My year started in a little village in Germany. Luxem, I remember it well. I woke to see nothing but white out my window. Médard Hinz and I set out to explore the neighbouring villages and castles, winding through the countryside, traipsing through the snow, seeing things I’d not seen before. What an amazing way to start the year. A few days later I boarded a plane bound for America. I had been outside of Australia since early November, wandering through Japan, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Austria prior to my time in Germany. I had decided to return to Australia via America and New Zealand.
I hit New York City and explored as much as I could in the short amount of time I had there before heading south to Philadelphia and Washington DC and then back to NYC to fly over to Los Angeles for a few days. After being surrounded by snow for so long, being in California felt so refreshing. I rented a car and hit the road, destination unkown. I wound my way along the coast heading north and eventually found myself in San Francisco. The drive along the Californian coast was definitely one of the best drives I’ve experienced.
After America, I spent a couple weeks in New Zealand playing shows, catching up with friends, rekindling a romance and wondering what the rest of the year might hold. I landed back in Australia on the eigth of February and started a tour on the ninth, not playing though, somehow I’d scored a job as a Tour Manager for Passenger and Old Man River on a national tour. Passenger and his manager had met me in October the previous year when I was helping out on the road with Boy & Bear and they thought I might make a good TM. It was a great experience and quite nice to step back from the stage for a month too.
The tour finished in Perth early in March and I decided to stay in Western Australia for an extra week to play some shows with Trent Williams in Perth and down south in Secret Harbour and Albany too. The rest of March was a blur, with weddings and gigs and meetings and catching up with friends all along the way, as well as preparing to release RYEFORD into the world. I snuck back to New Zealand to continue rekindling a relationship early in April before heading to Sydney to rehearse with Passenger for a full band tour coming up. I made my way up to Brisbane and met up with my good friend Natsuki to head to some rehearsals with a band to play a festival in Queensland. Natsuki had flown over for just a few days to play harmonica with me. Amazing.
After Easter, Natsuki disappeared back to Japan and I hit the road with Passenger to play the full band shows, another great experience and something I hadn’t really done before. It was good to play and sing in a band and not be front and centre for a change. My little brother got married in Hobart just after tour so it was great to be able to be there for that with the family. After a few days off I flew to New Zealand for a few shows with Luke Thompson and Lydia Cole to release RYEFORD, then back to Australia to play shows in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart and then back to Sydney again to play a show and meet up with my girl before disappearing for a few months.
The first six months of the year had been pretty amazing, I wondered if the second half of the year could top the first. I was quietly confident. On the first of July, I left Sydney for London. I was about to spend three months travelling through the UK and Ireland with Passenger. We had become good friends after spending time on the road together throughout Australia and he invited me to join him on the road on his side of the world for a bit.
Shortly into my time away, my relationship came to an end. Again. This is surely one of the hardest things about having a nomadic life, maintaining a relationship. Maybe it’s simply not possible?
Things quickly got busy and we hit the road, stopping in Brighton, Manchester, Southampton and Newquay. Mike (Passenger) had done some shows with Jools Holland before I arrived and then he had few shows with the John Butler Trio in my first week in England. I had not seen JBT before. Amazing. Amazing. Their live show blew me away each time I saw them play. Mike and I headed back to Manchester for another show then we caught the train up to Edinburgh and on to Glasgow. We would busk most days, promoting the tour and inviting people to the shows but I always found time to head out and explore each town we stopped in. I felt very at home in Scotland. We moved on again down to Cambridge and then our first London show, and on to Portsmouth, Bournemouth, Southampton, Bath, London again and Cambridge again also.
It was now the end of August. Mike had fallen ill and didn’t know know how many more shows he could play, but he soldiered on for a bit longer. I did some solo shows in Brighton, Leeds and Manchester before Mike joined me and we played Leeds together and then a cool little show in Lincoln. By this stage, Mike was struggling to sing and decided to take some time off. I decided to continue the journey and head to Liverpool where I would meet up with an Australian friend for a few days. I was unsure what the next two weeks would hold, but nothing was going to hold me back, apart from the weather. My ferry to Ireland was delayed for a couple of days due to horrible weather, but I eventually made it to Dublin to play a string of shows and stay with some amazing new friends before catching a train up to Belfast for more of the same. Dublin and Belfast were real highlights of my time in the Northern Hemisphere, filled with amazing people and some real unique gigs.
My time was coming to an end, I jumped on an overnight ferry from Belfast back to Liverpool with about two hundred tradesmen. I don’t remember ever feeling so out of place. We arrived in Liverpool early the next morning, I jumped in a taxi and headed over the river to catch a bus to London to catch a train to Brighton to drop off Mike’s guitar and amplifier before making my way back to London for one last gig, at the Regal Room in Hammersmith. I had had the best time in the UK and Ireland, playing shows to amazing crowds, seeing things I’d not seen before and meeting some of the most amazing people I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with. I shall return again soon, of this I am sure.
I left London and flew to Sydney via Hong Kong to then get on another plane and fly to Bali. Some very generous friends of mine had paid flights and accommodation for a week in Bali. I am the luckiest. The day after I returned from Bali, I hit the road again for some more solo shows in Wollongong, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, it felt good to be playing again after a very timely holiday.
And then it was November. For many years I had held high hopes for this month in this year. You see, I was born on the eleventh of the eleventh at eleven o’clock in the morning, and this being the eleventh month of the year two thousand and eleven, I anticipated it to be a memorable one. And it was. I toured right around Australia again with Passenger, playing some great venues to very attentive crowds. My friend Natsuki flew over to play the Brisbane and Sydney shows with me, we had the best time. Then an hour after we got home from the Sydney gig, Natsuki and I got in a taxi for the airport to fly to Japan. I spent five days there, playing shows, recording, meeting new friends, catching up with old ones, hanging out with Natsuki and eating some of the best food I’ve ever had. A very special few days in Japan.
I flew back to Australia to continue the Passenger tour in Adelaide and then on to Hobart, Perth and Fremantle. November was the best month. I couldn’t have fitted anything more in and it couldn’t have been any better.
We played a full band show with Passenger at Homebake in Sydney after a few rehearsals, another little all ages show, then a quick trip to New Zealand to help record Luke Thompson’s new album with Tim Hart and Mark Myers. I can not wait for Luke’s album to be released, it’s one very special collection of songs, beautifully recorded in a little studio in Tauranga. If you only buy one album next year, make sure it’s by Luke Thompson.
Christmas has come and gone. I spent a week or so up in Queensland with family who I didn’t expect to see for a few more months, and a couple days away with one of my best friends. On Christmas day, the Larsen family hired out a community hall and filled it with one hundred and twenty people. One hundred Larsen’s and twenty ring-in’s, including my Japanese friend Mitzy. So many people.
I’m now on a plane on the way to Sydney for New Years Eve. I have been on sixty-one of these this year. I’ll spend NYE at Peats Ridge Festival playing for Passenger and hanging out with new and old friends.
What a year it has been. Two thousand and eleven. The best year of my life, without a doubt.
I wish you the HAPPIEST of New Year’s and hope to see you somewhere along the way in two thousand and twelve.