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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
lamarca Les Barker US tour canceled! (41) RE: Les Barker US tour canceled! 28 Oct 06

In the early days of the Washington, DC Irish Festival, we brought in a lot of Cape Breton and Quebecois musicians who told the border police on both sides that they were "going to play at a friend's wedding." Both the U.S. and Canadian sides were really obnoxious about letting musicians travel with their instruments; there'd be a crackdown on one side, and then the other side would retaliate.

As far as Les' tour goes, he's not alone in the English folk community in finding it hard to get a visa. Martyn Wyndham-Read once complained to a group of us that for one tour he had applied for his visa well in advance and heard nothing back from the US Embassy. The only way to contact that department of the embassy was a toll-number, so that you could be put on hold forever and charged for it. Trying to coordinate the visa process with booking flights has become a nightmare; some musicians have been left having to eat the cost of $1,000s worth of pre-paid flights when their visa application is denied.

Les Barker's visa could have been denied for political reasons, or it could have been for something as capricious as a clerk in the Embassy had a fight with his wife the night before and was in a bad mood. Whatever the reason, I wish that our visa rules included a "Cultural Exchange" category...

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