2009 USA Tour : March 11th, pick up RV and Ormond Beach Concert
Unleashing Writer’s Block
At 3:00 am I found I was wide awake and it was going through my mind that I still had a folk drama script to put together, so it was down to the Ponte Vedra Inn’s business centre to work away on my new “X Marks The Spot” folk drama story. This took until around 7:00 am but was a delightfully creative time with thoughts and ideas flowing. I so look forward to performing and developing this story as we go along this tour.
Collecting the RV
After just another couple of hour’s sleep Claire reminded me it was time to get on the road so it was over, once more, to the fabulous breakfast at the delightful classical Ponte Vedra Inn restaurant.
By about 10:30 am, we were on the road, a bit later than scheduled, heading from Jacksonville to Kissimee FL, near Disney World, to pick up the RV, a smooth but busy freeway drive of about 3 hours. As we passed the sign for Blue Spring, near Orange City and Deland I yearned to have taken Claire there to see the wintering manatees, the gently giant sea cows, and Claire regretted not be able to stop and share Epcot with me.
Unfortunately, the RV renters give inaccurate directions to get to them and we arrived more than an hour later than planned. By now we were well into the famous Florida sun, about 80 F, so our fragility to heat was starting to show.
The RV Rental service man was excellent, a superb experience of efficiency, courtesy and fun. He was also a great teacher as he showed us around the RV and how it worked with electrics water and sewerage. We quickly discovered that RVs are a fascinating invention. No photos of the RV yet as we were behind time and eager to get going. The checking in and education session was far longer than we had set aside for.
Into The RV Experience
We also still had to drop off the rented metallic red SUV back to Hertz at Orlando Airport. Claire drove the SUV and I drove the RV along the HWY to get to the HRD in ORL of FL in the USA. Both of us had Sat-Navs, forget what the USA people call these, but of different companies and directed both of us on different routes to get the the Hertz rental, but we arrived there at the same time. The RV driving in Orlando was a real tightrope walking test as it swayed side to side trying to find its point of gravity.
Fortunately, the return of the SUV to Hertz was its usual smooth, fast and painless experience, but we were hungry and rustled together late lunch in the RV in a nearby car park.
Leaving Orlando it was now obvious we were going to be late for our Ormond Beach gig, first gig of the tour so it was peddle to the metal in the RV around the Greenway toll road to avoid Orlando rush hour traffic, which worked very well, and then cross country on the I4 to get us to Ormond Beach
The Ormond Beach House Concert
Fortunately, Chuck Spano’s house was easy to find and we arrived at 7:15 pm, 15 mins late, but not a problem as the folks were tucking into their reception refreshments.
This was truly a fat in the fire experience. First, Claire had not had a real chance to look at the harp and practice with it and I had not looked at my new script to even rehearse it.
Fortunately, Claire did not need to spend much time tuning and was quickly off with her signature opening of “Sitting In A Green Field” but I had to do my folk drama interludes with script sheets in hand ….. in the wrong order and with some pages missing !!! I improvised at lot of it.
Claire completed the first set with a warming mix of well responded songs. Her originals were very, popular.
Chuck and Pat’s venue was superb. They have a fairly large house with a homely large dining room that has been converted into a small performance theater that can easily switch back to being a dining room again. I liked the small PA and lighting set ups, but we used neither, choosing to keep intimate to provide a cozy show for the audience.
Next to the performance area is a living room converted into a music rehearsing and recording studio with one of the largest collections of musical instruments from around the world I have ever seen. This must have included at least 20 different washboards of different sizes and 30 different dulcimers from Appalachian to remote places of South America and China.
The audience was around 20 people, and a real cross section of generations including a young boy, maybe 10 years sold and already a fluid theatre script writer to a 94 year old multi musician, though she did not perform anything this evening.
Sadly, Jenn Weidey, who I was so looking forward to seeing and singing, was struck down with flu last moment and she was bringing a minibus of around 10 people from Orlando, but non of them made it.
Small audience but their passion, warm hearts, support and generosity of spirit made this a superb, superb gig. Two of them had brought their harps for Claire to play along with her rented pedal harp, a Paraguay harp with a unique crisp very latin music tone, and a sturdy home made small folk harp with superb bass tones.. What a start!
The owner of the home made harp, and her husband who made the harp, are worth a special, special mention. I’ll get their names from Claire later. From Maine they were a superb duo of musicians that truly added richness of the evening. While the lady played harp and sang with delightful voice her husband played a multitude of instruments, fiddle, viola, flute, large 12 string guitar, and was in good voice too. Their unique arrangements to traditional songs including a mashing of She Moves Through The Fair and Once I Had A Sweatheart were magic.
Claire joined them for Wild Mountain Thyme and a Closing Parting Glass to round off a high quality intimate, joyful home based concert.
Claire’s own solo songs were
Sitting In A Green Field
Fields Of Fasseroes
Star Of County Down
Isle Of Inishfree
The Planter’s Daughter
medley of O’Carolan tunes
Suil a Rhuin
Bi Oise Chroiste
Pat provided wonderful catering and Chuck provided wonderful hospitality. Again, what a superb gig and people.
Back On The Road
As our next stop is New Orleans we decided to cut the journey in two and drive some in the night, to Perry FL, a few hundred miles!
Good plan, other than we left Chuck and Pat’s well after midnight. The Garman Sat Nav took us a country way, but roads were straightish and empty, a smooth easy drive. We were amazed how many remote country convenience stores and gas stations were open. We stopped awhile at one of them way north west of Palatka to fill up and get some coffee and snacks. We were both falling asleep at the wheel. John the store server was a delightful entertaining and helpful man, a real oasis in the night.
Thereafter Claire and I swapped driving every 10 to 20 miles just to keep us awake and arrived in the Perry Campground about 4:30 am, with notice of a very convenient camp spot that was easy to hook up, after a long yet very, very god day.
I’ll get photos of this day up here asap.