mashed potatoes. The Great Dane comes through again.

     5 November 2012

I hung out this morning with the President of the United States and Bruce Springsteen.  Yeah really, the Pres, the Boss and me... and 18,000 other people.  On this final day of the presidential campaign, Obama's first rally stop was here in Madison, in fact just outside the hotel about a half block away.  Of course it wasn't quite that easy.  Due to security the secret service prevented us from entering the rally that way, re-routing us around several blocks to clear security checks.  It was a brisk sunny morning and along with Pete and Ian, made our way into the rally.  From this point you could barely see the stage, but screens and speakers had been set up and simply being in the crowd hearing Obama speak was pretty cool.  It's a tight race and each candidate had a full day ahead of them.  Madison was the first of three rallies for Obama, pointing out that today was the last day he will ever campaign.  

This afternoon our friends and fellow musicians Pieta Brown, Bo Ramsey, Greg Brown and Iris DeMent all came to Madison from Iowa City to see our show tonight.  As it's difficult to visit with people at the venue, a luncheon was arranged at the hotel and it was good seeing them all and catching up.

It had been a full day even before we got to the Alliant Energy Center for tonight's show.  Alliant is an old arena going back to the 70s or 80s.  The audience in  Madison was wonderful and of course it was a home coming for Glenn Worf who hails from here.  Following our good show, Mark played a couple with Bob then we hit the highway for Minneapolis arriving at 3 a.m.  Tomorrow is... wait for it... another day off.

So long,

Richard