The Road To Americana



Sunday September 18, 2016

On my way from Washington to Nashville for Americana. The man next to me has just emptied a small packet of peanuts into his glass of Coke. Is this some new trend of which I am unaware? He did kind of sound like a character from Deliverance when he spoke to me and he does come from Tampa, has a beard, is carrying a pack of cigarettes and is dressed in a t-shirt, shorts, flip flops (as they call thongs here and a cap emblazoned with the letters NY. I hope he cannot read what I am typing. I’ll just scroll up a little.There is a baby bawling a few rows behind me but I don’t mind because it means we are still in the air!

On Southwest it is first come first served but I managed to get a seat up front, not that I am in a hurry. I am meeting Karen who is flying across from Los Angeles after a flight from Melbourne. I wonder if she will want to go to Peg Leg Porker for dinner tonight? Maybe not.

I arrived on Thursday and sensibly decided to stay near the airport as the plane was slightly delayed and I did not want go to drive at night. So mid-air using wifi I changed my car rental and booked a hotel. The flight from Melbourne to LA was excellent thanks to the Dreamliner, a truly great airliner with plenty of room even in the economy section. If only the people who prepared the food were as good as the engineers who built the plane. The coffee is also so atrocious that it is difficult to believe that they could make it taste so bad. Apart from that everything else was fine. United service has improved dramatically over the past few years: it’s still not a patch on Qantas but it is getting better.

Friday I spent three hours at the National Air & Space Museum which was fantastic. The space shuttle was impressive as was my favourite plane, the SR-71 Blackbird (successor to the U2). The museum is free and housed in what looks like two huge hangars. There is every kind of plane imaginable and, as a bit of a nerd about such things I found it fascinating, especially a discussion with one of the local experts about the space shuttle. I have a photo of my grandfather taken in the Middle East during WW1 in which he is standing in front of some biplanes. He inspired in me a love of flight and motorcycles and I have only been in a crash in one of those modes of transport (so far).

Former astronaut Tom Jones (yes, that’s his name) was there signing his latest book. I resisted to shout, ‘Love your work Tom.’

My motel in Manassas bore the tag ‘A Touch of History’ under the main sign. This sound romantic but actually means that it needs renovating. The WiFi was out of action – as if that is my biggest problem – but they kept saying, ‘We’re working on it.’ It was not fixed. At least around the corner was a nice New Orleans style joint called Okra’s where I had some crawfish tails, a shrimp po’ boy and an Abita Amber draught for dinner.

Turns out Kip Hanrahan, one of my favourite musicians and one of the best interviewees ever, lives nearby and I did not realize it. We met up in New York in the Bowery for dinner and a long conversation. Suddenly I find out he is less than half an hour away and I am not going to be able to meet him. He is an amazing facilitator of musicians – pulling together some incredible collaborations. You should check his latest IndieGoGo campaign to finish a new album.

Yesterday’s Farm Aid concert in Bristow, Virginia was enjoyable without blowing my socks off. You can read the review at ATN. I enjoyed Neil Young’s stet but not much can compare to the set he did at Jazz Fest this year which stretched out to two and a half hours and will live with me forever, mainly because it rained the whole time, I was on crutches and in pain due to my hip and I turned down a VIP pass that Geoff offered me to sit in the shelter of the disabled platform.

I arrived early at the Jiffy Lube Live arena – a venue with probably the least rock ‘n’ roll name in history. Got to attend the press conference with all the musicians and that was interesting as I found out all about Farm Aid. I wonder why we don’t have an Australian equivalent?

I ended up doing an interview with Ian Mellencamp, nephew of John, who opened the show. I wasn’t planning on doing any interviews but carried the zoom recorder anyway. Lucky. Ian used to be a model for Calvin Klein so you will probably recognise his face as one you have seen on billboards. Ian showed me how he writes songs on his phone while sitting on the subway. He says he can even do it when he’s jogging. I can’t even jog.

I got in early to buy a t-shirt but still had wait about half an hour. I think they should post rules up at every stall from now on. Let’s call them Brian’s Rules. (They also apply to cafes).

  1. Make up your effing mind before you get to the front of the line.
  2. Want to know what’s for sale? Look at the display stupid!
  3. Have all of your discussions with family members and friends BEFORE you get served.
  4. Know your size you idiot. Don’t even think about asking to try one on or I will personally beat you up.
  5. Have you money or card ready before you order.
  6. Don’t ask what other colours are available. If they are not on display they are not there.
  7. Don’t ask your teenager daughter to choose unless you want to be there all night.
  8. If you see an ageing man behind you crying in frustration it is ME and I might go berserk at any moment!

There were plenty of food and alcohol stalls but at US $14.50 for a large can of beer my thirst suddenly faded and I opted for water. Anyway, paying that much for a can of Corona you might as well save your money and drink water because that’s what it tastes like. I also had a pulled pork sandwich that was balanced out by the muesli I had for breakfast.

Farm Aid ended at exactly 11.00pm after 11 hours of music as I made my way to Parking Lot A I realized that I should have taken notice of the letters on the light poles indicating the parking area. Of course, when I arrived the car park was only half full. Fifteen minutes of searching later I found the car using the key to flash the lights. The fact that it was a Kia Rio with the ugliest mustard coloured paint ever made also helped make it stand out. At least no one would want to steal it.

Another thirty-five minutes later I was out of the car park and to add to my confusion I had to exit in the opposite direction to the entry. This meant that I had to rely on Mrs Google Maps to get me back to Manassas and this was a little scary late at night as I was taken by some circuitous back roads route. At least it was not like exiting the Shoreline Amphitheater a few years back when the phone GPS would not work and I got completely lost and took 2 hours to get back a motel that was about 20 ks away.

Anyway, it was all good and now I am in Nashville ready for Americana. I’ll keep you posted. Now it’s time for BBQ.





Brian Wise

Brian Wise was the Editor of Addicted To Noise‘s Australian site from 1997 – 2002. The site won two ONYA Awards as Best Online Music Magazine in 1999 & 2000. He has also been Editor since its reincarnation in 2013. He also presents the weekly music interview program Off The Record on 102.7 Triple R-FM ( in Melbourne. It is networked to 45+ stations across Australia on the Community Radio Network and is a four-time winner of the Best Music Program Award from the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia. In 2012, it was nominated as a finalist in the Excellence in Music Programming category. Brian was also the Founding Editor & Publisher of Rhythms Magazine and is now its Senior Contributing Editor.

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