The trip so far is testing from a writer’s point of view. Not that I’m short of material, far from it, but I’m too busy to update. I’m having a blast and I don’t want it to end, that’s the important thing! Every day is different!
Today’s the day where the rock n roll element of the tour kicks in. We are going to meet Mohawk Radio and watch them play at Sky Bar later on. The token jet lag still hasn’t let up and it’s about 6am when the messages between Me, Mia and Maddy start, trying to organise breakfast.
Me and Sue step outside the guest house to be greeted by a wonderfully bright and sunny day. We can now see what the surrounding area looks like and its mesmerising. How have we ended up here? I ask. It’s surreal. The neighbourhood is so peaceful and the surroundings breathe tranquillity. It’s hot! But nice hot! Not a sweaty, unbearable hot! The mountain ranges lurk in the distance and we drink it all in. It’s important to remember these scenic moments!
We begin a short walk up the quiet road with cactus lurking on both sides. We are surprisingly beeped by an oncoming Dodge Seven Seater, and a hand is waving at us. It’s Greggsy and Sean from the band, off on an early morning dart to Wal-Mart. “Fancy seeing you here of all places!” I jokingly ask. They give us a lift back to their house about a minute up the road.
We let ourselves into the house and Dave, Maddy and Mia greet us and its hugs all round. We can’t quite believe that we are meeting here. The last time we met was at their Manchester Academy gig two weeks previously and it was crazy to say each other, “See you in Arizona.”
The plan is to get some breakfast, but where? Mia types into Google, ‘Best breakfast in Tucson.’ Top of the list is a place called Bobo’s about twenty minutes away. When the boys return we all pile into the family outing vehicle and head through the streets of Tucson, which carries a very Mexican feel to it with orange buildings that mirror the rough terrain. It’s all quite pleasant and modernised and looks quite chic either side of the dual carriageways.
In the car, Mohawk Radio tell us about their journey so far. The gig they played in North Carolina was incredible, full of the locals who inhabit the gated community they were residing in. They were completely rocked by the bands energy and loved them so much that they sent a tip jar around in appreciation for their entertainment. That never happens in the UK! Perhaps it should. Every gig standard £5 entry then anything on top to show your appreciation which goes to the band only! Sounds fair! The place they stayed in was hugely impressive. It had everything judging from the pictures I was shown.. This gig had been sorted out through Dave and his drum making business. The owner of the property had previous dealings with him and had said he was welcome over anytime with the band if they ever played America. I think they were gob smacked to see he had a massive house by the lake surrounded by a forestry. The band have stated their hosts were magnificent and that needs mentioning on these travel excursions. They are ones that help make the trip!
It sounded like they kicked off the tour in explosive fashion and it wasn’t going to slow down in Tucson. They asked us about Vegas and we went through everything what happened, including my moment of madness at Black Jack – still stings! What I did forget to mention in my original Vegas postings was a real comedy moment. We were going up some escalators on Las Vegas Boulevard and I noticed a few people congregated at the top laughing. I thought something wasn’t right and there was some sort of set up somewhere. I clocked what it was immediately as soon as I reached the top. However, Sue was oblivious to this. I turned around and watched her reach the top of the escalator and walk passed a random bush on the walkway. The bush came to life and moved towards her, completely scaring the shit out of her as she shrieked with fear. A man was dressed as a small bush and if I hadn’t have seen people laughing initially then it may have fooled me too. Someone recorded this on their phone too, so I expect to find it on YouTube at any point. I’m still laughing at Sue’s reaction! Priceless
We arrive at Bobos to see a queue outside. Maybe the title of ‘Best Breakfast in Tucson’ was correct if people have to take a number for a seat inside. It’s only a small place and resembles a UK greasy spoon cafe, which is a good sign. We wait for half an hour and each party is called by name to enter the completely packed cafe once someone has finished. It’s so busy that we have to split into 2 groups. The menu is astonishing, and all at a very reasonable price that was perfect after enduring Vegas prices. We all ordered different food and I got to see the typical American dish of pancakes with all the sweet trimmings. They were absolutely huge! Maddy finished hers! My Californian Omelette was massive and was packed to the rafters with allsorts. We got to meet Bobo herself, a polite lady who’s family all work for her, even down to the grandchildren. What an awesome place to eat with first class service and people. Bobo’s, you are ‘the best breakfast in Tuscon.’
We split from the band when we return to our neighbourhood for a few hours whilst they have a nap and prepare for the night. Me and Sue decide we’re getting on it and crack open a Bud, then another, then another. We are sat in the yard with our music on and must resemble ‘trailer trash’, but given our host is such a rock n roll fanatic and fires his own music out at top notch, we are just bedding in with the cul-de-sacs culture, and it’s one we relish.
Mohawk Radio live @ Sky Bar, Tucson!
So the gig itself loomed upon us, and we set off down to Tucson Centre around 5pm, just in time to see the sun setting on our travels. It really does get dark quickly in Arizona. Once dusk starts to set, you’re in pitch black within fifteen minutes. We arrive at Sky Bar and as we pile out I feel like I’m in an episode of Entourage. It feels ace! My role is the gofer!
After checking in we have plenty of time to kill so we eat in a nearby restaurant before taking a stroll down the main road. There’s very much and Native American and spiritual influence here. Aside from the people who inhabit the region, the shops are geared to that. The centre of Tucson has a very unique feel to it that you’d associate with the Southern States that are baked in glorious sunshine. The buildings are low rise, pink and orange, and there’s space between them, but there’s a character about the place that I haven’t seen or felt anywhere else in the world. The new feelings and experiences are really broadening my mind!
We end up back in Sky Bar around 8pm. The first band are on at 9pm and Mohawk Radio are on at 10pm. We immediately set to the bar where I find they have ales on tap! So, Sierra Nevada Pale Ales it is for me at 4 bucks a hit (check me out with the lingo. Sue has already pointed out I said the word ‘trunk’ rather than ‘boot’. I’m a closet American I think.)
The first band on are PIPELiGHTS, a four piece all female local band, who’s indie art concoctions were pleasantly psychedelic. They’ve only been together a short time and show promise! It is a very different genre to what we get in the UK, but at the same time, different enough to make people stand up and get onboard a new type of groove!
It’s not long after they finish that Mohawk Radio begin to set up and I’m anticipating something a bit special tonight. Mia comes on and announces the band from Manchester. It sounds crazy to hear on the Tucson Strip. They launch into ‘Rock n Roll Heaven’ and the forceful nature of the rocking track immediately makes people stop what they’re talking about and divert their eyes to the stage. Perhaps they haven’t heard anything like this from an underground band live!
The space between band and audience, that was like a no fly zone beforehand, is now filled with people who have made their way to the front to catch a closer glimpse at this ‘new’ band. I remain further back and just soak it all in, privileged and humbled to be part of it. Songs such as ‘Oblivion’ and ‘Two Million Heart Beats’ are highlights of their original writings that keep the audience rocking as their numbers grow at the front. ‘Curious Morality’ is dedicated to me and Sue and the emotional nature of the track coupled with the whole scenario of being in Tucson is overwhelming!
Time for a cover song at this point and after much deliberation at the start of the day, AC/DC’s ‘Highway to Hell’ comes on and ecstasy levels in the crowd shoot up for a song they recognise and clearly adore. Cheers ring out and the crowd belt the words back to the band, who’s performance of this classic rock track is phenomenal. Mia is a complete revelation with her vocals bringing a new slant on the tune. Effortless! Remarkable! Captivating!
‘Lifetime Sunshine’ brings the show to an end, and what is a suitable song for Manchester, now becomes an ironic line, ‘I’ve had a lifetime of sunshine, I need a little bit of rain.” This is a reference to Mia’s decision to daringly move to Manchester from her native Bermuda. The lyrics can be swapped around for the next couple of weeks.
That brings an end to an awesome display, and the crowd show their appreciation with all their delight. We start to talk to people afterwards and one girl is nearly in tears as she tells us how much she loved them. Sue’s t-shirt is complimented by a young fan. The t-shirt is a Mohawk Radio one with the slogan ‘Take Me To Rock n Roll Heaven’. Sue being Sue, literally gives the shirt off her back for this fan, who is completely overjoyed to be the only person in the US with this t-shirt (I think). She’s under strict instructions to advertise using this and she excitedly agrees upon her new role.
Our hosts, Mickey & Noomie even come down to watch the band and their approval and enjoyment is a massive boost for the band. The fact that they have lived through the golden age of rock music and love this fresh, new band speaks volumes. If these two like you, you must be good! More on Mickey and Noomie later on though!
Still one act left on a great night for music. Two piece band IOTA follow Mohawk Radio and they air back to the arty indie genre with a tinge of psychedelia, much like PIPELiGHTS. Is this the sound of Tuscon, or just a one off for the gig?
The night was a complete success and everyone wanted a piece of the band and Maddy as the questions and conversations begin. They speak to several people and even do a short interview that I believe will be aired on local TV. I watch on with pride and soak it all in, and think to myself, surely these guys are gonna make it out here! How can they not?
Mohawk Radio have taken over Tucson and Tuscon weren’t ready!