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May 2013, 7.45am, Manchester airport, American Airlines check in…The Shakers arrive to find some familiar faces ahead of them in the line. Just who are those dudes in shorts with guitars? It’s The Rockits! Our Cavern compadres, also on their way to Abbey Road On The River festival in Louisville, Kentucky. A bit of ‘brekky’ (lager and toast, anyone?) with the lads and we’re soon on our way to the gate for the first leg of the journey to Chicago.

We board a relatively small plane, for a transatlantic flight (no wide body aircraft with personal screens on the seats here) and a shuddery seven hours or so follows, which, as we approach Chicago gets slightly more so. The captain speaks; Chicago O’Hare airport is closed due to bad weather. Great! Thunderstorms over the city are remnants of the tornado that decimated parts of Oklahoma a week before and have caused travel chaos. We now also need to refuel after circling in a holding pattern, so Detroit is our nearest option. We land in the ‘Motor City’ and taxi to a remote part of the airport to do so. A boring two-hour wait on the plane is on the cards as we watch lines of planes in a queue waiting to take off on the crowded runway. Eventually, after a few false starts, we get the news that O’Hare is open for business once again…but it’s gonna be a bumpy ride! Thick, grey clouds like mountains in the sky pass beneath us before we descend shakily through them to terra firma once again.

But, our connecting flight to Louisville has already departed due to the delay and we now have to negotiate an alternative. The Rockits opt to hire a car and drive. We opt to fly to Cincinnati on a late night flight where our friend and producer, Andy, will now pick us up having waited patiently at Louisville for our original flight. Another hour and a half road journey for him, a short hour in a small business-type jet for us. Another rough descent sees us touch down in the now quiet Cincinnati airport. A brief midnight tour of the almost deserted, illuminated city follows (both the Ohio and Kentucky sides) taking in the ‘singing bridge’ and the Reds stadium amongst others, as we try and acclimatise to the time difference after travelling for around 25 hours now. Sustenance is needed so we stop at a ‘White Castle’ burger joint off the interstate. Breakfast ‘sliders’ and coffee is in order before we continue through the night to Louisville, arriving at The Galt House, our hotel, around 4am, somewhat dazed after our 28-hour journey. Welcome to the USA, lads! Lights out! Zzzzzz…

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