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The Beautiful Soul Tour (USA)

Updated: Jun 11


Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

Image by Martyn Payne

On the flight out to Boston, I watched the film about McDonalds, which portrayed two decent brothers (the McDonalds) setting up a restaurant, which a corrupt salesman saw the potential of and conned them out of ownership before going global.

Boston

We arrived into Boston at around 10pm on 21st September Boston-time; the weather was pretty bad for our two-night duration so I was getting a pretty antiquated image of Boston in the gloom although I now learn of its rich history as the birth-place of the American Revolution and have been inspired by the true spirit of America, fought for by the "Loyal Nine" under the Liberty Tree, lead by Samuel Adams.

Samuel Adams, Founder of the Americal Revolution

During my research of the revolution, I discovered an article online by journalist, Ronald Kessler, revealing that "black from soot, the building [on which the plque to represent the Liberty Tree is placed] housed a delicatessen, a billiard parlor, a liquor store, and a hamburger place. The plaque was overshadowed by a billboard adjacent to it depicting a chubby young boy eating a hamburger."

Find the full article here.

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Our trip to America was initially enabled by my good friend and colleague, Patrick Moss being accepted to present a paper at the World Canal Confence in Syracuse, NY after being egged-on by me!

Patrick's a town and tansport-planner at Moss Naylor Young with a speciality in waterway regeneration, and his paper was on the topic of "Floating Communities and Flourishing Heritage", envisioning the regeneration of disused canals to create affordable housing, amongst a myriad of the other benefits.

Patrick's also the director of Soaring Magpie Records, which he was kind enough to set up for the launch of my debut EP, back in April 2015.

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Syracuse

After a grey and rainy entrance into Boston, it was a real pleasure ot discover that Syracuse was unusually hot at nearly 30 degrees celsius, so after a few hours drive up the highway in our air-conditioned upgraded car, with time to listen to some music along the way, we got settled into our Motel and then headed off to attend the open day at the World Canal Conference.

Whilst waiting fot the minibus to take us to the Onondaga Lake visitor centre, we met a really friendly folk-duo called Bells and Motley who invited us to their home for dinner and along the way, guided us to the Camillus Canal Park for a complimentary trip along the Erie Canal followed by a singer/songwriter session in the barn!

Other than a canal museum, Syracuse didnt seem to have much to offer tourists so whilst Patrick attended the conference I tried to find the culture in Syracuse on a Monday morning, and discovered one busker outside a cafe, known by the name of Wes McDuffie (the USA seems to be founded on the Irish and Italians) so we got chatting, jamming and swapped CDs.

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Niagara

No musical connections here but we deduced it was worth the extra 400 miles to get to see one of the seven wonders of the world - and it was!

The sheer exhiliration of the water falling from such a height is a miracle to behold, and luckily it was sunny enough to cause a rainbow AND we got an electric pink sunset - result.

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Bethel and Woodstock

Ok so I guess you’re wondering what the Beautiful Soul Tour is, right? Well me too! My theory is that if I surrender my life to “the soul” and wait for the signs, then a great plan will unfold and because life is what we make it, then it does – usually.

And so I had been waiting for the ideas and inspiration to come along but we were travelling at such a fast speed on this trip (because of the underestimated distances and time-constraits) that it was difficult to get into the the fullness of the present moment and let the magic roll…

… but then we discovered the bustling town of Woodstock! It’s really like Glastonbury and was where the festival was supposed to be held but the authorities had the sense to see what was going to happen and said no, so they moved it to the Bethel, about 50 miles away!

Woodstock Music Festival 1969

We actually headed to the “Bethel Center for the Arts” first, which, as well as having a fantastic auditorium also hosts a museum dedicated to the memory of the festival, and even though I imagine the hippies would not be impressed by the commercialisation, it was very interesting (and the “Back to the Garden” hummus and veg sandwich from the fairly soulless café wasn’t too bad a deal at $7 especially when they lovingly chucked in a packet of crisps!)

So we got to stand on the field where they held the festival and explore the centre where I found myself able to read a lot more than I do in most museums before getting bored; they also showed a half-hour film about the festival which had some very interesting things to say but what most stuck out for me, as an artist, was the passion of the performances at Woodstock, and yes I know they were on acid but I guess it was the protest against the Vietnam war and “society” generally at that time, that was really fuelling them.