Brigyn in San Francisco: November 2005

Ynyr's Diary
(as published in the 'Herald Gymraeg'):

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The brothers Ynyr and Eurig Roberts from the group Brigyn have just returned home from their tour of San Francisco. Here are Ynyr's impressions of their visit.

I didn't have many preconceptions of San Francisco and California before leaving, as it is geographically so far away from home, but going to America has always appealed to me. Perhaps I don't agree with many of the policies of those that run the country, but the United States is truly like a magnet, and it had been an ambition for years to go over and perform there. Therefore, when we were given the opportunity to spend some time with a family over there, there was no doubt that we answer would be 'Yes'. [top]

Thursday, November 3: First of all, we had a great flight from Manchester to Philadelphia which lasted about seven hours. The time flew by though! However, the connecting 'internal' flight was a whole different story. A very uncomfortable 'economy flight' for 6 hours across the land to San Francisco. The only comfort personally was at least I got a window seat. Looking out on the flat landscapes of America was very interesting, trying to guess where we were flying over at the time. [top]

Friday, November 4: Arrive SF at the break of dawn without getting much sleep, to begin immediately on our weekend of gigs. Travel up to Napa Valley first of all - the area where all of California's wine is produced. Stunning views along the way... very wide freeways, huge billboards, and after arriving at Napa, miles upon miles of wineries, and loads of huge houses - worth millions I'm sure. Apart from Manhattan, this is the most popular place to live in the whole of America, and it's easy to see why that is Visit the Regusci's winery, and meet our guide for the day - Graham Jones, or "Jonsey" to his friends, who is originally from Carmarthen. Here, we were privileged enough to get to pick our own grapes, and taste the different wines Regusci's produce, before performing our first gig in the winery. Afterwards, we travelled to 'Silverados' - a tavern in the Napa Valley to play our next gig. We played a set consisting mainly of Welsh-language songs here, but still managed to get a very positive reaction to our songs, and the uncommon sight of the Harp certainly kept the audience engaged. Performed for up to two hours, and generated a lot of interest amongst the crowd with our language. Many assumed we were from Eastern Europe. [top]

Saturday, November 5: Following a long night celebrating our gigs, getting up at 7.00am to watch the Wales v New Zealand match in Jonesy's house was a bit of a struggle, but of course it's all part of the exciting experience. Jonesy had invited a lot of his friends from NZ around as well, and even though the final score was disappointing for us, we still had a good laugh, and Jonesy was a magnificent host. Then, it was back to San Francisco to shoot some interviews for the Wedi7 documentary. Nice to see the city landscapes in broad daylight for the first time. Realise how such a peaceful and homely place SF is. Ended the day on a high again, this time at the Spanish restaurant "Cha Cha Cha's" - drinking Sangria for a full two hours whilst waiting for out table. Nearly forgot that we were actually there for the food! My initial idea of a quiet night had gone through the window, but the food was very nice ... from what I can recall! [top]

Sunday, November 6: Used "filming" as a convenient excuse to visit the most popular tourist attractions around the city, which included riding a tandem (for the first time ever) along the Quay; visiting the Golden Gate Bridge; China Town; and Lombard Street. Went over to the 'Blackthorn Tavern' about 4.30pm for the evening's gig.. and that is where we stayed until 1.00am. A very important gig, not only because Wedi7 were filming it, but we also had to perform for over 3 hours! Brigyn had never looked so beautiful on stage. Tonight, we had two guest musicians with - Nia the harpist on one side, and Branwen with her trumpet on the other. It's fortunate that they're both so musically talented too, as we were able to jam to various classics such as Lady Madonna, Moon River, Everybody's Talkin' and many more. And to top it all off, we had a very generous response to our own material... but it's also nice to say that the songs that went down best of all were the big Welsh anthems 'Yma o Hyd', and 'Lisa Lân'. A night to remember, and I feel that everyone was pleased with how it went. [top]

Monday, November 7: Following another big night, everyone was feeling a bit exhausted by now, and Monday morning was quite emotional, as we had to say goodbye to the Wedi7 TV crew. It started raining that afternoon too... possibly the only time it rained throughout our trip. Time to reflect on a mad and unforgettable weekend, and to look forward to the week ahead of us. [top]

Tuesday, November 8: Visit town centre, and dine out at one of our favourite places in SF from now on - 'Bubba Gumps'... a restaurant based entirely on the film 'Forrest Gump'! [top]

Wednesday, November 9: Hire a car to take us up to the other end of California, and to Tahoe in Nevada. Took a break on the way to visit Shelley - one of my best friends form the sixth form at Ysgol Brynrefail. I hadn't seen her for four years. She's married to a flight engineer in the US Air Force, therefore we had to go to the Travis Air Base to meet her. It was so nice to see Shelley and her daughter Mia again. Afterwards, we continued driving through the forests to South Lake Tahoe. Gambling is legal in Nevada, therefore it was no surprise to see the sight of four massive casinos literally two yards from the border between the two states. Spent an hour or so inside one of them - watching other people wasting their money, apart from one lucky woman who won $24,000 from the $1 machine! [top]

Thursday, November 10: Wake up in Nevada. Usually it snows here at this time of year, but today it was very sunny, and it was wonderful to be in such a clean and natural location. Stopped for lunch by Lake Tahoe, surrounded by stunning views... very pure, peaceful and quiet. A very different experience of America. Travel back to San Francisco by night, and experience the thrill of arriving at the city once more. [top]

Friday, November 11: Visit Mission St - one of the poorer areas of the city, but here's where the heart is I feel. Even though I was warned about the dangers of this big city, I always felt safe here. In the evening, we played our final gig of the tour in a bar called "Coffee to the People" on Haight Street - the centre point of the Summer of Love back in 1967. And the vibes are certainly still here! The coffee bar itself was quite trendy, where students bring their laptops to 'chill', and drink coffee. Tonight, the venue was full of different people from all ages, race, and mentality. This was also our best gig of the whole trip. Our friends noticed that from the very first note, everyone was paying their full attention to our set. Every student turned their attentions away from their laptops, to the harp, the guitars, and the Welsh singing. Even the hippies out on the streets streamed in to see something they might not experience ever again. A very warm reception, and probably one of our favourite Brigyn gigs ever. [top]

Saturday, November 12: Shopping day! - Buying presents for the "folks back home”! [top]

Sunday, November 13: The final day of the trip. Hired bikes to ride over the Golden Gate Bridge in glorious weather. Went to a Sushi restaurant in the evening. [top]

Monday, November 14: Say our final goodbyes, and began our journey home from SF. We left the airport on Monday morning, but it was Tuesday afternoon by the time we arrived back at Penisarwaun, and we hadn't slept at all! After this long journey, I realised how far we had been, and also how lucky we were to get to achieve such a thing. The whole experience of touring San Francisco was truly amazing indeed. [top]




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