Ramblings From The Road
Oh, have I spent a fabulous month in Northern California. Oh my God! On maybe the first day I was in San Francisco, Scott Cady (my pianist) and I went sight seeing and ended up at Mission Dolores which was pretty spectacular, however there was a divine moment for me in the Basilica right next door. We walked in and there were 4 men on the altar singing religious music; a quartet of young men. It was so beautiful, they were so good. And I swear they were singing prayers to heaven to stop the war in Iraq. I don't know who they were, I don't know what they were rehearsing, but it was heavenly, truly heavenly. I felt better. I felt blessed.
I've got Restaurant Recommendations. I'm not going to describe each one, just know they are all good. Cafe' Bean, 800 Sutter St, SF 415-923-9539, Breakfast all day with a European Flair; Greens, Fort Mason, Bldg A, SF 415-771-6222, Vegetarian... the best I've ever had; Chow, 215 Church St., SF 415-552-2469, Basic American food, but Northern California style. And of course my favorites, which I've written about before: Rose Pistola, Zuni Cafe', and The Slanted Door. There's some good eatin' in San Francisco.
I was so exhausted when I arrived in San Francisco, that on my day off I did something I've never done before. I went to a spa all by myself and spa-ed for 6 hours from head to toe. It was the most incredible experience, I'm doing it for the rest of my life and it's all I want for Christmas. Spa days. The spa in Northern California is The Carneros Inn in Napa. The Napa Valley is so beautiful and the thing I don't understand is how they get those vineyards planted in such straight lines. More Restaurant Recommendations, both in Napa Valley: Tra Vigne, 1050 Charter Oak, St. Helena, CA 707-963-4444, Italian, how can you go wrong? Mustards Grill, 7399 St. Helena Highway, Napa 707-944-2424, American with a Northern California accent. I was lucky to get to Napa Valley twice.
I grew up during the Summer of Love and the Hippie decade. Why is it that while in San Francisco and driving Highway 1, I'm a tourist looking for Hippies and the only true Hippie has got to be at least 60 with grey hair wearing tie dye. You cannot be a 20 year old Hippie walking around Haight Ashbury. You're a wannabe. I made my friend drive me into Mill Valley. I was desperate to find Stephen Stills and Neil Young. While Mill Valley is still beautiful, it can't be the Mill Valley that the San Francisco rock scene lived in in the 70's. It's too Yuppified, too rich. And I never found Stephen Stills... or his house... or his grandchildren. My search reminded me of when I was 18 and my girlfriend Nancy and I borrowed my brother Billy's car on New Year's Eve in a blizzard. I told him we were going to a party in the Village, and drove the car to Woodstock, NY looking for The Band. I had to have either Robbie Robertson or Rick Danko. I couldn't make up my mind who was cuter. We even put on our version of Venezualan accents in the Purple Elephant, we told the bartender we were friends of The Band, and he pulled out the phonebook. We didn't find them either. I guess I got no luck with Hippies or rock stars.
On to Point Reyes. Oh, is that beautiful. I just love Northern California. There were these things dead on the beach. These deep purple jellyfish with fins right in the middle of their gooey backs. There was also a sign that said, No Swimming, Sharks, Riptide, Treacherous Currents. Basically, everything to prevent you from going in the water. So, I guess, the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.
My friend Renee' and I took a hike in Muir Woods and then went to Green Gulch Farms, a Zen Center for starter Monks and the farm that grows all of the vegetables for the restaurant Greens. It was so serene and other worldly. I have Northern California envy.
In the middle of my sojourn in California I had to fly back to Philadelphia and do a gig with none other than Little Richard himself. I opened for Little Richard and the audience tolerated me until he came on stage... as in "Who the hell is she?" To be fair, this was the opening of the new Kimmel Center and they do rock and people like me. Hence, the pairing of Little Richard and me. He's a very nice man with a very big entourage. One Restaurant Recommendation: A hole in the wall that was better than a concierge's recommendation: Trattoria Prima Donna, 1506A Spruce Street, Philadelphia 215-790-0171.
I'm home now, thank God. I've been on the road too long. I missed my family. I managed all of my performances with good humor and my voice in tact. Another thanks be to God. Until next month.