This journey had indeed been a long time in the making. A journey I guess that started in my own mind, it could also be the product of gazing into the album covers of my mums collection – digesting Artists draped in Polyester posing like modern art fronting strange and exotic landscapes or prehistoric looking backdrops reminiscent of western frontiers from the small screen tv movies that I was allowed to watch growing up in the early 1970s.

It could also have been a bi-product of my very imaginative mind, fed at a young age from an early adoption of science fiction from the adventures of Flash Gordon with its string laced effects and dodgy sets, to the complete overload that I received when I saw a certain trailer that invited my imagination into sculpting more, creating more! Whilst never settling for less,
The trailer was for a space saga that would go on to become my greatest influence……That was Star Wars.

IMG_0016From the moment that I awoke I just knew that this day was going to bring something new to my life experience. It was around 6am and as I gazed out across the the streets of upmarket Chicago Bellevue place with its lively bars, upmarket couture shopping and very satisfying eating experiences from local cuisine on of my favourite dining joints previously sampled when I visit The Big Apple, Carmine’s.

Yes you must know what’s coming next? just like my favourite film by Walter Hill from 79 The Warriors, how cool is this to actually be about to live out the ultimate excursion… My gang consists of only one more delegate, A man I trust like no other! Tooled up (armed) only with the ultimate weapon of choice! Money… which we hope will speak in any local dialect we need,

One of the many surprises when we first checked in was looking out across the borough only to see that Carmines was literally around the corner. I had however booked us a table on our first evening in town and this Chicago joint did not let me down.

IMG_0017Can you believe that when I read the menu in eager anticipation of introducing Andy to my signature fave dish, that I usually sample at 90th broadway NY, I was however zapped to learn that Shrimp Marinara was not on the menu?? After a brief description to the charming and experienced waiter of this sumptuous dish, can you believe he suggested that he brings me the ingredients and I make the dish right their at the table! They brought them, I constructed and we eat thus creating an amazing restaurant experience that I know that we will all never forget.

Reckless Records

As we checked out of the Thompson Hotel which lived up to its credentials as being an upmarket hip Chicago hotel, We went to pickup our ride which was chosen for Comfort Audio connectivity and protection from what lies ahead out there in the great expanse… Little did we know apart from being the sweetest ride I have ever driven, this Cruiser we later renamed Truck-O-Saurous was about to earn it’s hefty upgrade price tag.

As Andy drove us into town from the Airport two days prior, It was my turn to drive, Made more fitting as this was the day to kickstart the Voyage and I for one was had very mixed emotions ranging from Driving left sided for long durations to fear of the unknown! not knowing what lies ahead not only hourly, or daily but weekly this whole trip would be a test, Most probably tapping into every single emotion that a human can experience, But as my foot touched down on the thrust my Heart rate calmed as the realisation kicked in….

We are really doing this… Two Bro’s (US aka dorks) (Mates UK) or (Pendejo tonto’s ESP) are venturing out into the wilderness for the love of Music…

My first objective was to navigate to Adam at and Michigan Avenue the one and only true beginning of the Historic Route 66 located in the Chicago loop, this was not easy! But was made easier by Andy’s direction and our on board Sat Nav as concentration was needed the tunes were dimmed until I reached the I-55 our first stretch of open road, that was amazing to the eye as mile upon mile of motorway lay before us, not a bend or roundabout in scope of the naked eye, just an 8 lane free-way with traffic laws very different to ours with the first obvious difference shaking me as traffic is allowed to overtake you both passenger side as well as driver side?? One of those what the #uck moments for sure actually one of many, It was time to unleash some sounds that were as integral a part of our Voyage as finding the Long Plays, the Bose Entertainment system came came into play and Ashford and Simpson rendition of Bourgie Bourgie had never sounded So sweat.

Star-Date 15-09-16 D3 Vinyl Voyage,
St Louis Missouri

Sadly our next Hotel failed to deliver the standard that we were expecting, Luckily that propelled us to instigate a recommendation to train it out to a neighbourhood which was highlighted for both its vibrant diversity in cultures and a well known record store! even a knowledgeable bar man in Chicago recommended it and we were not disappointed….

Planes Trains and Automobiles is an 80s movie starring Steve Martin and John Candy are actors from comedy royalty with a title as outlandish as the scenarios presented to the duo in film.
Here I am years later about to complete this amazing compendium of stateside travel in the hope of searching for more music to add to my vaults. We heavily leaned on local knowledge to guide us in the right direction, as the St Louis train system was not the easiest transportation network to decipher as a tourist, here we are! Bopping our way across the state of Missouri an area steeped in musical history. Remind me to tell you more after the store?

Introducing the next store! Vintage Vinyl, Delmar loop Missouri 6610

Upon my initial first blog I dubbed this music store an original modern Aladdin’s cave! At first entering to the store, I focussed upon the depth of the store, the floor space was huge reminiscent of a HMV store but with character with aged posters offering information from gigs to concerts. I asked the pre-occupied staff member if the store had a Soul section, only to be ushered to what I can only describe as a whole super sized double aisle which housed an
A to Z of LPs, the next few hrs was bloody brilliant in every sense of the word.

Albums were being scanned with fingertip precision through Lp covers never before seen by my eyes especially brilliant was the number of LPs I already own that have different covers! The treats continued with every now and then either Andy or myself would roar with laughter or shout out with delight over discovering a piece of liquid gold to add to my expanding pile, Could this experience get any better… Damn straight it could as the staff announced that today it’s buy one And get one free under $4:99 Ha Haaaaa I instantly intensified my Soul searching adding LPs of lessor value in the hope of finding a potential gem on an LP maybe lessor known outside the US.

Like the shops frequented before, I struck up a conversation with the staff sharing our holiday goal. My shows age and purpose and Route 66 Mission, the staff were super supportive! Special thanks to goes out to Orlandez Lewis – Dj and Promoter in store for taking care of us, Totally understanding why my collection & listeners were so important to even undertake such a voyage! second to none other! than my family.

This store rocked Pure and Simple a beacon of their community with over 30 years of selling experience and today great business was done…sadly we left too many LPs behind!

Upon exiting the store sporting not one but two bags doubled (sorry friends of the earth) to hold a bounty of Albums that made me excited to now own or have been fortunate enough to have now replaced my existing copy. We took a very satisfactory sigh and pause for thought only made better by Andy’s desire to celebrate our newly acquired purchases by sampling a local beverage or 3 which could not get any more local than a few feet away. Little did we know that we were about to walk into a bar steeped with musical history..

Upon entering the bar/diner, that on first site looked like an aged original version of Planet Hollywood, we were soon given a taste of home by being served by a young lady with of whom shall I say shared my same London dialect. Those beers did cut deep washing own hrs of
De-Dusting the album covers of many LPs prior.
A lovely evening was had conversing with the local staff and ex pat from my part of South London before we headed back to the metro for a trip that gave us an added in site into St Louise nightlife as commuters which was an eye opener even by a Londoners standards,

This I suppose was my first introduction with people less fortunate who had befallen hard times, but something was different as I respectfully occasionally glanced upon two individuals who had entered our carriage, it was soon apparent that not only was they intoxicated, But a higher medicine was at work as both the lady and male wore what all I can describe as boils of an infectious nature around their physical torso. I can only describe as up close extras heavily visualised in the Walking Dead series… But they were loud and proud with it… Most importantly though they looked happy within each other as I inadvertently caught a cheeky peck and gaze between the couple looked meaningful just before we embarked.

Something told me that we had just been introduced to delegates from the lower tier of the stature Pyramid which is so visible here in the real America, Real and raw status that we as brits don’t see in sitcoms or even the big city’s like Downtown Manhattan.

Star-Date 16-09-16 D3 Vinyl Voyage

This next section of our Voyage was about Soul Trekking, with two days to cover 1000 miles to reach Springfield Missouri it was all about the road and the perfect opportunity to absorb our forever changing landscape of the I 44 aka interstate 44 the new section that had replaced many sections of the original mother road,

Driving straight for long durations is not as easy as it sounds, Alongside the music and good conversations that were flowing freely as drove, it dawned on me that had I embarked on this trip on my own as I originally planned? How I would have missed out on all the experienced that lay in wait…Even worse is I would not have had anyone to share the fantastic situations that are just around the corner which in my interstate terms can be hundreds of miles away literally!

Check out how far the next turn is on this stretch of our trip.

There were many encounters that we were prepared for and many more that we were not!
Having to quickly adapt in real time like…
Filling up at the gas station for the first time – where we pay in advance and get credit back if you underspend. Researching the nearest record stores on our route only to find out that they no longer exist or if they did! They would not have what we desired more of that later.

About to star in a Classic Movie

My last encounter could have been our last as an accidental manoeuvre would lead to us encountering the trucker from hell who challenged us to a Duel.

Destination Springfield Oklahoma City

You can’t help but feeling confident driving a brand new luxury SUV especially as it was fully loaded with a very impressive Bose sound system which was appreciated like a third member of our party. So you would think I could be forgiven for making the occasional driving error?

Well I was about to learn very quickly that movies can become reality as on this day that I was behind the wheel! and I kind of wished that I wasn’t. As you are able to overtake both inside and outside of vehicles which did take some getting used too, I soon realised that on the highways the trucks rule the road as I failed to read an upcoming situation which caused a very large truck to abort his lane change..

Andy was researching our guide book for our next destination as I flashed the very large lorry to execute his move again… he did not! So as I decided to overtake the lorry which swerved in to cut me off forcing me to apply my brakes sharply (that got Andy’s attention) I went into cursing mode like you do? Whilst explaining to ANDY what had just happened, This is where Truck o Saurus got her name as I flawed the peddle and as the V8 kicked in. We both drew gasps as our wheels hit warp blasting past the truck which was already doing 70mph! We both felt the whip and then after initial shock of my manoeuvre we both roared with laughter and excitement as we left the truck for dust… or we thought we had.

About ten mins had past and tunes were flowing once more.. it is very easy to not use your mirrors often as the landscape is constantly taking your attention, Put it this way! I was about to be forced to as the Loudest roar coupled with the most blinding lights enveloped us as literally inches behind us was THE TRUCK yes the same lorry we had an earlier encounter with was on our tail and breathing down our necks like a demon driver, Flashing his multi beams 18 minimum whilst honking his horns yes just like the film Jeepers Creepers!

Panic was a slight understatement as a tirade of unrepeatable abuse left my lips as I hastily switched lanes, put it this way as the roar of the stalking trucks cabin came to view. I would not have been surprised if the lorry had no driver or a buck-toothed hillbilly boasted his blackened canines. I did not wait to find out as I once again flawed our ride and this time I did not raise my foot until the truck has disappeared from my rear view sight..

What seemed an hr had passed before noticed that due to my earlier bursts of speed, Our tank was down to the reserves. A situation that we vas verbally promised we would never let happen due to the cheapness of fuel, and the need to not wanting to run out of gas when we needed it most. Due to horror movies… I can think of many. We decided upon stopping for gas at the next stop where we grabbed a drink and took a moment to map out the remainder of our course.

I think it was Andy who responded first! I was still talking until I too Hurd (The Sound) that would have reduced mortal man to freeze with fear (Not Us) well not me…Ha ha, For the sound now repetitively aggressive was the sound of the Demon Driver! The truck was back as we both gazed towards the long red monster as it ghosted past as slow as it could roll to taunt us! This time a driver was seen behind the wheel animated through jesters which once I absorbed… Ignited my inner Lion, Stalker, Mutant hillbilly or just a pissed off lorry driver… He got it like I was down the Den, Every word unprintable and I wanted him to see I meant it, We fear no foe! Wherever we Go.

We are on a pilgrimage across the United States to find beautiful Music and no one, or anything is going to stop us…

Or have I just set us up for far far worse.

To Be Continued

@ Soul AM Each & Every Sunday morning - Site by WFDL