Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Bring your guitar: "It's always worth it."

Playing in the fjords...
I suppose that I can call myself an experienced traveler now, having set foot on 5 different continents and in 23 countries. Ironically, perhaps, one of the best pieces of advice I ever got about travel came from a youngster playing guitar at the Oregon Country Fair, a scant 130 miles from my home. He was playing with a slide and sounding very good. I said, "I was going to bring my guitar, but I thought it would be too crowded and too much of a hassle."

He looked at me from over the top of his wire-framed glasses, seeming much older than his eighteen or twenty years.  "It's always worth it," he said.  His words rang true.  I have ever since endeavored to take my guitar with me whenever I travel. And, I must say, it has opened many doors for me in my journeys.

...and on the train through Slovakia
During my Grand European Tour, in 1999, my guitar got a lot of use. I played it on trains, in the common rooms of youth hostels, and even on a boat in the Norway fjords.

Aside from providing a great way to kill time while waiting at the train station, my guitar proved to be an excellent ice-breaker.  Trust me, I am no Leo Kottke.  Nonetheless people would stop to listen, and maybe even strike up a conversation. I made a lot of friends that way.

A scene from the Oregon Country Fair
In 2001, my band, Mahatma Candy*, pooled our resources, and headed out for the British Isles, where we drove through Wales and Ireland, and played music at various pubs. I have to say, for an amateur band, our reception was unbelievable.

Mahatma Candy at Rosslare Harbor, Ireland
At a little pub in Monmouth, Wales, called "the Boat" we were announced as coming "All the way from America." The place was packed, and we played without amplification to an enthusiastic audience that called us back for encores.

The Boat, in Monmouth, Wales
In summary, I've lugged my guitar across a lot of borders, through a lot of airports and train stations, and along a lot of city streets and rural highways. And the words of that young guitarist at the Oregon Country Fair have proven true: it's always worth it.

*Mahatma Candy was:
  • Lori Hefley, voice
  • David Thompson, lead guitar
  • Dan Binmore, percussions, voice
  • Dade Cariaga, guitar, voice


Shus li said...

And travel you have

I always dug that name, Mahatma Candy!

But what about taking a banjo traveling, like up in the hills, like on that one movie???

Eclectic Dilettante said...

very cool

Dan Binmore said...

That guitar changed my life, and for the better. Than you. Now I take my mandolin with me everywhere. It helps that it is much smaller.