February has been a tough month emotionally for me. The devastating fires in my home state of Victoria in Australia tore away a piece of my heart. The searing temperatures and gail force winds created Australia's worst disaster of the century with nearly 200 people killed and a horrendous loss of native animals, live stock and property. The saddest aspect of this disaster is that many of the fires were deliberately lit. I find it hard to fathom that any human being would want to wreak such havoc on so many innocent families. Forever scarring our souls and minds and the beautiful Australian landscape, that we all love so much. My heart felt sympathy goes out to all those effected. The worst is now over and now is the time to rebuild and move on with our lives the very best that we can. Thankfully my family is safe, but the fires did get very close. I am also very thankful that my favorite pub- The St Andrews Hotel in St Andrews, an area hit very hard, is still standing. So please say a prayer for our Australian brothers and sisters.
On a more positive note, our January tour here in the US went really well. It was a relief to escape the freezing temperatures of Michigan that caused the cancellation of our show at the Fire Fly Club in Ann Arbor. We enjoyed the music of "Diddley Squat" who opened for us at Knuckleheads in Kansas City. We said a little prayer for this band as they headed out in the dead of winter, for an over night drive to Denver for a show the next day. Such is the life of the touring musician. Our shows at Blues On Grand in Des Moines and Uncle Bo's in Topeka were a lot of fun. We then headed South to Tennessee for a show at Bourbon St Blues & Boogie in Nashville which was closely followed by a very cool lunchtime show at the Chattanooga State Community College. We enjoyed the warmth of Alabama with shows at Little Willies in Tuscaloosa and two shows at Brownstones in Hattiesburg. We were blown away by the number of people who had driven up from New Orleans to see us at Brownstones. I guess we need to organize some shows in that fine city very soon!!!
The last surviving juke joint in Alabama, Blues Tavern in Mobile- was a packed house. We plan to return for the tavern's owner- Randy's birthday in June.
Our drive north was a real eye opener. A powerful ice storm had hit Arkansas and Missouri. Miles upon miles of power lines were down, many power poles were snapped in two. There were also a large number of fallen trees- laden down with heavy ice, that had crushed several homes. But we made it to St Louis after a slow and arduous drive. I am happy to say that we have a new home in St Louis- BBs Jazz , Blues & Soups. If you have never been to this club, you must go. The history on the walls is a who's who's of the jazz & blues scene. It is a beautifully decorated club with great food and sound. Owner John May has been running his club for 30 years. He really made us feel welcome!
We also got to visit our good friend Betsy at Betsy's Blue Note in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Betsy's Mum - Janice passed away recently. She was a fine lady! We definitely felt her presence at our show. The Zoo Bar in Lincoln, Nebraska was a lot of fun- we will be back for the Celebrate Lincoln Festival in June. Our final show for our January tour took place at one of our favorite stops- Kirksville, Missouri - for the Journal Building. We had a packed house and the vibe was incredible.
We have a west coast tour coming up in March and a few Michigan shows coming up for the last two weeks of February.
Peace & safe journeys,
Harper & The Midwest Kind