Bristol, UK

The effect of jet lag on the continental traveler can be as strong as the gravitational pull.  It takes the tenacity of a prize fighter to fight it off.  I relinquished my grip and napped off my red eyes soon after dropping my bags off at the Double Tree hotel.  Bristol is the first stop on a two and a half week tour of the UK with Mary Chapin Carpenter.  I feel very fortunate to be joined by such a great group of folks on this trip.  We had the first night off and I strolled downtown to the Old Duke Tavern to meet up with members of the crew (no relation to my name that I know of (although, I could envision becoming a frequent local in my old age!))  It was Harbor Fest in Bristol, celebrating a long history of successful importing and exporting along the harbor.  People were scattered out conversing on the cobblestone roads with a pint in hand and sitting down on picnic tables in front of the pubs.  I noticed an immediate difference in the drinking culture compared to the states.  There was a modest sophistication in people's dialect, an innate high regard for the art of cheery conversation.  In American downtown cities it is much more common to notice folks with their attention glued to a TV screen in the bar or staring down at a cell phone.  The Bristolians were engaged!  And it was refreshing for an American to witness.  In a Thai restaurant/bar near the hotel a group of school teachers gathered to celebrate the end of the term.  Once they were informed that a group of Americans were at the bar they congregated over to socialize with us.  I naturally and immediately became their student.  One teacher named Genna Hodges, a beautiful red haired women wearing a white dress with blue flowers, began to demonstrate the difference between a posh English accent to her country English accent.  Either her excitement or her vodka lemonade caused her to shout out the different inflections of the accents, criticzing the "posh" people for their snobbishness.  The group of teachers flew off and headed to a club called the Kong as I spoke with the owner of the restaurant, a kind Vietnamese man named Som Miller.  My first night in Bristol was a pleasant cultural departure from my social norm.  I didn't see an ounce of ill will or bad intentions from excess drinking.  Our first show of the tour the next night went over tremendously well with the crowd.  I am learning a great deal about this world and am constantly honing in my craft as a musician.  What more could a 28 year old ask for?