I'm writing you from the floor-sleeping, multilingual global crossroads that is Kuala Lumpur International Airport, waiting for my flight to Taipei. Bram's already landed on Taiwan, and he'll have a few hours in the care of my old friend Calvin (who told me about that beautiful island in the first place) until we're reunited and running around the countryside on rented scooters! Wild, in-the-wind feelings have been visiting me for weeks now, when that old familiar timelessness peers out from everything, or I wake up and can't remember what country I'm in. Long, once-obscure arcs are closing to form circles. I get to show my longtime roadmate Bramwell around Taiwan! And though I can scarcely believe it, my decade-old dream of bringing Corin Raymond to my second home is finally coming true.
Bram and I were incredibly, overwhelmingly well taken care of down under. I spent our last days there in awe at just how much support and love has come our way. The festivals (Cygnet, Illawarra, and Newstead Live) were all such beautiful gatherings of the tribe, and plenty of the same folks showed up at more than one. Our Canadian pals JD Edwards and Cara Luft (aka the Small Glories), for example! And our new Tasmanian pal and powerhouse singer Claire Anne Taylor. And our fellow folksinging vagabonds in the Button Collective. And John John Festival, the Japanese trio who plays some of the best and truest Irish music you ever heard. And so many more beautiful, world-wandering humans.
Our first visit to Tasmania was amazing, not only for Cygnet, which is a sweet little town and a gem of a festival, and the couple days driving we did around that huge, wild island, but most of all for the way we closed it out, with an impromptu gig in the park set up by our new friends from a punk band called the Stragglers. We played around a public picnic shelter overlooking a beautiful grey-green reservoir, with the Stragglers, Teri Young, and Candice McLeod (below) warming things up, the barbecue sizzling, cockatoos squawking, kids goofing around, and magic in the air.
On our last night at Newstead Live (which, I must say again, really is one of the best festivals anywhere), after dancing around in goofy costumes to a DJ spinning fiddle tunes at the "Trad Disco", we sat down for a beautiful session among friends in the courtyard of the community hall, and though we were on the opposite side of the globe, we were home. The next day we got to play one of the last sets of the festival to a room full of smiling, beautiful people, most of whom bought CDs :) Then Liz Frencham, who played double bass with us and a mind-boggling assortment of other acts over the weekend (as she always does), won the Troubadour Foundation's Artist of the Year award! We were on top of the world. Then I drove away without my guitar, just to remind me that it's still a comedy of errors, even when it's a triumphant one. That it was still there when I got back was yet another in a long list of reasons to be grateful. Thank you, Australia. I'll be back soon, in the good company of Mr. Corin Raymond.
For now, though, I couldn't be happier to be returning to my second home, that beautiful island that taught me so much, with friends from the other side of the world! The dates are:
Wed Jan 31 - Taipei, TW - The Local Craft Beer House with Bramwell Park
Thu Feb 1 - Jungli, TW - Hop In with Bramwell Park
Sat Feb 3 - Taichung, TW - Repent Gallery (Praneeta Vaidya's art show opening)
Sun Feb 4 - Dakeng, TW - Hobo Happiness V at The Refuge with Bramwell Park, Tyler Dakin, Mike Filipowitsch, Pat Reid, Mr. Bo-Dacious & The BeatZ, Dave Stanley, Just Us, and Cannonball Statman
Wed Feb 7 - Tainan, TW - Funkoo with Bramwell Park
Thu Feb 8 - Kaohsiung, TW - Rocks with Bramwell Park and Cannonball Statman
Fri Feb 9 - Hengchun, TW - Goat Restaurant and Bar with Bramwell Park and 馬曉安
Sat Feb 10 - Taitung, TW - Tiehua Music Village with Bramwell Park
Sun Feb 11 - Hualien, TW - House concert with Bramwell Park and Paul Lawrence
Sun Feb 18 - Wai Ao, Yilan, TW - Drifters with Bramwell Park and Kathleen Nisbet
Tue Feb 20 - Hsinchu, TW- House concert with Bramwell Park, Kathleen Nisbet and Mike Mudd
Then at the end of the month, Corin Raymond flies in for a week or so on Taiwan, which is, as I said, a dream come true. We're going to visit the factory where our CDs get made, and meet Richard Huang, who we've both been dealing with for years but never seen. We're going to drive through some of the most beautiful country I've ever laid eyes on. And we're going to play a few shows, which will be announced real soon. Keep your eyes on my news page for those, and Australian tour dates too.
Alright, I've got a plane to catch. Sending lots of love to you all, wherever you may be, and looking forward to the next time our paths cross. Your ever-so-grateful friend,