Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts is surely one of the nicest venues to play on any US tour so it was with anticipation that we were returning after quite a break from playing here. Through a partnership and collaboration of the National Park service and the non-profit Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, the Park offers both natural and cultural resources. The park began as a donation from Catherine Filene Shouse. In 1966 Congress accepted Mrs. Shouse’s gift and authorised Wolf Trap Farm Park (its original name) as the first national park for the performing arts.In 2002, the park’s name was changed to its present one, thus reflecting its mission while keeping the historical significance of this area. I’m not going to go anywhere near the subject in these diaries, or even type his name, but don’t allow your president destroy or diminish your National Parks. They are genuine treasures.
Opening the curtains in Philadelphia this morning, I could see it was going to be a sultry, hot one, and the ONLY TV channel I will watch on tour confirmed this. The Weather Channel has been my secret addiction ever since I first visited the US and realised the tough truth; that even though we talk about it all the time, we English folks actually don’t know as much about the weather as we think. With so much heat around the Northwest today, storms were inevitable and it was the hot topic on TWC. For example, did you now that the most common cause of death by lightening is a strike in which the current travels through the ground. No, I didn’t know either. Donning shorts and a thin t-shirt, I checked out of the surprisingly unimpressive Ritz Carlton and climbed aboard the vans to take us all to the Signature GA terminal. Private air travel is an ‘other worldly’ luxury on any occasion but in the US it’s just so damn cool. Everything is so easy and airside access is commonplace. Trust me, we never take this for granted. We were meeting up with the crew and jet that we will use for the rest of the tour and we had to observe a little protocol as we pulled up at the gates. The pilot is required by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) to know everyone he flies, so we made our introductions and were waved onboard.
Luxury awaited us once more on our beautiful Challenger 650 with Aleisha, our newest hostess here to look after us. The first flight was only 20 minutes in the air so the challenge (no pun intended) was laid down early. She managed to serve everyone a choice of Caesar or Mediterranean Salads with hot Chicken or Shrimp, clear it all away and was in her jump seat 500 feet before touchdown. Calm as you like.
Flinging the plane doors open we all felt the searing heat of the day and realised it was going to be a hot show as the Wolf Trap Filene Center is essentially outdoors. We arrived at the venue in 20 minutes, sound checked, dined on some ‘nice’ local catering and waited in air conditioned, underground dressing rooms during the ‘dark stage’ period from 5:50 to 7:30. A dark stage is a union ruling which means the stage is strictly off limits to EVERYONE during that period. Breaching this rule can lead to crippling fines, it’s one thing a touring musician learns quickly when coming stateside. Pretty soon it was show time, the venue was heaving and the heat was oppressive. Over 90 degrees on the stage, probably just as warm in the audience. We had a fabulous, sweaty gig. I reckon there was a gallon of sweat discharged onto the drum and percussion risers! We came off and I noticed in the SUV taking us to the airport with a police escort that the outside air temperature was still 83 degrees. Back on board the jet, Aleisha served drinks and food for anyone who wanted. We did the usual, toasted and laughed all the way to Teterboro airport and a short ride into Lower Manhattan to our hotel for the next 5 nights. New York, here we come.