On Tour

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The Independent Culture
When I first started touring in 1969, I used to travel round the folk clubs with a blues player in a clapped-out Ford Cortina. We were paid pounds 13 a night between us. The car was always blowing up on us, which meant we didn't make much money. In those days we couldn't afford hotels and just slept on people's floors.

I'm on the road for about 200 nights a year. Playing the music has always been the easy part. Getting around has been harder. One winter in the US I had to drive all night through the snow to get from Michigan to Long Island. But I forgot about the one-hour time difference and arrived an hour late.

You can find yourself in weird situations in the US. Once, the band played a place called the Crystal Ball Saloon in Alaska. It was a rough venue; there was a stripper on just before us. The locals were a bit drunk and started pulling out their guns and shooting them off into an oil barrel in the corner of the room. Then a barman pulled out a gun and waved it at Dave, one of the band members. I think it was just in fun.

The high point of all my tours was probably playing the Carnegie Hall in New York, not just because it's so famous but because of the amazing acoustics. I also remember playing the Usher Hall with Stephane Grappelli. I'd listened to his records since I was eight.

This year I haven't stopped. I've been to Scandanavia, France and Spain. It's a punishing routine. I hate the travelling but if I gave it up, I would probably really miss it.

Aly Bain is touring Scotland with Phil Cunningham until 26 Sept. Including Inverness 10 Sept, Aberdeen 22, 23 Sept

(Photograph omitted)

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