New Plymouth, New Zealand
7:00 a.m. The most obnoxious sounding telephone I've ever heard rocketed me into the day. It was my good friend Phil Lee who'd probably miscalculated the time change from Nashville to New Plymouth, calling to say hello. We talked for a while and when we'd finished the adrenalin was still pounding away and so began the day. Coffee. They have different names here for various types and strengths of java. My fave is a 'flat white' which is a cafe latte with little to no froth, hence the flat and the white. I ordered a double strength but what they brought was just twice as much coffee in a soup bowl size mug. How ever you get it is OK. So, I'm humming along now on a cocktail of caffeine and adrenalin, nothing left to do but go to the gym. A great one just round the corner from the hotel, up a couple of flights of stairs and into a scene from a movie. A real no nonsense, no frills, Rocky Grazziano, sweaty gym with well worn weights, stationery bikes that looked like they'd survived the second world war and a punching bag that'd been hit more times than Joe Louis. The kind of gym where you'd imagine prize fighters training, medicine balls and that kind of thing. It wasn't all B-movie, there were plenty of mod things as well and it made for a great work out.
Took a walk around the city centre for a couple of hours, maybe only a square mile or so of downtown but it's the best little city right on the Tasman Sea, population 100,000. A beautiful sea side town with people out enjoying a Saturday afternoon. I stopped in a second hand store looking for 78 rpm records (one of many weaknesses) and the guy who owned the shop told me he was born here, had travelled all over the world and came back to New Plymouth because, "...it has it all" and I'm inclined to agree. The Mayor, who greeted us at the airport last night, has done a great job of making this beautiful town available for pop concerts as well as the film industry. Tom Cruise's film Last Summer was shot here. I stopped for a sandwich and a couple of New Zealand brewed Steinlager's in a restaurant with a view of the sea, sat outside in the sun while I ate taking it all in, the warmth, the water, people riding bikes on the promenade, dozens of sail boats making good use of the breeze. It's a day that makes you glad to have your feet on the planet.
An outdoor gig tonight in a wonderful wooded setting with an audience of nearly 8000, festival style seating and a small lagoon between the stage and the house. The evening cooled when we took the stage and launched into Why Aye Man with Guy changing away on Telecaster. The audience couldn't have been more appreciative. It was a smooth sailing show and the addition of Our Shangri-La was perfect for this night in this town.
Thanks New Plymouth for a day I'll always remember.