Letters From America Keep On Rockin’ In The Free World

From “Tash McGill”

Subject Letters From America Keep On Rockin’ In The Free World

Date Mon, October 11, 2004 9:01 pm

To tashmcgill@maxnet.co.nz

Ha! I hear you say.. that’s not a Dave Matthews Song… but technically it

counts for this email.. as you’ll figure out in a little while.

Sorry it’s been a little long between exciting updates.. but I’ve been so

busy out there in the world that I haven’t been anywhere near a computer.

So anyway.. we were up to the Architectural Rivier Tour of Cihicago. The

more the days drew on in Chicago, the more I fell in love with the city.

In all it’s colours and flavours. The river tour takes you through the

central parts of the city where the river has suffered at the hands of

industry. There’s not a single place along the river that you’d feel safe

to fall into .. the tour guide took pride in letting us know that the

status of the river had in fact improved from Toxic to merely Hazardous.

But it’s not the beauty of the river that’s meant to catch your eye.

Everything points up..

From the iron work on the raising bridges, to the architecture of steel

and glass, marble, granite, the transition from boxes to curves on

buildings.. everything draws your eye into what man has built alongside

the lake and river. And it’s nice to know where Sammy Sosa of the Corkied

Bat lives, as well as Oprah Winfrey. Also learnt a few old-time Chicago

stories.. like the start of the great fire that wiped out much of the city

in the 1800’s. The site of the barn has now been filled by the Chicago

Fire Acadeny. I’m not kidding. There is a sense of humour in Chicago. it

And as for it’s nickname, the Windy CIty.. it’s in fact due to it’s rich

and character-filled political history. More on Chicago legends.. there’s

Legends the bar and venue, which we drove past but didn’t go into, the

also famous Blue Chicago, that simultaneously exists in two places,

featuring some wicked acts in both. You want to be sure that you’re going

to the right one.

Also visited the Millenium Park, which sits on the shores of Lake

Michagan, and it makes me drool at the site of it’s outdoor arena sound

systems, and it’s aluminum sculpture that reflects the viewers and the

skyline of the city. Just across from there are two large LCD screens

encased in glasss brick towers, reflecting the brick of the city all

around. They play constant video footage of faces, smiling and staring at

one another across a shallow pond.

As they play, there are those young and old that pretend to be Jesus

walking on the water, splashing in the edges and waiting with anticipation

for the spitting tactics of these strange projections. It acts like a

fountain of sorts, but conveniently syncs with the video to produce the

spitting effect. Watching those who weren’t paying attention get soaked

was completely worth the wait.

A 180 degree turn has you facing across the street, to penthouse bars..

but more significantly, buildings where the brick and plaster facades are

starting to fade from their glory. Pieces missing from cornerstones,

window arches and decorative pieces give you a sense that this city is old

enough to deserve a little TLC around the edges. Maybe that’s the heart of

the reflective sculpture.. simply that the art and beauty of Chicago is to

be found in mirroring back her own image.

And that was just one Saturday.. here’s the rock’n’roll part.

Sunday the 3rd of October I flew to Detroit to catch an American political

rally, with My Morning Jacket, Jurassic 5, Ben Harper and the Innocent

Criminals and Dave Matthews Band. It was the most stunning experience.

It began as I flew into Detroit, home of the Big THree car manufacturers.

This is a blue collar, working class city. Those wearing white collar in

executive jobs live up to an hour outside the city and commute each day,

but the heart of the city lives on a factory clock, it gets up early,

relaxes hard and is a constant production force. I had a tour guide/cab

driver on the to the Palace.. who filled me in on the ethnic, political

and social history of Detroit, as well as himself. So we traded views and

ideas on Kerry, Bush and Hillary Clinton, and his own personal history.

We talked about the importance of the family name, and he let me know that his first ancestor off the boat from Sicily was named Joseph Barroni.

Consequently, to this day, he has 22 first cousins and one brother named

Joseph Barroni. He lucked out, and his parents named him Larry.

The show was incredible. For those that care, I was in the first floor,

sitting in the corner, so had an amazing view of backstage and the whole

front piece, as well as the light show and the screens. It was actual

perfect. No one in Detroit could understand my accent, but it really was

amazing. As a stage manager, I was in love with the crowd illuminators

that weren’t blinding, and the revolving stage. Dave broke 3 guitar

strings and had his tech working all night, with the exception of two

tracks, there was a guitar change between every song.

There are some little rituals that you don’t read about in interviews, or

see on DVD’s. Like the nod and handshake between Carter Beauford and DM after each track, or the particular grin when they nail something. It was amazing.. and then it got better.

Here’s where it all comes together.. Keep On Rockin’ In The Free World,

totally counts as a DMB song for the night because they played it. And

they played it with Neil Young. Live and In Concert, guitar solos

abounding, Neil’s gray hair was bobbing all over the stage. Talk about a

triple decker bonus. I was dying. I really couldn’t breathe. Only some of

you will understand the depth of my experience. That’s okay. Don’t feel

bad, just go and spend some time reading and listening in the Borders

Music Library to get a vibe for the mega influence of this artist.

So after the show.. I caught a shuttle back into downtown Detroit with a

Russian/Palestinian cab driver. Yeah. It was an interesting conversation

as well. He had spent 7 years in London and chose to live in Michigan

because of the climate.

From downtown Detroit, I caught the 12.45am Greyhound back to Chicago. The homeless guys hang out in the bus shelter until the last bus leaves (mine) and make conversation with weary travellers. There were collections of young guys listening to homemade mixtapes heading to find jobs in Chicago, women travelling to visit family, a couple of tranvestites.. and who knows what they were travelling for. A couple were in the rear of the bus making a valiant effort at concieving their 2nd child whilst the first slept. The bus rollled on through the night, finally delivering me back into downtown Chicago at 5am. I made it home via cab and train by about 6am.

Worth it? Hell yes. The quintessential American experience rolled into

fourteen perfect hours.

There were some scary moments, and moments where joy and emotion were riding so high that I didn’t have words. The loneliest part was just not

being able to share it, in the wordless way of eye contact and smiles that

you share an experience with someone. But maybe you want to find someone to share an experience with, and relive the setlist, enclosed below for your enjoyment.. I suggest a decent merlot or suitable beverage, some soft lights, turning the phone off and soaking in the goodness.

Sunday Oct 3 2004

Palace of Auburn Hills

One Sweet World


Don’t Burn The Pig

Joy Ride

Song That Jane Likes

(Extended Intro)

Don’t Drink the Water

Tripping Billies

Hello Again


Sugar Will

All Along The Watchtower

Cortez The Killer

Rockin in the Free World


What Would You Say

Too Much

— Oh… then I went on another voyage.. that’s next. Stay tuned.


Letters From America: Satellite

Well, I’m here… Music City USA. It’s Nashville, Tennessee and it’s gorgeous.

But first… there’s a few more adventures.

I left Chicago on Tuesday, and as the rest of the team were leaving to head back to NZ, I was in Indianapolis. Home of speedway, big trucks, corn, horses.. in fact, just about anything to do with money, speed and racing. But the reason I was there was much more important.

My uncle has been in Indianapolis for 14 years, and a couple of years in Iowa before that. And it was the first time in ten years that we were seeing each other face to face. I was so excited and nervous.. not sure how it would go. Lots of family stuff had happened in the last few years.

But everything was cool. Strange and awkward at first.. when you all of a sudden have to transfer the 14 year old girl memories into 24 year old woman thoughts and conversation. But before too long we got used to each other again. He has a particularly dry sense of humour that now I recognize in some of the people that I love… and now I know where I found my penchant for that sense of humour. Bingo.. so many questions answered!! Uncle John just doesn’t suffer fools .. and so one of the most frequent phrases you’ll hear is ‘They’re not right’. Sometimes if it’s a particularly perplexing situation, that’s closely followed by ‘Not even close’. Needless to say, catching up with family news and various aspects of life, involved lots of those phrases. Lots of laughs.

Uncle John surprised me with the coolest trip ever. Only in Indianapolis for one night, then he took me to Florida!! Land of warmth and humidity. But good humidity. It was great. Seafood every night, margaritas every night, in every flavour. He and Valerie took me to Universal Studios, lots of shopping and then Downtown Disney. We had an amazing time getting lost in the Disney store as I laboured over Pooh Bear gifts for my sister. And Si.. you’ll die.. we came out of the restaurant next door to House of Blues at about 11, only to see that Joe Satriani had been playing there that night. AGHHH! But you can’t have too many great shows in one trip before you start losing friends back home… so. Yeah. Florida was great. It was too soon to leave, and too soon to leave John and Valerie.

We went home to Indianapolis to meet my friend Danielle. We drove out to a friend, Dean’s place and hung out with his horses and puppies, before heading out to meet Danielle, Aaron and Allison. Dean’s son is also a big DMB fan, and was actually at the Detroit concert that I was at.. he made me some CD’s. I like Indianapolis.

We met Dani and Co. at Mama Carolla’s Old Fashioned Italian Restuarant. An amazing restaurant and amazing to meet her face to face at last. The restuarant is old stucco, orginally built as a showhome to model the California/Mexican/Italian style of house that they were trying to introduce into the area. Filled with Fairy lights and soft furnishings, it was like dining in some romantic movie scene and the food was great.

Dani said I wasn’t as short as she was expecting, so as you can imagine, we are getting along great. We sat up last night, catching up .. and it’s felt as natural as can be. So we stayed another night at my uncle’s and left Indianapolis at about 6.45am. Uncle John even got up at that time to say goodbye, so Mum says that he must have enjoyed having me there. I’m pretty stoked about that because we’re already working on the list of things that I have to do next time I come. Family is too important.

The whole way down from Indy to Nashville, I was teary. I wasn’t sure if it was just the beauty of the sunrise over the fall leaves on the trees, or the lack of sleep and caffeine, or just the sadness of feeling such immense joy at reconnecting with my uncle, only to turn around and leave again.

Here’s something I was thinking today looking at those fall leaves turning though. It’s the way that life ought to end.. the end of a leaf is glorious. It’s brightest colour, it’s most dramatic impact. Those final moments are just glorious, and that’s how life ought to end for us.

We drove straight through Kentucky today, and then did a tour of Franklin, which is where Daniellle lives. Tomorrow we’ll tour through downtown Nashville, maybe even the Country Music Hall of Fame and some vintage guitar stores. You gotta look and dream, right? The Les Paul goldtop is huge here right now, so as long as I’m looking for anything but that, I’m sweet.

Should head to bed soon I think.

I hope that things are going well for y’all.