Friday, April 09, 2010

2010 USA Tour : April 6th, Paxton NE

WineryCleaving the Rockies

It was interesting to re-discover that only about half of Colorado is of mountains and the rockies while the other half is wild flat plains, prairies and farms.,

After an early morning walk in the Crystal Lake Park where we were camping during a dry mild morning, it was time to head east to Paxton NE

to Paxton

Its hard to say much about this journey. It was a journey of predictable interstate freeway road and a flat scenery of plains, grazing, some crop fields, barns, a few windmills. The weather was kind so no snow, ice or serious side winds.

A few hours later, we arrived at Paxton. It had become cloudy and much cooler. We drove into Ole’s hospitality empire, and extremely useful and general well kept collection of gas and diesel pumps, well stocked large store with emergency car and truck parts, hardware, food items and meals, a Days Inn motel, extremely well kept, car and truck washing, and an RV campsite.

As we drove into Ole’s it started to rain, cold rain. We looked at the RV campsite by the late, that was not as well kept as we saw it last year. In the “office” we asked for the difference between camping and motel rates, and motel rates were surprisingly low and included breakfast. So it was a night in their motel booked.

5 Trails Winery

Claire and I were not sure was to expect here. The idea of performing in a winery seemed odd as we usually perform best in community theaters, churches and house concerts. Any venue with a “party” image seems removed from us. However, by now we had performed in a downtown San Francisco Cafe late on a Saturday night, and in a micro-brewery, and in a merry Easter drinking bash in Utah – all with incredible success and among our best gigs, so we were sure this gig would be good.

Besides, Claire and I were curious about the wines here …….

Paxton NE is a beautiful traditional small farming town, very Nebraska and very much “western trail” looking. It also looked very similar to the town used in a tv series of long ago called “Heat Of The Night” set in Mississippi.

After seeing the classy sophisticated web site of 5 Trails Winery and their equally classy frontage in this country town our curiosity was truly awaken,

Pat Gamet, the owner and host, arrived minutes later and immediately popped our curiosity by explaining how he was really a Chicago Urban Animal, and the same time as introducing himself and shaking our hands. He then went on to quickly explain how he chose Paxton and set up the winery. Pat has roots near Paxton and his father does not live far away. His goal was to bring a bit of a wider world of urban culture to rural Nebraska, and we soon realise he and his beautiful wife Laurie were doing a stunning job.

Pat and Laurie’s “secret” is that they are enthusiastic and extremely warm hearted people who’s spirit is immediately welcoming and relaxing. Nothing gets in the way of them, but instead of being brutal and bullish, they have an amazing ability to bring “everyone along” with what ever they do. They are simply people you want to be around and enjoy being around.

on with the show

Around 6:30 pm the rain turned to snow and getting heavier. We wondered if this would affect the audience arriving, but Pat said, “this is Nebraska, its part of being here”. About 25 people arrived early anyway, and enjoyed some social time while sharing some bottles of Pat’s wonderful wines. More turned up before the show started. For the first time it looked like the men outnumbered the women present.

I am not a big alcohol drinker and certainly never touch any before a show, but my curiosity for Pat’s wines overcame me. I first tried his Frontenac Blush, and his gold medal Frontenac had run out, but I enjoyed the Blush. Recommended as a light through dinner read wine, this is a remarkable tangy and very fruity wine. I found with this and other 5 Trails wines that you really have to forget all the other wines you have tasted. These are very unique drinks and, apparently, this is the nature of all Nebraska wines. They are not New World Copies of what the French and German have produced for 100s of years.

I only drank a glass before the show and I think Claire waited until after before trying their wares.

I had thought Claire’s performance at Shagri La Tea room was stunning and Portneauf Brewing really close, but Claire really excelled herself on this evening and the audience with with her and encouraging all the way. They loved both original and Irish songs. Cd sales were very brisk!

I do not think I gave the best stories performances, though. My best was well and truly at Shagri La Tea Rooms, but they seemed to go down well.

Overall, the natural acoustics of the 5 Trails Brewery social room was stunning and needed no PA.

This was a super show and a wonderful social craic after. Sadly, because the snow was heavy and settling fast some folks who had far to travel left after the first set to ensure they could get home. Those who lived in the town had a great craic with us after.

Of course we tried more wines. Claire enjoyed the 5 Trails driest wine, a speciality wine I forget the name of. I enjoyed a smooth fragrant apple wine.

With the heavy snow, we were very grateful to have chosen the motel stay for the night instead of RV. Hopefully this was the very last snow of our tour ……

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