It was an early start.
By 5.45 my friend Jim and I had the car packed and were on our way. Ringing in our ears was the terrific show last night from Tift Merritt at an inner Melbourne city restaurant – Mesa Verde. Front row seats, good food and a nice bottle of French red made for a treat. Tift is touring Australia, supporting Jason Isbell, but last night she had her own intimate performance, with Eric Heywood accompanying on acoustic and pedal steel guitar. A beautiful voice and plenty of very worthy material – you might want to check out her most recent release Traveling Alone.
A smooth beginning to the road trip. We missed a lot of traffic due to our early departure. First stop was Benalla – a ham cheese muffin and a coffee to go. Crossed the border into New South Wales by 9.15 and we stopped by Gundagai for an early lunch. Chicken salad wraps were just the ticket and a walk along the quiet streets – the sky was a brilliant blue. By 12.30 we refueled beside the Dog On The Tuckerbox and headed further north.
The afternoon was pretty uneventful, driver swaps and CD swaps. A welcome call from Phillip to discuss the Bluesfest playing grid for day one and where and when we best might meet that day.
Soon we were in the thick edge of Sydney traffic and, having managed the worst of it, stopped for a cup of tea and a sugar fix. It was a little before five and we headed for Newcastle, going as far as we could before stopping for the night. And we did -by 7.45 we arrived in Taree and chose a motel because of its proximity to the town centre and the fact that it boasted its own bar and grill. We took the rooms but then found the roast had finished for the day.
We walked down the main street and missed two pub meals by literally five minutes – everyone was in a hurry to go home. Luckily we stumbled upon a nice Italian restaurant. Finally we were able to declare the day to be a complete success (bar the motel rooms I must admit).
Musically, it was a rich day – Dex Romweber Duo (Images 13), Bobby Bare Jr (Undefeated) (yes, son of the country music hall-of-famer), Steve Scott Country (Those Tears I’ve Cried), Shaun Kirk (Steer The Wheel), Backsliders (Dark Side), Raised By Eagles (s/t), Gary Louris (Vagabond Nights) Russell Morris (Van Diemen’s Land) Ryan Bingham (Roadhouse Sun), Guy Clark (Stories And Songs), Ray Wylie Hubbard (Loco Gringo’s Lament), Junior Brown (12 Shades of Brown) and Tift Merritt (See You On The Moon).
So, 5 and 1/2 hours to go tomorrow and we will be at Byron Bay.