It was a long time in the planning and finally our efforts had come to fruition. Yoshi Ogasahara is here in the states and has acquired his Visa to work and play in the US for this tour in July –August 2015. I’m here to tell you people, I’ve gone through this process several times now, the acquirement and paperwork involved with bringing someone here to our fair country with the legal intention to work that is. Plus on Yoshi’s end of it there are hoops and fees his side had to lay out to get this completed as well. A work Visa to the US is not an endeavor for the economically squeamish. It’s quite expensive, $4k-$5k and unless you love to fill out your own tax forms and revel at the chance to pore through various permit applications and such, the paperwork is best navigated by a professional; Immigration attorney. Another expense, oh, and then there’s the plane ticket. Oh well, that mountain range tackled and overcome we now have Yoshi here and it’s great to see my longtime friend again.
We jump in the van at 6 am, all of us, and point north and start to make our way towards Tuscarawas, Ohio for the first gig on this tour. The drive is one I know because I’ve done this exact route in just about the same ordinal placement as on previous tours. The Canal House is always a fun place to play and it’s also a great place to start a tour. The crowds are a mixture of dedicated fans that live close by or venture in from Cleveland or from the Pittsburgh area and they’re ready for anything that we pull out. Gotta’ love em’. The Canal House is a surprisingly well situated venue for being out in a location that some would consider ‘in the middle of nowhere’. The claim to fame out in this part of the country is that there’s a rich baseball history out here. With their most famous son from the area, Cy Young who was born around Newcomerstown, Tuscarawas had many baseball teams with companies sponsoring them and support from the surrounding populace. There are old photographs up on the walls in the Canal House showing teams from 1900’s to the 50’s. Pretty amazing. If I had done more research for this blog I’m sure there would be several names of repute in the Baseball World that hail from here but alas I am at the computer early in the morning and trying to make a deadline. Suffice it to say I always enjoy playing here and am grateful for the opportunity that John Hursey has given me. It should be noted how John has done a great service to this area as well because he keeps bringing in lots of road acts and national touring acts here to this quiet agrarian part of the country.
Now usually I’ve lamented that I’m horrible at first gigs after a lay-off, this one being around 2 months approximately, and it’s good that I’m here with fans that just want to see me play and mistakes be damned cuz’ they’re at least played with conviction and verve. We also had no time to rehearse before this gig with Yoshi but if I know the Japanese work ethic in preparation to duties, I’m not too worried. Sure enough, since John McKnight and I know each other so well and Yoshi just has to drop himself in to this machine we all come together pretty damn well for not ‘talking’ to each other musically for the past 2 years or so. Yoshi is also a good back-up singer and we start to incorporate 3-part harmonies on some of the songs so this is a good chance to see and hear of things to come as the tour progresses. We have a bunch of fun playing the songs and reacquainting ourselves musically and we can’t help but smile broadly at times, even at the mistakes, cuz’ this is fun. It’s the best first gig on a tour I’ve had in a long time.
I can’t wait to see what’s coming up for the rest of the tour.