2006 Boothbay Opera house benefit concert

Day 1 – travel

I have to admit I wasn’t considering writing any sort of account of this short trip to Maine but on reflection during the many hours waiting around the now notorious JFK airport, I feel duty bound to record some kind of account. Especially considering very few fans will have had the opportunity to witness us performing as a four piece, without a drummer!

The band for the show consists of Mark, myself, Glenn worf and Richard Bennett. Glenn and Richard arrived in Boothbay a few days early with their wives and quite rightly made a weekend break of the trip. Mark, myself and the irreplaceable Glenn Saggers were to fly out on BA to JFK and catch a Delta connection to Portland ME. Mark flew on the flight before Glenn and I and arrived safely albeit without his luggage courtesy of Delta. This is where the fun and games began.

(you may want to skip the following rant!)
Glenn and I arrived at JFK and due to a late arriving BA flight, we had to run to catch our Delta connection. As it turns out we needn’t have bothered. We waited at gate 23 for three hours only to discover the flight had been cancelled. This was just the beginning! During our long uncomfortable wait, the terminal had effectively closed, so there was nothing by way of refreshment, even the drinking fountains were broken. The Delta staff were typically surly and unhelpful and the terminal was full of confused, disgruntled passengers. All airlines have a re-booking policy in the event of flight cancellations and Delta put Glenn and myself up in the Ramada Plaza in the airport overnight, without our bags of course. It was 11:30pm when we arrived at the hotel only to discover that the check-in line was an hour and a half long. Half way through our wait, there was a surreal moment as it seemed half the New York fire department showed up. No fire. Finally we checked into our tired, smelly rooms and proceeded to the bar which thankfully was open ’till 1am. There were the typical short tempered New York barmen serving behind a bar which unsuccessfully hid bucket loads of untouced dirty glasses and dishes. The bar was sticky from not being wiped in god knows how long. No Bombay Sapphire gin so Glenn and I made the best of a carelessly prepared Tanqueray and tonic. An inferior coctail but much needed. I soon realized why the staff were so grumpy, the whole hotel was full, to the brim with unhappy passengers in transit. What a job. . . . . . .

on reflection, a lovely trip

The rant continues…..feel free to skip to the show day

We both slept like logs and woke the next morning and donned the same clothes we’d worn for our transatlantic crossing. Breakfast was surely the most inedible I’ve ever come across in many years of traveling (see Glenn’s cheese omelette below) still, Delta provided us with a meal ticket entitling us to the $7 special which neither Glenn nor I could discover. We had to pay an extra $12 each for the tasty privilege.

We were aboard the airport shuttle in no time and the driver asked “where to” in such a moody fashion it was as if he was over-acting. “Air-Train” we all shouted. The driver sped away at breakneck speed and dropped us all at Air China??? The bozo was deaf too. Glenn and I found ourselves back at Delta check in with plenty of time to spare for our 1:00 departure. We would miss most of the days rehearsal but after a few phone conversations with a bag less, unshaven MK, we decided we’d get a few hours of rehearsal in the evening. The board said Delta 6131 – on time. 1:00 came and went and I had that now familiar uneasy feeling about the whole scenario. At gate 23 the Delta employees seemed reluctant to announce any kind of information throughout what was to become another very long day. The flight just didn’t show up until much later in the day and the only way I could gain any information was to stand by the boarding desk and eavesdrop all the radio transmissions. There was a period when the boards showed the flight as departing gate 25, then 23, then 25, 23, and finally back to 25. It soon became very clear that this airline is running on a shoestring and it seemed astonishing to me that they could be so understaffed with so many passengers to deal with. One slip-up and the whole thing could easily come to a standstill, well for us it did. It was four o’clock when Glenn said “look out the window”. When I saw the man on the ladder with his head under the engine cowling, on the phone! I decided it was time to demand they pull our bags off the plane in order we could switch airlines. JetBlue are the only other carrier going to Portland from JFK and at first thought I wasn’t relishing the prospect of a low-cost airline. How wrong I was.

It’s not looking good
Air China?
Yummy, the Ramada cheese omelet (note incorrect spelling)
Glenn fumes at gate 23 possibly regretting that omelette 

We had to get the bags by 4:30 in order to make the 5:45 flight but the baggage guy couldn’t find them. It transpired they weren’t aboard the plane anyway. Why was I not surprised? They were discovered in the bag room at 5:00pm so Glenn and I missed the flight. Luckily the last flight of the day was at 8:40pm. When we arrived at the JetBlue terminal it was like a different world. Courteous and well trained staff with a positive, genuinely helpful attitude. We sat under a plastic palm tree and the two Bombay Sapphire and tonics I purchased were probably the best, certainly the most needed Glenn and I have ever had. Relatively speaking it wasn’t long before we boarded the brand spanking new A320 each of us enjoying a whole seating row and 36 channels of TV including BBCAmerica and TWC (the weather channel). Pushing off the gate we soon joined the queue for take-off and the pilot informed us we were about number 42 in line. As if I cared. I kept drifting off to sleep so the flight was all over before I knew it, all I remember was hearing a few moaning passengers behind us. If only you knew I thought. We were met in Portland and driven to the Ocean Point Inn and rang the doorbell, the night porter let us in and I fell onto my bed at 1:30am. zzzzzzzzzz

Day 3

After the experience of the journey here it felt like I’d been released from prison when I woke an looked out of the window across the water. Thankfully it all seemed like a distant, slightly unreal memory.
What a beautiful place Boothbay Harbour is. We had planned to get down to the venue and rehearse from 11:00am until 2:00pm and then have lunch. Once Glenn Saggers had ensured MK and Richard had plugged everything up in the correct manner we ran a few tunes. Now one of the most incredible facts about this show was that there were 5 songs in the set list that we’d never before performed. Marbletown, A place where we used to live, Whoop de doo, Postcards from Paraguay and Devil Baby (Mark and I once played this on a German radio show). The other thing was that I’ve never played piano live before with Mark except for Local Hero, so Romeo, Trawlermans song, Rudiger and Sailing to Philly were all new territory for me. We did the most basic run through and then were escorted upstairs for Lobster rolls. A delicious local speciality. Then it was time for a quick nap at the hotel for me. Mark and the others went back to Richard and Christina Ford’s house. They are friends of Mark put him up and dutifully offered supplies of toothpaste, shaving gear and underwear. Mark still had no bags at this point. In fact, the bag did finally show up, four hours before our departure the next morning. The show itself was an exciting experience. The audience simply couldn’t have been more appreciative and the sound in that hall was nothing short of perfect. We launched into done with Bonaparte and a little under two hours later we were finishing with if this is goodbye. Then there was a meet and greet in the beautiful bar room upstairs for the premium price ticket holders.

pic Eric Selden
pic Eric Selden

The good news is that our show managed to raise above $150,000 for the Opera house fund and I believe they are now very near to their target $500,000 so if you feel inclined to help out, any donations are always appreciated. Click the Opera House link to go to their web page.