Saturday, March 03, 2018

Roadie Report 78 by Camilla McGuinn- "A Hurricane, A Flood, A Friend, A Fire and A Victory!...Part 2


We finished the three remaining Southern California dates with a different sense of purpose. Roger will always sing Tom Petty songs and tell the stories of meeting and touring with Tom. He hopes people will laugh, smile and quietly remember a truly gifted artist we were all blessed with for far too short a time.
The audiences at the Shannon Center at Whittier College, the Smother’s Theater at Pepperdine University and the Poway Center in Poway were very responsive to the Tom Petty’s songs and stories. Then it was time to head north to the Carriage House Theater at Montalvo Arts Center.
We arrived in Los Gatos the same time the smoke from the Napa fires reached the quaint town. Everyone was in a state of disbelief. Watching the fires on TV, we saw the entrance to the Napa neighborhood where we had once stayed at a friend’s house. The houses were gone. A frantic call to Adriene brought some relief. She had sold the house a few months before and was living in San Francisco. She was so sad for the present owners.
Then we emailed Chris and Connie Hillman to see how their son Nick was faring. He worked at a Napa vineyard. He told Connie that the harvest was finished before the fires began, so all was not lost.
One more frantic email needed to be sent. This email was   to our friend Linda whose sister lives in Napa. She told us that her sister and husband got out of their house in time with just the clothes on their backs.
 A few months later, the Hillmans managed to get out of their house in Ventura before The Thomas fire burned through their kitchen. Their house was the only one left standing on their street.
We’re praying a lot of prayers of thankfulness for the lives which were not lost and for “Beauty for Ashes” for those who have to rebuild and refurbish their memories.
Disasters seemed to be following us but it was only the rain and smoke that affected us… to this point. But I won’t leave you hanging now, I’ll give you a clue. The next strange thing brought us smiles. Remember the title ends in a “Victory”. That’s at the end of this story.
        Three days after Montvalo, Roger was performing at the Taylor-Meade Performing Arts Center in Forest Grove, Oregon.




The day after, we were invited for the Harvest Lunch at the Cristom Vineyard near Salem in the Willamette Valley wine region. I even got to be part of the grape harvest process – I pulled a leaf out of the grape bin. Roger even caught the moment on video.  I was so thrilled.


The owner was busy filling the oak barrels with wine while we had lunch with the winemaker, Steve and his family, the CEO, our old friend Steve Thomson and his wife Karen and the grape harvesters. I had a dream of joining in a grape harvest in France but to experience that day in Oregon was even better. I love that the Cristom grapes are allowed to ferment naturally without any designer yeast. I found out a few years ago that I am very allergic to designer yeast that many vineyards use to make sure they have a barrel that tastes the same every time.

A few unscheduled days before the next Kirkland, Washington concert, sent me on a quest to find a special place to relax. Just a few miles from the Cristom Vineyard was the Allison Inn and Spa in Newberg. Strolling and relaxing in the beautiful room and gardens of the Allison Inn added length to our lives. A relaxed attitude lengthens a man’s life. I read that in the Good Book.

The Kirkland Performing Arts Center sold out quickly to an enthusiastic audience. Heading south to San Francisco to celebrate my birthday after all the good shows made the drive even more enjoyable.

San Francisco has always been a favorite city of ours and I couldn’t think of a better place to spend my birthday. The Ritz Carlton even had a special, 4 nights for the price of three. Now that was a great gift.

I told Roger that there were places we haven’t explored in the city and since it was my birthday, we put on our walking shoes. The first adventure was Alcatraz. I tweeted that I was taking Roger to prison. We walked from the hotel to the harbor through crowded China town and caught the ferry to the island. There was a very steep pathway up to the prison and I wasn’t sure our knees would take it, but Roger insisted we persevere. The self guided audio tour took about an hour and it was a very good history lesson.

        Back in San Francisco we began the walk back up the steep hills to our hotel when I gave up and called Uber. I was exhausted and couldn’t wait to get back into the cool of the hotel lounge.




  Coit Tower was the next place I insisted we visit. Yep, we walked the two miles up the steep San Francisco hills to the tower. Fortunately when we finally made it to the entrance, there was an elevator to take us to the top.



At the top of the tower, Roger asked teasingly, “Now Camilla, are there any other walks you want to go on for your birthday?

I quickly laughed, “Yes, I want to walk back to the hotel.” I did try to order an Uber, but Roger was having fun encouraging me to fulfill all my birthday fantasies.

        The last hill was looming in front of us, when I saw the loading dock for the hotel halfway up the hill. A man was taking a break at the entrance and I approached him, “Is there an elevator that can take us to our room?” He smiled, “Follow me.” As he was taking us to the service elevator, he gave us a tour of the backstage area of the Ritz Carlton. We met the security officer, passed the Human Resources office and walked through a maze of halls. We got on the elevator and it stopped at the next floor. The concierge we had been talking to earlier got on. She was shocked when she recognized us. “What are you doing here?” “Oh, I was just applying for a job at the Human Resource office.” When we got to the lounge she told me to sit and she would bring me some cold ice tea. I think I probably looked like I had just climbed every hill in San Francisco. Wow, my husband is 9 years older and he looked great! He had champagne.

There was one more California date on the Central California coast where we used to live, The Clark Center for The Performing Arts in Arroyo Grande. The audience was filled with dear friends.

        California Highway 58 was the road we chose to head east to Texas. The route took us on the back roads of California. It was a beautiful, stress free drive. We had five days to get to Houston for the concert we had re-scheduled. SO… it was still my birthday tour and there was one place I have always wanted to visit – Roswell, New Mexico, the home of the International UFO Museum. I took Roger to prison; I might as well take him to meet Mr. Spaceman. 

      Roswell was a lot larger than I had imagined. It is the fifth-largest city in New Mexico, population 49,000- about the size of a Los Angeles suburb. A Hampton Inn and Red Lobster made it a perfect stopping place. 
 The UFO museum was funny and enjoyable to walk around but the real museum in Roswell is the Roswell Museum and Art Center because it has the workshop of the father of rocket travel, Robert Goddard. This museum is the real reason to go to Roswell. When the German scientists were being interrogated after World War II, one scientist asked the interrogators “Why are you asking me? Why didn’t you listen to Goddard? That’s where we learned everything about rockets.” Roger has always been scientifically minded but I jumped over that subject in school. This museum made me want to know more. We learned so much.


Now it was time to head to the victory I talked about earlier. The Houston Astros had made it to the World Series. The Los Angeles Dodgers were standing in the way of their victory. I used to go to Dodger games, so I was a bit torn as to whom to root for, but Houston needed something to celebrate after the floods. We were jumping on the beds after Houston won.
We got to the outskirts of Houston the day before Roger’s concert. I talked to a lady in the hotel who had been living there since the floods had destroyed her house. She wasn’t sad, she was exuberant! Her team had won the World Series and she was going to the victory parade! What we didn’t realize was that there was going to be a victory parade in downtown Houston on the day of Roger’s concert in downtown Houston.

I checked the schedule of the parade and tried to time our drive to the downtown venue to avoid the crowds. I got that right, but after unloading our equipment, the parade stopped and one million people were walking the streets. The roads to our hotel were blocked off. After circling the streets, Roger got out of the van and explained to the police officer, who was directing the flood of traffic, that our hotel was right behind her, but the way was blocked. She opened the path. At last we were at the hotel and needed to eat before the sound check. Well thousands of folks wanted to celebrate and eat. This was another problem, but I found a way to get us food and as we ate in our room, we felt like celebrating too. We were a part of celebrating Houston’s victory!

                                  Hey Mr. Spaceman!




                                                       
HOUSTON WE  HAVE.......
VICTORY!














































Sunday, January 14, 2018

Roadie Report 77 by Camilla McGuinn- "A Hurricane, A Flood, A Friend, A Fire and A Victory!... Part 1

    
     Hurricane Irma was moving up the coast of Florida after leaving destruction in the Caribbean. The time was approaching for us to hit the road for a two month concert tour and it looked like we were about to join hurricane evacuation traffic again. We had experienced hurricane evacuation traffic before because when concerts are booked we can't take the chance of all the lovely trees in our neighborhood blocking our exit for days. The idea of taking nine hours to get to the Georgia state line in bumper to bumper traffic held no peace with us. We waited to leave until the day before the wind was predicted  to touch our homestead. That decision is frowned upon by folks in the know but I noticed that all the coverage of destruction from the recent storms had the highways jammed for days.

     On September 9th, we loaded our equipment in the van and began driving around 10:am. As we drove onto the Florida Turnpike there wasn't a car or truck to be seen. It was the fastest drive to  Georgia ever. Several days before, I had reserved a hotel room in Valdosta, Georgia. When I was checking in, the desk attendant would answer the constantly ringing telephone with, " We have no vacancies. Valdosta is booked for the night."  The elevator to our room was filled with people. I asked one man where he was from.
"Orlando."
"When did you get here?"
"Yesterday. It took nine hours."
I said a silent prayer of gratitude.

     The next morning, we took the back roads to Montgomery, Alabama. The local radio was reporting school closures. The storm was right behind us.

     We made it to Paducah Tuesday afternoon listening to the weather warnings all the way north. We haven't stayed in Paducah for years because we weren't very impressed the first time we stopped there. The Tennessee and Ohio rivers have a tendency to flood at that junction. The city erected a very high wall to keep the flood waters off the streets and out of the houses.

That seemed to take away some of the beauty but during this stop we saw a town that was revitalized, quaint and a delight to walk around. There was a new hotel downtown and lots of restaurants and antique stores. Our early dinner at Shandies was prepared especially for us by the chef who stopped by our table and asked us if there was anything we wanted. I wanted to combine a few menu items and take away a few others.

The chef knew exactly what to do. Wow...Paducah had changed a lot in the ten years we had been passing by.

    We were taking our time getting to Minneapolis because Hurricane Irma made us leave earlier than necessary. We arrived very relaxed, though a bit concerned about our home. Our neighbors were in touch. Even though the power was out for three days, Mia our 13 year old neighbor next door, figured out that they could talk to us on the battery powered  "Ring Doorbell." The only problem, they rang the bell just when we were at a pit stop. I checked my phone video and saw two young girls saying, "Hello, hello." It turned out the other young girl was Mia's mother. I think that says I'm getting older... well we were celebrating my 66th birthday on this tour.

  
   The Pantages Theater in Minneapolis is beautiful. Just the type of theater in which Roger loves to perform his one man play. The next concert was at the beautiful Stefanie H. Weill Center for the Performing Arts in Sheboygan WI. This theater is run by two staff members and a whole town of wonderful volunteers. I loved hearing about their special events.

     We stayed at the historical, "The American Club." This hotel was built by Walter J. Kohler in 1918 to house the immigrant laborers who came to work at the Kohler Co. The garden was being prepared for a wedding when we arrived. There is a museum next door but we didn't have time to explore it. I'm definitely going to make time when we get another chance. A museum of Kohler kitchen and powder rooms...of okay...bathrooms. Thrones everywhere!
I love kitchens, cooking and the thought of remodeling our bathroom.

     I was real excited about our next special stop. We were staying in Natchitoches and they finally got a hotel downtown. As the GPS was navigating us to our hotel address, Roger commented that he thought Natchitoches was in Louisiana not Texas. My mouth dropped open. It is in Louisiana! Where did I book our hotel?

     The Fredonia Hotel is in Nacogdoches, TX. Well with the names spelling so close, anyone could make a mistake like that! We arrived early enough to explore the town. As we were cooling off  from the hot weather, the locals helped clear up the mystery.

     Natchitoches and Nacogdoches were indigenous American twin brothers. Their father pointed one east and the other west so they wouldn't fight with each other. Two towns were born. That's their story and they're sticking to it.

     The Houston Theater was scheduled for September 21st but the promoter agreed with me that a flooded town probably wasn't in the mood for a concert, so we rescheduled it for November 3rd. It would be on our way home from the two month west coast tour. There is more to tell about that night in part two of this blog.

     Austin wasn't affected by the hurricanes, so we headed to the Lady Bird Lake (formerly called Town Lake) hotel where we could see folks gather in the evenings to watch the bats.
One night of bat watching ... then it was time for the Paramount Theater concert.

     There is a lovely drive from Austin to Fredericksburg Texas where we always love to stop at the Hampton Inn & Suites so we can walk to the Navajo Grill for dinner. I've written about this before.

     Driving through Texas is fun! It is the wild west and the speed limits go up to 85 miles an hour. Our Ford Transit conversion van handles the curves and speeds like a sports car.

     We had a week before the next concert in Aliso Viejo, CA and since this was my birthday tour, I booked a hotel I have always wanted to stay in, The Ritz Carlton in Laguna Niguel.
We had two days to enjoy the views and our new friends Terry and Kevin. We met them over hor d'oeuvres and became fast friends. They are even from a town I went to school in, Cary, North Carolina. We had fun reminiscing about Ashworth's Drug store's hotdogs.

     We migrated to Aliso Viejo on the day of the concert and were delighted with the enclave where our hotel was located. So much so, we decided to spend another night there. Then we did something we seldom do ... we went to a movie theater. Usually we avoid them because it was invariable that someone behind us would be coughing and a cold for a singer can be devastating. We saw "American Assassin". Very unrealistic but a touch of the James Bond flavor, so a sequel must be coming.

     The Ruth B. Shannon Center for the Performing Arts at Whittier College was our next concert venue. We checked into the hotel the day before the concert. As I was checking my email, I gasped. A friend was sending condolences about Tom Petty.

      We didn't know what had happened, so we immediately began reaching out to people who might know.

     It took awhile. The initial reports were wrong. Tom had not died but he did a while later. We couldn't believe it. My email was inundated with interview request wanting comments about Tom, but that was the last thing Roger wanted to do. He wanted to reflect on the life of his friend quietly.

     Roger did want to talk to Chris Hillman. Chris had just finished recording with Tom and was on the road. When we connected with him, he was devastated and wanted to cancel his tour. Roger told him that Tom would not have wanted him to cancel his tour but to go on stage as a tribute to Tom.

     I reflected on sitting backstage at a table with Tom during the Songwriters Hall of Fame ceremony. Tom had invited Roger to induct him into the Hall of Fame and sing "American Girl" for the ceremony. Tom and I talked about some of the silly fads going around but when he talked about his granddaughter, Everly, his eyes lit up. I was so sad to think that Everly would never get to fully experience the depth of his love for her. I was also sad thinking about Dana, Adria, Kim and all the people who were very important parts of the vast Petty machine. There is a great empty hole in the universe now and in our hearts.

     Roger has often had a segment in his concerts with a Tom Petty set. It includes stories and songs of their first meetings and touring together. From now on those songs and stories will always be in Roger's concerts. He will always celebrate the life and music of his dear friend.


To be continued.....

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Farewell My Friend by Roger McGuinn

My last night playing with Tom. June 2016 NYC
Before there were books, music recorded our history.

Tom Petty was a historian.

He didn't just write songs. He wrote about the stories, people, and cultures of our times and then he put it all to music.

When he wrote a song, he flew up to the great wide open, caught an idea and would come free falling back to earth. Then he did it again. I know, I had the privilege of writing with him once.

His songs are movies for our imaginations and longer than 4 words. His every verse a diamond and every chorus gold.

His music will always be with me and all of us.

The guitar strap I'm wearing is the one Tom gave me. He wore it in the "Free Fallin'" video.



Rehearsal Backstage NYC June 2016

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Roadie Report 76 by Camilla McGuinn - 75 Years - His Gentle Walk of Faith

July 24, 2017 at the WoodSongs taping.


Almost 40 years ago my life changed.

On New Year’s Day 1978, I woke up in Puerto Vallarta on the Wind Rose, my brother’s trimaran. We had been sailing from San Diego and were planning on continuing for months. But, it was time for me to go back to Los Angeles. There was no credit card or airline ticket in my pocket, but I was on a mission. I was going home.

It was a little strange to be drawn to "home." I didn't have a home.  I had recently left a two year relationship and quit my job at Playboy. I was either going to succeed in acting or starve. It was the kindness of others and their vacant guest rooms that put a roof over my head and the occasional dinner with friends that fed me.

My brother rowed me to shore. There was a hotel at the dock and a mother and daughter waiting for a taxi. I asked them if I could pay for half the ride to the airport but the mother said to just get it, it was on her.

At the airport, I walked up to an airline desk, smiled and asked if there were any seats available to Los Angeles. The desk attendant looked at me like I was nuts. This was New Year’s Day and everyone was trying to go home, but he sighed and began typing. All of a sudden, he shook his head, “A seat just opened on the next flight and it is a window seat.” I gave him some of the remaining cash I had. That seat was mine.

The plane circled Los Angeles and the layer of smog was the same brown it had been when I left it over a month ago, but something was different. I kept thinking, “My life is about to change.”

A series of events took me to an acting class where Roger was beginning the same night. I did write about the meeting in a previous blog, but I didn’t write about the life changing moment.

We were assigned to do a scene together. Part of the motivation was that he had to convince me of something I didn’t want. The night of the exercise, two chairs were put center stage. Roger pulled out his guitar and began playing. That did bug me. How was I supposed to compete with a musician? Pets, children and musicians are the definitive way to have a scene stolen.

He stopped playing, looked at me and asked if I would like to learn how to play the guitar.
“ Sure.”
“Okay, but you have to cut your finger nails on your left hand.”
“No problem.” I was smiling at myself. This was not going to get me upset. I wasn’t a girly-girl and finger nails were not important to me.

Then he pulled out his Swiss Army knife and began cutting my fingernails. I’m still secretly smiling. No reaction from me. He was losing this exercise.

He showed me a couple of chords and I awkwardly played them. Then he took the guitar back and said, “Let me play you a song.”

He began playing and singing a song the Byrds had recorded on “The Sweetheart of the Rodeo” album in 1968. When he finished the song he asked me if I liked it.

“Not particularly. It’s too country for me.”

“Well, what did you think of the words?”

Then it hit me! The song was “I like the Christian Life.” He was going to try to tell me about Jesus on stage in front of the acting class!

“How long have you been into Jesus?” I demanded with a very terse tone in my voice.

“A couple of months.” He quietly replied.

“Well give it a few more months and you will get over it.” Then I stood up and left the stage and stood seething in the back of the workshop as the students in the acting class all broke out into applause  and said: “Wow that was great! It was like a scene from Tennessee Williams.”

That was the beginning of the change. A week later I suggested we go to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to work on our scene. I was stuck with this long hair musician. One of the few rules I had in my life was not to date musicians, but I had to find a way to work with him. Little did I know that the first room we walked into was an exhibition of the Crucifixion of Jesus. My attitude was less than humble, but after studying the first three paintings I had an epiphany about my life. I had given up on love. Love was someone else’s fantasy, but all of a sudden I realized that I didn’t have the author of love in my life. I didn’t even want to hear His name for the past ten years. A verse I had learned as a child kept looping through my head:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son and whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

I hit the side of my head, hoping to knock those words out of my mind, but as I looked at the painting, I realized it was time for this prodigal child to go back to the love of Jesus. I had a strong feeling that if I didn't do it then, I was going to be in big trouble in the world on my own. By the time I walked out of the museum that day, I told God that I would go anywhere, do anything if I could know Him better. That day I understood what it was to be born again.

The story has more facets including how Roger told me about the shipwreck of his life during the early rock and roll years. Maybe someday I will write about what happened next with both of us, but for now, let’s just say through divine intervention Roger and I were married within two months. I was happy I didn’t have to become a nun since I was imagining that as the only way I could get to know God.

A few weeks after we were married, Roger’s new accountant called us to set up a meeting. For years Roger had trusted a gaggle of people to handle his affairs. Years of touring with a band on his credit cards finally caught up. He was on the verge of bankruptcy. It was time to get a bankrupt attorney and set the wheels in motion before someone else did.

In the mean time God took this Roman Catholic boy and Southern Baptist girl and set them in a Pentecostal Church, The Church on the Way in Van Nuys. The Wednesday before the Monday bankruptcy filing we were at the church listening to Jack Hayford open the mysteries of the Bible for us.

After the teaching, Roger looked at me and said with a tone of urgency in his voice, “We haven’t prayed about the bankruptcy.”

We walked into a small room where people went to go for prayer and approached an elderly gentleman named Lee. Roger told him we were going bankrupt on Monday. Lee smiled, shook his head and said, “That’s not God’s way. Your Father owns all the cattle on all the hills. Let’s pray.” He took Roger’s hand, and then looked at him intently. “I sense a need for repentance. Something about being un-equally yoked.”

Roger broke into a sweat. After filing for bankruptcy, he was going to sign a contract with Capitol Records for the group McGuinn, Clark and Hillman.
Lee continued, “There might be some gratification in that union but not a lot. How much money do you need to hold back the creditors?”

“About twenty-five thousand.” Roger whispered not really knowing how to answer.

“No. We need at least fifty thousand.” I interjected. Bookkeeping was one of my gifts.

We prayed with Lee and the next day Roger called the accountant and said there would be no bankruptcy filing. The attorney sent us a letter stating that he understood that we were going to try to pay everyone back and he hoped our faith would get us through it, but the creditors would bankrupt us anyway. Another attorney who was handling some of the lawsuits that were daily delivered at our door, stated blatantly that Roger didn’t have a pot to even pee in.

Well things happened. A few gigs for a good amount of money and the advance from the record company kept the creditors at bay. Payment schedules were worked out. It took over two years, but it was all paid back.

In the meantime McGuinn, Clark and Hillman was a train about to wreck. Gene Clark once again could not handle success, so his habits went into excess. He even forgot to show up for concerts. Roger and Chris had to fire him to keep the promoters from suing them.

Chris was having some trouble with his anger management and decked a Capitol records executive back stage at the Bottom Line. On the plane back to California Roger told him it was time to end the relationship. Capitol released the group and told them that they would not be sued for the altercation if they left quietly. The good news is that Chris is now a happy person with everything under control.

It was now time for Roger to pursue his dream of being an entertainer like his hero, Pete Seeger. Pete could captivate audiences with his stories and songs. All Roger had to do was to figure out how to tell stories; he knew the songs to sing.

The reason for this particular blog is to write about that man I married almost 40 years ago, his gentle walk of faith and to celebrate his 75th birthday. Here is another one of his stories.

 In 1982 we lived in Morro Bay, CA. We ran out of money and there was no work on the horizon.  I would walk a mile down the hill to the post office everyday hoping there was a royalty check from some unknown source.

On that Wednesday my walk back was a bleak one. There was no money in the mail and our $400 rent check was due on Monday. I was figuring we could live in our van but I didn’t even think about paying that monthly payment or even the monthly payment for child support. We were about to be homeless.

When I got home, Roger was sitting on the couch in the sunroom smiling and gazing at the distant view of the ocean and the garden. I sat down next to him with a deep sigh. Quietly I said, “There was no money at the post office.”

He joyfully told me, “Look at that bush right in front of the window in the garden. A few minutes ago it was filled with little red berries. As I was praying, a flock of birds swept down from the sky and ate them all! God had prepared those berries for the birds to eat just at the right time. If He cares for the birds and feeds them, He will care for us and feed us! Don’t worry it’s going to be alright, just at the right time.”



My weak smile reflected my voice, “I hope so.” I certainly wasn’t a tower of faith, but Roger’s faith was covering both of us.

The next day, the phone rang. The voice of our long time friend David, the owner of a business on Pico Blvd he called Rent-A-Wreck, was excited. A lady had walked in his shop to rent a car for a day. As she filled out the form David noticed she was the manager of the McCabe’s Guitar shop which had a back room where she promoted intimate concerts. David asked her if she knew Roger McGuinn.

“Roger McGuinn!” she exclaimed. “I’ve been trying to find him!”

David called us and gave her the phone. She introduced herself and said she wanted to have Roger play at the McCabes concert room. If we said yes, she would FEDEX the deposit today.

The deposit was enough to pay the rent and a little left over. The balance would finish paying all of our monthly obligations.

From that day forward, our life turned around. It wasn’t quick. When the children of Israel entered the Promise Land, God didn’t give it to them all at once because they wouldn’t be able to handle it. So it was with us. That was over 35 years ago. We slowly progressed in understanding our finances, our work and even moving across the nation to the place God wanted us to be.

We often smile at each other and say, ‘You’re my second best friend.” Jesus is our first. 

P.S.
Before we celebrated Roger’s 75th birthday, we drove to Miami and helped Sophie and Michele celebrate the one they love his birthday, Dave Barry’s, 70th birthday. It was fun to see some of the Rock Bottom Remainders, Sam Barry, Mitch and Janine Albom and Scott Turow. The jam session was a great way to celebrate a friends birthday.


P.S.S

I did convince Roger to actually celebrate his birthday. He doesn’t like to make a big deal of anything, but I insisted he tell me what he loves to do. His reply “Be on the ocean.” This lover of sea chanteys wanted to be on the sea. I found a wonderful voyage and we celebrated the best birthday ever.

San Juan Puerto Rico July 2017

Besides being on stage, his next favorite place to be - on the sea.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Roadie Report 75 by Camilla McGuinn - I Have a Purple Heart




"Camilla, why haven't you written the blog lately?"

I didn't know how to answer Roger. We have been on some wonderful adventures thanks to his long career in music, but something was stopping me from writing about them. I wasn't sure that our adventures would be of interest or maybe just sound so frivolous in light of the turmoil in the world. Maybe I just had the "writer's block" that I've heard about. Not that I can call myself a writer. I know lots of them, and they all talk differently. Well I'm sitting here now and very interested in what comes on the screen from my fingers. There is a reason I'm here today, but I will get to that later.

The spring of 2016 was filled with concerts in the northeast. We have a rule about not driving north of Interstate 40 between November 1st  and April 1st. I have driven in enough snow storms to last me for the rest of my life but our rule didn't pan out. Our trip to Woodstock, VT was dusted with snow. It wouldn't have been so bad except the GPS decided the shortest way over the mountain was the best, the cell phones lost signals and the road got narrow. We decided something was wrong, so we slowly backed up, got on a larger road and hoped it would lead us to Woodstock. I think I will carry a paper map with me from now on and maybe change our travel rule to begin on May 1st. 

Roger and Jakob Dylan
While we were in the North we stopped in NYC to record a video with Jakob Dylan for a project he has been working on. Roger is always surprised at how the children of his friends have grown into adults. We're still surprised by his adult sons. 

My favorite tours are when we see people we know. In June we flew to NYC to see Tom Petty inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Roger was honored to be picked by Tom to deliver the induction speech. We were told that it shouldn't be longer than 90 seconds. The first words Roger said after he had sung "American Girl" was, "Not everyone got that message." It was a long night.

We were also happy to see another friend that night, Elvis Costello. He was being inducted too and we finally got to meet his lovely wife, Diana Krall. Elvis always makes me smile with his genuine enthusiasms about everything.










Tom invited Roger to join Mudcrutch for two concerts in the city after the ceremony, so we had a few days to explore. Our hotel was in the theater district, so I thought it would be fun to explore the "old New York" scenes. We quickly found Sardi's and made friends with two bartenders, Joe, who has been there over thirty years and Jeremy. Jeremy told us that he was going to Tom Petty's concert the next night. We laughed, not sure if he knew Roger but over the next couple of months, he got to know us well. The upper bar in Sardi's is a place I now recommend to our friends when they travel to the city. Walk into Sardi's, turn right, walk up the stairs then turn around to find the bar. Say hi to Joe and Jeremy from us.

The month of July was spent enjoying our home. That is a treat we seldom get and we weren't even sure we would like it, but it was fun! Walking every morning to Trader Joe's to buy dinner supplies, then coming home and jumping in the pool to cool off.

Buzz Aldren held the Share Space Foundation's Apollo 11 Anniversary Gala at the Kennedy Space Center on July 22 and we happily attended. Spacemen are a favorite of ours. A special guest was George Takei, Mr. Sulu from Star Trek. Roger was lecturing on the Queen Mary 2 on one of the transatlantic voyages the same time George was. We have all found a wonderful way to get to and from Europe.

In September we hit the road with our unusual summer tans for concerts in the Midwest. After the Green Bay, WI show, we stopped in Oshkosh before the show in Waupun. The hotel was next to a family run restaurant. What we didn't realize was that everyone who walked into the bar became part of the family. By the end of our dinner, we were all joking with each other on a first name basis. I was a major source of laughter when I tried to pronounce Waupun, our next concert city. I don't think I ever got it right.

The tour took us back across the country to New Jersey where we had time to stay at one of our favorite hotels, The Sheraton, Lincoln Harbor. Two fun days were filled with riding the ferry to NYC, exploring old landmarks, stopping at Sardi's to invite Jeremy to the Bergen Performing Arts Center show and  introducing Patrick, Roger's son, to the Sardi's experience.

Sardi's decorated for Christmas

On Thanksgiving Day, we arrived in NYC on Amtrak's, Silver Meteor. The train pulled into Penn Station shortly after the Macy's parade had ended. We were amazed how easy it was to get a taxi. Roger was scheduled to give two lectures on the Queen Mary 2 for the voyage to the Caribbean. Before we boarded the beautiful ship, we had a day to find our Thanksgiving feast. Well, that's not a good idea on Thanksgiving Day in NYC. All the restaurants are on a fixed menu and the reservations are booked. I'm not a big fan of a plate of turkey with the "fixins" but I had an idea. Juniors, a famous deli, was just across the street. I told Roger to chill the champagne and I would get us dinner. Those turkey sandwiches and the bottle of gifted Champagne from friends was one of my favorite traveling Thanksgiving Days. My favorite Thanksgivings are when we have time to invite 30 friends to come to our home and cook and cook for three days.

After the voyage, we were sitting in the airport waiting to board the plane back to Orlando.

Sitting next to Roger was a man from St. Thomas. We had been there years ago looking for Creeque Alley from the Mama and Papas song. Roger mentioned our search to him and he told us that his last name was Crequee and the alley had been named after his family. He also corrected us on how to say the name. It's not pronounced  "creek alley" it  is pronounced "creekee alley." How can we ever understand our steps? I'm always in awe.

Well I've finished the highlights of 2016 and there is a funny story coming about our trip to Hong Kong in March of 2017, but the real reason I wanted to write today was because last night I realized it was Memorial Day Weekend.

Roger and I don't have cable. Our television watching consist of a lot of PBS that is broadcast over the air. After dinner we began watching a show about  Alaskan Natives who served in Viet Nam. Then there was another show about the Doolittle Raids over Japan during World War 2.

I watched the shows with tears in my eyes because  there is a chest in my room that protects  a "Purple Heart." My father received it after he was shot in Viet Nam.

Aaron was 17 when he ran away from the orphanage, lied to the recruiting officer about his age and joined the Navy. He was sent to the Pacific to fight the Japanese on board a destroyer as a hospital corpsman. One of his older brothers couldn't get into the Navy because of an eye problem, but the Army took him and sent him to Europe as a gunner on a tank and that's where he lies.

After the war Aaron went back to the orphanage for a reunion and that's where he met Minnie. They were married and had a son who they named after Aaron's army brother.

 Aaron stayed in the Navy and when the Korean war broke out, he was sent to Korea. It was his second war.

In 1969, I graduated from high school, my brother and I both went to college and daddy went to Viet Nam. This wasn't like the other tour of duties. He was stationed on the front lines with the First Marine Division. He was the senior corpsman and was responsible for sending out the young corpsman with the patrols . I met him in Hawaii for his R&R with my mother. He walked slowly off the plane and looked 30 years older. My mother figured he wouldn't want to stay on the military base and she was right in finding a small hotel for us. The first thing he said, "Let's get off this base." We were together for a short time, then he sadly boarded the plane back to Viet Nam.

The next time I saw him was in the hospital in Norfolk, VA. He had been shot by snipers in the leg, but the alarm that shocked the doctors enough to send him to Alaska was his blood pressure. They had to evacuate him. He spent his twilight tour, the last station of service before retirement, in Norfolk. He retired from the Navy with 30 years of service and three wars. He was 47 years old.

After the retirement dinner, he went to work for DuPont in Richmond, VA as a health officer. He died quickly one night of a stroke. He was 52 years old.

Memorial Day is a day that should be remembered. It's not the wars we remember, it is the people, all the people who sacrificed and suffered. The warriors and the innocents. Roger and I have visited Viet Nam twice. I wasn't sure I wanted to go there, but I'm glad I did. The people are so precious, the country is beautiful. The elders don't talk about the American War. But we will remember!

Navy Corpsman Spaul
World War 2
HMCS Spaul
Viet Nam
A photo he sent to me. He never wanted me to worry.




CHIEF SPAUL
Just before going to Viet Nam