Right  I apologize in advance if this review type thingy sounds stroppy, I have been back from Illinois a week, still feel  jet lagged and now I have hay fever because our UK government has been spraying zyclone B on farmers crops to help with the problem of too many disabled people in the country. Anyway enough crap, on with the tour diary thingy or whatever.

Day 1 - 20 June 2011 - Awake, comb teeth, go to check emails on my recon laptop,  for which I had borrowed the money off mummy to buy in order to keep on top of Punk 4 The Homeless stuff whilst away and with a fest 2 months away – essential – except - NOT WORKING!  First time taking it away and BUGGA. Coach( which was going to get me to airport 13 hours early, but due to their only being one out of Rednecksville Lincolnshire a day) due in 3 hours - no time to fix computer, let alone be 21. Anyway got to Victoria coach station about 4pm, paid 2 quid 50 to change last bit of journey so I could stay in London an extra 7 hours before heading to hotel, Heathrow Airport Floor. Met geezer who I talked with for about an hour about punk rock - no further interesting stuff occurred.

Day 2 - 21 June 2011 - Awoke early – alone - today is my wedding anniversary –divorce not through yet - floor is hard - coffee is crap - yippee and yeehaa it’s off to Chicago I go. Arrive at O’Hare airport - no sign of Dougle McMysteron, yes He of 100 Philistine Foreskins fame. Try phone box, operator fault, English idiot (I am not an American idiot) cannot operate  yanky phone – BUGGA - Hey up a patchwork car arrives, out climbs Scottish giant, huge hug, even bigger grins - also out of the car - in fact driving the car was the biggest skinhead I had ever seen, making Dougle McMysteron, who must be 6ft 4, if an inch, look small. Skinhead chap turns out to be Tobin from Flatfoot 56, a diamond geezer, as are, as it happens, every person I met over there - diamond geezers and geezerettes. We set off on what was perhaps a short journey but seemed longish, stopping at good grub sandwich place for foot long sandwiches, kinda like Subway with proper food stuff, I like Chicago already.

Eventually we arrive at a place where we are going to be living for a few days and a place I soon grew to love - Risen Savior Assemblies of God Church – the place was swarming with people - it was Food Pantry Day!  Loads of people hanging round chatting, while the churches congregation, a good percentage of being punks, skins and other alternatives were helping folk sort out their groceries for the week.  This place at least had kinda got helping the poor sussed a bit. Great atmosphere with love and respect all round - when will the human race finally get the fact in their heads that governments are self serving and the only real way forward as a species is to serve one another? Dan, the other half of Deana and Dan, parents of 3 members of Flatfoot 56 and Pastor of Risen Savior, got me to recite one of my poems to the people hanging round socializing and getting groceries (wouldn’t it be great if shops over here were more helpful, by giving their almost at sell by date grub to the poor, instead of it being illegal to take food from skips - obscene).  The poem went down well and I was honored to perform for these people. That evening I was rehearsing in a gazoo punk rock covers band - The Risen Savior Punk Rock Apocalypse Punk Rock Marching Band - our cover of  ‘We Suffer But Why’, with yours truly on vocals is awesome.  Jet lag kicked in, fell asleep on stage - went to bed.

Day 3 – 22 June 2011 - Went into Chicago – awesome - I love jazz and classical and lots of other lesser genres of music but obviously ‘Nothing Compares To You’ (Sinead’s ode to punk rock). I was treated to some top class free jazz, very close to a sky scraper designed by a feminist lady (do you mind me calling you that dear) to represent the strength of the female amongst the other sky scrapers, all of which are phallic - I kid you not!  The building which I, for want of knowing its name, is called Fanny Towers. I could almost swear the band was playing something by Thelonius Monk - AWESOME. Moving on, but not far - huge stage, in huge park, huge orchestra - FREE Beethoven - I never did get my ‘Free Nelson Mandela’ with my special aka single. Off to dunkin doughnuts, half decent coffee, half decent snacky bits, cheap-sorted. On the way to Reckless Records and about 10 miles from where we are staying, I hear a voice ‘You’re the poet’.  Initially I thought it was someone who had seen me on YouTube or something, but no it was an elderly lady from food pantry, chances of bumping into her weren’t and I had found my first fan, yeeeeharrrrr, and she thought I was famous - bonus.

Reckless Records was our next stop - by the way, this is just me and Dougle, talking about sky scrapers jogged my memory that he is with me - stacks of punk vinyl - I bought cheap Steve Earl, Naked Raygun and , old brit mod/punk band The Jolt CD's, bargains - I am pleased, I don’t care. So it’s off on the train, probably marked Harlem (just so I can mention Billy Holliday), possibly not, and bus back home. Here me, Dougle and Kyle from Flatfoot 56 listen to Oi and The Proclaimers (I didn’t know they covered Wreckless Eric, although that obviously doesn’t justify their existence) until going out around 10pm to do my first Chicago gig-in which I slagged off Coca Cola, the BNP and Crass, at the top of my voice, too much applause - big food on the way home - knackered but fed and happy.

Day 4 – 23 June 2011 - Did you know that Oprah Winfrey lives in a sky scraper (not fanny towers), yep, the whole floor of a huge tower block, doesn’t Class War operate in Chicago? Come on boys ‘By any means necessary’. I learnt the Oprah fact whilst standing in a famous Chicago park next to a famous Chicago fountain which has been in lots of famous films…ok!  I forgot its name OK. The park I am standing in is odd; it is odd because it has hundreds of food stalls set up for a forthcoming ‘Food Festival’, a huge festival celebrating food. Being a fat old punk I like my food but a food festival?  Survival of the fattest indeed. We leave the park and head up a 96 story building where I had a rather splendid wheat beer and looked down on sky scrapers and specks of moving colour (that’s right, not color, I speak English-got that!) i.e. cars, obviously not made by Ford, otherwise they would be Goth specks. Amazing, leaning over taking pictures/vids of the city. OK, we journeyed back to Risen Savior where a family get together was happening where we got to do team building exercises (all arranged by phenomenal rocker John Pratt, coolest rocker in Chicago) which consisted of dropping eggs from ladders and writing stories about Dougle McMysteron wearing a princesses wedding dress, obviously stolen from a 90 million quid wedding, you pay for their upbringing and don’t even get an invite to the wedding. Royalty, who would have em’, not the Americans for sure. After The Generation Game, more jet lagged Gazoo punk band rehearsals, bring it on.

DAY 5 – 24 June 2011 - Wake up, go in kitchen, can’t get to make coffee, place full of punk rockers ‘spitting and all their dirty habits’ who I soon find out are the punk bands Subatomic (who claim The Buzzcocks as a major influence but if they sound like them then the Buzzcocks have testicles I have never seen) and Indianapolis Forever (totally crazy in your face stuff , the band chose the name cuz they never thought they would play outside of their home town).  Both bands were from Indianapolis and were playing The Risen Savior as part of a much bigger tour. Half the tour had taken place in churches and the other half in bars etc. Much to the amusement of Subatomic, who are atheists, they felt they had gone down better in church venues, bizarre, bizarre, bizarre? Mr and Mrs. Dan were away at this point and we were left to look after ourselves so when I did get to the kettle we shared enough coffee to make 2 cups between about 11 of us - well a fix is a fix.
Loads of punk rock chat then off to find breakfast. Looking like a mini version of Clash City Rockers front cover we set off. Tacos, yep proper Mexican food for breakfast, not taco bell either but proper pickled worm tequila Mexican grub - awesome. Nick, bass player for both Indianapolian bands provided the much needed musical accompaniment to brekky, cover versions of Dead Kennedys and Ramones songs played on the reverse side of his elbow (yes I know that as an ex psychiatric nurse I should know what it is called but the head doesn’t have an elbow does it) with his mouth. Awesome stuff, even better when I taught him the Spog classic, ‘Chip Shop Fascist’.

Back to the ranch - fast-forward to evening. Headnoise, Indianapolis Forever, Subatomic, Eagle Spits at Risen Savior. First on Subatomic, full on Mohawk punk rock, more balls than a farmer’s rabbit pie. Lots of folk slamming around, running round in circles etc. to PAF songs about allsorts but politically edged stuff. I love a good punk rock tune - Subatomic delivered. Steve the front guy from Indianapolis Forever is a Christian so I guess he hadn’t been snorting amphetamine sulphate so I guess he must have got his energy from elsewhere, maybe Mexican food. Semi naked, very sweaty raging hardcore punk, kind of thing makes even me jump around in my partially sighted old age. Kinda scary n the pit these days when you can’t see whose elbows knocking your teeth out. Anyway great band on stage, great front man permanently in the mosh pit. I played a short set before Indianapolis Forever and one after, both equally brilliant. Last on, Headnoise, Chicago’s oldest band. Mainly female vocals, but with additional vocals from the guitarist. Great anarcho punk sounding stuff. Great people who live in what is probably Chicago’s largest commune. Approx 5000 at JPUSA. Good social conscience stuff, some of which asking important questions about their own government.   As Chicago’s oldest punk band they were delighted to be asked to play with Crass when they played Chicago recently. They were a bit gutted when Steve Ignorant sent them a message saying they couldn’t play because they were too Christian, ‘the sound of free speech’ I presume. Overall a great night, great bands, attended by some great people.

DAY  6 – 25 June 2011 - Big ‘March Against Hunger’ rally in Chicago, I was looking forward to going on this with the folk from Risen Savior attendees and a handful of punk bands I know. I overslept, everybody thought it best to leave me to sleep as I still had a busy schedule ahead and I’m elderly. I have however got a great bright orange ‘End hunger in Chicago now’ shirt, given to me by Pastor Dan - diamond geezer.

So march out the way I cram into a van with Subatomic and Indianapolis Forever to go do a gig in Indianapolis. Although crammed it was reasonably comfy and we had some loud punk rock to listen to in the van. One band I thought sounded great were Against Me!, I had never heard these guys before but when I asked Mrs. and Mr. Davey Burch and Dougle McMysteron if they had heard of them, they produced puddles of urine through laughter, so I assume they are a well known band.

Anyway we arrive at the venue, a venue promoted by Stephen from Indianapolis Forever. So as he was in the van with us it was cool to see everything set up, people on door etc etc, on our arrival. ‘This is(nt) England’ or summats. Although I am shattered at this point I am well looking forward to an evening of punk rock - stacks of acts on the bill plus limey bastard Eagle Spits. First up political punk gospel duo who though I can’t remember what they were called I do have their sticker on my fridge, yessirree they were cool. Next, I think, Indianapolis Forever, awesome bare chested, sweaty punk rock-loved em again, I want to bring em to UK, anybody out there gonna help me? Next ‘Destroy Nate Allen’ Mr. and Mrs. Allen do a bizarre thing at their gigs, get the audience in a huge circle and both of them wear radio mic thingies strapped to their heads, while Nate (Mr. Allen) plays an acoustic guitar with a radio amp thingy, they run around the circle being totally in people’s faces singing about black flags, being protected from cops by Jesus and cooking. Bizarre stuff indeed, I love it. Nextish Subatomic, blinding stuff, another great set by this lot, although Nick, their stand in bass player is a sit down bass player cuz I reckon he broke his foot in the earlier Indianapolis Forever set. Next Eagle Spits with poems about Nazi’s, the decaying of punk rock, and snogging someone’s grandmother, yuk, disgusting stuff and he’s the only representative of  Engerrrland tonight.

The Green Room next play a beautiful old school rock steady set next. This is great chilled out stuff and the most memorable song for me was about going to gigs in basements cuz you can’t afford to go to big gigs but see some great bands few other people get to see. I could totally relate to the sentiments of this song, and the gig was actually happening in the basement of a church. Cool stuff, all age venues is what it’s about; get the kids into punk rock so us old geezers can die. Anyway I loved this band.

Next, the very late arrivals, Rodent Emporium all the way from Scotland. Interesting quirky punk stuff with songs about snake catchers and being mental, lively, energetic, bizarreness but a very short set due to being late, despite being chanted at to play MORE by everyone in the venue  they declined cuz they didn’t want to eat into Flatfoot 56’s set,-fair do’s.

Flatfoot 56 - awesome. I own a couple of their albums, the latest being produced by geezer from Street Dogs so I was kind of a fan already, I was more of a fan of the dudes themselves than their albums however, they are great, big hearted, warm, chappies, BFG’s.  I hate it when you desperately want to like a band cuz of the people kind of situation, but they DID NOT disappoint, bagpiped, mandolin edge, Celtic oi, yeeesssss, great tunes, great atmosphere, great vibe and a mention of how cool Eagle Spits is - can’t fault em. The place went mental, huge circle pits, jigging, whatevering, uproar. Full on with the odd slow folk song about being proud to be a working man, proper skinhead stuff.

So the ride home, this time with FF56, this time I get to sit in the front next to Tobin from the band, who is driving. Stacks of tacos and other Mexican takeaway bits first though. Big grub, little dosh, the way it needs to be.

Despite still being jet lagged and falling asleep at the gig I have an amazing 4 hour journey back to Chicago speaking to Tobin. Although I reckon this guy’s 20 years my junior we have stacks of punk rock stories to exchange, you name em, FF56 (if they are punk) know em’ on a personal level. Big friends with Matt Friedman, Mickey Fitz, Tosh, etc etc. They play huge gigs but are still skint, loving and earthy. I reckon there is only one valid reason for being in punk and that’s because you are punk. Anyway so many stories so little space. FF56 are punk.

Day 7 – 26 June 2011 – (I think) So much has gone on and I truly am elderly and jet lagged, lots of great stuff has happened, I have met so many wonderful people; I sound like a hippy.  I am confused. So the next half of the diary is going to be in one large chunk. We set off at some point to go to Cornerstone Festival where I am to be for the next 6 days. This time I get to spend the 4 hour drive with Tobin in the patchwork car, just 2 bonding geezers talking punk rock, punk rock, faith, politics and punk rock. I do a very dangerous thing and get a great interview as we are motoring. Have I said I love this place? If not I love this place. Later on I get several bands interviewed for P4TH Radio Show, however somebody nicked my phone etc back in UK before I had chance to upload them. Anyway, a peculiar landscape we drive through for 4 hours, it’s peculiar because it is almost identical to other  places I have been but not quite. Every building is detached. Space is spacious and big signs advertise big stuff.

We go through several small towns before reaching Bushnell, Illinois another small town. They are expecting us, loads of garage sales etc. Just outside Bushnell is Cornerstone Festival, it is a Christian festival but bizarrely it has a very similar ethos and vibe as my favourite festival I attended in England, some years ago, Stonehenge Festival. Cornerstone IS NOT about making money JPUSA who have run the festival for over 20 years have lost money every year they have run it. It is not clean; thank goodness there are punks, goths, hardcore kids, hippie’s, heat and dust everywhere. Everybody at this festival is totally cared for and looked out for big time. One lady I had the pleasure to meet is the perfect example of this. Linda, sees it as her role at the festival to feed, not quite the 5000 but does feed approx 200 hungry punk kids each meal time, for nothing.

I was delighted to be asked by Tobin to go on before FF56 played to approx 8000 (I am useless with numbers) and do a poem as way of introduction, I was less delighted by the fact that I tripped over going round the back of the stage and ripped the crutch out of my trousers. Fortunately someone had left a roll of gaffa tape on top of one of the PA speakers, so quick repair job and Eagle Spits does his first major USA appearance with the front of his trousers held together with shiny gaffa tape. The chosen poem ‘Is punk just entertainment’ went down a storm partly cuz I am brilliant, partly cuz I have a quaint English accent and a huge black square shiny crutch. All in all, entertaining. Then I cleared off to the side of the stage and FF56 took over, mayhem, pit circles, a couple of bag pipe players and old geezer of about 80 in the mosh pit (I kid you not) who I was to see in several mosh pits round the fest over the next six days, Full on Celtic Oi with some slow earnest folky bits.

FIREFALLDOWN, great pop punk band and great friends of mine from The Philippines and South Africa, now residing in London , were due to join us in Chicago and travel with us to Cornerstone Festival. However they never turned up, much concern cuz these boys are reliable, spot on dudes. It turns out Joel, their bass player had taken really ill on the way to the airport, at one point it was feared that they would not let him on the plane but as it happens they made it over, but had to head straight for the fest and due to health their parents had sorted them a hotel out near the fest. This left me in a situation; I was supposed to be sharing a tent with them so Eagle Spits has nowhere to sleep.

Shortly after FF56 had played I was discussing this situation with Dougle McMysteron when a young lady who neither of us knew, who was standing nearby, said “I have a spare tent”, grabbed my rather large suitcase, full of Punk 4 The Homeless T-Shirts and slung it on her shoulder, so off we marched, in the dark to find her spare tent. Unfortunately in Illinois it gets a bit dewy at night that time of year and the tent had been left open on the ground and was soaked. A different type of American accent said behind us, “you can’t sleep in that”, it was coming from a biker looking chap driving a golf cart (people were hiring golf carts to get around the festival, it was a large festival, not like Cheap As Chips). The accent was from Texas and it was coming from the mouth of a gentleman who was the manager of The Texas Stage, there were several different stages at Cornerstone and this one’s peculiarity was it only had bands from Texas playing on it. This night it was to have a punk poet from England sleeping on it. Saw several great bands this night but I am not going to talk about em now, I have had a busy day and I am going to sleep, a hard night’s sleep.

Quick Overview of the Festival (some of my fave bits, or bits I didn’t miss cuz was so busy).

FF56, saw em twice, awesome, Celtic oi, full on, massive circle pits, can’t get enough of em.

Grave Robber, wonderfully done horror punk played by zombies who are friends with some Misfits. Massive show band fronted by massive geezer called Wretched. GGGrrrrrrrrr.

Triple Stitch - slightly country punk rock n roll, remind me of Social D, a bit, good enough for me.

Saviour Machine – Intense Goth band, doing an acoustic gig, still loud and intense. Opened their set with Sympathy for the devil, how punk is that?

P.O.D - big gig, liked a couple of numbers a lot; you know the score with these guys anyway.

Psalters –t ravelling, crusty, Christian ANARCHISTS, singing folky/crusty/chanty songs about justice, Native American rights, resisting empire, and only serving one lord. Right up my street, let’s jig.

Dark Valentine -  love Goth stuff, I always have - SORRY, a corseted girl singer with a Goth version of The Jabberwocky was bound to win my heart, and I reckon Lewis would be pleased too.
Stacks and stacks of other great punk, hardcore, industrial, Goth etc etc   bands played, The Scurvies, Mason Summers, Folklore Insomnia. Headnoise, The Chariot, FIREFALLDOWN,   o yes Eagle Spits, anarcho, Christian, activist, tosser etc etc  did actually perform really well, attracted a fan base. It felt a bit weird actually slagging off The Supreme Court of Indiana actually close to it. Also needing to explain details of peculiarly British stuff. I did a half hour set at full pelt in extreme heat and almost lost my voice after a couple of poems. (The day before, the drummer from FIREFALLDOWN had collapsed due to heat exhaustion coming off the stage after playing). I was received well. I did a few small performances over the course of the six day festival, but the one which was seen as the most official (for want of a better phrase) was on the Saturday afternoon on the Raging Storm Records stage. Two days before, I was sitting near a young couple in one of the tents having a coffee, we got into conversation and it turns out the young girl Sarah (Gunter) was a poet too, we shared poems, I thought she was cool so I invited her to do a couple of poems with me on the Saturday. Tear producing, wounded love stuff.

Another part of the story is that as I didn’t have a tent I was sleeping in different places. So thanks to Robert from Headnoise, who was also stage manager for The Underground Stage, for feeding, watering and letting me kip on his camp bed on the stage-cheers. Also thanx to Bruce Wright (pastor and Christian anarchist), John the hippy (who I renamed pussy bladder due to the fact we had to stop the car every ten minutes cuz he had drank a couple of beers), Steven (Bruce’s young lad) and Elliot the dog (who I renamed Rabies). I met Bruce after a seminar on Dorothy Day (catholic worker movement-catholic anarchists) and he invited me to stay at their camp cuz they had a spare bed outside and food, yeeessss. I was also privileged to be asked to perform a couple of poems at a seminar he was doing on Christian anarchism. Bruce is one of the organizers of the occupation of Freedom Plaza in L.A., I was invited to play at the occupation but funding fell through. He is also involved in running a homeless project called The Refuge and Squatter Records, a record punk label which after the bands have been paid and profit goes to homeless causes, much the same thing I want to do with Punk 4 the Homeless Records.

Anyway to cut a long story short, I spent 3 days in the company of this merry bunch. On one of these days we left the festival in search of some wholesome cooked food and decent BEER. As we were driving around (there was also a biker chap in the car with us) on a Sunday afternoon, I couldn’t help getting the feeling that our motley crew would get lynched, 1 punk, 1 folky hatted anarchist, 1 small boy, 1 biker, 1 hippy and his gay looking dog. Very strange fruit I’d say. Everywhere closed, slow drive, flags along the road-ahoy! Open dive...pizza, beer and beer yeeesss, crap, my debit card has been stopped, should have let the bank know I was leaving UK, cheers John for the meal, the second meal and for the dosh which paid fuel for the miles and miles and miles out of the way trip to take me back to Chicago after the festival. Needless to say, we got out alive.

I guess one of the strangest bands to play Cornerstone was our gazoo marching band. We went down brilliantly. We are gonna do an album?

So coming to the end of two weeks in USA and six days of a dusty punk festival, we set off back to Chicago (although Bruce, John et al were going to L.A. via Chicago just to give me a lift. FF56 had to leave the festival early because they had a huge gig elsewhere with Rise Against), I believe, although not totally sure we were on Route 66 for a large chunk of the time, with, blue grass and new wave radio stations and as I said earlier 1 very weak bladder, beer and nice grub for comfort also. Also it was American Independence Day; we were headed back to Risen Saviour for huge fireworks made from proper explosives, bought from bloke making em’ in his garage - extremely loud stuff, plus BBQ. I did let them know that the real reason I had gone over was to take their independence back because their government couldn’t be trusted with it. It was a great time but for me a sense of sadness, I had met a lot of great people and made stacks of good friends but the next day was journey home...