Wednesday, April 02, 2003
South West Tour - AZ, NM, TX, LA - burning down house March 2003
South West Tour March 2003 March 9, 2003 - South West Tour - Los Angeles to Santa Fe gilli moon's NOTES FROM THE ROAD...... Well here we are, we've started the One Woman Show Tour into the South West. Toni Koch (this time tour manager, promoter extraordinaire) and I started the week moving into a house in Sherman Oaks with a bunch of girls (look out, parties in april..) and then as soon as we had settle the boxes, we were packing again for a month on the road. I thought, "hey, we are going to hit some nice dry heat...!" And then i heard on the news that all there was out East was ice, ice and more ice. First stop, Phoenix Arizona, 6 hours East of L.A dead straight on the 10 freeway through the desert: it's the first time I've been to Phoenix without it being a heat wave. I actually have had to wear a sweater and a neck scarf! We arrived at 2am 'cos we didn't finish moving into the house till 8pm the night before. Did we sleep? For two seconds! Tuesday we hit the day running with two radio interviews on the 4th and 5th March. The first one was for www.authorssecretsradio.com with Vijaya Schwartz. Totally geared to writers and authors this really took my out of my.. um.. element but it was cool. Knotradio.org the next day and then we had a wild show, about 200 people, at Ain't Nobody's Biz. We hosted a Females on Fire night with Jennifer Savage from Seattle and Mischa from Phoenix. So we kicked up a storm and a few tequila shots. We made the frontcover, the back cover and the inside feature story of Ionaz magazine with all our fire. Saturday 8th was a cool laid back seminar (MPWR professional artist seminar) and an open mic in the evening at the Muse. By Sunday morning, after 5 days in Phoenix, we had the car packed... again... to hit the road... for real. Quick thanks to Guitar Centre Tempe AZ for being my tour sponsor with the new Boss RC-20 loop station and some few extra special moon needs. Up the I-17 we head to Flagstaff, about 2 hours north of Phoenix, with the Saguaro cacti guiding our path (the Indians respected this cactus for their great spirits.) This road is rather hilly, but not extraneous. Seems like all this area was underwater at some time, as you can tell by the jagged cliffs and peaks. Very volcanic too with really sharp mountains (one is like a thick needle.) Kind of similar to the centre of Australia but not red. Although half way to Flagstaff is Sedona.... land of red rock. Very spiritual drive to kick start this tour. Breakfast at Flagstaff, surrounded by snow capped mountains and we hit the straight road I-40 to Albuquerque. Past Twin Arrows. It's about 10 square foot and they call it a town, with these giant arrows pointing into the ground, a closed truck stop and closed gas station. So I guess... it was a town! Through Winslow made famous by Jackson Browne and on through Navajo (yes there is such a place), Winona, Gallop on the border of New Mexico (basically, all you see is another truck stop....!) By Albuquerque we took the I-25 to Santa Fe, listened to all the SXSW promotion CDs of wonderful artists we are taking there, practiced our accents listening to a Texan radio station all about 40s music and have jumped into bed at our dear friends off a beaten track off Route 599 (hell where are we????) in the middle of the dark with lots of stars. Tomorrow we drop off 50 books to Bookworks in Albuquerque for the book signing later in the month, as well as convince some more Santa Fe venues that they must have me play! March 11, 2003 - Austin Texas Dropped off 30 books at Bookworks, a book shop in Albuquerque which i will be doing a seminar at on 27 March called "Survival and Success in the Art World." It was a lovely store filled with new agey icons and interesting books. can't wait to get back for that. They expect about 60 people to show. On the I-40 East road we went Monday to head to Amarillo, about a 5 hour drive. We drove mainly at night as we didn't leave till 6pm. Crossing the border from NM into Texas was an interesting site "don't mess with texas" on signs every 100 metres it seemed. First hotel on the journey was the 5 seasons hotel which was, really, less than it's 5 ... and more like a 2 but... they DID say they had a spa! Good machine coffee in the a.m and we hit the road in a rush as the chill air (kind of foggy) leads us towards our destination. We drove all day Tuesday worried we wouldn't make it to Austin by the 6 o-clock deadline... gig was that night. Texan dirt looks like the Aussie outback in a drought! Drove through a town called Claude (dad would be proud of the name seeing it's his name) but then they told me at one of the many gas stations (1.54c.gallon by the way :) that the town was famous for its whore houses. Changed to the !-287 South to Forth Worth/Dallas area and we got stuck in traffic. Already 4.30pm and we were getting edgy about the time. This 8 hour trip was seemingly longer and Toni's thumbs were getting numb on the wheel. I'm finding so many parallels to the Aus countryside, it's uncanny. More dry, but fairly similar albeit the huge fast food billboard signs we don't have. They speak just as slow too, like a farmer from Bourke, only these cowboys have a mighty twang. We passed towns like Jolly, Bowie (named after Jim Bowie who fought to free Texas alongside Daniel Boone), Wako (got the jitters so fell asleep. Later Toni said to me "didn't want to wake U in Wako". (I think she was cracking a joke. back to snoring.) We missed the deadline time for Austin and landed at 7.30pm on Lake Austin Boulevard after getting lost and asking directions 5 times. Mozarts Coffeehouse, the destination, is a gorgeous venue right on Lake Austin with a marina down below. Jennifer Savage was already playing so we quickly lugged my gear in and didn't even have time for a drink before i had to set up and play. I bought this cool new gizmo from Guitar Centre Tempe (thanks sponsor!) called a Phrase Recorder/Loop Station which with a touch of the foot on the pedal I can record phrases and then overdub.. I love it because as I am playing i can add harmonies to a loop and really experiment. This gig I used it for the second time. So as I played the keyboard and sang, I'd record a loop then add percussion, flute then harmonies until the whole room was humming with sounds. I love this new toy! Being a warrior girl night, we did a round robin show with Jennifer, Anne O'Brien from Colorado and myself doing 2 sets after each other, with the beautiful backdrop of the lake. Toni and i were exhausted from travelling but it was a fun night. We met a couple of SXSW delegates, Drew from Reverend Records, San Diego, stepped in having heard from Mary Guibert (Jeff Buckley's mom) about me. Mary herself came too, from Los Angeles, being a close friend and part of the Warrior Girl Music team. As she was arriving at Mozarts her rental car was hit by another car and was totalled (we all heard the crash)so she spent the evening in shock (i think it was from the accident not from my performance)... and we fed her coffee till her nerves calmed. poor thing. By midnight we were still awaiting our accommodation friend, Deanna, to get in touch so we sat by the lake wondering if we were going to set up tent right there and then. But she called and off we tootled to Steiner Ranch, somewhere in the Austin outskirts wilderness. Nearly getting lost again, we finally settled into this interestingly ginormous housing estate of "Tara" (Gone With The Wind) look alike condos that nestle under the main Leasing Office called "The Mansion" which truly does look like one, although quite bawdy in design compared to say the regalness of the European villas and mansions. What luck though - to now me staying in what is in fact a Spa Resort. We spent Wednesday hiking, having coffee on the terrace, sitting in the jacuzzi drinking wine and doing yoga. ommmm. SXSW registration can wait till tomorrow :) Ruta Maya gig tomorrow plus action for the rest of the week on music row. I've never really asked myself why I travel. I've been doing this since I was 17. Is it an escape? Or to self-actualize my dreams? Or is it just to "see" a new way? To wonder, dream, touch, feel, to meet kindred spirits. To send messages... but mostly to learn from others, from places. Destinations bring us back home always. I love seeing the world! Wide open spaces. The mother road. Drawing inner strength as I dive into darkness ~ the unknown ~ and discover the humility within as I respond to this earth as a mere observer. Monday March 17, 2003: Austin, Houston to New Orleans. "the music industry mafia is pimping girl power sniping off their sharpshooter singles from their styrofoam towers..." ~ Ani DiFranco Austin Texas is an interesting myriad of venues, restaurants and lake systems that feed its inhabitants with culture and wonder. I am enjoying this city and perhaps it's because we are in the middle of SXSW where musicians and industry professionals have come from all around the world. On the bad side, it makes it really difficult to decide where to go and what to do, as there is so much happening right now. So after the first gig at Mozarts by the lake we slept abit and then on Thursday I logged in at the Austin Convention Centre to see what SXSW was all about. (www.sxsw.com). I have to admit, I was somewhat disappointed with what i saw. This was nothing like the community, arts feel that our Songsalive! Expo gave and even though I had been warned about the enormity (and anonymity) of SXSW I was prepared to see it first hand. What I saw was something smaller than I expected. The conference itself had one hall of booths but i wouldn't say that it was packed. Maybe the impending war has scared them off this year.. we are in the state capital after all... heart of Bush country. The panel discussions were about as interesting as a toad fish (nothing new) and the administration staff had a bulldog attitude that was left to be desired. There was no warmth here. I spent 4 hours on Thurs and 4 hours on Fri mostly catching up with business associates and friends (some from Europe, Australia and here), rather than trying to meet new people. The fun part was presenting some Songsalive! artists' music to various people and that was a thrill to have represented them here. But for me, I felt the "been there done that" feeling. "when was the last time someone spun a song just because they believed in its ideas?" The next gig was at Ruta Maya's which is down Congress in the hub of bohemian lifestyle here in Austin. A gorgeous little coffee house with 3 acoustic stages, I played at 4pm and once again enjoyed playing with my new toy - the loop station, which brought gilli vocals seeping through every orifice of the venue! :) It was a cool 45 minutes set solo and thanks to the lovely Niki Duncan who put together the female artist showcase, I felt alive. Spent the rest of the evening hangin' in the jacuzzi back at the spa resort with toni and mary. Friday a.m off to give SXSW another chance. ok i've got to blow off steam: SXSW is full of arrogant self-serving, evasive male-dominant industry professionals and artists who think they belong to an elite, exclusive high-end group called the music industry.. but they really are so far removed from it! I saw more of the real, organic, dual-sex, equal, talented, hardworking touring artists and professionals at the Go Girls Showcase at Graffitis that Friday night. THAT was the music industry to me. 23 fabulous female artists were performing, including myself, at the GoGirls Invasion of SXSW. "music is about change. it should not be hijacked and distorted for personal gain." I was the only one on keyboard (i've noticed touring artists tend to play guitar... well it IS a lot lighter :) Madalyn of Go Girls Music is a real gem and, as a non-musician, she promotes artists nationwide because she loves music. Graffiti's was this swingin' women's bar off the beaten track on W Howard Lane.. no where near the hub of downtown SXSW activities and not withstanding we attracted numerous industry types out to the club because the energy of all these performing artists was impossible to ignore. I felt I was surrounded by kindred spirits who, like me, are self-empowered individuals booking their own tours, distributing their own cds and making it happen the indie way. 90% of the artists had travelled thousands of miles to perform at this show. It was awesome. On Saturday 15th toni and i re-packed the WGM touring mobile to head to Houston for a good paying gig at Chances Bar. The I-290E is lined with paddocks of green fields and cow paddocks, some interesting trees and little texan style pit stops along the way. Who said Texas was all desert? To me, again, it was like the plains of N.S.W Australia and I felt very much at home. I go into this little Food Mart for coffee and the windows are lined with "Don't Mess With Texas" t-shirts for sale and the Southpark cartoon is on the TV. Welcome to smallville. We reached Houston after 3 hours at about 8pm, enough time to do an accidental full circle on the Loop 610 (20 more miles for going South not north. oops!). We stayed with my friend Pip's sister Sarah "Sip" and her hubby Scott (plus lab pup Shelby). (Oh good... a real bed!). We found Chances Bar off Montrose Ave and Westheimer. From the outside it looked like a bikey hangout. Inside, it was a sea of rooms from piano bar, to full on dance/disco room, then the "barn" room for the Country and Western fans. This was like 4 clubs joined together. I nearly had a heart attack though! They had NO p.a. I was thinking, "oh no, we've driven all this way and can't play!" Mike the manager showed us this little DJ mix box and said "will this do?" I could have cried! But then as we started to scream inside, Cindy, the door girl, offered her p.a and off she tootled home to get it. She was so cool. In fact, they were all very nice and Shannon, who booked the gig, was the best of all. Thanks Shannon! She even bought us bean burritos. I set up my gear, got my loop station ready and even added a new touch to my one woman show... the red xmas lights a new fan, John, in austin gave me as a present. Well, this really was the perfect venue for it.... Let me introduce you to the audience: on the left there's a group of "lovely ladies" dressed to the nigh in gold lame and glitter dresses... stiletto heals and every wig you could possibly imagine. Oh, I forgot to mention the false eyelashes and the lips. Their deep sexy voices... um, yeah... Yes, you guessed it... BUT WONDERFUL PEOPLE, the most vocal and the most attentive. I was really happy!!! Then straight ahead, although by no least means straight, by the bar are some more casual onlookers who have cut their hair as close to their head as possible and some interesting tattoos. And let me add, that they were attentive all the way. I wish I had the nerve to be as strong and bold as them. I felt courage in this bar. Then you've got Sip and Scott wondering why they are sitting up front and when Sip gets up for a dance on her own.... well, let's just say she wasn't left alone. There you have it. Chances Bar, Houston. A very happy bar indeed. 3 hours later, after the 10.30 pm to 1am "show to match all cabaret shows"... look at Barbra) i think they want me back next week when we return to Houston. Um... coool. No, really, they were very supportive and really pay fairly for touring artists which is VERY important. Friendly as ever thanks to Nick the owner, Shannon, K K and Cindy. I really enjoyed the club and would be delighted to come back. Very warm and friendly people. So we finally crashed at about 3am only to have to get up at 7am (we woke to a fabo aussie style breakfast of eggs and pikelets), and then to head BACK to Austin. I had a gig at the Steiner Ranch Mansion breakfast at 11am. Well we hit the road on the quiet Sunday morning and got back a little late, midday, but I soon set up and played acoustic style in the echoing hallways of this huge Tara style house to the guests. (I went into the regal bathroom and admired the gorgeous huge vase of flowers.... wow... their fake...I should have guessed.) By 4pm we landed up the road to Barnes & Nobles, Arboretum for a Book signing. Ya know, I don't know anyone who is performing/touring and book signing across this country!?! Do you? They had my posters up everywhere and it was a really cool afternoon. This was my FIRST book signing (Toni looks at me shocked thinking i've done all this before:) um. no. We set up my keyboard again and had 30 books on display plus some cds. I started the crowd off with a couple of numbers, singing a few ditties, then went into talking about why i wrote my book, doing it the indie way, defining success on my own terms,, yadayadayada. Then a few more songs, then more book talk, motivational moments, and signed some books. Then all over again. I switched from right brain to left brain faster than a speeding bullet. It was all a first for me and interesting to do. Being in the system of Barnes & Nobles is a huge coup. They were very supportive and inspired and I am so glad i did this. Thanks Colleen at B&N. We had time for a quick Cadillac Margarita and Guacamole dip at Z Tejas before we headed to Graffiti's again for the 3rd gig of the day. A serious headache started to ensue and I just thought, "god I can't do another setup and load in even if I tried." I've never done this before, ever, but I canceled the show. It seemed ok because the band there was merely having a break so that I could play a few songs and there wasn't really a crowd. Sleep deprivation had caught up on me. I needed rest. Monday it was, to rest. St. Patricks Day. We began to daydream about how we had nothing to do for a whole day and evening. Yippee. Online checking email Toni went into panic attack. "Gilli, we need to be in New Orleans by 6am tomorrow so you can perform on CBS television!!! They are interviewing you." Oh-my-god. No more vacation. It takes 8 hours to get to New Orleans from Austin. We had to leave, within the hour. I guess we'll rest ... um... later. TV awaits us! And so does Cajun style catfish. Back on the I-290 East freeway, we head for the second time to Houston, which is on the way to Louisiana. I feel I'm getting Deja-vu. So here I am writing in the car as Toni drives. We are listening to MPR national radio about how Bush is about to go to war with Iraq tomorrow. The media are pulling out of Iraq and I'm driving along a road in the heart of Bush country. I pick up a local paper and there's this schmuck writing about how "war is the only way to solve the problem" and that "we as Americans must fight for our country because when it comes down to it, we care more about our grandchildren than children in other countries." I feel sick. Monday 17 - Saturday 22 March - New Orleans It write with joy and sadness from the road. It's unsettling to be travelling while we are at war. I will refrain from saying how i feel about it as I already received flack from people who've been reading my diary (some very close to me) about my opinions. It seems one can't have an opinion at this time that's anything but pro-war and so I will keep quiet. I just search for peace that's all and I think of my fellow Australian soldiers who are currently in Iraq for the American people.... So, here instead i will write about the music. I have to say that this diary entry is quite an episode. This last week in New Orleans has been SURREAL and quite macabre, and here i write about it: I left off last time with us driving speedily towards New Orleans from Austin, having found out we had to be there a day earlier for a TV appearance on CBS TV. Well, we drove the I-10 for 8 hours, with a quick stop in Lake Charles, Louisiana, for a beer for St. Paddy's day, then into the swamp lands and Mississippi delta region of Baton Rouge and beyond. It was dark most of the trip and we arrived in New Orleans at 1am Tuesday morning. We were to stay with Richard Carr (who booked the gigs) and Sandy Wilson who live on top of the Matador Club in the heart of the French Quarter on Decatur and Esplanade. What a spot! To be right in town, deep in the history of blues, jazz and cajun shrimp. The area was rather seedy but, hey, we're in "The Big Easy" so we felt we had to live it, right?! The Matador was thumping loud, still continuing St. Paddy's day festivities (although we later realized this is an every night, all night, music place.) Japanese geisha gals in tinsel tops awaited their time to perform sitting in their tour bus outside, and the people were on the street singing and dancing. Luckily we found a park right outside for the car and Sandy opened the door in the wee hours for us. Wrapped in a dressing gown and cigarette in her mouth, we followed her up a rickety staircase which leads above the club, with about 4 locked gates to pass. We had never met her before, only talked via email. We weren't sure what to expect. She and Richard live in this warehouse type pied-a-terre above the club and you could hear the thumping of the drums and bass underneath. I don't know how they sleep! Sandy is such a treat, a rather eccentric New York woman - seh's got Betty Davis' eyes vibe - who seemed to have lived many amazing and dazzling lives and her tales were fascinating. She used to manage David Johannson, the Roche Sisters and worked for Barry Manilow. Having booked show bands up and down the country, and started the careers of many artists, she admitted her love for my album "Woman" and was excited to get me on TV here. We chatted till 2am and then had to crash because we were due at CBS TV at 6am! 5am and the alarm went off loud and clear. I felt like I'd never slept, but was dreaming i was dancing down below with the people STILL partying on the street. Sandy, elegantly dressed now and makeuped (boy she shapes up well!) made the coffee... kind of a dark sludge but welcome at this moment. Fag in mouth she cooked us toast and we all got dressed as fast as we could. The 3 of us dragged ourselves into the waiting car and we slowly drove the dense fog streets of the early morning New Orleans French Quarter, watching it's visitors and residents making their way home after their big nights. This was the beginning of our Twin Peaks episode. The city was about to sleep till midday while we had things to do! CBS - or WWL Channel 4 - which is it's name but it's a CBS local station - lies in the centre of the French Quarter, rather incongruously as the rest of the "township" reminds me of Cannes on the French riviera with tiny streets of old-style terrace houses and cool little shops and venues. It's very European here, quite small, and reminds me of the Moulon Rouge in EVERY way - the art, the architecture, the burlesque people, the vibe. Only difference... i think there are vampires here. Segue.... I had so much fun on TV. I performed 3 segues of my songs and one full song (Woman) as well as got interviewed, on the Good Morning News Program, in between war news, cooking segments Emerile LeGasse) and a Prostate Prevention segment. 30,000 viewership was a cool start to my New Orleans Experience. After dropping the car into a day carpark (there really is no street parking in the Quarter unless you pay for parking), Sandy walked us to Cafe Du Monde, on Decatur, near the Levee. In New Orleans, this is a must. You sit in this outdoor cafe brimming with tourists and locals, searanaded by sax players and some dixie land jazz soloists, and served by dozens of asian waitresses, - one orders a Cafe Au Lait and Beignets. $1.75 gets you 3 beignets which is their famous breakfast - a spongy pastry that tastes like a donut and is covered, no smothered, with white powered sugar that ends up mostly on your clothing and all over your nose, than in your mouth. It's a real experience and we ate here every morning (and sometimes late evenings!). We walked back to the apartment via the shops on Decatur which are filled with "Mardi Gras" souvenirs, masks and voodoo dolls. If you're familiar with Venice, Italy, you'll understand that this is just like their stores: everything is selling items for CARNIVALE / masquerade - which includes an assortment of colorful and delightful masks with so many feathers (I was in heaven), plus hundreds of different types of harlequinn dolls, reminiscent of the northern italian towns. Then, in other stores, you can buy voodoo dolls (they are very superstitious here), pirate (Jean La fitte) paraphanalea and ghost town pieces. They say the French Quarter is completely haunted and that there is a ghost in every building. Later, you will find out that I now believe in ghosts. Keep reading.... We slept almost all day Tuesday....... That night, after some window shopping, and having said hello to Richard Carr who came back from a tour in St. Louis, I performed at his Original Music Series at O'Flaherty's Irish Pub on Toulouse, central French Quarter. Wonderful pub with 3 rooms for stages, we performed upstairs to a select songwriter crowd. I experimented some more with my loop station which is really giving me the opportunity to improvise there and then on stage. I'm loving it. The show was a lot of fun and I downed a cheesy nachos and 2 red wines - later, Port O'Call for a burger (I had a yummy baked potato and mushrooms.) By the way, it is quite well known that people eat A LOT here. You don't see the tummy tucked sizes of Hollywood in these parts. Food ... and Spirits.... are a central force of life. Back to the little pad above the noisy club,... toni and settled in the living room to sleep and dream of pirates and ghosts. Wednesday was going to be our tourist day. Up again to slimy (mmm yum more) coffee, and we hit the streets to see what the French Quarter was all about. We had more cafe au lait and beignets and then it was mask and harlequinn buying. We wandered down Bourbon street by day as they were cleaning up to go to sleep, and we sat by the Mississippi watching the paddle boat. Cajun shrimp for lunch, more walking down Royal Street (the upmarket art district), consignment of cds at the hip and cool Tower Records on Decatur and then back to O'Flaherty's for my One Woman Show. I performed 3 hours at the pub in the ballad room, with great sound, and a cool vibe. I was SO excited to have my own show right here in the heart of New Orleans, surrounded by clubs that hosts the finest music there is. Here I was, gilli moon, amongst the greatest jazz and blues. I was thrilled. I will remember this forever. I improvised alot with my new toy, and played my piano with the soul that was around me. I was in my element. I brought 3 people to tears and Sandy, the Manhattan girl at heart, was already insisting that David Letterman was my next port of call and that she was going to make the call the next day. After what I thought was an awesome show Toni and I headed off for a night of partying on Bourbon Street. "When in Rome do as the romans do...." The street, at midnight, was Packed with college kids, as well as retired tourists in their 60s and the locals who dressed in beads and crazy headware. The clubs and pubs, next door to each other on either side of the street, were pumping with music, from R&B, to Jazz, Dixieland, alternative rock and dance. It was all happening. Crowds were leaning against the railings of club balconies with girls taking their tops off while the cat calls issued below. It was like New Year's Eve and this is every night of the week. Girly bars, 'one drink per set' minimum bars, daiquiri stands, and hot dog stands line the streets. I knew this was going to last all night, but I had seen enough after 2 hours and so we scooted down the quiet Royal street admiring the beautiful terrace houses along the way. We passed many interestingly dark and bohemian bars that lent themselves to a total Twin Peaks, macabre atmosphere. Let's just say, this is a really dark town ,and secrets behind the doors one could only imagine. There is a lot of history here, alot of superstition, legends and myths and contemporary characters that make you wonder if we are living in a dream. Getting back to the pad, tired and weary we climbed the rickety stairs 3am. We found Sandy and Richard still awake, Sandy having had a quiet "too many" and listening to David Bowie reminiscing about life on Broadway. Toni and I settled in to the couch kingdom of pillows, and bedding we made for ourselves and slowly, we all fell asleep. Sandy couldn't find her vampire music to fall asleep to. I dozed off. 4.00am and my throat was dry. I reach for my bottle of water and wake (I never usually wake but I woke up) - to the smell of toast burning. Sandy is standing in the kitchen cooking. Cooking? It's 4am!!!?!!!! I sit up and notice smoke.... everywhere.... and then I jump up and stare bewildered at Sandy cook.... and the whole stove is alight with flames. "Sandy!, the toast is on fire!" I cry out. I run to the kitchen and Toni awakes behind me. The smoke is dense in the apartment. The stove, the toaster, the tea bag boxes, the BOXES heaped in a corner of the kitchen, are ALL ALIGHT. The place was on fire. I grab rags and towels but can't put out the flame. Sandy, I think, was still a little tipsy, poor lass, and she wasn't realizing what was happening. I cry out for Richard. "Ricccchhhharrrd!!! The HOUSE is on FIRE!!!" He jumps up in dreamland and runs into the kitchen. We are all trying to put out the flames. I grab the garbage bin, empty its contents on the floor and fill it with water from the bath. The cupboards are starting to alight. We realize the stove burners, all 4 of them, are on and as we splash the water, nothing is slowing down. The smoke is INTENSE. Sandy... cigarette still dangling out of her mouth... is still cooking...... It was so surreal and i felt i was dreaming. I started to think about evacuation, ...where my bags were, where to escape. Toni couldn't get the front door unlocked. We were 2 storeys up. Richard was so good he almost put his whole 6.6 foot frame body over the flames to extinguish them. With the water I delivered and the towels Toni gave, we ... finally... put out the fire..... sigh of relief.... The whole corner of the kitchen was black. 2 more minutes and the wooden ceiling would have caught. Even though we had brick walls, I knew that once the ceiling caught, we would have had no hope putting out the flames. We ran outside because we couldn't breathe in the smoke. Richard, Toni and I sat out there. .... Sandy.... went back to bed, straight to sleep. I do now believe in ghosts because I don't think she even realized what had happened. It was like someone else was doing this. Poor thing. We sat outside, with air conditioner and fans billowing, windows open, waiting for the smoke to escape. When we felt we could breathe again, just before dawn, we went back to bed. Waking up the next day was so surreal again. I thought I had dreamed it all, but the kitchen mess showed I hadn't. We were so lucky to have gotten through this. Thursday became... understandably, our complete day off. We remained in a daze while Richard took us to the swamps to visit the alligators ("Gators") which i took numerous photos of and recorded some of the bird and swamp sounds on my DAT recorder. This city is deep in weirdness and we experienced it first hand. By night fall we decided to listen to some improvisational jazz on Frenchman street, including the sighting of one of the country's top jazz improv pianists, Henry Butler. He switches from jazz to funk to swing to classical all in a minute. Amazing. But the night was young and this was our last night in town, so with DAT player and microphone in hand, we headed back to the debauchery of Bourbon Street to at least capture it on tape. We interviewed locals and tourists, grabbed samplings of the wonderful musical sounds of the bands , ate oysters on the shell and downed 4 tequilas. Sleep came again in the wee hours of the morning and I too felt the vampire in me. I slept happily this time and a beignet and a cafe au lait helped us on our way, Friday morning, on to the I-10 W freeway back to Houston. I sit here in the car, with a complete hangover, having just eaten fried catfish, fried oysters, fried shrimp and a beer (chaser!) on the road past Baton Rouge. I will remember New Orleans with fondness, fascination and wonder. It was an experience of a lifetime! I think we'll make it to the Go Girls Gig in Houston before dusk, but we are sitting in terrible traffic (road works) and I'm afraid that the alligators might bite me if I get out for a quick pit stop right now! in this flat swamp land called Louisiana.) March 21 - March 28: The desert-scape that is TExas and New Mexico i left off as we drove West away from New Orleans on the I-10 through swamp land and alligators. For lunch, on that Friday 21st March, we sat at a roadside diner eating fried catfish, fried oysters, fried shrimp and i think toni had fried alligator but i'm not sure, as i was already swimming in oil. Houston took 9 hours after all the traffic jams (should have been 6.5 hours). The I-10 was narrowing from a 2 lane to 1 lane many times, with no pit stop potential except swamp land on either side, ... and you know what lives there....! But eventually, as the night came, we landed in Houston and we drove directly to the Rhythm Room, the next gig destination. We were mentally exhausted after the N.O experience. However, this night was truly a great one. We unpacked the car (imagine how it is to unpack and repack a car every day... i think i've been getting my workout!) It's laden with bags, music gear plus keyboard, percussion, mattress, pillows and memorabilia from every truck stop along the way. Madalyn Sklarr, of Go Girls Music, was conducting her monthly Go Girls Showcase. It was a pleasure to perform amongst some truly talented artists including Melinda Mones (local country/rock artist and band), and Triprocket, an electronica meets rock (ala Garbage) band who were great. So i loaded in my gear, grabbed a drink, and chatted with the locals. The Rhythm Room is a great room to perform in, in Houston, and the sound is impeccable. The lighting was terrific too. This time, I decided to record my set on my DAT player. I hadn't done this yet. I had by now 2 weeks to master this phrase recorder/loop station so i was ready to hit the peddle to the metal. I once again experimented with some vocal harmonies and percussion with my toy.. I'm really enjoying the spontaneity and improvisation I'm doing lately, thanks to my toy. Plus, the jazz improvs of New Orleans has really started my juices flowing. I played a 45 min set and was very much at peace performing, enjoying the tape rolling and the cool vibe. My lighting was fantastic, with every lull and thunder on the keys illuminated by the change of lights by the engineer, Jerry. John the manager of the club/ cum bar tender, supplied some nice red wine as i sat signing CDs and chatting with new fans. We stayed at Madalyn and girlfriend Elizabeth's place that night out in Sugar Land, which is way out of town but a nice bourgeois neighborhood. I wonder if they grow sugar in sugar land? And this is the Go Girls Music HQ, filled with posters of touring artists (i was the next to get up on the wall), fabo DSL connection to check email and a hearty breakfast at Madeleine's for eggs and croissants. We had a slow day though. We had a lot to recover from our journey so far, but we did make it to dinner... our lives revolved around food it seemed and Joe's Crab Shack was an essential stop on our journey, having heard such good stories about it. Picture this, a themed restaurant with waiters dancing to Saturday Night Fever and Grease in t-shirts and shorts, lobsters, crab, shrimp and fish in many guises to eat, t-shirts that say "I got crabs at Joe's Crab Shack" and drinks about as big as you could possibly see in the big 'ol Texas. So Toni, Madalyn, Elizabeth, and my friend Marie-Jo, and I sat around this table eating seafood and laughing so hard we nearly peed our pants. It was good to let go, figuratively speaking... That night, of Sat 22nd, with no gig to do, no commitment to have, and plenty of time to finally waste, we stayed with Marie-jo Verbeke, who grew up with my Aliotti cousins every summer in Turkey. My Italian relatives (Dad's side) from Rome always go to Cesme Turkey every summer and Marie-jo, although not related, felt like a cousin to me. The last time I saw Marie-Jo (she goes by Joelle in the U.S as the Americans say her name as "Mary-Joe" with a twang, instead of the appropriate Murree-joh, the first annoys her (it would annoy me). Joelle seems easier to put your mouth around. The lat time i saw her was on a boat in t he Aegean sea enjoying the Turkish sun in '96. We spoke with sadness about Turkey right now,m being close to the war, and not being open to Americans so much at this point in time. We longed for Cesme summers. Toni and her hit it off straight away being the same age and both spiritually philosophical about everything. It was a home of peace. The birds were churping, the karma was good. Sunday 23rd and Toni and I went on a small pilgrimage to Lakewood Church on the other side of town. Both not church goers, we had been mesmerized by a certain pastor on TV called Joel Osteen whose charisma and sermons captivated you to finally know the Lowrd was Comin' to Saeave Usss. We HAD to see this guy in real person. And so we went. We ended up in a poor part of town, and the church was about the size of a small brick stadium. Ugly as hell on the outside, inside was literally the entertainment centre filled with God. Parking wrapped about 1 mile in circumference and we followed hundreds of church goers, black (mostly) and white into the building. Joel was already saving people down on the floor as we took our seats in the very back top stalls (a quick get away?) At least 3,000 people's hands were raised like Nazi germany as the church goers sang "God is our salvation" and the 40 piece gospel choir, orchestra and the blonde number sang from the stage. This was a high tech, money laiden production and tv cameras were sending a live feed to the country. We were witnessing..... something. Joel arrived, talking about motivation and making a positive step in your life.... (I must say, he really does have something to say) and then his pretty blonde wife addressed the audience for the obligatory "please sign your checks now and give us your tithe (10% of your earnings) as GOD needs youuuuu". Another lady came out and shared us a psalm about how the Israelites were saved by GOD in their war with the Palestinians and THEN she said, "just as our wonderful coalition, led by our wonderful president Bush is being guided and protected by the LORD, we think about our soldiers out there". History was in the re-making, and it's all on public broadcast television. We hurried our sinful selves out of there and back to Joelle's place where, on the completely different spiritual journey, she awaited us with a small group to practice some Qi-gong, an ancient Chinese mediation practice that claims to cure health problems, mental issues and even accidents waiting to happen. In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed her session and I think I'll read more into this philosophy. We had a great afternoon with Joelle, listening to Eric Clapton, the new Supertramp Cd and cooking BBQ (Texas and Australia really do have things in common!) By Monday morning 24th, we had resurrected into a peaceful state ready for the next leg, going back West. The I-10 took us through San Antonio (Toni cried with joy as her name was on every road sign), into Kerrville and past some sleepy towns which had some buffalo. We drove 7.5 hours plus a mexican meal stop (boy I really do like those spinach enchiladas downed with a margarita) - (so on the road for 9 hours) and I was thinking, "gee I don't know what they mean by Texas being all desert, .. it's been quite countrified and rolling plains so far.." Well I spoke too soon. For we then entered what people know of driving through Texas, along the El Paso Route on the I-10. All we saw, as day turned to dusk into night, were desert stretches, brilliant star constellations above and the smell of oil. Oil fields (with the oil pumps painted in the appropriate red, white and blue) became our only light indicators of human civilization until we came to rest. Fort Stockton: one of the earliest Forts, and incidentally the only Fort manned by black soldiers back in the day. This was going to be our overnight spot. We found a cozy motel called Town and Country, run by Ghandi. That's right, that was their surname, a little indian family who ran this cut, clean and cozy motel. Heck, I had to stay with Ghandi, if you know what I mean. We were on a spiritual journey. The motel, of which the room we bartered down to $30 including tax because we knew they weren't getting many customers, was eloquently nestled in-between two funky car washes. We decided to hit the local night spot but all we saw was the Good Times Saloon, and... well, i wasn't ready for their kind of good times, if you know what i mean. I can imagine it now, ... two girls walk into a bar on a lonely desert highway, with no one but cowboy hats and bored male patrons... um.,.... no thanks. Reminded me of Brad Pitt in The Mexican. Fort Stockton is one road of car washes and banks. That's right - nothing else. We found out that everything closes at 9pm (early risers I guess....) except for the car washes which are on every block. Modern day cowboys hang out washing their cars and for fun, toot their horns. Nothing much else to do in Fort Stockton. You might ask why there are banks here. Yes, they even have their own bank, the Pacos County Bank (Pacos is up the road.) Well... think about it.... oil fields... that's right. (As the Beverly Hillbillies used to say, and I'm sure they're from this region, "Oil, that is, black gold Texas tea..." Also there's a Walmart. Seems like there's a Walmart in every town, no matter how small it is. A mini shopping centre but more like a supermarket, Walmart's are a great place to hook up your RV if you don't want to pay an RV park as they have lighting and usually security. That's what a touring songwriter told me once! These kind of towns live around the Walmarts being the epicenter of their culture... Anyway, we decided there was nothing to do at 10pm so we hit the only liquor store and bought some Tecate mexican beer and poured ourselves some greasy cheesy nachos out of the do-it-yourself plastic machine, and headed back to the motel room where, at least, cable was awaiting us. We sat and drank and ate on the rickety bed and watched CNN and the sand storm enveloping our soldiers out in Iraq. How ironic as we sat in a no-horse town where most of these soldiers probably trained for such storms, out here in South West Texas. By morning we were on the road and stopped at the Comanche Springs (no springs here) Truck Stop where Wendy, all the way from North Dakota, served us coffee and eggs and whispered in my ear that AJ the mexican cook was eyeing me and wanted my phone number. She bought my CD for him and told us the history of Fort Stockton and how we could do a tour of it... in less than 5 minutes. Later, AJ stopped by, prodded by Wendy, a kind, softly spoken mexican american with all his teeth but one, and with his blue eyes he said, "well, all I'm really looking to do is find a way to leave this town." I was thinking, hmm, maybe he thinks I'm his meal ticket. Time to leave town. The drive, north on the I-285, was nothing but oil fields, tumbleweed, some wind mills and desert sand on either side. We hit Pacos at the end of the straight road.. home of the world's first rodeo, some important supply places: Texas Oil Supplies, and a few low riders (low to the ground, picks up chicks, speedy) who've placed small mags on their wheels with enough space between the tires and the chassy to fit a body. We took a photo of Ignacio with his red bandana and long hair, inside his red low rider. Our fiery friend had enough tattoos to show his perhaps gang status and possibly has been arrested 20 times but he was really niiizzzze. "Pliz, yu cun send the pictuurrre to meee, no?" Si. We knew it was a 7 hour drive to Santa Fe, but being in spirit country, we decided to take our time. It's one long road up the I-285 which seems like it's flat but really it's a gradual climb in elevation into the high desert. We drove right through the Carlsbad area and missed the caverns (deep under ground caves.) I had no desire to stay and later i found there was a huge nuclear plant there. Goodbye! Then we decided to stop in Roswell. I mean, why not?! Roswell is famous for a 1947 UFO cover up that hit the papers worldwide. Apparently a farmer and his son found a UFO and then later denied it once the military took the object. But more of the story is that there was a family of aliens in the UFO with most dead on "landing" but one apparently survived a little while in hospital. We've all seen the pictures, the little 3 foot pics of bald aliens and big slit eyes. So... off we tootled to one of about 5 UFO museums on the main road and enjoyed the reading. We could have stayed over night here but we decided to keep driving and hit Santa Fe. A coyote wanders the desert to the right, the canyon hills in the distance while the sun gradually set with lovely oranges and the billowing clouds cast shadows on the desert floor. It was a pretty, easy, drive. We hit a burger place on the way in "some" town. The burger place was a big metal hut (Penny's Diner) with 50s memorabilia. Rather incongruous amongst the adobe style houses, but heck we were hungry. We landed at Bobbi and Doug's place up the 599N near Santa Fe at about 7pm, in time for a tecate beer and an early night. Their house is a gorgeous adobe style (brown, mudbrick-like) house in a quiet desert country area about 20 minutes out of Santa Fe. Their view are the gorgeous snow-capped mountains and spotted desert hills great for walking. On Wednesday 26th we were tired of driving and with no where to go, we pottered around the house, walking (scaring a few jack rabbits in our path), breathing, meditating, reading and I recorded some spontaneous improvisations on the piano with my DAT player. (I can see a new album of instrumental compositions coming on!!!) Doug cooked dinner (yep he's a good chef and his kitchen is immaculate), while we all drank wine and I pretended to be the crocodile hunter with the Akubra hat and a fake snake. One needs to be one's own entertainment in the desert (or maybe i was getting tour silly. i don't know!:) Thursday 27th and I finally did some work on my computer before we hit the road to Albuquerque. We had one book delivery to one book store, and then we hopped over to Bookworks where a booksigning/talk awaited. They had ordered 50 books for this book signing weeks ago and when i got there, there was a gorgeous throne like chair on a stage and a jug of water waiting for me to sit. Posters everywhere saying "recording artist gilli moon talks about success in the arts", this great store is filled with books on every subject, and many spiritual. The store is located on the outskirts of Albuquerque near horse farms and attracts the arty types. So I began my talk with the notion that "success must be defined on your own terms and not by how others see it." I talked about being passionate about what you do, making that first step (overcoming commence-aphobia), being a business person, the three Os, listening to your own advice and staying motivated. I felt humbled by the group because I was talking to artists who were older (and probably wiser than me), yet most had drifted away from their art and came to hear me so that they could be inspired and motivated again to focus on what they love the most. The cross section was cool: from photographers (alot of them), to water-colorists, to painters, to authors. No musicians represented in the group and no one under 40. I am quite excited by the diverse cross-section of people i attract to my seminars. What a fun night! One person suggested I start recording the seminars to have them available on tape. Good idea! We finished it off with a question/answer group discussion and I began to sign their bought books of mine, while we drank wine and ate cookies, complimentary of the staff. Next week, Tom Robbins (Even Cowgirls get the Blues) will speak and last week it was Tony Hillerman (novels of New Mexico and "Skin Walkers" now a TV movie). I am in good company. Friday 28th and I awake to snow. It has been quite warm for the whole tour, but today it's snowing here in Santa Fe and is 45 degrees F. We have really hit every type of weather condition on this journey! It's time to see Taos, a beautiful, ancient Indian town north of Santa Fe where I am to perform in the evening at Cafe Tazza. Final thought of the day: I watch TV and a school teacher is docked 2 days pay and fined for insubordination because she refuses to remove a "no war" sign from her classroom wall. Where did the first amendment go where we have a right to freedom of speech? March 28 to April 2 New Mexico to Phoenix, Final leg i left off on Fri 28th March when it was snowing in Santa Fe and time to head up north on the I-285 to Taos. Taos is a sleepy old Indian town nestled up past Los Alamos in the mountains. It's a great skiing area and you can find Indian artifacts and souvenirs everywhere. We drove the hour or so up the windy road which follows the Rio Grande River. It gets quite icy so we had to take our time. What better way than to do some wine tasting in Dixon half way up. The small winery was run by a woman who immediately wanted to help us get on radio once in Taos, so she helped us call K-Taos Radio to see if I could get a last minute interview. We left a message. Meanwhile 2 guys from Houston's Guinness Beer company sauntered in and we started talking about sponsorship for my next tour. Oh it was too much as we got tipsy on wine! They threw some guinness and some other beer and some tequila into the back of our car and off we tootled up the windy road. It was a spectacular drive with high cliffs on either side and rocks almost green in nature. Once in Taos, we decided to head for a Mexican restaurant, but authentic new mexican. We found Antonio's and were served delicious black beans, enchiladas, the biggest margaritas I'd ever seen (we had to get it take away in plastic cups!), and yummy spicy salsa. Antonio and his brother stood around us like hawks making sure we enjoyed their food and we did. (although I was wondering if he was looking for a wife...!) We made another call to K-Taos radio and spoke to DJ Michael Dean who didn't have time for me but he started plugging my show all afternoon and that was really cool. So, with time to kill I took Toni to see the Gorge. I had been up here with my friend Pip several years ago and it was cool to see it all again. The gorge is like a mini Grand Canyon overlooking the Rio Grande. Cold as ice, with hawks nesting in the cliffs, the river below, Toni got dizzy with the height and the wind started picking up. A big cloud was coming towards us as it traveled on the ground (we were high up!) and it started to snow. We had seen every climate condition on this tour, from dry Arizona heat, mugginess of Austin, hot swamps of New Orleans and now... it was snowing! At 6pm we found Cafe Tazza, my gig for the evening. They had a piano which was cool, so I left the keyboard in the car. But it was snowing tonight and that means, ... not many people. I came back from the car with some of my cables and was followed in by a local Indian guy who was asking everyone off the street for money. I sat down to drink my tea and watched him sit next to a woman from the Oklahoma/Texan border with a huge turban around her head. He asked her for 45c so he could buy a cup of coffee, to which she replied "I only have tea bags." He took it, smelled it and asked if he could take it home to his family. They subsequently picked up a conversation, quite indepth and I thought "wow, a match made in heaven." I began my set to about 5 people in this adobe style coffee house wondering if I was going to make it through the 2 hours. But I did, and some people came and went and overall it was fun: I sold a few cds, a book and got some tips and .. a tea bag. After the gig, we packed up and headed back down the windy, icy road. We were warned of the ice to take it slow. We arrived back at Bobbi and Doug's place very late and crashed. Saturday morning the sun was shining and I knew it would for it was my birthday. What a beautiful way to spend another passing year, in the heart of the desert with mystical lands surrounding me. Toni hadn't seen the Santa Fe old town so I took her in to town for a look-see around the shops and beautiful Adobe style villas, St Francis Church built in the 1600s and the indian market stalls. After a tamale on the road, we walked past a long line of Indians selling hand-made jewellery, mainly silver and turquoise. Their prices weren't cheap: mostly around $150 for a bracelet. I thought to myself "I'm in the wrong industry." It was freezing in Santa Fe today and we mainly went from one inside fireplace to another. By 5.30pm we were eating at Tomasita's next to the Santa Fe railway (Pip, remember that wonderful restaurant and the Indian shop across the street??!?!?). Toni's friends, Rose (Tom) and Kelly from Los Alamos met up with us for my birthday dinner. He was telling me that he worked for the Government testing nuclear weapons for the war. Nice conversation.....:( Well I had an early night on my birthday and arose Sunday 30th to prepare for a cool gig at the Paramount Club in Santa Fe. This club is now owned by an old friend of Toni's, Donnalee, who is a warm entrepreneurial woman, ex DJ from Phoenix, who has made this club a fabulous 2 room music filled place that also sells pizza! I performed in the Bar-B room (the smaller, intimate bar) and Astra Kelly opened. She comes from the East Coast and is a tall gal with a great sense of style and a cowboy hat. Playing guitar, she opened the night and had invited many of her friends and family. I enjoyed this gig because the room was so cool, and I played a 2 hour set with my keyboard and fun loop station, now using some drums and a bass rift I've been working on in my travels on some of the songs. Bobbi filmed the show on her camera and Toni ordered pepperoni pizza as Donnalee insisted she test her pizzas (the pizza ended up in the fridge back at the "ranch" minus the pepperoni (toni had to eat those) and donated the pizza to Bobbi and Doug). Monday 31st and it was time to depart New Mexico. We stopped at EVERY indian shop along the way, in search of colored rocks, feathers and turquoise jewellery. It was hard finding something less than $5 but we discovered a few gems, so to speak. But since we didn't leave Santa Fe till 3pm we only got as far as Gallup, which is close to the Arizona border (4.5 hours from Santa Fe on the I-40). Gallup was.... how can I put this lightly..... a rough town. The El Rancho hotel is in Gallup and I think this is the only up market place in the whole town. Famous for being the hotel of the stars (Clint, John Wayne, the stars of the 20s to 60s have stayed here while on location filming those westerns).... we decided to have a drink and some salsa contemplating the next leg to drive. Instead, we decided to stay the night. The first 3 motels were under $20 a room and thinking we were in luck financially we took the cleanest one. Cop cars constantly flashing their lights and tooting their sirens was common, plus... a lot of indians. Indian shops, indian pawn shops, indian bars... indian souvenir shops. Unlike Fort Stockton, there wasn't any car washes or banks. Just hotels. Lots of hotels. We turned the TV on looking for the promised HBO and went to bed not finding it.... I slept on a rock of a pillow and tossed and turned all night. It was a $20 room because a) the train tracks felt like they were running through our bathroom and the trains came passed every 20 minutes blowing their horns. The bed shook and I tossed again. b) the gas heater would turn itself on every 10 minutes with a burst that shook me again/ I woke up on April 1 feeling like I had never slept. Was this my April Fools? "Let's get out of this no horse town" I said and Toni pumped the gas onwards west on the I-40. Ortega Indian shops littered the roads with over-rated indian souvenirs but we detoured into the Painted Desert to see the Petrified Forest.... What a sight! Firstly, the painted desert is a seascape (I say this as it was once underwater) of a beautiful desert land that was a glacier. It's colors were fabulous. Dry, reds, browns, even greys. I took many photos. 20 miles in and we arrived at the petrified forest. No huge live trees here, instead, almost cut logs on the ground scattered everywhere in the flat desert, ... these logs were petrified.... crystallized from 225 million years ago. Loggers had discovered them in the mid 1800s looking for wood, they found these petrified wood pieces with fossils in them. They are as hard as stone and have crystals coursing through them. I thought someone had cut the logs up in pieces, but apparently over the ages, the shifting of the earth has cause the crystal wood to split vertically in seemingly perfect log pieces. I was fascinated. When we went hiking through them I felt like I was walking on the moon. The desert was grey! Back on the I-40 and we hit one more indian shop before Flagstaff. There were alot of rocks, some "dinosaur bones" and this cowboy with cowboy hat and pistol on his belt selling crap for exorbitant prices. I thought i'd seen it all until i saw what he had for sale: DINOSAUR DUNG. Oh - my -god. As IF it lasts this long! But... people buy it. Jeesuz!!! Anyway, about an hour later we hit Flagstaff, AZ. What a quaint town, a college town, with little streets and an almost Boston like atmosphere. Toni did some business with the Orpheum Theatre which is looking for promoters and I studied the now 3 turquoise rings and 4 turquoise bracelets adorning my hand and wrist in my buying frenzies. This was to be our last day on tour and as the late afternoon began to hit we decided not to go to the Grand Canyon, and we took the I-17 towards destination Phoenix. But Toni had one more detour to make... SEDONA. Yippee I cried. Some nice magic, spirit and red rocks. "Lets!" It was only half an hour away from Flagstaff. We drove the windy cliff laden road down into Sedona, with the pines around us, the creek beside us, and the gorgeous red mountains above. I got the urge to look for a hotel but was sad when one cost $90 for the smallest room. Oh well, just a thought. But then, looking at some market stalls, we saw a sign for $59.95 for a hotel room plus a tour. WOW! I was about to take it when the lady said, actually it's only $39.95 AND you get $20 back in food "funny money". I thought it was a joke. BUT it was for real, and we stayed in the most awesome room, 2 queen beds, fireplace, tv, bathroom, kitchen and gorgeous view of the red rocks in front of us in Sedona. I was in heaven... my birthday present! The only catch was today... we had to go on the time share tour and listen to some upstart try and tell us how we should take a vacation and buy time share in this over rated holiday resort. What-ever! Late afternoon today I arrived back in Phoenix AZ, my 4th home. ANYway, it's time to say goodbye to this tour. Friday night I will be doing a show on grand piano and book signing at Borders Books in Phoenix and Saturday a cool gig at Bar Bun in Phx downtown. I arrive back in Los Angeles on Sunday to a peaceful new home in Sherman Oaks where the jacuzzi is awaiting me.