Flip Flop Fail.

The view from my hotel room, from the Transamerica pyramid building on the left, the Bay bridge and Treasure island, all the way to Candlestick Park and the South San Francisco hills on the right.

Day off –

A day off means another opportunity for myself, Glenn and T.C to get out an about with the golf clubs. The crew drive from Portland was a long one and the chances of them arriving into the city in time for a round were 50/50. We stayed in touch via text and they arrived 10 minutes before I picked them up in a cab to head for our secret destination. Just time enough for them to change and grab the clubs from the bus. The taxi took us to the California Golf Club of San Francisco and a pre-arranged round with their pro. Matt Raine, here pictured with TC and Glenn.

The Cal Club has since the mid-1920’s taken full advantage of the finest aspects of modern golf architecture and agronomy. Originally conceived in 1918, a redesign in 1927 by none other than Alister MacKenzie resulting in a startling transformation that makes the Cal Club arguably one of the five finest courses in the Bay area. It was quite a treat to be given an opportunity to play such a beautiful and natural course. There are no yardage markers or posts at all, a rare thing. The greens were literally like tight woven carpets and as true as can be. It’s not often I hole a 70ft putt for a birdie on a 200yd par 3! As well as being a great player, Matt looked after us really well, naturally I offered he and his girlfriend a couple of tickets to the show at the Bill Graham Civic the next evening. An anomaly of clubs as exclusive as the Cal Club is the fact that there is no cash allowed, all drinks in the bar must  be paid for on a member’s account and as such, we were unable to have a customary apres-round, round, Matt being the pro, not a member couldn’t buy. Fortunately, there were four members sitting at the bar already mid-session who insisted we all partake of a ‘car-bomb’. All first-time guests must comply. Guinness with a shot of Jameson’s whiskey and Baileys. Down in one. In order not to appear rude, we accepted their kind offer. Nice guys and an amazing experience (the golf, not the drink). We said our goodbyes and headed back to the city in a cab.

When I returned to the hotel, management team Pete, Tim and Paul were ready to head out to meet a couple of crew boys at their hotel. We had a couple of drinks in the lovely deco bar of the Monaco Hotel and overcome by hunger we decided to head for Little Italy for dinner and went for pretty much the first restaurant we saw. Another relatively early retirement and I was back in the room before midnight.

Show days –

My ears popped four times during my ride in the elevator to the 48th floor and my hotel room which allows astonishing views of this most spectacular of cities. Surely the highest hotel floor in town. when the weather is like this, it’s truly an awesome sight. Hot, sweaty and hungry from only the second gym workout of the tour, I ordered a healthy yet curiously expensive selection which included the ever-present granola with natural yoghurt, banana, blueberries and honey. No bread or pastries, no, just a manicured fresh fruit plate to adorn the slightly bare breakfast trolley. An orange juice which always disappears first, and a cafe latte completed the picture. The machine-like efficiency with which the girl on the other end of the phone took my breakfast order left me a little speechless. I wondered, when I’d replaced the handset if I was indeed speaking to a machine. It wouldn’t surprise me if I was.

The weather has been spectacular so far during our stay in San Francisco, I knew I should have packed my sandals. Choosing appropriate clothing and footwear has required some thought, as we were in driving snow less than a week ago. With the idea of buying some flip flops I found Ian and we headed out for a downtown wander. I needn’t have worn the jacket, it was sweltering. We headed out in no particular direction then found Market Street and headed west until an appropriate side street took us to a few department stores where we tried on some shoes, just for the hell of it. I found a few shops which were offering yoga mats for $70. Call me old-fashioned but I’m not parting with 70 bucks for a dodgy strip of old rubber matting. (I’ll ‘borrow’ one from the hotel gym methinks) Flip flops was another matter. you would assume there might be a few surf type shops in downtown SF, but no such chance, the only flip flops to be found were in Macy’s and they were a hundred bucks. You’re kidding!. In sheer desperation, I found a pair in the Equinox gym shop across the road from the hotel, they were mis-matched, i.e.. wrong sizes, one slightly too small and one slightly too big…on sale for $10. I haggled ‘Mr. personality’ down to $5 and the deal was done. I got to my room and held the flops up to one-another and got my swiss army knife out and cut the larger shoe down to size.

I now have a pair of utterly useless Ipanema Brazillian rubber flip flops. Both of which are now too small. I packed the bag for the gig and headed down to the front of the hotel where Saen and her bus waited to take us to the Bill Graham arena. By the time I was on board I realized the flip flops were a bad idea.

Once at the venue, there was the usual advance party to catering where Scott and the girls had once again left out lunch for the stragglers. Like men who hadn’t eaten in days, we filled our plates and ate in silence. Bob’s band were as usual on stage sound-checking, running new tunes, old tunes and by the time we returned to our dressing room, the crew were making the changeover in readiness for our check. With doors open at 6:30, the hall filled quickly and we were onstage once again at 7:30 prompt with Paul making his customary announcement an ever increasing volume. Shows in San Francisco come with an added aroma, the waft of marijuana as we walked onto the stage was overwhelming. Even though the room was a difficult one in terms of sound, well that’s how our sound boys described it, we had a great gig. The in-ears were slightly lacking in punch and as a consequence the band sounded a little disjointed. With pure faith in Dave’s ability on the FOH desk, we battled on and as usual, our mixes improved throughout as Kerry on the monitor desk worked his magic. The audience was fantastic and by the end of our set were deafening with their applause and appreciation.

The weather for show-day two was extraordinary and I managed to squeeze another round of golf in. The sun shone hard and golf pro Matt’s girlfriend Courtney had kindly offered to take me for a round at her club, the Peninsula Golf and Country club. Another great golf course with incredible views of South San Francisco. We had a great time and she dropped me back at the hotel in time for our usual 4pm departure.  Whilst I was swinging clubs with Courtney, most of the other guys took a trip to Amoeba Records, an independent music chain founded in Berkeley by former employees of nearby Rasputin Records. The San Francisco store, which opened in 1997 is especially notable for its size. Occupying a 24,000 square foot former bowling alley, the store regularly stocks upwards of 100,000 CD’s, vinyl and cassettes, both new and used.

As is always the case when we play a venue two nights in succession, any sound issues had been resolved by sound men with a combined working experience of centuries. The onstage energy for show no.2 was extraordinary. We were having a ball up there and every one of the band was on fire. Maybe it’s because our set is so condensed, we don’t waste a moment getting going and it always feels like it’s over far too quickly. With the weather being unseasonably warm, the concert hall seemed to have retained some of the daytime heat. A heady mix of smoke, sweat, marijuana and music made for a great evening. We came off stage elated to find that Pete had sent out for take-away ribs and chicken wings. The post-gig adrenaline hunger syndrome meant they were unceremoniously devoured.

pic Jeroen Gerrits

Jimmy Buffett’s band were in town at the Fillmore and Glenn Worf and I headed up to the Monaco hotel bar for the second time in our stay here for after-show drinks with them. Glenn has worked with Jimmy and band for many years and wanted to introduce me to them. It’s always great to hook up and catch up with mates when away from home and what a great bunch of guys they are too. Here’s a rare shot, two of the finest bass players known to mankind, together. Glenn and Jim Mayer are long-term pals and have in fact worked together on many sessions, including Jimmy Buffett sessions…BOTH playing bass.

Turfed out of the bar at midnight, Glenn and I headed back downtown to the Mandarin in a cab. In a reflective mood, I sat at my computer and composed a few words about my nan who passed away last week. The funeral was set to take place back home in England in a few hours and saddened by the fact I cannot attend, I wanted to send my dad something to read out in my absence. My nan was an amazing woman with whom I spent a lot of time as a kid as my mum and dad used to often be out late working and gigging. Enid Fletcher passed a few weeks before her 97th birthday. She will always be with us.