Monday 16th July 2007 : London : Arrived at Heathrow, terminal 4 on a rather rainy monday morning around 8.30am. My thanks go to everyone who sent me photographs and also those of you that emailed me with goodwill messages regarding my part in the tour and my blog. That's all for now......................
Sunday 15th July 2007 : Toronto : Harry and I picked up another couple of suitcases for the various gifts ( from Roger to the band ) and tour paraphernalia accumulated over the last few days. The band return on two flights. Dave and I go with Pompey and Andrew at 8.00pm, but the rest of the band left to catch an earlier flight before I could say farewell to everyone. For this reason I will say my goodbyes here, and wish all my bandmates ( and our fearless leader ) good fortune in all their endevours. Every single member of the group was a joy to perform alongside as well as to hang with offstage. I have never played with such a happy and talented band of people and hope I get a chance to do so again in the future.....................
....................................... and that is it. This tour which started over a year ago and was originally only going to be a handful of European dates. 107 gigs and an appearance at Live Earth in NYC! Australia, New Zealand, China, Russia, India, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Colombia to name just a few of the countries we visited that I thought I would never see in my lifetime. A fantastic show that improved right up to the last performance. The opportunity to play Roger's fantastic music in the company of the Great Man himself. Unbelievable audiences. A brilliant crew and management who did everything to support us and make the gigs the best they could be. Jams with cool musicians all over the world. Traveling in style on private planes, helicopters, boats and trains. Unexpected new friends made in every part of the globe. Wonderful meetings with old friends in far flung places. I enjoyed every minute of it and thank Roger for this opportunity to have the time of my life.
Saturday 14th July 2007 : Toronto : Sadly the day of the last show. I had a last look around Toronto before the rain started. We finish the tour at Rogers Stadium in front of the biggest crowd so far in North America. The band played the hell out of the set and the crowd were very appreciative. After the show Roger headed back to his house in the Hampton's and, after goodbyes to as many of the crew as I could find, we headed to the hotel for a few drinks. We ran into a couple of members of INXS who were also staying at the Soho.
Friday 13th July 2007 : Toronto : Our last day off of the tour. I was wandering along Queen Street when I came upon a shop named 'le Richie'! I obviously went in and picked up a few nick nacks for friends back in Blighty. Tonight is the final band dinner.............We assembled in a private room in our hotel. Splendid food and wine was provided by Gareth and Ron, the promoters. Everyone had a great time. Roger told jokes, Pat told the future, Andy and Mark had a duel with bread rolls and there were moustaches! The band intended to present Roger with a beautifully engraved ukelele, which should have arrived the previous day. Unfortunately it was held up at customs on the way into Canada, so did not arrive on time for the party. We did show Roger pictures of the said instrument on my computer and gave him a uke tab version of his favourite "Goodnight Irene" which had been signed by the band and framed. A sprited chorus of "Goodnight Irene" finished off the evening in good style.
Thursday 12th July 2007 : Boston/Darien Lake/Toronto : Flew from a small airport outside Boston in a tiny twin prop just big enough for band and management. There was a 2 hour drive when we arrived in Buffalo but had time to soundcheck in spite of leaving a little late. The penultimate show was tremendous. Pat was in particularily good form. The pig was almost dragged down by some members of the crowd, but managed to escape in the end. After another 2 hours on the bus it was only 20 minutes on the plane to Toronto. Harry, Dave, Andy, Graham and myself hung out with Roger, Trip and Mark in Rogers suite before calling it a night around 3.
Wednesday 11th July 2007 : Boston : Had to spend some time getting the thing that I printed yesterday framed for reasons that will also be revealed later. It is very hot and humid in Boston today, so I kept popping back to the hotel to cool off. Gina had mentioned I must get a Cannoli whilst in town, so I dutifully went down to the North End and found Mikes Pastry. I had a riccotta cheese Cannoli and a coffee both of which were very tasty. While in the area I checked out Paul Revere's house and had a hunt for the Littlest Bar ( licensed for 38 people ) in Boston. Unfortunately the Littlest Bar is no more, having been repleaced by a condominium........Picked up the thing that we can't mention from the framers at 5. Pompey mentioned a dinner with a few of the gang later so I better have a shower........... Had a very nice meal at a local Italian restaurant after a cab ride with a singing taxi driver. Carol, Pompey, Graham and myself had a fun evening. Early to bed since tomorrow is a school day.
Tuesday 10th July 2007 : Boston/Hartford/Boston : I had to spend some time on the computer and get some things printed for reasons that will be revealed later. The bus trip to Hartford took a couple of hours during which Harry, Dave and I passed by trying to tap 3/4 with one hand and 4/4 with the other. We decide to get Graham ( who is in the other bus ) to show us how to do it when we get to Hartford. Roger was unable to fly from the Hamptons as expected due to bad weather conditions so had to drive. The show was delayed and started as soon as he got to the venue ( which was about 8.30, half an hour later than planned ). This didn't seem to affect the audience who were really up for the show ( apart from a few isolated boos after "Beirut". The band played impeccably. We had a fun trip back to Boston, reminiscing about the punk era and the bands from that time.
Monday 9th July 2007 : Boston : Bob had mentioned a cool music shop near Berklee school of music, so I walked down to Back Bay and found the Berklee book shop which had lots of cool music books ( many of which I already had ). I also picked up a tin whistle for Colin, who expressed a life long desire to play the instrument last night in the pub! I gave him a few tips after the soundcheck. He probably shouldn't take it to the pub till he gets a little bit more expert! The gig went very well. Everyone was very relaxed and happy to be playing the full set with no cameras broadcasting their performance to half the globe. After the show I had a nice chat with Dave Mattacks, the legendary drummer. He actually played on a recording of mine ( Miro Miroe ) back in the 80's, which for some reason had slipped his mind.
Sunday 8th July 2007 : New York/Boston : We travel by train to Boston........ Harry and I just missed the jam at Wally's when we got to town, so went round the corner for some pasta. Later I took a wander down to the market area where there was supposedly a jazz cafe called T.K's. I saw no sign of this but I did run into a bunch of the crew who were carousing in an Irish bar. I bought Steve, Bob, Ross, Craig, Diane, Robin, Alfie and Colin a drink and stayed to hear a few tunes from the guitar, bass and fiddle group in the corner.
Satday 7th July 2007 : New York : The day of the Live Earth concert at Giants Stadium. We are due to be onstage at 9.30pm, the penultimate act. I spent most of the day recovering from the previous rather late night and chatting to friends on the phone. We set off for the stadium at 5.30. The backstage setup meant that there was no real opportunity to meet and hang with the other bands. After a bite to eat we repaired to the dressing room till it was time to go on. The actual performance went well and was over in a flash. After some confusion about vans in the rather chaotic car park we were off to New York before the Police had finished their set. I had a pleasant drink with Susie in the Waldorf Astoria then hit the hay around 2am.
Friday 6th July 2007 : New York : Returned to the Queensboro bridge where I had previously spotted a potential practise spot. Had a good 2 hour session and wasn't moved on once! In the evening I met up with friend Susie at Smalls. The amazing Ethan Iverson & Bill McHenry Quartet were playing. I had previously met Bill when he played the Vortex in London last year. It was a great pleasure to hear this innovative and original saxophonist play once again, supported by an equally incredible trio. After the show we repaired to a tapas bar across 7th and had some tapas and margritas. Susie is a budding saxophonist so we had a nice chat about music and caught a late set at the Fat Cat before calling it a night.
Thursday 5th July 2007 : New York : Spent most of the days on practical things like posting some of my SOHO Project CD's off to recent buyers. We have a soundcheck at Giants Stadium, so set off in the vans at around 7pm in terrible traffic. After a bite to eat at the stadium we ran through the set, mainly for the benefit of the lighting and video crews. We returned to the city in good time for me to catch the subway downtown once again and go to Sweet Rhythm. There is a regular late night jam held there every thursday hosted by Eric Wyatt ( an excellent tenor player ). He ripped through a great version of "Night And Day" with bass and drums accompaniment before opening the jam. There was a host of great players there, including 6 tenors! I got to play on a Rhythm Changes tune, "There Will Never Be Another You" and "Tenor Madness" as well as trying to help out Isabella, a singer, who was battling a rhythm section that did not know the changes to "Georgia"! One of the many hazards of jamming with players you don't know. It was a great night with probably the highest standard of jamming I have heard so far in the U.S. ( apart from "Georgia" ;) ).
Wednesday 4th July 2007 : New York : Ron Delsner kindly supplied the band with tickets to the Broadway musical 'Spamalot', so we all met up outside the Sam S. Shubert theatre just before 2pm matinee. The show was a lot of fun, even for a musical comedy Philistine like myself. It was loosely based on the film "Monty Python And The Holy Grail" with a Barbra Streisand impersonating Lady of the Lake and Finnish fish slapping song as well as the MPATHG favourites; The knights that say "Nee" and the killer rabbit. After the show Andrew Zweck and I checked out some Gibson guitars ( he is in the market for an SG ) at Sam Ash and Manny's before returning to the hotel. By the time I called round to see who fancied checking out the fireworks everyone had gone, so I hopped on the subway and went down to the Brooklyn Bridge. I wasn't sure of the best viewing position, but followed the crowds of people to an excellent location on the FDR downriver of the bridge. The rain stopped in time for the spectacular display made more fun for me being with crowds of excited New Yorkers. I headed back to the hotel in the rain and decided against a late night excursion to Cleopatra's Needle where there was a jam in progress. Jamming is definitely on the agenda for tomorrow though.
Tuesday 3rd July 2007 : New York : Roger is taking a few days off to relax in the Hamptons over the holiday so we have a few days off in New York City. Whoopee! When we were last in NYC we stayed in the West Village. This time we are in Midtown so I spent most of the day ( what was left of it after sleeping rather late ) exploring the immediate area and wandering down to the river. In the evening I had a nice steak at Mortons with Pompey, our very interesting and worldly security man. Afterwards it was downtown to Smalls to catch the last set from the Ted Shull Quartet.
Monday 2nd July 2007 : Minneapolis/Milwaukee/New York : Flew into Milwaukee and played to a bigger than average 20k audience in the Marcus Amphitheater. A couple of female members of the crowd kept Dave entertained during what was a great and memorable show. We headed straight to NYC afterwards and were in our hotel by 4am.
Sunday 1st July 2007 : Minneapolis : Having had shows for the last two days it will be nice to have a day off in Minneapolis. I explored the city some more and had a pleasant lunch at the Dakota Bar and Grill. There were some students from the local college playing some jazz in the street opposite. It was very pleasant to kick back and listen to some up and coming young local players. Later I headed down to the river and went over the bridge to St Paul, Minneapolis' twin city. All in all a fun and relaxing day.
Saturday 30th June 2007 : Minneapolis : A gig in Minneapolis today. Didn't have a chance to do very much before we set off for the venue. My new in ear monitors have arrived, so I will be able to test them out before the Live Earth show. We took another run at the short set and it is sounding great.......... Our audiences seem to be getting better and better. The Minneapolis crowd were fabulous. Perhaps people are aware that, with the tour drawing to a close, the likelihood is that Dark Side Of The Moon will never be performed by Roger again. Enjoy it while you can ( this applies to the band also ). We got caught in traffic on the way back into town. When we finally got to the hotel we went round the corner and had a great band dinner at a local Italian restaurant thanks to Mark, the promoter.
Friday 29th June 2007 : Minneapolis/Omaha/Minneapolis : Flew to Omaha in the early afternoon. Had another run at the Live Earth set during soundcheck. The show was fantastic and the audience the loudest and longest cheering crowd of the North American tour.
Thursday 28th June 2007 : Minneapolis : A day off in Minneapolis. I explored the city and wandered down to the Mississippi. Harry decided to go to the cinema, Dave was tired and Snowy had eaten something that made him not up for going out, so I headed to the Dakota Bar and Grill to see if there was any cool jazz. There was some good blues being played when I arrived but as I was in the mood to listen to saxophones rather than guitars I gave the gig a miss. After some fish and chips and a couple of beers in an outdoor restaurant I headed back to the hotel and watched 'Once Were Warriors'. This is a great film featuring the trials and tribulations of a Maori family living in contemporary New Zealand. Well worth seeing.
Wednesday 27th June 2007 : Edmonton/Winnipeg/Minneapolis : Flew straight to Winnipeg. At the soundcheck we ran the 20 minute set for the Live Earth concert on the 7th of July at Giants Stadium in New York. I won't give away the tunes, but I am involved in 2 of them! The show was storming. This was the most enthusiastic Canadian audience yet. Back on the plane and on to Minneapolis. NEWS FLASH : Harry's computer has exploded and is currently undergoing intensive surgery somewhere in Minneapolis. For this reason, updates to his blog have been suspended until further notice. ( hopefully a couple of days ).
Tuesday 26th June 2007 : Edmonton : I took a very pleasant stroll along the North Saskatchewan River on this nice sunny day. Further upstream I crossed the river and visited the pyramid shaped Conservatory ( glass pyramids filled with exotic plants ). There must be a lot of Masons in Edmonton! ( The Town Hall is also a glass pyramid ). I then made the BIG mistake of exploring Mill Creek! Every flying insect in the area made a beeline for me and took a bite. Scots people must be a very popular menu item with the biting and stinging wildlife in Edmonton.......... Later I had some dinner al fresco in the town square listening to a local band. At 9 it was back to Yardbird Suite ( driven by another cabbie who had no idea where the club was. Jazz is clearly not popular in Edmonton ). There was a jam hosted by Marc Beaudin and his quintet who played a nice, if overly long, set of Dave Holland tunes before commencing the jam. Harry and I were straight up and played a couple of tunes to good effect. Almost immediately we had finished Roger arrived with a few friends to hear us play! We had to explain that we had already had our turn, and a number of other musicians were waiting to play before we were likely to get a second go on stage. Luckily we were called up again at the end of the evening and Roger's patience was rewarded by stirring versions of 'Softly As In A Morning Sunrise' played Latin and a swing version of 'Stella' to round off the jam. It was a pleasure to play with the excellent local guitarist Jim Head.
Monday 25th June 2007 : Edmonton : Edmonton doesn't seem to be the most interesting city we have visited so far. I enquired about hiring a bicycle but was told that the only bike hire store had closed. I had a walk round down town then over to Chinatown. Back at the hotel I managed to nab one of the conference rooms for a bit of practise for a couple of hours. In the evening Harry and I went to the Yardbird Suite jazz club hoping to hear some groovy sounds. The band were playing free jazz which wasn't really gelling, so we bailed after a couple ( of quite long ) tunes and went back to the hotel to watch a film.
Sunday 24th June 2007 : Edmonton : There is a jazz festival on in Edmonton, so I am hoping to catch a few shows and maybe jam a bit. Before that we have a gig to do. Unusually 2 on the trot. Roger's voice holds up well however and he sings very well at the concert. Everyone is very relaxed as there are no cameras running. A great show with another wonderful Canadian audience.
Saturday 23rd June 2007 : Vancouver/Calgary/Edmonton : I returned my bicycle in the morning and by midday we were off to Calgary. Roger had been off fishing with Trip, so we met them at the airport. Not much chance to see anything of Calgary as we drove straight to the venue. ( actually we circled it a couple of times looking for the entrance! ). Was saved from more ignominious beatings at ping pong ( from Harry ) by my cousin Alan and his family, who arrived backstage. More filming tonight so everyone is trying very hard not to make mistakes. The show was great and will probably be the basis for the live footage used in the edit ( which so far is for Roger's personal viewing only ). The audience here was much more lively and vocal than the Manchester and Birmingham crowds. On to Edmonton after the show.
Friday 22nd June 2007 : Vancouver : Another day off in Vancouver. The jazz festival starts today so I wandered down to Gastown to see if anything was happening. Nothing here till tomorrow was the answer, so I set off for Stanley Park. On the way I came across a bike rental store, so hired a bicycle for the day. Even though the weather was verging on rainy I had a great cycle around the the park and along the sea wall. I spent 10 minutes checking out an intrepid parasailer inflating his parasail and surfing out into the rather bleak, cold and choppy waves. After a late afternoon swim, Harry and I had some Thai food across the road from the hotel and repaired to our rooms till midnight. ( the Sonny Rollins concert was sold out ). At 12 it was off to O'Doul's for the after hours jam hosted by Mike Allen and his quartet. Harry and I played through 'Alone Together' and 'Stella' along with Chris, a local trumpeter. It was a fun evening, although it would have been good to play on a few more tunes. It was nice chatting to Bruno, the excellent house band piano player. The jam was all over at 2am; an early night by New York standards!
Thursday 21st June 2007 : Vancouver : Gig day. I stayed in and caught up with my emails and updated my blog. The concert is being filmed today so we had a slightly longer soundcheck than usual. I ran into Nick, the video director who also filmed Manchester and Birmingham, in catering and had a nice chat. Dave Hall spent most of the day cutting out pieces of black card to cover Grahams beautiful new kit. Unfortunately the new kit didn't arrive early enough to be used on the previous days filming ( in the UK ) so Dave had to give it a disguise! Everything worked during the show and the band were rocking. We had a few drinks and nibbles in the hotel bar after the show to wind down.
Wednesday 20th June 2007 : Vancouver : A day off in Vancouver and also a time to recuperate from the fairly hectic last week or so. I had a look round town in the early afternoon and had a swim in the hotel pool before getting together with Snowy for some dinner. We headed to Gastown and had a nice meal outdoors at a brewery restaurant. Around 9.00pm I met Harry and we went to O'Doul's where a good piano player called Lisa Miller was doing a solo set. We headed home for an early night well before midnight.
Tuesday 19th June 2007 : San Francisco/Oakland/Vancouver : We play in Oakland today so time to pack up and leave California. The traffic was terrible onto the Bay Bridge so it took ages to get to Oakland. It was great to meet up with Ray and John backstage. Also Gene, Karen and Nicky showed up just before we were about to hit the stage. Gina gave her Haight Ashbury present ( George Bush toilet paper ) to Roger, which went down very well. The show was plagued with a few technical problems, but the band played through them and the show was great fun. After the concert we went to nearby Oakland airport and were heading to Canada well before midnight.
Monday 18th June 2007 : San Francisco : A day off in beautiful San Francisco. Met up with Holly and Gina for lunch in North Beach, San Francisco's Italian Quarter. Tommy turned up later in the day ( via BART from Orinda ) minus the sole to one of his shoes, so we headed to Haight Ashbury to pick him up a replacement. Spent a pleasant, but chilly, afternoon wandering round the shops and choosing jeans for Holly. Very soon it was time to head back to North Beach and hit Pearls, where the CJO Big Band were playing a couple of sets. The band were amazing. They performed an exciting and dynamic set including old favourites 'Cherokee' and 'Stolen Moments' along with some less familiar material. The highlight of the set was the appearance of star vocalist Kenny Washington, who was just incredible. Shades of Johnny Hartman crossed with Stevie Wonder. His performance of 'My One And Only Love' was sublime. His scatting scintillating. After the show we repaired to the Stinking Rose for seafood/steak/ribs/mashed potatoes all with lashings of garlic. We will be very unpopular tomorrow! I put Tommy on BART bound for Orinda ( via Walnut Creek! ) around 11.30pm.
Sunday 17th June 2007 : San Francisco/Orinda/San Francisco : Went down to Chinatown to do my laundry. One of the washing machines exploded and filled the shop with water ( not mine this time! ), but apart from that the clothes cleaning and drying passed without incident. I was supposed to meet Tommy and Gina for a late lunch in SF ( to give Holly some space to get ready for her gig this evening ), but the battery in Gina's car ran down so I had a bite by myself. Around 5.30pm I got on BART and headed to Orinda. The band ( Terry Rodriguez - piano, Jeff Neighbours - bass and Bob Bolansky - drums ) were already there when I arrived along with most of the audience. We did 2 shows at 7 and 9, both of which were received appreciatively. Holly was in good form as was Ray and Tommy, who both sung songs later in the second show. Much fun was had by all.
Saturday 16th June 2007 : Los Angeles/Las Vegas/San Francisco : We have a large plane today, so enough room to take Tommy, Gina and Holly with us to Vegas and beyond. It is amazing to me that the MGM Grand has a 14000 seat venue in the hotel! Another terrific show with everyone in good form. Tommy enjoyed the show even more than the Hollywood Bowl date. We didn't stick around in Vegas to gamble, but headed straight to SF after the show. Holly and co went on to Orinda to get ready for the gig she has at the Orinda House tomorrow evening. I stayed in town and will meet up with everyone again on Sunday.
Friday 15th June 2007 : Los Angeles/Irvine/Los Angeles : Had lunch with John, Chris, Jack, Holly, Holly and Tommy. Because of heavy traffic Roger decided to have the band fly the 40 miles to Irvine, leaving from nearby Santa Monica airport. This meant that only band and management were able to go, so Holly and Tommy rested up and Gina drove down the PCH with new friend Donna. We got into John Wayne airport around 4.30pm after a very short flight. Harry is getting too good at ping pong. A marvelous show in a nice outdoor location. Gina managed to beat us back to the hotel ( we flew back via Van Nuys airport ) and we had a nice nightcap in the hotel bar.
Thursday 14th June 2007 : Los Angeles : A day off to relax in L.A. Holly, Gina and I had a late breakfast at the the Fig Tree then headed back to the hotel to meet Tommy ( who had already been to Santa Monica Pier exploring ). We headed into Venice and checked out the local colour and mooched around the shops and bought postcards for Tommy. When the shopping got a bit too much for Tommy and I, we went back to the hotel for a late afternoon drink and met up with the girls before going out for dinner. We all had good Italian food and some nice Coppolla Claret before heading to the Jazz Bakery. Steve Nelson ( vibes ) was playing with Gerald Clayton on bass, Lewis Nash on drums and Patrice Rushen on piano. They burned through some great versions of some cool standards including 'Dolphin Dance' and 'In A Sentimental Mood'. A wonderful evening for jazz, particularly appreciated by Tommy who is a big MJQ fan from way back.
Wednesday 13th June 2007 : Los Angeles : The day of the Hollywood Bowl show. My uncle Tommy arrived from Glasgow ( Scotland ) via San Francisco and we had some lunch while waiting for Holly to arrive from London and Gina from Folsom. Bad traffic delayed us getting to the venue along with many of the audience. The gig was great and by all accounts ( from people who had seen the previous Bowl shows ) even better than last October, both more polished and the band looking more relaxed than previously. We hooked up with Gina at the after show party. I had a hunt around but couldn't find Bruce Willis anywhere. In spite of this, Tommy et al ( Holly, Gina, Suzanne (( Gina's friend )) and myself ) had great fun.
Tuesday 12th June 2007 : Los Angeles : Rented a bicycle and had a nice cycle from Santa Monica past Marina Del Ray and down to Hermosa Beach. After a small lunch I headed back to the hotel around 4pm. Just enough time to have a blow on my sax on the beach then get ready to go out. John picked me up in his MG and we headed to the Catalina Bar and Grill. Joshua Redman was playing songs from his new CD featuring Ruben Rogers and Eric Harland. An unbelievable display of musicianship from all three players. John and I enjoyed the band hugely. After the show we had a couple of beers with Andy, Katie, Trip and Andrew then I sent John home around 1am.
Monday 11th June 2007 : Los Angeles : Spent a couple of hours rollerblading along the Venice/Santa Monica boardwalk. Got together with John for lunch in a cafe in Venice then popped home with him to say hi to Chris, Holly and Jack. We hooked up in the evening and ended up in Harvelles Blues bar once again. The jam was in full flow. The band played some great funk and we were both very impressed. No jazz seemed on the cards so we left the performing to the squad of great players and singers that got up to play with an exceptional bass and drums rhythm section.
Sunday 10th June 2007 : Chicago/Los Angeles : Today some of us travel to L.A. An uneventful trip from O'Hare to LAX. Managed to take a game off Harry at chess and even up the the score at gin! Had some good Mexican food in Santa Monica with Graham, Jon, Andrew, Pompey and friend actor John Newton ( Superboy ).
Saturday 9th June 2007 : Chicago : Gig day. I had a good swim in the hotel pool and a wander around in the sun before going to the venue around 4pm. Managed to lose 5 straight games of ping pong ( to Harry in spite of him still feeling a bit under the weather ). We got a warm reception from the Chicago audience. After the show Roger, Dave and the girls headed to New York to do an acoustic spot for a charity gig on monday. For the rest of us it was back to the hotel. I went to the Green Mill hoping to catch a set by Jeremy Kahn's band. Unfortunately they were just finishing as I arrived. The house band, Sabretooth, took over after a 30 minute break. They were an organ led quartet which were just a bit too loud for me. I headed home after a couple of tunes.
Friday 8th June 2007 : Chicago : A free day. I found myself in Grant park where the Chicago Blues Festival just happened to be starting. I checked out a cool new Orleans pianist for a bit and made a note to return later in the day. After a walk along the shore of the lake to the north I checked out the water for a potential swim. No way!! Very cold. It reminded me of holidays in Scotland!!! I called Snowy and we decided to have some Thai food and then check out what was happening at the blues festival. Billy Branch was leading a host of Chicago blues lumineries to good effect. By 8 or so it was getting a bit cold so I bailed around 9pm and headed to the Green Mill jazz club where the great Jeremy Kahn trio were accompanying the great baritone sax of Gary Smulyan. I had a nice chat with the fantastic bassist Rob Amster and hope to pop in and perhaps play tomorrow evening.
Thursday 7th June 2007 : Ottawa/Montreal/Chicago : We make a flying visit to Montreal today. Flying out of Ottawa at 4.30pm. Gareth, the promoter has promised us an enthusiastic reception Montreal............. Gareth wasn't wrong! Another rocking show and deafening audience. I had just started a game of table tennis with Dave when Benoit, David and Maria turned up. We had a nice chat before the show and took some photos for my blog. I had a bit of a 'Spinal Tap' moment during the show. I am offstage during 'Cigar' and 'Wish You Were Here'. I usually appear back on stage at the end of 'WYWH" to play the french horn parts on 'Southamton Dock'. On this occasion my way onstage right was blocked by equipment. I had to go back to stage left and wind my way around the maze backstage to get to the ramp to the stage. By the time I found my way, I had missed most of 'SD'. Luckily Jon Carin covered for me and played the missing horn parts till I found my place. I made sure I knew the way for the second set!! ......... Straight to the airport and on to Chicago ( that toddling town ) after the show.
Wednesday 6th June 2007 : Quebec/Ottawa : Not much time to do anything before we leave for Ottawa. There was a lot of traffic so the trip to the airport took a bit longer than the estimated 30 minutes. Luckily we still had time for a quick soundcheck and a something to eat before hitting the stage. Another great fun gig with a lively audience. They seem to like us in Canada! After the show it was back to the hotel for drinks and watch the England vs Estonia game ( football ) (( soccer to Americans )). England won 3 - 0 so scenes of violence were avoided ( kidding ).
Tuesday 5th June 2007 : Quebec : A rather drizzly day in Quebec. I checked out the old town, which is very quaint and spent the afternoon practising Barry Harris exercises with Harry round the hotel piano. In the evening Roger invited us out for steak et frites and a nice local restaurant. The meal was fantastic. The company was better. After the meal Trip and Snowy headed for the Boom, Boom Room while I made my way to Le Fou Bar where Michel Cote was playing tenor with a good bass and drums rhythm section. I had my horn but by the time I got a chance to chat to Michel the set was over.
Monday 4th June 2007 : Philadelphia/Quebec : Roger kindly supplied us with a private jet to take us to Quebec in spite of traveling separately to the gig from the Hamptons. What a generous man! Quebec was a blast. Band and audience had a great time. There was even someone in the front row with a poster that read 'Ian Is Magic'!! What more can you ask from an audience!!! After the show we repaired to the bar of our beautiful hotel in the old town. I can't remember how it happened, but I was prevailed upon to give the assembly the benefit of my amazing voice. I sung a chorus of 'A Wee Deoch 'n' Dorus'. Now they know why I play the saxophone!
Sunday 3rd June 2007 : Philadelphia : A rather wet day off in town. I wandered round the shops and went back to the Caribou in search of some music. I got there just as Kevin ( guitar ) and Mike ( laptop steel guitar ) were finishing their set. My timing is clearly off in Philly. Perhaps I'll have better luck tonight at Ortlieb's Jazz Haus this evening......... I set off for the club around 8.00pm thinking this was quite early and I would have plenty of time for a bite to eat before the jam started. After a rather rainy cab ride I arrived to find the music in full flow. An excellent tenor and flugel horn player were backed by a great rhythm section. I wolfed down some cajun chicken while they played a bunch of tunes I know including the infrequntly performed 'It's You Or No One' which I love. By the time I got up the rhythm section had changed and we were reduced to a groove jam in D minor. After a break I got to play a few more tunes including an enthusiastic 'Impressions' and a swinging 'Fried Bananas'. I ended the night with 'Dear John', a 'Giant Steps' changes tune that I was amazed to find a pianist who knew the head! It is a shame that Harry missed this one.
Saturday 2nd June 2007 : Philadelphia : I had an aimless wander round a very hot and sticky Philadelphia. I came upon some music in a park. The musicians were protesting against the arrest the previous week of a young black man for singing in the park. This is apparently against some local ordinance. Bureaucracy gone mad! I was going to return and join in but unfortunately ran out of time and had to head to the venue for an early soundcheck. We ran through the set to be played at the Live Earth concert on the 7th of July in New York. Another fab show with a very noisy and enthusiastic crowd. Harry and Graham have been struck down by a throat bug that is going round the band. Consequently I went out on a jazz hunt after the show by myself. I came upon Brian ( organ ) and Elliot ( sax ) playing at the Caribou Cafe. Unfortunately the bar closed soon after I arrived, so no opportunity to sit in. I did have a nice chat with the guys though before we got chucked out.
Friday 1st June 2007 : New York/Philadelphia : We borrowed the crews busses to take us to Philly. Straight to the venue, soundcheck, eat then onstage. What a great show and fantastic crowd. I had some problems with my horn in the second set, which I later tracked down to tickertape ( released from the ceiling during 'Sheep' ) getting stuck down the bell! I must remember to watch out for this tomorrow night. After the show we had a relaxing drink and a bite of food back at the hotel. I got to find out a bit more about AFL's amazing experiences in music. His group Amen Corner had run ins with some of the most notorius managers in the business including Andrew Loog Oldham, Don Arden and Terry 'The Pill' Slater. AFL has a great book in him if he ever wishes to write it.
Thursday 31st May 2007 : New York : Our last day in NYC. I headed to the Music Inn, a shop in the West Village jammed with things to blow, bang, pluck and strum. I found a great sounding Japanese bamboo flute that I could not resist buying. In the early evening Shane took us out on a 36 foot yacht and we sailed down the Hudson to the Statue Of Liberty and back. I managed to avoid turning green and even steered the boat for part of the return journey. After some good Thai food with Shane and Andrew I met up with Harry at Sweet Rhythm just in time to sit in on the last tune of the evening, a blistering version of Miles Davis' 'Bebop'.
Wednesday 30th May 2007 : New York : The day of the Madison Square Garden show. It is such a beautiful day, so I took the subway uptown and headed for Central Park. All kinds of people come to the park, from tramps and musicians to lawyers and property speculators. I saw a Mexican wedding party, busking drummers, runners, joggers, rollerbladers. Anything that you can do out of doors happens here. A fabulous place. After I had enough sun I headed for the Guggenheim, which is in a state of repair due to bits dropping off. How much of a genius can Frank Lloyd Wright be I ask myself? Some great paintings in the permanent collection including many Kandinsky's from earlier and later periods, a variable batch of Picasso's and a couple of amazing paintings by Paul Signac; a pointillist painter who I had not previously come across. The MSG audience were great. Billy Connolly popped back in the break and we had a brief word about banjos. The pig had some more flying problems but managed to drift round the auditorium backwards. The after show party was choc a block with people but I did get a chance to chat to Jason, Eric, Nicole et al. Afterwards a few of us headed for the Fat Cat and I sat in for a few tunes and had a beer.
Tuesday 29th May 2007 : New York : Did a little clothes shopping and picked up some jeans and a couple of shirts. That's me sorted clothes wise for this year then! As I walked past Dan's Chelsea Guitars Bob Rice jumped out of the shop. He was checking out some cool instruments including a couple of Martin acoustics that he thought Snowy should see. I had a nice chat with Bob and the guys in the shop and checked out a late 60's Mark 6 tenor that I may go back and have a play on tomorrow. In the afternoon it was back to the meat packing area ( deserted by the afternoon ) for a bit of practice. I went from there straight to the Chelsea Brewery and met up with Jason Kaufman for a few beers and pizza. An early night tonight as we have a gig at MSG on the morrow.
Monday 28th May 2007 : New York : Set Pat up with a backup of her photo library and important documents. Updated my blog. Had a very late breakfast of French toast and coffee at a local diner before heading off to practice. After about half an hours playing I was moved on by a security guard, so had to find a new spot. The meat packing warehouses are deserted at this time of day so I found a place behind the parked vans. Not as picturesque as my spot by the river but adequate. In the evening I had a great dinner with Snowy near to the hotel. Afterward I hopped on the subway and headed to Smoke on Broadway and 106th. Harry was already there and Richelle was in transit to the club. The monday jam is hosted by trombonist John Farnsworth. I was one of only 2 sax players so immediately got called onto the stage to play a blues followed by 'There Is No Greater Love'. Harry was up next and gave us 'Solar'. He later did sterling work accompanying a singer on 'No More Blues'. I got invited back on stage later and got to play 'It Could Happen To You', 'Softly' and 'Blue Bossa'. A great night jamming in a club with a friendly atmosphere. I hope to return for the late night session on thursday hosted by Joel Frahm.
Sunday 27th May 2007 : New York : I took a long walk along the Hudson to Battery Park. There are plenty of people still in the city walking, cycling, sunbathing etc. It was the first time I saw baseball nets with mechanized pitching. Later on I spent a couple of hours by the river practicing. I ran into Harry and Richelle on my way back to the hotel and we arranged to meet up later and one jazz club or another. After dinner I went to the 55 Bar and they headed to the Village Vanguard. It's just as well Harry missed the music at the 55 as it lacked all the things he likes about jazz ie. swing, tunes, interesting chord sequences. I enjoyed it. The music reminded me of Ornette Coleman or late Steve Lacy. I invited Pat to the after hours jam at Smalls but she was already tucked up in bed. Harry and Richelle were there when I arrived at about 1.30am. After a few tunes by the house band the jam started and we played till about 4. Joel Frahm stuck around from an earlier set and it was great to play alongside such an amazing saxophonist.
Saturday 26th May 2007 : New York : I woke up late and pretty much went straight to the Blue Note where Joe Lovano was holding a master class. I was amazed to find only 30 or so musicians at the club. The talk was fascinating, interspersed with great performances from Joe and accompanying bass and drums. Towards the end I got up and played 'Inner Urge' ( which was called by a singer who also got up ) with Joe and the band. Later I was invited back on stage to play a blues. Amazing!! The thing that really made my day was the legendary Lee Konitz coming up and shaking my hand when I got off stage. I must go and practice now .......... I will put up some pics from Atlanta later .... Went to see Lee Konitz play in duo with Dan Tepfer on piano at the Jazz Gallery. It was amazing to see this great alto player still going well into his 80's. After the concert I headed to Smalls and caught the last set from Ari Hoenigs Quartet. The were in blistering form and well worth the second visit. I was considering going on to the Fat Cat but Harry tells me that there is an electric bass player, so probably loud and probably not much swing, so I'll give the jam a miss tonight. An unbelievably jazzy day never the less!!
Friday 25th May 2007 : New York : Another day free. I got up late ( jazz time ). I found a place to practice down at the river, so spent a couple of hours entertaining the resident geese. In the evening I had a burger with Graham and Andrew. We were able to sit outside and people watch as the weather is still fantastic. Afterwards I went to Smalls and caught a couple of great sets by the Ari Hoenig Group which featured Orlando Le Fleming on bass. The band were amazing. They managed to negotiate Ari's difficult charts with tremendous skill and humour. It was nice to say hi to Orlando, who I played with a few times in London before he moved to New York 4 years ago. Afterwards I met up with Harry and we jammed till around 4.00am at Fat Cat.
Thursday 24th May 2007 : New York/East Rutherford/New York : We had a day trip to New Jersey and played a gig. Another fab audience. The pig had a few problems and this time landed in the audience. The NJ crowd very kindly manhandled it back to the stage where the crew were able to grab it and hopefully effect repairs before the MSG show! It was great to see Jason and Mike for a few minutes backstage before the concert. Back in New York Harry and I and Richelle went on a jazz hunt. We ended up in Fat Cat ( a fantastic jazz dive with pool and table tennis tables and chess and scrabble sets aplenty ) which had a great quintet playing. Unfortunately they quit quite soon after our arrival and were replaced by a funk band at around 2.00am. Richelle bailed immediately. Harry and I stuck it out for a couple of tunes, checked out Sweet Rhythm ( jam over ) and Smalls ( no jam ) then headed home.
Wednesday 23rd May 2007 : New York : A day off in New York City. The weather is fantastic so I took the opportunity to wander round the West Village and find all the jazz joints that are local ie The Village Vanguard, Smalls, The Blue Note, Fat Cat, Sweet Rhythm .... all of which are within walking distance of our hotel. In the evening I had dinner with Nicole, Tania and Tabitha, some friends I had met on the previous tour in Phoenix. We had great steaks at the Homestead and they dropped me off at the hotel around 1.30pm. I have to get onto jazz time as most of the cool places to play only start up around midnight - 1am!
Tuesday 22nd May 2007 : West Palm Beach/Atlanta/New York City : I last visited Atlanta with Deaf School in 1977!! I wonder if anyone remembers ...... Nope. No one remembers Deaf School, but they certainly know who Roger is! ( although Roger seems to be having some trouble remembering who I am, as he forgot to give me a name check at the end of the show!!! ) A tremendous reception from the Atlanta audience. After the show we went straight to New York.
Monday 21st May 2007 : West Palm Beach : I was woken up by the phone. It was Andrew who wanted to know why http://ianritchie.co.uk/ took him to a plumbing web site! Anyone who has read my previous blog ( thursday 10th of May 2007 ) will know that my interest in plumbing is purely amateur!! It is quite a coincidence however that the other Ian Ritchie is based in Chorley, Lancs., which is about 5 miles from my parents house in Parbold....... I walked into nearby Lake Worth to find a rather dull town populated by aging inhabitants. I did however spot a Thai restaurant which I earmarked for dinner later. In the afternoon I had a swim in the sea ( or rather was knocked around by large waves for an hour or so ). On the way out I ran into AFL who was standing in the shallows waiting for the tide to go out ( so that he could run along the beach ). We had a nice chat until we spotted something dark swimming under the water a few yards away. We backed out of the water and kept an eye on the object. It turned out to be a sting ray which had been washed too close to the shore. I'm glad I didn't run into it while swimming! In the evening I returned to sleepy Lake Worth and had a nice tom ka gai and chicken panang with rice. I chose an imported beer ( Sapporo ). The assumption that 'imported' as displayed on the label meant 'imported from Japan' turned out to be completely erroneous. The beer actually came from Canada!
Sunday 20th May 2007 : West Palm Beach : I'm feeling rather lazy today. I was considering hiring a car and driving to Miami to see the sights, but decided to leave this for another time. I did try to help Harry out with latency problems he is having with his laptop and a Steinberg grand piano module. I left him freeing up hard drive space and looking for alternative software. Pat's laptop problems were much easier to solve since they were by and large non existent! Walking on the beach, swimming and relaxing are on the agenda for the rest of today. I have various pictures from the last couple of days which I will post as soon as my computer has finished backing up my iPod ( which is taking ages ).........
Saturday 19th May 2007 : West Palm Beach/Tampa/West Palm Beach : The second of the US show's, unusually the day after the first. It is another beautiful day in West Palm Beach. Jon and I managed to fit in a swim in the sea before we headed to the airport for the flight to Tampa. Tire problems delayed the second of the private planes so we were late getting to Tampa with just enough time to do a quick equipment test before the doors opened. Another great show. There was a little dissent during 'Beirut' but this didn't seem to affect the great atmosphere at the gig. It was extremely windy, which caused some problems for the pig. It got trapped under one of the awnings of the shed and was still there by the end of the show. The flight back to West Palm Beach was uneventful, in spite of the wind and everyone headed straight to bed on return to the hotel. The effects of jet lag have not entirely disappeared I think.
Friday 18th May 2007 : West Palm Beach : The day of the first US concert. I just hung out around the hotel until it was time to drive to the venue. It was a great show and it was nice to play to Claudia and her friends who were near the front of the audience. We relaxed in the hotel bar after the show and got to chat to Pat's sister Naima who lives in nearby Miami.
Thursday 17th May 2007 : West Palm Beach : My apologies for getting behind in my blog posting. West Palm Beach is very relaxing and much more like being on holiday than on tour. I took a long walk down the beach in the morning then hung out at the pool with Andrew, Ron and Dave in the afternoon. I did get plenty of swimming done in the beautiful pool! ( I steered clear of the ocean today due to water condition warnings from the hotel ). In the evening I had a fantastic dinner with Claudia at Cucina Dell'Arte in town. The restaurant got quite lively later on when they turned up the music and started to play lots of 80's disco. Very nostalgic.
Wednesday 16th May 2007 : London/West Palm Beach : The start of the U.S. leg of the Roger Waters Dark Side Of The Moon tour. We leave from Heathrow at 2.00pm and will be in Florida mid afternoon.......... We arrived in Miami without incident, although it was a longer flight than I expected at nearly 9 hours, then a couple of hours in a bus to West Palm Beach. We have a day off tomorrow, so I will get plenty of swimming in ..............Home | Information | Writing | Sounds | Links | contact