Monday, November 30, 2009

Tour's End

A welcome back, both to me and to you.

The Fountain City Brass Band concluded our U.K. tour yesterday with our arrival at KCI airport after 5:00pm.  Like any proper international traveler, I was struggling to stay up until 10:00pm and woke promptly at 4:00am ready for business.  Should take another few days to re-adapt myself to the GMT -6:00 system.

If I were to condense the trip to a single word, it would be phenomenal.  That's an unjust description, however, seeing as there's no way to condense 18 days of experience into a single word that does the layers of the tour any justice.  Luckily, I'm not limited to a single word in the context of this blog, so I'll be unpacking as many different kinds of experience as I can over the next little while.

Let's get some quick bullet points out of the way:


  • --FCBB placed seventh at the Brass in Concert competition.  We took home the "Fesa Trophy for Best Flugel Horn" for our resident flugelist, Matt Vangjel.  Matt had a big feature playing "Over the Rainbow" on the gala concert the previous evening, so perhaps some of that goodwill bled over onto a contest day that didn't explicitly feature him.  We also received a nice engraved silver platter recognizing our trip overseas.
  • --We completed the CD recording in good spirits.  I don't know what the timetable is for its release, but I'll keep you all in the loop.  I'm just as anxious to hear it as you are.
  • --Staying at a Travel Lodge in Glasgow is a truly no-frills experience.  No TV remote, no phone or clock, one towel per room, and understaffed to handle a coach of people arriving.  Also, a major construction project that seemed to consist of moving dirt from elsewhere and dropping it at the end of the parking lot.
  • --Europe's version of Mexicans doing less-than-glamorous jobs must be Eastern Europeans doing them.
  • --Our coach driver, Paul, was an exceptional human being, willing at the slightest to help us out in all kinds of "surely that's not in your job description" ways.  He's basically a lock for my next big-group UK trip based on his value alone, setting aside that he's a really great guy.  The band loved him, and he got to spend his first American Thanksgiving with people who were thankful for him.
  • --Dublin was a tease for actually getting to visit Ireland.  Not satisfying.
  • --English can be just as incomprehensible as a foreign language.  Especially when the speaker only repeats the same phrase again, instead of attempting to talk around the roadblock.  Hourly workers everywhere, I'm looking at you.
  • --Visiting Oxford is like wandering into a Harry Potter movie, with meticulously maintained greens and private courtyards.
  • --Visiting rural Scotland is like wandering into a "Lord of the Rings" movie, with evocative landscapes and castles and ruins on every mountain promontory. 
  • --There's nothing better than seeing familiar faces when wandering through unfamiliar country.
  • --FCBB won the Scottish Open Brass Band contest, the first foreign band to do so in over 50 years.  A triumphant end to our tour.
More on this as I upload my pictures and get my journal put into some form of order.

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