Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Entering Canada with a Guitar is a Red Flag

Stuck in Niagara Falls after being denied entry into Canada
Being declined crossing a border is like being declined for credit. Once you are declined, you keep getting declined. In fact, one of the standard questions at the border is "Have you even been denied entry into Canada before?". Like with bad credit, the gatekeeper doesn't view your circumstance from a fresh perspective but rather, from a lens that is tainted.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


photo by Stephany Yantorn
After being denied entry into Canada, which I'll expand on in the next post, I find myself back in NYC. I am at Penn Station waiting for my final train in about 4 hours. Sleeping is not allowed in Penn Station but using the internet is. And so, I'll take this time to share s photo journal of the past week.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Philadelphia, Jersey Shore, and the Milkboy

Jersey Shore
I reunited with about 20 of my South African cousins in Philadelphia. From when we grew up in Johannesburg together to present day, we went from visiting each other every few days to seeing each other every few years. The addition of a last minute show at the Milkboy in Philadelphia was mostly an excuse for a stop in Philly for a little reunion. The Milkboy is a cool little joint in the suburbs, but it is also one of those venues that feels it's being generous by giving a performer one free beverage and letting them put out a tip jar. Almost the entire audience were relatives of mine, which makes a tip jar somewhat awkward, but I've learned to adjust to many different situations and be flexible.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


It is hard to imagine a place as lush as Virginia after leaving a desert that is
going on 10 months without a drop of rain

Playcation is the word I am using for a leisurely music tour routed to places and people I want to see. I may not earn very much, but I have a perpetually paid vacation, with a healthy amount of hard work mixed in.

The last couple of days, I stayed with my friends Keleigh and Thomas, who live part time in Terlingua Texas.

The secret hot springs in Big Bend with Keleigh and Thomas.
Niko and Jana Laven sit in at
Oddfella's in Floyd, Virginia.
Serendipidly, mutual musical mates, Niko and Jana Laven (Mother/Son duo) were touring through at the same time. And so we all became the house band for a house concert in Roanoke, Virginia on Thursday where the entire staff of the Roanoke Food Coop were present and contributed gourmet delights. Friday found us all in Floyd Virginia, where the Texas troubadours helped me fill my 4.5 hour set.  The tiny town of Floyd has more going on per capita than any place I've ever rolled through. Our Friday night show was a full house, in spite of the famous Country Store Friday night concert  down the road.  And I had the best Chimichangas I've ever Virginia.

Back on the train, I tried to convince the snack dealer to let me use my own coffee mug, but he explained that Amtrak verifies the amount of coffee beverages sold from the amount of disposable cups missing from their inventory at the end of a shift. This protocol doesn't fit with their campaign to use the train as a greener form of travel. It is also incongruent with their their substantial efforts to provide recycling bins on board. But I needed the coffee. 

The Floyd pickers
And now my playcation takes me to Philadelphia, after 6.5 hours on the train, where I will reunite with 20+ South African cousins. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

the susTRAINable Tour is Launched

I am a couple of days into my train journey. I have 12 shows in 15 days, and the Amtrak is my portal to the shows. These first train segments are the long ones, but there is no hurry. It is not time lost, like when driving. On board there is a restaurant, a lounge, and plenty of space to walk around while the world streams by outside the windows. It is a good time to relax or be productive. With a 15 day train pass, each day on the train costs me $26, not bad considering the distance traveled. And I don't have to worry about unexpected car troubles. 

My first exit off the train was in New Orleans. I walked a mile to Canal Street to catch the streetcar. And this is when I realized that I may be carrying too much stuff. Besides my guitar, I am also equipped with a small amplifier, a mic stand, a sleeping bag, music cables, food, and clothes. I'll have to play around with redistributing the weight, or consider unloading a few things. I dropped my things off at Chickie Wah Wah and then took the streetcar to the French Quarter, a nice glimpse of how American cities could be if character and architecture were emphasized instead of speed and efficiency.