True Tales Of Shaky Page & His Space Adventures
When I was 8 years old me mum took me to "The Planetarium" which is in the heart of London. From that moment on my heroes became those who reached for the stars not those who reached for guitars. My heroes had hair that was flat on top and wore white short sleeve shirts with a thin tie to the office.
I began daydreaming at night starring up at the heavens chasing satellites across the evening North London sky. Alone in my room I would loose myself reading books on Space Travel, it was the 1970's after all and it seemed like rocket ships were being hurled into the great wild beyond every few months. I began building an astronoght suit out of paper mâché and tin foil. I debuted my costume one evening at the dinner table. The very next day I wore it onto the big red double decker bus that took me to school each morning. I was immediately sent home with a note from the head master reprimanding my parents for allowing to show up at class in this hideous outfit.
As the years came and went my fascination with astronomy and space travel grew ever stronger. I was a loner who vanished inside a library for hours, i gazed into photographs of the moon and the planets thou the pictures held attention more than words explaining all about them. A tall skinny nerd with thick glasses and a stutter my imagination soared high into the sky dreaming of the day I would become an astronaut.
That dream was smashed into billions and billions upon billions of pieces when I was informed by NASA that in order to be an astronaut you need three very important qualities... 1. You need perfect vision and I am almost legally blind in my right eye. 2. You need to be physically & mentally in shape both of which I am not. 3. You need a college education and I showed little interest in academic studies.
I learned a hard lesson in life of what it meant to be "A victim of circumstance". I immediately took all my books on Space Travel along with my tattered and torn spaceman costume out to the rubbish bin and bid adieu to my dream of ever becoming an space adventurer & opted for looking at life thru music instead.
"Before climbing into the Rocket Ship you must first climb the ladder"
Last year on September 24, I jumped on a journey that would take me and my music around the world for six months.
From my concert in London at the O2 arena opening for Mr. Jason Mraz in front of 12,000 punters to Western Australia’s outback town called Katanging where I performed inside a town hall for 50 elderly smiling faces. From a cold winter’s night in the heart of Amsterdam singing inside a majestic 400-year-old church to the 109-degree heat of the Tamworth Country Music festival in New South Wales. From a warm cozy concert inside a home in Belgium to a cold wet evening performance inside a packed nightclub in Melbourne. I performed inside a school bus and inside a 100-year-old circus tent, inside theatres and outside at a shopping center. I sang in a monastery located close to the German border to a rowdy roadhouse in Queensland. The extremes are extreme, which is why my Australian agent’s company is called Extreme Touring.
So upon my return back to sleepy town San Diego I’m asked, “How was it?” and by some I’m asked, “Did you make money?”
I will disclose the facts and the myths, the highs and the lows in these pages of my journal. I will share privately that I am a creature of habit. To be able to tour you must be comfortable to stand in the unknown or learn how to stand there. Night after night it’s a different town, a different venue, a different hotel and bed, and the list of unknowns go on and on and on. It takes my fragile constitution a few weeks to be calm in the mist of so much uncertainty. Walking into a historic town hall with 500 people listening and the very next night performing in a rundown pub where I can’t get the management to turn off the TV sets.
So maybe I’ll pick one weekend of shows out of the six months of weekends.
After zigzagging from Australia through Europe I landed back in Australia to perform at some of their summer festivals including the legendary Woodford Folk Festival in Queensland. This was to be my ninth tour of duty down under.
On this tour I had the good fortune to become friends with some incredible musicians, including Australia’s country music family, Bill Chambers and his son and daughter Nash and Kasey, along with her gifted songwriter husband Shane Nicolson. I had met the iconic Australian songwriter Mr. Bill Chambers briefly in Melbourne at the Corner Hotel while I was on tour in the spring of 2005. That memorable evening Kasey and Shane were releasing their first album together calledRattling Bones. Their concert was as timeless and soulful as their debut record.I listened to this beautifully crafted album over and over, discovering that is was produced and recorded by Kasey’s brother Nash.
Fast forward to this year’s Australian Country Music Festival in Tamworth. I’m sitting at a concert in a packed room listening to Mr. Bill Chambers pour his heart out on stage wearing a pair of dusty ol’ cowboy boots, which. legend has it, once belonged to the mysterious country-rock singer Gram Parsons.
A mutual songwriter friend, Kevin Bennett (who I toured Australia with back in 2006), had urged Bill to invite me on stage to sing a song. Mr. Chambers kindly obliged with a disclaimer to his audience. “I don’t know what this guy Gregory Page sounds like but let’s give him a kind listen.” Immediately after I riffled through my song “The Greatest Love of All” Bill jumped up on stage as the crowd was applauding and insisted that I belt out another one, then with his swingin’ roots country band, complete with Bill playing lap steel guitar, we tore through the Hank Williams classic “Lost Highway” together.
It all seems like a dream now thinking back on that special weekend.
During that weekend I scored a front row ticket to the Australian Country Music Awards. I sat next to 90-year-old songwriter Geoff Mack, who wrote the classic tune “I’ve Been Everywhere,” coved by Johnny Cash and Hank Snow. Mr. Mack told me about his 90-year-old songwriter friend who lived in Los Angeles; Mr. Hal David had passed away not that long ago. At the awards ceremony I was excited to discover that Kasey and Shane were performing an original song from their new album called Wreck and Ruin. Seeing Mr. Geoff Mack receive his Lifetime Achievement Award and listening to Kasey and Shane were the two highlights for me that evening. The rest of the night was mostly pop country bands (my spell check corrected “pop” as “poop,” which is actually more suited for this music). At one point during the ceremony some rock ‘n’ roll tight jeans-wearing baseball cap-sporting hunk of an Aussie cowpuncher tore the ass out of a slick hit song, complete with choreographed pole-dancing half-naked cowgirls bumping and grinding to a heavy metal county drum beat. I looked at Geoff Mack sitting beside me; he looked bewildered and confused. I leaned over to him and said in his ear, “‘You’ve been everywhere, man; now you’re in hell, man.” He laughed and told his wife sitting next to him what I had said.
I’ve never set foot in Nashville and here I was in the heart Australia’s country music world. I was the tall dark stranger in town. I walked down Peel Street past the hundreds of buskers, their portable PAs bleeding into their fellow buskers’ performances. From future country music children stars to elderly musicians still selling their music on cassette tape. It was comical and inspirational as it was dark and quite sad.
My observational research and fact-finding mission at a country music festival was simply that when I heard real Australian songs sung from the heartland, like the music of Bill Chambers and Chad Morgan I felt alive and inspired. But when I heard Aussie singers trying to sound American with a Texas drawl, it left me feeling confused and nauseous.
Tamworth on average was 100 degrees each day but it did not stop me from people watching for hours while sipping on an iced mint tea. I noticed that some Australians sure enjoy playing dress up like an American cowboy. I also came to the conclusion that I prefer an Akubra hat to a Stetson.
On my second day there bad news struck as the accommodations where I was to stay for the rest of my time there fell through. I found myself in a cab with my friend and agent, Milan, driving around looking for a vacant hotel room. Everything had been booked up for months, even miles outside of town there was no place to stay. We both became nervous after it became apparent that there was literally nowhere that had a room for us in Tamworth. The cab driver who was also calling people he knew finally said, “Hey, mates, I have place in town you can stay at, it’s my place and you guys can stay there, no worries.” Milan and I were overjoyed and moved into Glen, the cab driver’s, home for the rest of our stay. Sunday afternoon I was given my own 45-minute show at the same place where Bill had me on stage a few days earlier. The place was packed and Glen came and stood in the back. Half way through my show I told the audience about my accommodations dilemma and that the cab driver invited me to stay at this place. I pointed to Glen at the back and everyone cheered; he never had to buy another drink for the rest of the show. As I bid farewell to my new friends I had made there and took a final walk down Peel Street as the buskers were packing up their PA systems and their pipe dreams I felt happy to know that a place on earth exists like this. A place where songs and people collide for ten days. Where beer and more beer are sweat out of all who come to hear and sing country music. Maybe I’m ready to stomach a trip to Nashville but when I go I’ll play dress up as an Australian cowboy.
Six months away from home does a funny thing to the heart and soul. Upon returning to San Diego I am happy to sleep in bed that I fit on. I’m happy to sit and share a burrito and stories with my pal Jeffrey Joe.
I like to tour but I love having toured. I like to play shows but I love to have played shows. I like to look at but don’t like to be seen. I love the grind of being a traveling musician. I love the long drives, the dodgy sound checks, the waiting around, and then under the spotlight you sing like hell. Afterward, the pimping of your music at the souvenir table. Then packing up all your gear, loading into a rental car, and finding a hotel room on the outskirts of town. Once you are safe in the room after a long hot shower, lying on the bed frozen like the TV dinner you just finished, you fall asleep with ringing inside your ears and when you awake you get up and do it all again and again and again and again.
The lonesome road never ends. Singing my songs in roadhouses, churches, biker bars, gay bars, shopping malls, enormous arenas, tiny cafes, strip clubs, monasteries, record stores, lounge rooms, school buses, hotel lobbies, and smokey jazz clubs, in the past six months on tour overseas I’ve played all of these places and more and I’ll return to play them all again. Why, you ask? Simply because if you don’t leave the comfort of your warm cozy home town and play for the rest of the world, your eyes will see but you will remain blind. So get yourself a passport and go see the world.
God's Dirty Laundry
This really happened: Chapter 1
After my concert last night Downtown an attractive woman dressed to kill approached me to inquire about my CD's which were placed on top of the out of tune piano. She picked one up looked at it smiled & turned to walk away. I said"Excuse me my dear the CD's are 15 bucks"She turned back and replied"Oh I thought they were free?". My blood pressure went up and I had a quick conversation with myself on how to not say something inappropriate or rude like..."Oh yes I forgot sorry they are FREE how stupid of me to forget. Please forgive me for I Mr. Gregory Page am certainly a Non-Profit organization, it was not meant to be that way but that's hows its turning out"
Instead I took a slow drink from my wine glass and replied,"Well that's alright if you don't have 15 bucks I'll take 10 for it". She placed the CD back down on the piano rolled her eyes and said"I cant remember the last time I purchased a CD, I thought they were free!!!"
As I finish recording my new album I tell myself that I do this for the love of story for the love of art & for the love of personnel expression thru music. Last night that woman reminded me of that and I thank her for it.
(This new blog called "God's Dirty Laundry" will consist only of true events that happen or have happened in my life as an independent artist who has willingly committed commercial suicide many years ago.)