Andy Eversole – Banjo Earth: India – Day 7 – Making Movie Making Moves

Day 7

Making Movie Making Moves
This was the first full day of having my videographer for the project, Mr. Paul Byun, on the scene. We made the most of a full day. Just to get him acclimated to the feel of New Delhi, we set out on foot to explore the neighborhood. Winding back through the alleys and byways of Vasant Kunj, our home base for the trip, it felt great to get the share the sights, smells, and realities with one of my friends. I love traveling alone. I also love traveling with a companion. Sharing the experience provides a rich and deep layer with which to build a better understanding.
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You can never forget that first taste of India
The first order of business in Delhi is learning how to walk around without getting run over by a rickshaw, car, or motorcycle. It requires constant heightened awareness and clarity, making good decisions on when and where to cross streets. The first few close calls can be harrowing, but once you get used to it, a graze by a bike or truck doesn’t even register on the radar. This phenomenon shows the amazing adaptability of the human sensibility.
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There’s so much going on in the streets of Delhi
After our neighborhood jaunt, we stop by the mall for some incredible chicken tandoori and some necessity shopping. Rice, noodles, soap, toilet paper, beer, cereal, yogurt, you know…the essentials. Walking around in the heat and dust, carrying handfuls of market items wears us out a bit, and an afternoon nap is in order. We’ve got a meeting later in downtown Delhi with a band who will be collaborating on the album, called Shorthand, and we need energy for our adventures.
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This chicken tandoori was so on point!
Our meeting with the band is set for Connaught Place, and old english style circle right in the center of Delhi. This place has a “Central Park” in the very middle, and two circular roads going around the perimeter. It is very touristy, very happening, and very beautiful. After a wild rickshaw ride, we arrive about 1 hour early and break out the banjo in public for the first time. The park is filled with people hanging out together, enjoying the Delhi evening.
There are several music get togethers happening around us. As we finish up with our session, we walk over to the steps where there is a group of young people playing guitar, singing, and beatboxing. This is a great example of how, no matter where you are in the world, music is such a foundation of life and existence. Singing, Dancing, communicating together crosses all bounds and cultures. It is one of the foundational things people care about across the world. There is a great female vocalist and two beatboxers who really catch my attention, so I get their Instagram info for some future Banjo Earth collaborations.
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Meeting new friends in the park
Going straight from there, we meet up with 2 of the band members from Shorthand. Their vocalist is out of the country, and their drummer sprained his ankle playing futbol the day before. So these two fellas were the band representatives for the evening. The conversation with them was so much fun. They were very cool, young, hip, thoughtful people. Just about to finish up their university studies, they are really excited about going full time with their band for a year or two to see what they can do. Pursuing the dream. Obviously I gave them lots of encouragement and advice from a seasoned dream follower. We talked about music, politics, culture, the ins and outs of Indian life, and the possibilities for the future. I love sharing my optimism and positivity for life and work with young people I come across. For many of them, that is the one key ingredient that seems to be missing. It gives me great pleasure to impart the science of mindset to young talented people. Really, when you think about it, what’s the alternative?
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Meeting with two members from the band Shortand
After this amazing meeting, we stop by a nearby bar for one last cool beverage before going home. It’s been a long day full of hard work and adventure, and a Kingfisher, the people’s beer of India, hits the spot and puts a nice finish on an awesome day. We catch a rickshaw ride out on the street, negotiate a decent fare, and zip through the Delhi night, feeling the cool wind on our faces. It’s times like these that feel like the universe is in perfect order, the world, imperfect as it is, is getting better, and my place in it vibrates with harmony. Namaste.

Andy Eversole – Banjo Earth: India – Day 6 – Searching the Human Library

Day 6

Searching The Human Library
Improvisation is one of the finest skills any human can learn. It doesn’t matter whether it’s music, language, socializing, survival, problem solving, cooking. Any and all of these require a hefty dose of improvisation. Seeing what’s not working, thinking of new ways to make it work, and adapting your approach and methods. Things rarely go as planned, and the best way to salvage a great outcome from shoddy circumstances is being adept at improvising.
This is what I have basically been trying to accomplish all day as far as gaining access to the internet. Honestly, I find going days without being connected to the webs rather refreshing. I am reading more, seeing more, thinking more, scrolling less. In many ways it is an advancement in consciousness. The only problem is that my work is becoming near impossible. It’s hard to realize how much we connect and communicate with one another until it’s gone. Much like we take our fingers and toes for granted until one of them is missing. I found that out the hard way recently when I chopped off the end of one of my most used banjo fingers. Hey, I was using that!
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Can I have my finger back now?
In any case, much of my day today was spent traveling around on foot in search of a solution to my connectivity problem. The international plan I have through my American carrier is pretty much limited to text and email. The problem then, lies in the fact that all the work I did previous to landing in India was connecting with musicians and artists through Instagram. This is an amazing platform that has allowed me to reach some wonderful people right here in New Delhi before I ever even arrived. However, when the two times I opened the app, I was hit with a $25 charge each time for going over my allotted data. This made the app pretty much unusable. Thus, my meetings and communications with Delhi musicians quickly became obsolete. I had to improvise.
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Time to improvise
I found a cafe, bought a latte, and gained access to the internet for one hour. This allowed me to gather my contacts, communicate with them, and send them over to my email, which was working. Right as the hour ran out, I received a message from “The Human Library” saying that we will meet today. But before we could set a time, my internet was gone. Thus. I headed down the road for a couple of miles and found another cafe, this one called “Cafe Connect”, which sounded like just what I needed. Here I ordered a strawberry lasse, which was delicious, and finalized the plans that we had been trying to make. We would meet at the “mall”, just outside of Pizza Hut at 6pm. Improvisation at work.
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Strawberry Lasse at Cafe Connect
On the way to the mall, a very crazy storm began to stir. I quickly noticed that storms in Delhi are a bit different. They carry with it the severity of dust and trash flying through the air at remarkable speeds. It’s almost as if everything in the city that had been swept under the rug was immediately airborne. It was quite the spectacle, but also a formidable obstacle to moving through space. In need of an improvised plan, I threw on my sunglasses, which made the dark darker, and pulled up my shirt as a scarf. As I reached the mall, I was covered in dust and who knows what else. It felt like what I could only imagine as a bad trip at Burning Man.
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Coming in From the Storm
In 20 minutes it would all be worth it, as Alok, aka “The Human Library” came into meet me. He is a poet and photographer who I found on Instagram and we instantly hit it off. He called his Mom to cook us up a homemade dinner and invited me over to his family’s house. There I chatted in candlelight with the sweetest family you could imagine. We sat down on the floor, crosslegged, and ate some amazing chicken curry fashioned by his mother’s hand. She sang a traditional Indian song for us, we talked about life and love, and all was joyful.
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Alok, aka The Human Library
Sometimes obstacles aren’t impediments in your way, but rather opportunities to enhance your skills of improvisation.

Andy Eversole – Banjo Earth: India – Music and Travel Vlog Ep.5 – A Ballet of Chaos

Support the project at https://andyeversole.com/be-india

 

Andy Eversole – Banjo Earth: India – Day 5 – A Ballet of Chaos

Day 5

A Ballet of Chaos
Do you ever have one of those days, one of those experiences, that afterward, you know you will never be the same again? It’s like crossing a threshold, gathering some life-altering information, seeing something that you can never erase from your mind. For me, that was today. The parts of New Delhi that I saw and experienced today will forever change the way I see and think about the world. I already know that words will be insufficient to describe what I saw and felt, but I will try nonetheless.
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Hitting’ the Streets
The day began with a venture out to find some food. I’ve been putting it off by snacking on the oatmeal that was available in the apartment. But three bowls later that had finally run it’s course, and it was time to become assimilated. I’m normally a pretty adventurous eater when traveling abroad. The Chinese and Thai street foods stands I’ve frequented have been nothing but delicious. It’s just that prior to my visit here to India, everyone has done their level best to relate all the horror stories they could muster. Tapeworm, Delhi Belly, toilet water soups, even the security guard checking my boarding pass in Atlanta gave me some dire warnings. Regardless, I have to eat, and my Banjo Earth budget doesn’t allot 5 star restaurants for every meal. So, here we go.
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My first plate of Indian street food

My first taste was a street stand just outside of a half empty mall. Inside was a KFC, but they weren’t open yet. So I just decided to jump in. I saw they were serving Naan bread with some other goodies, so I said I’ll have one of whatever that is. He fixed me up a plate, brushed off a swarm of flies, and I sat down for some vittles. The food was actually very good. A small helping of beans, naan bread, raw onions with a pepper, and some brown sauce for dipping. It was very spicy and very tasty. The main issue was keeping the flies off of me and my food. From what I’ve noticed, that is something you just get used to, and eventually stop swatting. But I’m a long way from that point.

 A few guys sat around, amused at the sight of me at their street stall, and were laughing and being friendly. There are no napkins, and everyone pretty much eats with their right hand (the left is reserved for other matters of the body). So there’s this interesting mix of finger licking, clothes wiping, and shaking hands. I guess we’re all just in this together!
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We’re all in this together
Happy to have some food in my belly, I finished up and went on my way to further explorations. I flagged a rickshaw, which here is a motorized open air cart/taxi, and told the driver I wanted to go to the Chattarpur subway station. After driving around a bit, and seeing some confusion on his face, we ended up at a Subway sandwich shop. I soon realized my folly. Here, it is universally known as the metro. I will not make that mistake again. Around the corner was an amazing temple complex, so I had him just drop me off there instead. inside I found some exquisite temples and statues.  I wondered into one of the main domes, which was a tribute to Kali, one of the Hindu gods. Inside I was welcomed with an anointment of a red dot on my third eye, along with a string bracelet that is for “very good luck” by the residing priest. It felt as though I was baptized in the Temple of Kali. She is the goddess, toting a multitude of severed heads, who rampages through the creation mercilessly destroying evil. I guess that works out well.
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Checking out Hunaman, the Monkey God, at the temple
After basking in the glow of my newly befriended deity, I head for the metro and find my way to Chandni Chowk, or Old Delhi. This is where things get really interesting. After navigating my way through some bazaars and tight alley markets, I find myself in one of the most beautifully chaotic scenes I’ve ever experienced. Motorcycles zooming through waves of people, horse drawn carriages carrying loads of goods, a cacophony of horns, street vendors selling everything from spices to peacock feathers, Hindi music blaring, mazes of electrical wires streaming overhead, and me. An hour walking through these streets felt like a lifetime and an instant. It was the most psychedelic experience of my life so far, and I’ve had a few. Mind melting, inspirational, confusing, discouraging, hopeful. I was transported through time into the distant past and the brave new future. This few blocks of city activity will forever change my view of life, humanity, myself. It was all I could do to wiggle out of this maze and make may way home.
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Ballet of Chaos
For awhile after, and still now, I find myself in somewhat of a daze. Speechless, numb, like the morning after the wildest night of your life. The only thing to do upon returning home was to find the nearest bed and pass out. I needed to put my mind back together. I felt like Humpty Dumpty after his fall. I was warned that India might do this to me. I had no idea it would happen so fast and in such a beautifully chaotic fashion. I can hardly wait to go again.
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Old Delhi will change you

Andy Eversole – Banjo Earth: India – Day 1 -New Beginnings

New Beginnings

Getting away seems like a military style extraction. The apartment must be cleaned, the bills must be paid, the phone plan changed to international, the bank notified of my travels, the Banjo Earth travel pack re-organized a few times, the Gods given a rundown of the itinerary. My parents and the Universe itself must be completely updated, along with the operating system on my flailing data-gluttoned laptop. Somehow, miraculously, as it always seems to do, the pieces fall together in perfect harmony, the clouds part, and the angels sing. I jump in the car and head down the highyway.
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A few sendoff chemtrails
It’s Easter and April Fool’s Day simultaneously, which can make for all kinds of rabbit and Jesus laden mischief. Due to cheaper flight rates, and the added bonus of getting to enjoy Easter dinner with my Mother, I leave from Greensboro, NC and drive to her house in Atlanta, GA. The thrill of going 79mph in a 70 zone without getting caught, and the golden voice of Casey Kasem leading us through the top 40 songs from March 30, 1985, keep me focused and enjoying the ride. Madonna was killing it with two songs in the top 10, but Julian Lennon definitely had the funkiest track. I’m struck by the quality of the pop songs from this era. I wonder if we’ve lost something in the way of radio music along the way, or if I just like the music better because it’s what I grew up with. People are too quick to glorify their own generations while unfairly discrediting the ones behind them. That’s too easy.  Maybe Bruno Mars will be 2050’s Men At Work.
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Men At Work 2050
I get to Mom’s house just in time to pull the meat off the grill. She is a whiz in the kitchen, and of course, nothing beat’s your Mother’s cooking! Shrimp, Steak, Salad, Corn, Bread, a wonderful and thankful Easter Sunday dinner, enjoying the company of my family. I crack open an IPA that was hiding in the downstairs refrigerator, kick back and relax for a few minutes, and notice Banjo Earth: India has officially began.
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It’s that time again~

After Some Trials and Tribulations, Banjo Earth is Back and Going to India!!!

I hope you are all off to a great 2018. Though times have been strange and difficult lately in our country, and all around the world, we’re still here to share humanity with each other. Cherish your friends and family, the work you get to do daily, and enjoy your life while you have it.
The last 13 months for me personally have been crazy! A car zoomed into my lane and ran me off the highway, totaling my car. Miraculously, I stepped out of the car only with minor injuries, and was able to walk away with another chance at life.

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Ouch! Thank you God!

Four Months later, I lost a fight with a lawnmower and chopped off the end of left ring finger. This is a finger that I use more than any other in my banjo playing. Obviously, this has had an enormous effect on my style and proficiency, but I’ve continued to try to work around it and make music that people enjoy nonetheless. In other words, I fought the lawn and the lawn won!

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The lawn won

With all that behind, I’ve realized that it is even more urgent to do the work I do around the world. To do what I do best, and use my talents for the good of all. Making music, sharing culture, showing how we can create More love and understanding with each other…

So, I’m back at it with Banjo Earth, and we’re headed to India for Part II of the series. Going to China for Part I was such an incredible experience, and the ripple effects have reached far and wide. Many of you were a creative force in that project and I thank you for helping make that happen.

This time around we are partnering with several organizations and businesses which will help cover some of the expenses. In addition, we have created a Kickstarter campaign, now in progress, which allows you to Pre-Order at various levels. If you believe in what we are doing here, believe in me, or just enjoy some really good music and videos from around the world, then please consider backing our project on Kickstarter – http://bit.ly/banjoearth – You will play a vital role in the mission to bring “Peace through Music. Community through Creation.”, and will be helping us create the best project possible. Thank you all so much for being you, and for being a part of Banjo Earth. Shine On!

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Much Love, Andy Eversole, Banjo Earth
Click this link to visit our Kickstarter Campaign – http://bit.ly/banjoearth

Banjo Earth: China – Chapter 30 – “Until Next Time” (blog)

The last day of Banjo Earth has arrived! It has been a long and extremely exciting month. We have worked very hard, and created some spirit-filled art. Many places, friends, and smiles have graced our path along this journey. Things went mostly right, and when they didn’t, were fixed quickly. We learned many lessons along the way: things to do and not to do in China, foods to order and foods not order, things to say and things not to say. Every day was full of new and surprising adventures, incredible music, and life altering experiences. This trip and project have been way more than expected. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, as the idea was pretty far out. Combining bluegrass and old time American music on the banjo with such a rich and deep Chinese musical culture could be wonderful, or it could be a disaster. Even I, the project’s creator, had my doubts. But as soon as I landed on Chinese soil and got to work, things started falling into place immediately.

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Things really fell into place

I could never have foreseen all the awesome adventures and musical collaborations that would ensue. The hospitality of everyone along our way was immense and genuine. Without the help and generosity of our Chinese hosts along the way, this project would have not been possible. I feel truly blessed to have been able to conceive of this project, bring it to fruition, and execute it the way we did. I am extremely thankful to all of the friends and family that helped me get it off the ground, into orbit, and see it through. It is truly a project that has taken a village to create! Ben has done an excellent job of filming and photographing the adventures, recording the music, and being a friend and travel partner. It’s hard to think of this project happening without him. My brother Ryan has been an huge part of the making the performances fun, and despite being dropped into a completely unfamiliar environment, has performed really well in the shows, recordings, and travels.   Banjo Earth: China is only the first installment in what is hopefully a long running series. I can see this project carrying over into countries all over the world, spreading that Banjo Love to the farthest corners of the planet. I’m really excited to see how this album and movie turn out, and even more excited about the possibilities for Banjo Earth in the future.

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What a journey!

With all of these thoughts swirling around in my mind, we welcome a friend into town today. I met a lovely lady in LiJiang, about two weeks ago, who lives near Shanghai. She has decided to come spend the day with us, and grace us with her vivacious spirit. She shows up in a sparkling purple dress and fedora hat, and as soon as I see her, I know we are in for a fun evening. Her name is Weng Liang Liang, or Fiona for short, and her energy lights up the city. She lives in Hangzhou, and catches a 40 minute bullet train to Shanghai. I greet her at the subway stop near our place, and we go to where everyone is chilling at the coffee shop, getting some internet work done.

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Liang Liang lights up Shanghai

After catching up, singing a song or two, and sharing some laughts, we head over to our new Airbnb spot for the evening to check in. As we arrive, everything goes smoothly until we find there is no key in the locked box. I send the homeowner a message, and 45 minutes later he shows up with the key. This could seem like an inconvenience, but Liang Liang has better ideas. She has an app on her phone that is so much fun, and she loves to use. It allows you to overdub videos onto preexisting music and talking. Our first performances include “Man in the Mirror” and “Everybody Loves Christmas”. This is way too much fun, and soon, we even get caught by some old ladies staring at us from the upstairs window of a nearby apartment! I realize quickly that this is an app I have to have on my phone. I’ve seen the American version, but the Chinese version is way weirder and cooler.

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Playing and singing some tunes in the coffee shop

We get into the place, settle in with some showers and fruit, and start stepping on the town. We have vague plans to find some food and visit the Pudong district, which is the financial section of Shanghai where all of the crazy and tall buildings reside, the most exciting being the purple space needle that dominates the skyline. After a few bites at Granny’s Kitchen, we catch the subway and head across the river. Aw we come out of the underground, the towers and funky shapes of Shanghai’s skyline take you by surprise. Not only is the space needle hovering over you, but close by is the Shanghai Tower, the second tallest building in the world. It twists and turns up into the sky farther than any building I’ve ever seen.  We find our way to the space needle, get our tickets to go inside, and up we go. It is such a futuristic and funky looking building that I feel like I’m in a completely different world.

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The Oriental Pearl Tower

Once we get to the top and look out across this beautiful city, my heart sings a tune. Shanghai is vast, colorful, and alive. We walk around in a complete circle around the tower, catching an amazing view in every direction. There is even a walkway that is built out of glass that you can walk along, and look down some 300 meters straight to the ground. At first, it can give you pause to be suspended so high, by just a plate of glass, but soon I find my feet and Liang Liang are dancing to our own music above the city lights. The open air draft adds a nice touch to the environment, and gives one the feeling that they are suspended in the middle of the sky, which, in effect, is the truth.

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Looking out over the Huangpu River

After enjoying the needle so, we are all a bit tired, and head for home. We stop by to get some snacks and drinks for the house. Some sake, beer, fruit, meats, cheeses, and caramel candies fill the table. From there on we enjoy the evening, and each other’s company. We play and listen to some music, talk about life, laugh, and even make some more videos on Liang Liang’s phone. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend the last evening of this epic Banjo Earth adventure. The Love is real. Keep making wonderful things in the world, and realize your dreams. Peace through Music. Community through Creation. Until next time, Andy

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The Love is real

Banjo Earth: China – Chapter 29 – “Shanghai Jazz” (blog)

Shanghai –

At about 7:30, whether we are ready to wake up or not, China awakes and the construction begins. You can start to hear hammering, yelling, laughing, beating on metal, and whatever other abrasive building sounds that exist. It is quite awesome, despite the need for some extra morning sleep, how quickly and efficiently the Chinese put up marvelous and extravagant buildings. One day, there is a huge hole in the ground, and many workers standing inside it, and the next day looks like nothing ever happened there.

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The old, the new, and the umbrellas

The Wifi in China is spotty at best, and I need to make some travel arrangements, including flights and Airbnb spots. So, Ryan and I head over to a nearby Starbucks where I’m sure they will have some internet and coffee. Coffee they do have, but no internet. We do discover a red bean paste scone that is surprisingly tasty however, so all is not lost. It’s a rainy day in Shanghai, and the umbrellas are out in numbers. Although I enjoy a good rain every now and again, this weather makes it impossible for me to carry the banjo around on my shoulder, in typical Banjo Earth style. So I reluctantly leave it at home, and we head off to the JZ jazz club, located in the embassy district, to meet Lulu.

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It’s a rainy Shanghai day

Lulu is a multi-dimensional entertainment powerhouse. Our friend “Famous” Kirk Kenney hooked us up with Lulu because we were looking for a singer to complete a Chinese folk song we’ve been working on. This seems to be the final piece of the Banjo Earth: China puzzle, and we are hoping we can get with Lulu and have her sing this part for the record. We meet her at the Jazz club where she is rehearsing with her band for an upcoming gig for the Mexican embassy. The band is hot and swinging, the club is swanky and lounge, like a hot Shanghai club straight out of the 1930’s. She runs through a few tunes on vocals and also does a little “Charleston” dance rehearsal. A grooving jazz band and a Chinese gal swing dancing is the last thing we expected to see once we got to Shanghai, but surprises have been around every corner on this journey.

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Rehearsal at the JZ Jazz club

Lulu happens to be a wonderfully talented singer, dancer, pin up model, burlesque performer, and just a really sweet and funny woman. We check her rehearsal for a bit, listen to our folk song, then head over to the Organic Kitchen next door for a snack and some conversation. She promises to give the song a try, though she is really busy, and we’re here for only two days, so we aren’t sure if we can “swing” it. Her friend Michael Jackson comes by, (he literally is Michael Jackson), and they take off. We head back toward our home on this rainy Shanghai day with some new adventures under our belt, and another new and talented Banjo Earth friend.

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Lulu – singer, dancer, and queen of Chinese Burlesque

After a short rest, we set out to find some dinner. This is the last night of the tour, so we seek out a nicer restaurant to enjoy some of the finer cuisine Shanghai has to offer. There is a place nearby the house, and given the rain, we find it a nice choice. We all order a couple of dishes, mainly just by looking at pictures, and wait to see what we have selected. I ordered a soup that had all kinds of crazy things in it that I have never seen before. This is the first thing that comes out, so we dig in. At first it’s not too bad, but the deeper we get into it, the stranger it becomes. The flavor of the soup is not like anything I have ever tasted, and not in the best way possible. The rue is a deep red, which sort of reminds me of blood, and tastes like it too. There are critters with spikes, tendons, livers, and some other unidentifiable matter. I can’t say this dish was a winner, and chalk it up to the win some/lose some philosophy. Maybe this can just be our Halloween present. Luckily, the rest of the dishes are pretty tasty, and I finally get that soup taste out of my mouth. In any case, we have a great time sharing the meal, having a few beers, and talking about our experiences in China. Ben’s ready to rest and get out of the rain. But as usual, I’m ready for some more, so I recruit Ryan to join me to a jazz club that isn’t too far away.

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The red mystery soup

Earlier at the jazz rehearsal, we befriended the bandleader, Alec. He is a guy from Connecticut who has been working in the music scene in Shanghai for about 10 years. He invited us out to his gig tonight at a place called the Wooden Box. We arrive and sit down for a drink. The room is really cool. It is small, round, and filled with glass windows. The have a jazz trio, which includes Alec on saxophone, a drummer, and bassist. They are all really great musicians, and the music is thoroughly enjoyable. I enjoy a whiskey, meet some new folks, and relax to some hot jazz grooves. It’s time to say goodnight, as the rain and jazz bring the night to a close. Shanghai is such a beautiful city. It is filled with music, wonderful people, incredible architecture, and food that will lift (and spook) your spirits. Tomorrow is our last day in China, and we’ve got some more adventures ahead of us. Goodnight.

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Lift your Spirit

Banjo Earth: China – Chapter 28 – “Love in Your Dream” (blog)

Beijing/Shanghai –

It seems like just a couple of hours ago that we were partying with the French folks at the pool bar. And in actuality, it was. It’s an early rise this morning to get ourselves together, and to make it to the train station on time. We’ve got a bullet train reserved for our trip to Beijing to Shanghai, and it leaves at 11:20 am. That seems like a pretty reasonable time to make it, but when you factor in packing, cleaning the place a bit, coffee/breakfast, walking to the subway, riding the subway to the train station, figuring out where to get our tickets, going through security, going through security again, then finding the right train car, we make it with just minutes to spare. Everything in China, even getting on the train, is an adventure. And that is just the way I like it.

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The train is leaving the station

I’m excited to ride the bullet train. The last time I made this trip 14 years ago in took about 12 hours of pure discomfort. This trip will take 5.5 hours and the seats lean back in wonderfully relaxing position. Plus, on a train, you can look out the window and watch China go by in your window. It is completely fascinating to see the backroads and inroads of this country. From nuclear power plants, to farms full of tiny little gardens, to miles and miles of greenhouses, China’s industriousness and innovation is on display as you pass through at a couple hundred miles per hour. The colors span from lush greens to dark grays, the landscape from rocky mountains to jungle-like vegetation. You won’t see any of this way up in the air flying on a plane, which is why bullet train is my new favorite mode of transport. Come on America, let’s make this happen, eh?

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The things you see from the window of a bullet train

After having a chance to make some videos, blogs, and enjoy the country, we stroll into Shanghai around sundown. We have booked another AirBnB house here that is in a great part of town. After finding the place, locating the keys, and figuring out how to use them, we find our way into our new home and relax for a bit. Not long after that however, the excitement, flavors, smells, and lights of Shanghai begin calling. Since I was last here in 2001, Shanghai has changed tremendously. The buildings are taller, more numerous, and more modern. The amount of skyscrapers that display beautiful and innovative architecture is staggering. And the food…..oh my! The plan is just to snack our way around the city for a little while, trying little bites and samples of whatever we can get our hands on.

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Time to hit the streets streets

The Huangpu River, where the old French Bund, and just across the water, the business district, is located, is our first destination. The night skyline of the business district of Shanghai may be the most beautiful in the world, and it’s a good place to start to get an understanding of the kind of environment you are in. So we set out for the three mile or so walk, taking our time and soaking in the city. We find snacks in the form of delicious noodles, chicken, and the tiny little soup dumplings that Shanghai is so famous for. We happen upon the music district, which is full of instrument stores and live clubs. We pass through what feels like mid-town Manhattan, and even pass by Times Square of Shanghai. The lit up store fronts and LED laden buildings look like a mix of New York, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas. Shanghai is bustling and busy, making things happen with a sophisticated style and pace. It is very modern and fashionable, and is in stark contrast to the Beijing we just came from. Given their striking differences however, this is still China, and that Chinese pride and style runs deep, and even here, is unmistakable.

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World famous Shanghai soup dumplings

We finally make it down to the river, and the sights of the city just suck us in. The mix of high-rise business buildings and the funky fresh artistic vibe Shanghai has is really cool. The purple space tower jutting from the ground makes you kind of feel like you are on a different planet. Right across the river from these sights is the old French part of town, the Bund. It’s buildings are made up of classical western architecture, and make such an interesting combination. The people are out in force tonight, enjoying themselves and taking hundreds of pictures. The night is beautiful and warm, and a short sleeve shirt is enough to suffice. Weather wise, our trip from Beijing to Shanhai is sort of like having breakfast in New York, then eating dinner in Savannah, GA.

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The Shanghai skyline

We enjoy the night, have a beer on a riverwalk patio, and take it all in. Banjo Earth is nearly at its end, and it has been an incredible journey. The first few days feel like months ago. All the amazing people we’ve met, things we’ve seen, and music we’ve made and heard is unfathomable. It may take a few months to sort this all out. All I know is that it feels great to Be Here Now, and to be doing the things that I know I was put on this planet to do. I looked deep into my heart, found this idea, and began the work. From there, the Universe took over; the love of my friends and family, the support of fans of my spirit and music, and the wonderful talents of the people around me.   I truly believe if there is Love in your dream, than anything is possible.

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Monument to the People’s Heroes