Blog June 2019
A couple of y’all got in touch worried I had died because there’s been no action on social media from me.
In pursuit of finishing my book, “What A Long, Strange Tripp It’s Been”, I went off Facebook and all social media about three months ago to avoid distractions. Some of you may have feared that I’d died alone in the bush, others couldn’t have given two shats. It’s that I am only two chapters from the end of the book (much like the two hour stall in a properly smoked brisket of 18 hours in an offset smoker). and I hope to have that finished before early September. But in order to keep up with my friends around the world around the country I thought it best to send out a little Facebook post as well as a blog post on the Philtripp.com site to keep you up to current.
Life here and abroad this year has been idyllic, being the happiest and healthiest I’ve been in the last couple of decades. I shot through the US and Jamaica for seven weeks in the past six months and about to ‘winter’ in Hawaii for another six weeks while friends live with Jackson and care for him in our comfy home.
Chemically, all my blood tests are remarkable and physically, I’m in fine shape. I’m now fully retired at last (tried it in 2010, it didn’t take) and have no ties to my past in the music or creative content industries.
My last trip to the US was in March where I did a bit of annual work and then had a long road trip and Jamaica jaunt.
But the best part of that seven week trip was at the front end just after landing at DFW and tripping over to NOLA. My neighbours Tony & Jenn who are musicians wanted a Southern Music pilgrimage so we spent the best part of the week crawling up the Mississippi Blues Trail ending up at The Crossroads where Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil.
Staying in luxury sharecropper shacks (Truly!) at the Shack Up Inn in Clarkesdale, we painted the town blue at various honky tonks and dives. One big surprize was was fronting up to the bar late afternoon for cocktails at a lovely place called Levons.
A pretty woman came up from behind the bar, stared at me and then approached and said “You’re Phil Tripp aren’t you?” Who in rural Mississippi would know me? A baby momma from my touring days? Nope, it turned out to be Naomi Gapes who owned The Vanguard in Newtown where I often held SXSW nights and films. She had bought this bar in Clarkesdale and emigrated.
Sunday morning we drove the two hours to Memphis for a church service with Al Green with his mighty choir and kick ass band,
Then off to Central BBQ for a smoked feast of brisket, ribs, sausages, pulled pork with copious amounts of ice tea.
Then we checked into the luxe downtown edifice, the Peabody Hotel for the march of the ducks before hitting Beale Street for another dose of music.
Tony and Jenn stayed a couple of days, then off to Jackson and Nashville while I meandered back down the Blues Trail through little towns, settling in to old Vicksburg for the night at a Margaraville Hotel before going to Mardi Gras in New Orleans for a week.
Tony and Jenn joined me for five fun-filled days climaxing in front row seats at two major parades right in front of our hotel at Poydras and St Charles
as well as heading out to Kermit Ruffins Mother-in –Law Lounge in Treme. This hot old babe brought down the house as she karate kicked, slithered, ground out her hips and rattled her boobs to Kermit’s trumpet driven funk.
Then we rejoined the next day in Cajun Country—Eunice, Louisiana, where we immersed our selves in a totally different beast—Cajun Mardi Gras.
Two nights of the world’s best boiled crawfish at Hawks in rural Rayne,
chasing boudin in Mamou
while dancing at 9am at Fred’s Lounge and snarfling cracklins boiled in their own fat in a barrel on the street by the local fire brigade.
while making new friends of the locals.
But that was just before noon! That evening after sating ourselves with mudbugs, we went to the barn dance at the Lakeview RV Park where we took in the spectacular Cajun rhythms of the Pine Leaf Boys.
After a couple of weeks in Austin I then flew to my old hometown Atlanta meeting up with old mates and girlfriends. Drove to Savannah where Murray Silver, my co-conspirator on this book lives. And then off to Jamaica. Why Jamaica?
Well it’s the 50th year of the band Little Feat who I originally worked with back in the early 70s and have followed much like the Allman Brothers ever since. It was staged in the Melia Blanco Resort, closed off to outsiders like a private festival.
It was the 17thannual Little Feat Camp which was essentially five days of performances from the band, four days of Lucinda Williams, four days of the Midnight Ramble Band and some solo sets from Nawlins artist Anders Osborne.
It was in effect a ‘walled garden’ where only 500 people could go and they sold out within two days of putting tickets on sale in September of last year. I was fortunate because I’m a travel and music writer and also a friend of the band. Participants paid $3000-$8000 each depending upon the size of their room and whatever other extra things they wanted, like adventures off resort, diving, raft trips or tours of Bob Marley’s home and town, Trelawney.
I had a beachfront villa and all meals and drinks were included. The cocktails were damn good not made with cheap well brand liquor and the beer mainly drunk was Red Stripe. The wines were fine in the restaurants, also all included. I lucked out in that I got seated at a Japanese grill table of ten with a couple of billionaires who had rented the entire side of the building right next to the stage. Their balcony was maybe 120 feet from the front lip of the stage which sat on the beach.
The food was exquisite. The steakhouse was first class in a mirrored and chandeliered room. There was also an Italian restaurant serving superb pasta and pizza plus a Jamaican specialty house outdoor on the beach, barbecuing jerk the entire time. And there was a changing buffet on from dawn to past midnight.
I met many couples here my age. Hippies or retired smugglers who have come to over 10 of these Little Feat camps over the years and had the time of their lives. Bussed in air-conditioned comfort from the airport for a 30 minute cruise along the North Shore of Montego Bay, it was like a high school reunion. A sunny place for shady people.
We all got special posters which the band signed, our souvenier t-shirts could be tie-dyed in an afternoon class and there was an auction of a signed quilt made fro the official t-shirts of the past 17 years for a local school which nabbed thousands.
All things came to an end though and after a week in Jamaica I headed off to a three day break in Miami. From there a day in Dallas-Fort Worth and I was winging my way home to Australia and my beloved. Jackson. He had spent seven weeks at Feathered Friends which is a parrot version of summer camp in Sydney.
Soon after I landed back in Sydney at dawn from DFW in a 17 hour flight (fortunately upgrade to FC with a sleeper bed), I picked up my car from my ex-wife Lisa who took care of and reparked it around her neighbourhood. I picked him up in his little “Wingabago” Perspex travel cage and in six hours we were back in Coffs and the comfort of my own bed and his sleep cage in the House on the Hill.
That’s where the action started as I had scheduled the installation of an elevator going between my garage downstairs and the balcony outdoors upstairs on which we had to build a small enclosure which I decided should be a bucket list item that I’d always wanted – – a Tiki Hut.
It would be 5 feet wide 10 feet long and 9 feet high to accommodate the elevator
which going up and down would cause the floor to rise in one part
and seal back up as the elevator descended all the way to the garage.
That enabled me to build a bar into the wall as you’ll see and also to decorate the exterior with fine brown bamboo and thatch the top.
It also meant that I could put out some of my more bizarre Tiki items that I’d collected over the years and had scattered around the house.
It was made stunning by the addition of window at the end of the elevator in which I placed a piece of stained glass I’ve had for about 30 years depicting Hawaii and the volcano
along with a cute little metal white cockatoo on the outdoor ledge. Behind the Hut there is room for shelving which holds BBQ wood, briquettes, tools and I can store the new ProQ bullet smoker which has three levels of racks as well as hooks in the dome.
The front is made to be a bar with a painting on the outside by a friend Darren Brommel. It is the hatch for the bar which clamps up to the ceiling when it’s open for business.
There is a green cactus neon light, a tall Tiki light on the floor and strip lighting under the thatched roof. Inside is an LED bulb that mimics fire inside a mesh of sticks and realistic but fake electric candles. I am about to put in two cylindrical tiki lamps with flame light bulbs inside that used to be gas torches in the Newtown back yard for a couple of decades.
The hut connects directly into the house without a door making it easy to bring the blender around and whip up juicy margaritas. And of course there are four tall barstools that I chose for the front that work with the two long redwood barbecue tables and benches already there.
And to top it all off the balcony’s daybed that has been the anchor of the balcony since it’s so huge and heavy, is covered in a faux leopardskin fabric. Classy, I know.
Why an elevator you ask? Well I am 68 and have had cardiac arrest, stroke, and a heart attack with the possibility of that happening again being reasonably, ahh, elevated. Older people fall and break easily It’s better to have an elevator built-in so I don’t have to negotiate 28 curving steps up the exposed front in a wheelchair. Or try to go up 20 steps inside turning twice from my basement/garage in a walker.
It means I can live out the rest of my days in comfort in this home I’ve made in little paradise without having to worry about mobility issues since the house is on a slab that goes from balcony to back bedroom without interference from any walls or doorways that would not accommodate a wheelchair, walker, crutches or canes.
It’s not that I’m weak, feeble, or nearly disabled, it is about planning ahead for that eventuality and knowing that should that happen you won’t have to try to build an elevator that and still have to move out of your house.
As a matter of fact, the last four doctors visits in the last two weeks were checkups with blood test that made each of my specialists – – cardiologist, blood pressure, kidney, vascular surgeon and endo- criminologist – – decide that instead of the standard six-month checkups, they were going to make it annual which certified that I’m in the more or less peak of health from my age. They all marveled at my blood sugar, cholesterol, and other chemistries, as well as my blood pressure and kidney functions. Whoop!
So that means I am clear to winter in Hawaii for seven weeks. I’ve also booked six weeks next year for Dallas, Memphis, Nashville, Atlanta, Miami, The Florida Keys, New Orleans, Savannah, and one other wildcard destination in March and April.
In the meantime my free time will be planting more chilis and fruits and vegetables, harvesting what I’ve got, crafting hot sauces and chili oil, as well as another batch of white wine vinegar following my second successful ferment.
Shortly, Jackson and I will be peering over the hill watching the wildlife, the birdlife, and life in the distance within the village of Coffs Harbour as well as the boats sailing by. I hope you can come visit sometime. I’ll give you a free elevator ride and a cup of Kona coffee as well as some Texas brisket or ribs or pulled pork if you hit the lucky time.
Well back to writing the book, You can see some of these excerpt pages as well as more stories at http://philtripp.com/blog/