Follow Your Ears

blues_guitarIt would appear that I have inadvertently started a series that might be titled, “things experienced on the way to or from Afar launch parties.”  Conveniently, they seem to be held on Wednesday evenings which coincides nicely with having a midnight Thursday column deadline.  Tonight’s event was held at the Cantina Bar in the Financial District. I arrived by way of biking through Oakland to a photo printing shop in order to pick up proofs of images from Haiti, before throwing my bike on the BART with me during rush hour and heading into San Francisco.

I talked with fellow editors and writers about Haiti and Burning Man, and was poured two excellent drinks by talented bartender, Duggan McDonnell. It was after I’d already ordered and started enjoying my Sazerac that I saw the basis for my next request on the shelf. I proudly said that I’d been volunteering for two weeks clearing rubble in Jacmel, and to make me something with Barbancourt, the main spirit of Haiti. He mixed it with Benedictine and a splash of Amontillado, and it was a perfect homage to the strong rum that I’d opted against importing in my backpack. It turns out that Duggan has done volunteer work in 3rd world countries as well.

On my way home, I found myself walking past Biscuits & Blues. My feet sauntered in, following the southern blues guitar emanating from deep within. I reluctantly paid the $15 cover, but was soon treated to a basement venue with the best corn fritters that I’ve ever had, and a band that could have been Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble in their earlier days. It was just the sort of bar that I’ve always imagined existed – candlelit, good service, good food, superb music, and not too crowded. It spoke to that very strong pull I feel towards good guitarists, and made me look forward to having a full time job again in order to justify going to see Rodrigo Y Gabriela in concert again in August in San Diego.

I started going to these AFAR issue launch parties in order to be involved in this exciting new magazine, but have come to appreciate them just as much for the random experiences that they, in their mission, imbue my life with. I am in their debt once again, for being introduced to the sounds of Kevin Russell and the fritters of awesomeness at Biscuits & Blues.

Tonight’s lesson teaches us not only to put our destinations in others hands occasionally, but to be led by all of our senses. The smell of a good meal or the sounds of an unexpected blues cover band can lead us to unique experiential travel, often in our own backyard.

Posted by | Comments (1)  | April 15, 2010
Category: Food and Drink, Notes from the collective travel mind

One Response to “Follow Your Ears”

  1. Rebecca Says:

    Great post! Most travelers don’t lead by all of their senses, especially the sixth sense (intuition). It’s interesting what happens when you let go and don’t plan your entire travel experience. You may have experiences that you never dreamed of having if you would have planned everything.