28. July Friday

I leave the hotel around 7:20AM to go to Cafe Sierra on Lorna Street where I have a delightful strong latte (two shots of espresso). At 8:00AM I get picked up at the hotel and taken to a TV station. After getting the gloss of my facial skin expertly reduced and before the TV interview starts I conduct a brief phone interview with a radio station in Wellington using the NZ tour manager’s mobile phone. I am asked Why Flamenco and use the opportunity to mention the history of Flamenco, the Oud, Rahim AlHaj and our ListeningLounge…

The TV interview that follows also gives me the opportunity to mention the ListeningLounge and the upcoming One Guitar CD. Then back to the hotel and on shuttle busses with everyone else to the airport to fly to Wellington where we will play the last concert of this tour. Tomorrow we fly home: Wellington-Auckland-Los Angeles-Albuquerque… I might sleep for three days until we leave on Thursday for the concert in Colorado. Ah, we will travel on the bus again – how wonderful.
St. James Opear House Wellington - 4
The St. James Opera house in Wellington has great character. It is a building from the 1920s which has a stage that is slightly tilted towards the audience. For a brief time theater designers thought it clever to tilt stages so that the audience might be able to see the actors’ feet… but it was impossible and even dangerous for any dancers of course and the practice was soon dropped. I remember the feeling of pitching forward in my chair all night… 1996 we performed here I believe.
St. James Opear House Wellington - 4

Everyone is very tired, but the performance turns out well. Afterwards I sign in the lobby. A Russian brings 10 CD booklets and the DVD for me to sign and tells me that we have fans in Moscow. A young Austrian tells me he is visiting from Vienna where he attends the Music school. There are even recently immigrated Mexicans in the audience.

27. July Thursday

New Zealand Air allowed me to carry my guitar into the cabin and stow it on the flights from L.A. to Auckland and again from Auckland to Melbourne, but unfortunately I may not do that on the flight from Perth to Auckland – even though there is plenty of space. We have been talking about a February/March 2008 return to Australia and New Zealand to do solo performances, and I will have to research how I can protect my guitar more during the flights. I have not had any trouble flying with my guitar in the USA since I switched to the Accord case and maybe there is hope that Quantas and NZA will become more sensible in time. BTW, Quantas employees told me that they do allow guitars in softbags into the cabin, but apparently NZA does not have the same rule since this morning I saw (and heard) a NZA baggage handler bring the guitar of a fellow traveler, which was in a softbag and had been denied the cabin, to the baggage claim area. He dropped it on the floor with a thud that spoke of wood hitting stone…

Our flight arrives in Auckland at 6:10AM local time which feels like 2:10AM Perth time to us… After the carnets are signed by customs we leave for the hotel and watch the sun rise.
Sunrise Arrival in Auckland - 1
Check out THIS Internet access rip-off in the CityLife Hotel in Auckland. I would reach 50MB by uploading just 15-20 photos to Flickr. But, I am told that internet access is not really expensive here and that people pay about the same for broadband in their homes and we do in the States. It’s just the hotels that charge unbelievable sums.

Jon and I have a wonderful lunch at Mezza (?) on Durham Street. In fact I enjoy it so much that I return for dinner – nice caipirinha, too!

Tonight’s performance is in Auckland’s Town Hall, which has a lovely organ and room for a large choir – hence the steps behind the stage:
Townhall Auckland - 2
After the performance I sign again and meet a young couple from Iraq who tell me that we have fans there.

26. July Wednesday

Australian newspapers report today that Japan slaughtered 1,092 whales in the past arctic summer, including 226 pregnant ones. Many were killed while nursing baby whales, which were often left to die on their own. Not very clever, is it, killing the next generation as well? This must be stopped at once. Japan claims they kill whales for scientific research, but this is not killing a handful of animals. 1,092 is an unacceptable number and we all should be ashamed for allowing it to happen! Please leave any info you might have about organizations that effectively fight the Japanese whaling industry in the comments. Note: anyone can comment, but comments will only show up once approved, which can sometimes take a day or two.

About the loss of a species Gary Snyder writes in The Practice of the Wild:

The extinction of a species, each one a pilgrim of four billion years of evolution, is an irreversible loss. The ending of the lines of so many creatures with whom we have traveled this far is an occasion of profound sorrow and grief. Death can be accepted and to some degree transformed. But the loss of lineages and all their future young is not something to accept. It must be rigorously and intelligently resisted.

And later he writes:

Hundreds of million years might elapse before the equivalent of a whale or an elephant is seen again, if ever. The scale of loss is beyond any measure the planet has ever known. “Death is one thing, an end to birth is something else”

In the morning: walk across the bridge to a park that has a handful of Western Gray Roos.
Just as we get to the park, rangers arrive to feed the animals and invite us to join them. When moving slowly the kangaroo actually uses the tail like a third leg and lifts itself forward. Very useful appendage.

Next we walk into the city centre and have a late breakfast.

I like THIS sign and THIS is funny, too.

Five PM lobby call. We will fly to Auckland overnight and will arrive there Thursday morning. That evening we will perform in Auckland.

International Fund for Animal Welfare has THIS on whaling.
Greenpeace Save the Whales.
Whaleman: Stop Japanese Whaling.

25. July Tuesday

We have a show at the Burswood Theatre in Perth.
Beautiful venue and audience. We make more changes to the second half of the concert and start with This Year Release 10,000 Butterflies (solo), followed by Jon’s Northbound from Transit 2 and Stephen’s Thira, which is the title track of his upcoming CD. After the concert: meet and sign in the lobby. A couple of people separately express how much my music helped them while they were in a hospital with heart surgery and after a car accident. This means a lot to me. Critical praise is nice, but what’s better than being able to lift a person’s spirit!

24. July Monday

Travel day: flight from Adelaide to Perth. This time I can’t even hand-carry my guitar to the gate and when I see the case again in Perth it is dripping wet. Luckily the guitar is well protected and dry. To me it says a lot when people don’t care about musical instruments. Jon thinks musicians should be able to receive a formal exception when on the way to a performance or audition. We should be able to place anything that fits in the overhead compartment or the closet.