JOURNAL OF ANOTHER JOURNEY A Gig in London and the Soul Society Tour
J. PLUNKY BRANCH
COPYRIGHT 1998 J. BRANCH - All rights reserved.
I had always wanted to go on tour in Europe, performing music in night clubs, concert halls and festivals; playing before appreciative audiences and adoring fans. I always knew that it would happen, it was just a matter of when. After 25 years, it did. It was a long time coming, and while I worked for it and waited for it, I fantasized and visualized how touring there might be.
Often times dreams are romanticized and idealized fantasies barely resembling the mundane, everydayness of the reality, when it comes. My journal documents and represents the everydayness of my touring when it finally came.
For six months before I left, I had known that I would be going to London to play a club date in with my group. About three weeks before that gig, I was offered the opportunity to do a month long tour in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, working as a soloist with a concert package organized by Soulciety Records, the German record label that licenses my albums for distribution in Europe. It was to be a promotional tour, featuring some of the acts who record for the label, including Bobby Byrd, Lalomie Washburn, the Soul Society band and me.
For two months I had been leisurely working on recording my next album, but when I got the call about the tour, I kicked my production efforts into high gear, trying to have master tapes for the completed album ready to take with me to Europe to be able to try to get a deal while overseas.
In the last days before leaving I was organizing, making travel and accommodations arrangements and I was in the recording studio for countless hours, working feverishly to finish the album project. I was also gearing up to take lots of promotion materials with me so that I would have everything I would need to make contacts for future gigs and to promote myself and advance my career.
By the time I left, I was overworked, overloaded, over extended and over packed. But I was ready.
JOURNAL OF ANOTHER JOURNEY A Gig in London and the Soul Society Tour
6:16 PM Thursday, 9 October, 1997 On the Plane. We're Off! Moving in reverse out of the 747's parking space by the terminal. We're leaving on a jet plane - a non-stop flight: Washington Dulles to London Heathrow. This trip has been a long time coming and maybe a lifetime in the making. A promotional appearance with my band at the Jazz Cafe in London; and then I go on as a guest soloist with a Soul Society concert package for a 30 day tour to cities in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. For the two days before leaving I got a total of two hours sleep. Last night I was in the studio all night and then this morning I had to assemble and pack all my things I would need for a five week trip. Maximum fatigue and relief that Iím finally on my way.
6:05 AM London time. A typically long flight, but not as boring as usual. I am traveling with my wife, Cookie and three members of my band, Muzi, Kevin and Charlayne "Chyp" Page, and her boyfriend, Boyce. They were all pretty thrilled about this trip, and their excitement was making it more exciting for me, too. By the time we made the plane, I was so beat that I slept four hours of the six and a half hour flight over.
Friday night, midnight - 10 October. In bed. When we got to London's Heathrow Airport, we made it through Immigration and Customs with minimal hassle; but there was no one there to meet us. This was an actualization of my worst fear because the booking agent for this London gig, had made all the arrangements and he had assured me that the Jazz Cafe would be providing the ground transportation while we were in London, specifically and most importantly, our transport from the airport into town. This early in the morning there surely would be no one at the club to give me info and the booking agent had gone out of town the day before, on tour with the Jazz Crusaders. I didn't even know the name of the hotel where we were supposed to stay; and, given that no one showed at the airport to pick us up, I could only hope that the hotel arrangements had actually been made.
I called the booking agent's apartment and spoke to his wife who told me that we were booked at the Regents Park Hilton Hotel and that later I could contact one of the booking agent's assistants, who would take care of us in the agent's absence. After waiting, and then checking out several alternatives, I made arrangements to take limo vans to get us all to the Regents Park Hilton Hotel in North London. There were six of us and we had our instruments and way too much luggage. The process of booking the vans and waiting and loading up took all of two hours before we could leave the airport. Then when we got to the hotel at 11:00 AM the rooms weren't ready. So we had a very frustrating and tiring morning.
London was bright , sunny and breezy. The air was very clear. Great for seeing the sights on the drive into town from the airport. Driving on the "wrong" side of the road is a trip, even when youíre riding as a passenger. Our drivers seemed to delight in scaring us by maneuvering and zigzagging at hyper - speeds on the left side of the streets.
While waiting for our rooms to be readied, we got a call from the booking agent's assistant saying that our rehearsal with the London musicians that I had thought was set for 5:00 PM, was in fact scheduled for 2:30 PM. So we would have just an hour to freshen up and be ready to be driven to the rehearsal studio.
Peter, the driver of the van showed up at 2:00 PM, right on time to take us to "The Premises" rehearsal studio. When we got there, Andrew, the drummer was already there and his drums were set up. While we were setting up, Tony Remy, the guitarist arrived. We had a very decent rehearsal. From the first song we played it was clear that the music was going to be just fine. And as were went over more and more of the material, the songs began to take on a sparkle and funk grooviness. Both of the London musicians were just great: in the pocket, tasteful and really cool guys. The Premises studio space had a cool vibe as well, with several rehearsal rooms equipped with small P.A.ís and a hip little cafe for food and refreshments.
After rehearsal Peter picked us up and we got a look at London in the early evening. Peter was a professional entertainment guide, procurer and chauffeur. He had hosted many stars, including Bobby Brown, Wyclef and the Fugees and many more. He gave us lots of hip info on the scene in London. Peter took us to get take out food and we went back to the hotel.
It was nice having Cookie along on this trip. She's a very calming and steadying influence. She's a part of my private world. Most of the time when I'm on the road I am alone and to myself, working on the books, thinking about the music, writing music, or something; but definitely spending most of my time in solitude. Cookie gives me companionship. She wanted to go out on the town tonight but we stayed in and made love. Then, when we should have been dead tired from the travel and the day's activities, we were wide awake. She's reading a book as I write in mine at 1:00 AM.
Sunday 12 October, 9:00 AM. On the Tube headed to Earls Court to check out another hotel. Yesterday (Saturday) I rested in the hotel room, only going out to eat after doing my yoga exercises. It was a rainy, chilly day in London but everyone else, Chyp, Boyce, Kevin, Muzi and Cookie, went out shopping and sightseeing for the few hours we had before leaving to go to the Jazz Cafe club for sound check. At 3:00 PM, I rushed everyone out of the hotel in order to get to the club on time for the 4:00 PM sound check. But we got the club to find a full house audience for a poetry reading and quiet music performance. (Boring.) This was supposed to go on until 5:00 PM. So we went shopping in that neighborhood in the rain just to kill some time. My feet got wet and I was chilled through.
We got back to the club to find the poetry event running over time til 5:30 PM. We couldn't even use the dressing room yet. I was feeling like we were being dissed like some local band. Someone should have called the hotel to let us know that sound check would be delayed. When we finally got to take the stage and get set up, we had a good sound check til 7:30 PM. Then we went back to the hotel to get dressed, and then headed straight back to the club for the gig.
I thought the gig went extremely well. The crowd was sparse at the beginning, but grew to a neat full house. And they seemed to really enjoy our performance. The audience was 95% white Europeans, young and very hip. They danced and responded verbally and clapped when I exhorted them to form the stage. When we ended our two hour set we got an ovation and chants of "More, more, more..." but we could not oblige, because we had been told there was a definite curfew for us and we had already run overtime.
After the hit we were all in a super upbeat mood. I went down to meet people who came to our merchandise table. There were a group of Danish people who all came by to say that we should come play in Denmark, and there were some German guys there who were asking me where I was going to play when I went on to Germany. When I pulled out the itinerary, they knew all about several of the clubs on the list and said that they would try to catch me sometime next month.
There was a 26 year old black guy there who said that his mother had bought my records in England twenty years ago and that since the age of nine he loved my stuff and that he had grown up listening to my songs. He told me that he had bought his ticket to the show in back in July when they first went on sale. He even apologized for there being so few blacks in the audience. There were a couple of Black deejays who were there and who hung out in the dressing room after the show for way too long. They were fans who wanted autographs and they wanted to talk on and on, until we had to ask them to leave just so that we could have some privacy and eat our gourmet dinners.
The booking agent's assistant came to collect the money from the club and to pay me; but, there were problems with the finances. The booking agent had been paid half of the fee in advance and he was not around. He had paid an accountant to provide certain government tax forms so that the club would not have to withhold 20% of the fee in case taxes were owed. The accountant had sent a letter saying the form would be forth coming; but, the club would not release the funds until the actual forms were provided. So the funds would be held in escrow and we could not pay the London musicians who had expected to be paid in cash that night. This will all have to be sorted out on Monday.
Chyp and Boyce left the club around midnight. I introduced Kevin to two young, wild, fine chicks and he hung out with them. Cookie and I stayed at the club until about 1:15 AM; then went back to the hotel and crashed.
Sunday, 12 October - 6:10 PM. On the tube. I got up bright and early and took the tube over to the Earl's Court section of the city to check out the Mayflower Hotel. I wanted to find a cheaper hotel for my group because our rooms at the Hilton were only booked for two nights and I was providing rooms for my crew for the rest of the time they would be in London. Muzi and Kevin were staying one more night and leaving on a 4:00 PM plane on Monday. Chyp and Boyce were staying an extra day and taking a flight at that same time on Tuesday. I booked the rooms at the Mayflower Hotel in the Earlís Court section of London and then went back across town to the Hilton, rounded up the troops. After breakfast we took three taxis over to the Mayflower and checked in there.
Then, even though I was dead tired, I went with the group sightseeing. We had a great time at Picadilly Circus, the National Gallery, Tafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, etc. That evening when we got back to the Earl's Court area we ate a big meal in a Chinese restaurant as a group. My chicken with black bean sauce and green peppers was super.
Tuesday, 14 October, 1:30 PM - In the taxi headed for Heathrow Airport. Monday we had the complimentary continental breakfast in the hotel: toast, tea, juice, cereal. Muzi and Kevin when for a quick shopping outing and then left for the airport. Cookie and I went with Chyp and Boyce sightseeing and shopping all day. I was coming down with a dreadful cold. We went to Harrod's Department store, then over to the office of Acid Jazz Records in Hoxley Square, then to Westminster Abby and Big Ben, then rode on a double decker bus to Oxford Square.
That evening we went to eat back in Earl's Court near the hotel. I went to bed early with a cold, after the booking agent's assistant came by the hotel to pay me the balance for the Jazz Cafe gig. 666 pounds + 90 pounds to reimburse me for the limo vans we had to take from the airport that first morning when we arrived.
Tuesday, 14 October- On the plane flying to Germany Cookie and I bought round trip tickets from London to Hamburg from a travel agency in Earl's Court near the hotel. We're flying on Lufthansa and it cost me an extra 65 pounds (around $105) for excess baggage for my tenor sax. Today we are blessed with nice weather for flying. No problems with customs exiting London. A quiet flight. I didn't even take the moments to be the least bit apprehensive about playing on the tour or rehearsing with the Soul Society band; I know it will be fine. Gotz Buhler, president of Soulciety Records, will meet us at the airport. I hope.
Wednesday, 15 October - 2:00 PM - On the tour bus. Yesterday Gotz did meet us at the airport. He took us to check into a nice little Hamburg hotel (modern, angular designed room with purple, black and silver color scheme in our room; very comfortable) and then straight to the rehearsal with Bobby Byrd and the Soul Society band. The music was vintage James Brown: Bobby Byrdís classic songs, horn arrangements and rhythm licks. I had to work with the charts for the sax parts, sometimes writing out what was hummed out. My cold and a headache bothered me during the rehearsal but I made it through it. What was even tougher for me was some impressions and questions that struck me during this initial encounter with the band and Bobby Byrd.
I was a bit uncomfortable with that fact that these younger, German musicians were so "schooled" in this music. Everything was written down, not just for the horn parts but even for the drums and bass. Now of course this made it quicker and easier to remember and tighten up a large amount of material for a large group of musicians, but the rhythm section seemed stiff and not grooving. Also, it put me at a disadvantage because I am not a good sight reader and my forte is improvising and soloing.
I was also thinking about that fact that I was playing tight horn arrangements for these classic James Brown songs; songs and arrangements just like I had played 30 years ago in college with my group, The Soul Syndicate. This was like deja vu or coming full circle or maybe like going backwards. Had I come this far, worked so long and hard on doing my own music, been so committed to promoting music as a social and political force, only to come back to playing background horn parts to old James Brown show music.
Don't get me wrong: James Brown and his legendary music of the 50's, 60's and 70's represent the highest heights in terms of the impact of Black American music. James Brown may be the singular most important figure in the history of Black popular music. And I respect that to the fullest. I do a tribute to his music in my show with my band. But at that first rehearsal I questioned whether I would enjoy or feel proud to be playing in this type of show for my first European tour and for so long a gig at that.
Other more impactful questions had to do with Bobby Byrd the man and the musician. Bobby Byrd performed, recorded and toured with James Brown for years. More importantly, Bobby Byrd wrote some of Brown's most enduring songs. Recently Bobby Byrd had been ill with cancer and now after successful treatment, he is making his comeback with this 30 day tour with Soul Society instead of with his own family band and entourage. I was struck with Bobby's age and aging. He is probably 10 years my senior and he is still having to be at this rehearsal and doing this tour just like I am. Is this me and what I'll be doing 15 years from now? Is this what I want to be doing for the rest of my life? Is music and entertainment worthy of my talent and brain power? Should I be in political or religious or corporate or entrepreneurial endeavors in order to have impact on the world? Am I doing what I should be doing with my life? Are these simply the typical questions of a 50 year old, Black man facing a mid-life crises or am I just tired and down because of my travels and a bad cold?
After the rehearsal, on the way back to the hotel, we stopped at a Turkish restaurant for take out food. The food was plentiful and good. In the morning we got up: I did my yoga, Cookie showered. We went out walking in Hamburg to change some money and to look for a black shirt for me to wear onstage. We checked out of the hotel and Gotz drove us across Hamburg back to the rehearsal site where everything and everyone was loaded onto the tour bus. The bus pulled off and we started out on The Tour.
The tour bus is top of the line and it is everything I have ever envisioned for my own tour bus: a double decker with sleeping berths for 15 upstairs, four lounging areas with 16 seats downstairs, three video monitors, bathroom, refrigerator, microwave, cell phones, etc. Today it has all the creature comforts of home plus a smooth ride. I might get tired of it by the time this 30 day tour is over, but today it is as cool as cool whip.
The people on the tour are cool too. Bobby Bryd, the headliner and elder statesman of the tour; his wife, singer Vicki Anderson; her son, 38 year old keyboardist, Bart Anderson who serves as Bobby Byrd's musical director; and singer songwriter Lalomie Washburn, formerly with Chaka Khan and Ray Charles; along with me, were the Black American guest stars.
The Soul Society band members are young, white Germans from Hamburg: Martin on bass, Sven on guitar, Klaus on keyboards, Claas on trumpet, Johnny on trombone, Tim and Jens (called Big John) on vocals plus the band's lead vocalist, an African-American sister, Sandra and new comer Stefan on drums. Also traveling with us are Jorn, the tour manager/ booking agent, Martin the sound engineer and Detlef the bus driver.
Thursday, October 16, 12 noon - On the bus Last night we got to the Geiss 22 Club in Munster and set up for gig. The club was a small, stand-around type place near a college. The sound check went well and the we ate quiche-like casseroles and salads for dinner.
It was a full house for the show. Soul Society went on first and played three songs; then Lalomie Washburn sang five songs and finally Bobby Byrd came on to do his set. The whole show lasted 2 1/2 hours and it felt like it was a little long. The entire thing was funky though, with just a couple of spots that lagged a bit. It's quite a musical production with little or no choreography, but is too big for stages as small as the one in this first club. We will be playing all clubs on this tour; hopefully some will have bigger stages.
We decided not to stay in Munster for the night. Instead, we rode the bus over night arriving in Berlin in the morning. On the bus I continued to wonder about the questions I had when I got to the rehearsal and saw Bobby Byrd conducting the band and tightening up the show. He was energetic and in great voice, but I wondered if this live performance thing is really what I want to be doing 10 years from now. Do I want to be leading a band of youngsters when I am old(er). Isn't that what I do now? Do I want my son, Jamiah to be in my band? Is old soul music enough? And I'm not sure I know what I mean by that; but it seems to me that my music with its jazzy progressive structures, chords and lyrics has more substance and more weighty intentions.
I slept well in my bunk on the bus considering it is a bunk on a bus. I only got up once to check on the driver, get something to drink and take a night time cold tablet. It's amazing that 15 people could fit so comfortably in such tight confines.
Berlin is a city city.
Friday, 17 October, 10:15 AM - On the bus outside the venue in the next city. Yesterday when we got to Berlin after riding all night, we checked into our hotel. Then Cookie and I walked around the immediate area, window shopping and then went to a Chinese restaurant for lunch. At 4:00 PM I walked from the hotel over to the Quasimoto Club for set up and sound check which took until 7:50 PM to complete. I went back to the hotel to get Cookie and our bags, because after the gig we would again travel over night on the bus.
The Quasimoto was a really nice club with a reputation for presenting great music. The club has a large cafe upstairs on the first floor and the performance venue in the basement. The stage has professional lighting and the sound system was much more than adequate, with a 32 channel Yamaha board, tri-amped main speakers and 6 way monitor mixes. The room is decorated with black furnishings and fittings bordered by solid mahogany.
The Quasimoto crowd loved the show, which was rhythmically tighter than the first night. I found myself a little more comfortable with the horn section parts. I also carved out more space in the show for my own featured solo work, which the band and the crowd seemed to appreciate.
Bobby Byrd is that star of the show. He comes on stage after 90 minutes of funk to do his 45 - 60 minute set and the crowd is hyped on those classic, super funky grooves he wrote for James Brown. The show has a built-in first ending and encore; but even after that, the people screamed for more for 15 minutes. But the show was over for the night. We turned them over to Tim, our in-house deejay.
We loaded up the bus and left Berlin around 3:00 AM. We stayed up drinking, smoking and talking until the wee hours on the bus rolling along the autobahn. We arrived here around 10:00 AM.
I have concerns: money is going out more than anticipated; (excess baggage on the plane = 65 pounds, incidentals at the hotels, meals for me and Cookie, local phone calls in Berlin = 65 DM) and I am making less money than I thought I would. I am concerned about having no money when I get back home in the states. But then I know the universe will provide.
I am also feeling that it will be difficult to make the business contacts and advancements that I had hoped to develop on this trip. Oh, this tour will have its business and promotional benefits, but so far I have not been able to meet the club owners or promoters or radio and record people. Maybe Iíll do better networking as the tour goes on.
2:30 AM on the bus headed for the next stop. Cookie is supposed to leave Europe to go back home on Sunday. I was worried today about getting her travel arrangements made and getting my own airline ticket changed. So she and I walked in the town of Krefeld, a quaint little place with few, if any, Black people. We went to the train station and then walked until we got to a travel agent who told us that the best thing for Cookie to do was what we had planned all along: to take a train back to Hamburg from Freiburg, where we would play tomorrow. Then we found out that the flight we booked her on from Hamburg would not get her back to London in time to make her flight from London to the U.S. So we also had to call British Airways to change her to a later flight on Sunday (at a cost of an additional $150). I also had to book my change of flight for November 16th at the end of my touring.
Once I got all that straight I felt better. We walked back through town, back to the venue, the Kulture-Frabrik, a club with two performance areas built in a former slaughterhouse-warehouse-dairy. The place was all concrete floors and tile; gray, damp, and cold, but clean. We hung out on the bus and in the big building, taking turns using the two showers/bathrooms. The weather was sunny and warmer than in recent days. But inside the building the temperature was as cool as Berlin. Still it was a leisurely day, we all spent "roughing it."
Lalomie has been in Germany recording and performing for four months and she did an earlier tour with Soul Society, playing at several of the same venues we are hitting on this tour. She told us about playing in several interesting venues, including one built in a large swimming pool with the stage at what was the deep end and the people seated at the shallow end and all around the edges. Another one she recalled, was built in one side of a motor tunnel and had great acoustics and the other side of the tunnel was still in use.
The Kulture Frabrik had a large room which could hold 1,200 and a smaller club which could hold 350 where we would play. I thought the gig that night went better than ever. The show was tighter and I got to do my rap and "Every Way But Loose" and everyone seemed to enjoy my songs and solos.
We ate a meal after the gig and I got phone calls through to Jamiah and others. I was "up" and stayed awake late. We're blazing down the autobahn on the tour bus, with the new Janet Jackson CD on the sound system. I'm really getting to know and like all the people on the tour. This ain't half bad. Indeed, I am enjoying this!
Sunday, 19 October , 1:00 PM - back on the bus. Yesterday we played Freiburg, a hip, modern city in the southwest corner of Germany on the border of France and Switzerland. Before we got there we stopped at a highway rest stop that featured a Best Western Hotel, public showers and other creature comforts that reminded me of being in the U.S.
Our hotel in Freiburg was the Inner City Hotel and it was new, modern and centrally located. My biggest concern headed into Freiburg was getting the train schedule information for Cookie's departure and getting her and her bags to the station and on the train. But the InnerCity Hotel was situated right in the transportation center of the city, which includes the train station, bus depot, cab stands, and airport transfer point. Super cool! In fact the InnerCity Hotel was literally right beside the train track that Cookie's train would leave on at 11:30 PM that night. Just getting that straight was a load off my mind. She would travel over night, arrive in Hamburg at 8:30 AM and Gotz would meet her and get her to the airport for her flight at 12:25 PM.
Cookie and I enjoyed the sights walking around the area of the hotel. Then I went to sound check at the Jazzhaus Club. The venue was larger and more nicely appointed than any so far. It was another of the places in Germany with a rich recent history of presenting great jazz and R & B talent.
The gig was packed with people. The stage was large and I played more tenor sax rather than alto at Bobby Byrd's suggestion. I played well and was again well received. I also did my song "I Can't Hold Back" with the band for the first time and I dedicated it to Cookie, who was there and had to leave right after that to make her train. Detlef, the bus driver went with her to the station while I stayed onstage to finish the gig.
After our performance, the Jazzhaus Club became a packed Saturday night dance hall like youíd find anywhere in the world. There were some fine children in there too, including two young super pretty sisters from the Sudan.
In the show, I'm taking more solos, doing two of my songs and being featured more. At this gig at the Jazzhaus, Jorn sold more of my CD's from the merchandise table than any of the others. So the promotion plan is working!
Yes, my promotion plan is in effect. But one of my concerns since being on this tour and seeing Bobby Byrd and Lalomie is, that being my age, maybe I should be further along my career path to make this undertaking worth the effort? Maybe I need to be younger in order take advantage of the long term benefits of this type of promotional tour? Instead of this tour being my break through step before stardom, it maybe just one of several steps, one of several tours I will have to complete before I could warrant a full-fledged tour of my own, with my own group. Maybe I'll have to come back again and work with a Soul Society band like Lalomie has done, in order to build more name recognition and build up the audience for my music.
Also, I may have to add one or two straight-up funk songs to my latest album that I am working on, in order to fit more with what Soulciety is releasing and promoting. Since my album is more soft jazz oriented than what theyíre currently doing. Now itís 2:00 PM on the bus and weíre headed to Switzerland. The terrain is getting a bit more hilly and more interesting. The cars on the autobahn - Mercedes, Volvos and other Euro-designs and makes and models - go whizzing by at amazing speeds. Now weíre at the border. And on into beautiful Switzerland with its glorious mountains and fantastic views. Weíre jamming on the bus with the new Bootsey CD on the box.
PLUNKYíS JOURNAL OF ANOTHER JOURNEY - PART TWO
Monday, 20 October, 1:15 PM - On the bus Olten, Switzerland is a small, quaint city and the concert hall where we played on Sunday night was sparse and plain but it had super tech equipment and a very nice spread of refreshments. The show drew a large crowd, in part because it was the first show in the city in several weeks and also because Monday is a day off from work (holiday or something?).
The concert went as well as usual. We made a few changes in the show: Sandra sang a Chaka Khan song; Lalomie sang one less song; I did "I Canít Hold Back," and there were other fine tuning adjustments. I wore my black African outfit and it was a hit with the band.
After the gig we had a catered meal. I had a vegetarian rice dish with peas, pineapple, tomato, green peppers, artichoke and other fruits and veggies. It was delicious. The other dish on the menu was rice and veggies with chicken and rabbit.
The Hotel Europa where we were staying was 50 meters away from the venue and an old building. The night before in Freiburg, Germany, the InnerCity Hotel had great X rated movies, but at the Hotel Europa in Olten there was only CNN. Actually, there was a hoochie coochie bar with a live band and dancing girls in the hotel, but I went up to my room instead of going there.
I stayed up until 3:00 AM and I called Cookie, timing my call to reach her in my daughter Kailaís car, surprising her and welcoming her back home in the states. Cookie had traveled by train from Freiburg to Hamburg where she was met by Gotz, who took her sight seeing and on to the airport to take a flight to London. She then made a connecting flight to Dulles Airport in Washington, DC where she was met by our daughter, Kaila, who was driving her the 100 miles to Richmond when I called her.
After that I went to sleep and I woke up thinking about career moves, gigs for December back in the states, the long odds against record deals and touring deals, etc. I am not well known enough to warrant those deals, but I do have something to say and I do have a great band and show, combining the best of jazz and soul. Now, the question is, is that enough?
Lalomie is quite a songwriter. She did several things for Chaka Khan ("I Am A woman," "Midnight"). She is a super poet and she works her words into funky nommo vibes. She is a mellow spirit and is always positive, always sharing, always saying something kind and sweet.
We get to Basil, Switzerland to do a radio interview featuring Bobby Byrd and Lalomie. We have tonight and the next two nights off, so weíll go back to Munich, Germany to spend those days there, then move on to Vienna, Austria for Thursday nights gig at a casino.
Seen at a rest stop petrol station on the autobahn: on a x rated video - "Masturbation Guaranteed"
The seasons change for the 200th time round and round the learning goes
9:00 PM Tuesday, 21 October - On the bus I spent last night on the bus and essentially spent the day on the bus too. We parked the bus last night on the circus grounds in Munich, beside the railroad yard. Then we went to pick up Bobby, Vicki and Lalomie from the hotel where they stayed. We had lunch at a restaurant overlooking an outdoor public pool. The water in the pool was 86 degrees and people were swimming even though outside it was a cold, damp, windy 43 degrees. None of us went swimming though.
We went to a mall for an hour then left Munich and stopped at the first service area on the autobahn so that some of us could shower, eat, etc. Then we set out for Austria, riding all evening.
I have gotten to know all the members of this traveling German troop and they are all really nice guys and ladies. Lalomie is a genuine good and positive spirit, a poetess; always willing and ready to add some "up-ness" to the mix, always with a kind word, always encouraging and sharing. Sandra, the vocalist with Soul Society, speaks fluent German and is likewise always ready to be helpful. She gets a lot of sleep by day after staying up late at night after the gigs, rarely getting up before 2:00 PM in the afternoons. Sven, the guitarist, is always ready with a joke, a crack and a smile. His brother, Tim, the deejay and singer is friendly and respectful. Martin the bass player is a music student in a Holland jazz program and an exceptional musician. Claus, the Keyboardist, is quiet and is into classical jazz and is mellow and introspective.
Jens or Big John as he is called, is a lot of fun and functions as one of the leaders of the band. Even though he is just the lead singer, he knows lots about the business, the tech and the instruments. He looks just like Skipper Bailey, a friend of mine back in DC. The other horn players are more stand-off-ish and weird. Johnny, the trombonist, is energetic on stage; whereas Claas, trumpet player is quiet and very reserved. Stefan, the drummer, is new to the band and he is the weirdest one of all, but he is an excellent drummer. He is often off to himself and he is a reader and an intellectual. Jorn, the tour director and a booking agent is cool, business like and also respectful.
Then there is Bobby Byrd, the elder statesman and star of the show, his wife and background singer, Vicki Anderson, the diva; and their son Bart Anderson, keyboardist and all around regular American guy. Detlef, the bus driver is nice, conscientious and doesnít speak much English. He is one heckuva driver though and heís cool.
10:00 PM weíre in Vienna, Austria. Being in Europe in so many different countries and watching CNN International and seeing so many environmental news stories, etc. has given me a more international view point. Actually, I have been contemplating things and issues on a global scale. Thinking globally makes local, personal, racial, tribal concerns seem petty by comparison.
12 noon, Wednesday, 22 October, on the bus. Last night we parked the bus across the street from the small, dinky hotel where Bobby, Vicky, Lalomie and Bart stayed. Most of the fellows went out for a late night meal of veiner schnitzel, but at 1:00 AM I decide to go to bed up in my bunk on the bus instead. This morning I woke up to a from a dream in which the mayor of Vienna had come back to the bus with the crew to tell me that I should have gone with them because they had had lobster and topless dancers at the late night dinner. But it was only a dream.
Bart woke me up at 10:15 AM to come into the hotel to take a much needed shower in Bobby and Vickiís room. Vicki fixed me some ginger tea and she and Bobby were really caring and genuinely appreciative of my character and manners.
11:00 PM Wednesday, 22 October, in the hotel room. We moved the bus and the crew to a new hotel on the other side of Vienna. The Hotel Pension Klimt is a lot nicer. Since we had the day off Tim, Sven, Lalomie, Sandra, Jens and I decided to go sightseeing and to get something to eat in downtown Vienna. We took two trolleys and a subway ride to get to a most spectacular old city center.
We got off the subway at Stephansplatz station and exited into a fabulous area of the Vienna where there were fantastic churches and narrow streets lined with wonderful buildings along a grand plaza with religious statues in the middle of a wide bricked walkway bordered by commercial stores and shops. There were horse drawn carriages carrying tourist couples and families. Quite a scene.
We walked to the end of the plaza, made a left turn and walked up the block toward this large and impressive building which blocked the way. When we got to the end of that block we could see another plaza in front of that building which was actually a gateway called the Virginís Gate. To the right of that building is a wonderful, large 150 year old coffeehouse, perhaps the oldest one in Europe. We all went in for coffee, tea, hot chocolate and pastries.
After that we came out and passed through the Virginís Gate building to come to and pass over a series of grand plazas and parks and malls bordered with some of the most magnificent and grandest old building I have ever seen. Breathtaking architecture and historic buildings, most with statues at the corners and edges of the rooftops. One of these buildings was the Parliament building from whose balcony Hitler gave an important speech in the 1930ís.
In the park across from the Parliament building where Hitler once spoke, Lalomie and Soul Society gave a concert a couple of months ago. Lalomie spoke about being proud of the irony of being able to come and perform there where Hitler would not have liked to even acknowledge our presence or our worth. We continued our walk on to another commercial shopping street. I was so thoroughly impressed with such a stock of grand old buildings. Vienna is a Grande Dame of a city. This is the city of Mozart and great music and arts. The coffeehouse we visited was one that Schoenberg, the twelve tone composer, sipped his coffee and debated musical theory.
Earlier in the day on the bus ride across Vienna, Vicki told stories and anecdotes from experiences she and Bobby Byrd had had touring with James Brown, Maceo, Bootsey and those guys back in the days. Most of the stories were funny as all get up and everybody on the bus were laughing and/or listening in awe of the history and inside info we were privy to and getting a glimpse of.
Stories about James Brown getting into fights at gigs, usually over messing with some guyís woman, and his henchmen and bodyguards taking care of business protecting him and all of the members of his group. Many stories about performing in Africa, playing in stadiums for presidents and leaders. Crowds being beaten back. She told us about a time in Nigeria, a man brought a blind man past the barricades to the back of the stage, saying that the blind man wanted to see James Brown. An army soldier guarding the stage said "How can a blind man see James Brown," and then the soldier proceeded to beat the blind man and the man who brought him up there. Vicki said the soldier was beating the blind man unmercifully until she came out of the back stage area and glared at the soldier until he stopped the beating.
Then there was another time also in Africa (Nigeria) and Bootsy was there with them. At the gig someone had given Bootsy some joints of marijuana, enough for the whole group but Bootsey was going to keep them all for himself. After the gig, Vicki, Bobby and Bootsy were in a car together being driven back to their hotel, but it was after curfew. The car was stopped by soldiers at a check point and Bootsy hid the joints in his boot. The driver got into a loud argument with the soldiers and they ordered the driver out of the car. After more heated words, one of the soldiers yelled at the driver, "Letís have a look in the boot! Open the boot!" Bootsy almost had a shit fit because he thought for sure he was about to be busted. But they were referring to the trunk of the car as the "boot."
Vicki talked about going to Nigeria and arriving in Lagos, its capitol, just after the Biafra War and hearing the "pow pow pow of gunfire outside their hotel grounds and being told that it was the firing squads executing leaders of the opposition. They had to perform the next day. She also talked about James Brown going to Boston to help quell the riots after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
These stories helped to remind me that music and performing can have meaningful social and political impact. And that this career path is worthy of my God-given talents and abilities. Earlier on this trip, at the beginning of tour, I wondered if I shouldnít be doing something "more" with my life, with my intelligence; something other than music as my lifeís work. Maybe work in politics or environmental business or with an educational company, do some religious work; do something more suitable for a mature man?
These stories about past tours reminded me of what Iíve known for the past 25 years: that being a performing musician does give me the opportunity to affect peopleís lives, to affect politics, and address current events and historical issues and future effecting issues. James Brown quells a riot or visits Nigeria at the end of its civil war. Ghanaian Master Drummer Okyerema Asante goes to the Northern region of Ghana to ease tribal tensions at behest of the government. We go to schools to teach multi-culturalism, tolerance and history. These things do have great value; are socially meaningful and no one could do them better than respected performing musicians.
5:30 PM Friday, 24 October - In the hotel room. Yesterday and today have been low-key days off. After mid to late morning breakfasts, I showered, lounged about, then went to walk in downtown Vienna. I walked the length of the commercial shopping street in the central downtown area with Sandra and Claus. At the end of the walk we sat in a cafť and I talked on and on philosophically and passionately about my optimism for the future: computers, the internet, the youth and the next generation working together to solve environmental problems and create new paradigms, vistas and destinies. Good and right stomping out the illusions of evil and all things negative.
I told Sandra I needed to hear myself talk in order to figure out what I was thinking and to sort out whether my reasoning was sound. I am becoming a bit of a futurist, with definite ambiguous visions of positive predictions for worldwide society and a global culture. 11:00 AM Saturday, 25 October - On the bus, headed out of Vienna. Yesterday, I went back downtown with Tim. We walked a bit of the commercial street and I went into some spectacular churches with magnificent painted domes, paintings, sculptures and designs. We went back to the 150 year old coffeehouse for an hour. Then Tim went back to the hotel and I roamed around downtown some more - sightseeing and imagining coming back to Vienna someday with Cookie and other loved ones. I took the tube and the tram back to the hotel by myself and on my own. I was really getting to know that part of Vienna.
The gig last night was the best one yet. The venue was the old Baumgarten Casino with a large main room with a proscenium stage, high ceiling with ornate moldings, hard wood floor and adequate sound and lighting. The place was packed with young people ready to party. The band was kicking even though Martin, the bass player, Vicki and Bart all had flu symptoms. We went on stage around 1:00 AM and we were hot! After the gig I found out that the organization sponsoring the event was the Young Peoplesí Socialist Party.
Earlier yesterday Lalomie had heard that her latest single was doing well in London and that her video was being shown on MTV and "The Box" there. So she was "up" and she was "on" for the gig!
8:45 PM Sunday Night, 26 October. The World Series game on television. I had a great Sunday! A cozy, modern hotel room in the countryside with a vast green pasture with cows right outside my first floor picture window. I did a full hour of yoga and meditation, breakfast and then a day of cable TV channel surfing with my rented remote control unit and resting in bed.
Yesterday we rode from Vienna to Ubersee, Germany, four hours on the autobahn through beautiful, hilly and mountainous farmland, A beautiful, scenic ride.
The Roots Club is a tight little venue in the Bavarian countryside. It had a large enough stage, wooden interior, a balcony around the room, great lighting, special effects and adequate sound system. The crowd last night was a sell out and exuberant. Our show was tighter rhythmically and even though there were some outright mistakes, this was a really good show. The audience was hyped and danced the whole 2 Ĺ hours and they really had a good time. After the set the club owners came to the dressing room and broke out bottles of Champagne and all kinds of refreshments.
The last two gigs have been an interesting contrast. The Casino Baumgarten in Vienna is a club but it is more like an small concert hall in the city. The Roots Club was a small club in the country. The Vienna date was sponsored by the Socialist Party of Austria and the Roots club is in the most right-wing part of Germany.
I am spending more mental energy concerned about my bookings for December and even January, so I wonít be totally broke when I get back home. Even though I havenít been as active in promotion and prospecting for new contacts here in Europe as I had hoped to be, this tour has been a real eye opener with regards to my own status here in this part of the world; and in terms of giving me new perspectives on my show and producing music, both live shows and in the recording studio. I can see doing shows with my crew featuring my own band, plus Danja Mowf, the Jazz Poet Society, and others; producing shows with bigger, more elaborate production values. Just because youíre you.
8:00 AM Monday morning, 27 October I woke up and looked out the window of my first floor hotel room to see that on the horizon, out beyond the flat pasture, stood some majestic mountains which had not been visible yesterday because of clouds and fog. The mountains were always there but the mist and rains had created a veil, through which the beauty of the great mountains could not be seen.
If I had known beforehand that the mountains were there I could have and would have appreciated their presence even while they were shrouded in gray. I could be moved by their majesty even when it was hidden from my eyes by the weather and mood of a particular day. Knowing the mountains are there would create an indelible impression in my mind, which would in fact color the view of the horizon in subtle shades of grays. Knowing your goal and dreams are out there, even when the clouds or fogs or mists obstruct your view will allow you to keep on moving toward them and seeing them and being inspired by them even in the bleakest weather - which, by the way, is never permanent.
By the time I wrote this, clouds had rolled in, once again covering the mountains, hiding them from the view from my window. But by then I had already had the vision. A little while later a light rain turned into snow just to prove that what we might perceive as gloom can produce seasonal beauty.
7:45 PM Monday evening, 27 October. Hotel room in Munich. We rode the tour bus the short, one hour distance to Munich. The bus needed some repairs. We were given the afternoon off for free time and were to meet back at the circus grounds-railway yard where the bus was parked last week when we spent the night here in Munich. I opted to stay at the hotel sharing a single room with Bart. But this single is truly a tiny single, so I donít know if this was the best of ideas.
11:30 AM Tuesday, 28 October - On the bus. Well, I made it through the night. After watching the taped delay showing of Game Seven of the World Series, I slept on the hotel room floor on cushions from the chairs. I slept fitfully. Bart gave me the comforter from his bed and he slept in his clothes. I donít want to impose on him like that again.
I am concerned about my accommodations. And it is really getting on my nerves to be in this in between status. Bobby, Vicki, Lalomie and Bart always have hotel rooms. The Soul Society band members always sleep on the bus and they agreed to that at the start of the tour. But I am supposed to have accommodations and I have decide to demand my rightful rooms.
I got up and had the complimentary continental breakfast. I am getting accustomed to that breakfast menu. Then the bus arrived to take us out of Munich and on the road to the next gig site: the Conrad Sohm Club in Dornbirn, Austria. Itís a sunny, brisk day for the traveling. Clear and cold on the road.
On the bus ride Vicki told more stories of being on the rode with her past musical employer: having to call him Mr. ______; having to be dressed up even on the tour bus, with the men wearing shirts and ties; and stories of him being quite a hard task master who tolerated no insubordination and no mistakes on stage. Vicki expressed her sentiments about her ex-employer in no uncertain terms: she didnít like him, thought he was evil and she had some fear of his powers. She even said that she thought that he had sold his soul to the devil or otherwise crossed over to the dark side, mentioning rituals involving boiling chicken bones in the back woods in the deep South and an African shaman who traveled with the entourage.
Vicki also talked about this same famous black musician as having to have a woman every night. Every night! And told us about one night when she was the only woman around after a show and she was invited to his room. They found themselves alone and he fixed her a drink. Vicki didnít drink ordinarily but her boss man insisted that she have a drink with him. Well, she took one sip of what he offered her and immediately became violently ill. She said that she rushed straight into the bathroom and was throwing up what felt like her whole insides. The whole time he was saying "Donít be such a baby. Here Take another drink, itíll help settle your stomach."
She left and went to her room and as soon as she got to room and lay on her bed, she was immediately well and at peace. She was sure that he had spiked her drink with something and she was equally sure that it was Godís answering her prayers that got her out of his room safely.
Another time she told us about was when they were on this entertainerís plane, flying through a violent storm en route to Cincinnati. She said that they had not realized that the weather was as bad as it turned out to be and actually they should not have even taken off on the trip. In this turbulent storm the bandleader called out to the pilot and asked how was the weather in Cincinnati and after a few moments the pilot spoke over the intercom saying that it was a rainstorm there as well.
At this point the fearless leader looked out the window pointed his finger to the heavens and proclaimed "I donít want a drop a rain to fall on me and my new suit when I get to Cincinnati!"
Well, Vicki said she was appalled at this remark obviously directed to God and she wished that God would retaliate for being spoken to with such irreverence. She prayed that God would do something to the man but not while they were in the air in that plane. In fact, she moved as far away from the man as she could.
When they landed in Cincinnati, the storm had slackened a great deal and when the door to the plane was opened the star musician stood in the doorway and looked out into the last drizzle of the storm. Vicki said that she was cowering at the window looking out to see if he would be struck by lightening. She said that she was praying that when he walked out onto the runway that a big whoosh of rain would just come down and drench him in that precious sharkskin suit. But when he stepped off the plane, he walked out onto the tarmac, stretched out his arms and looked up at the sky and smiled triumphantly as not a drop of rain fell on him.
12 noon Wednesday, 29 October - Martinspark Hotel lobby. This is definitely the nicest hotel of this tour and one of the nicest hotels and best designed hotels Iíve ever stayed in. A rounded two story lobby and lounge areas; spacious, Euro-chic rooms; sauna solarium; fine restaurant, etc. We had a gourmet dinner here last night before the gig and it was fabulous!
The Club, the Conrad Sohm, was set back off the road in a wooded, mountainous area beside a babbling creek on the outskirts of Dornbirn. It is not exceptionally large, but the venue has a great P.A. system with 32 track boards out front and for the monitor mix, super theater lighting and a full recording studio upstairs. The staff and management were very friendly and cordial and did everything in a first class way. The club has a continuous strong line-up of acts coming through. This week: Tuesday, Bobby Byrd; Thursday, Al DiMeola; Saturday, Billy Cobham, etc.
The Conrad Sohm Club owners went all out for us. Light but full catering during the set up and sound check, then the gourmet dinner at the hotel. They pulled out Remy Martin and tequila, beer and wine before the gig; and after the hit, they bought out Italian champagne, more Remy Martin and all the beer we could drink and carry.
Big time producer, Peter Wolfe was in the house for the gig and he hung out in the dressing room, mainly talking to Lalomie. Apparently, they knew each other and did some gigs together way back when. Later some Austrian fans came in and rolled up a bunch of spliffs and the dressing room looked and smelled like a pad in Haight-Ashbury in 1970.
Because we played there on a Tuesday night, the crowd was light and definitely the smallest weíve had on this tour. But we gave the full show, which continues to get tighter and tighter. The tape from the board mix was clean and sounded great.
This morning I got up and took a full sauna. Last night I talked to Cookie on the phone for over a Ĺ hour, getting stuff off my computer at home. Iím gonna have a monstrous phone bill when I get home, but I have to contact people about gigs and on-going business.
4:45 PM - on the bus. Great views as we go on the highway to and through the Alps. And just like on my train ride through the Alps two years ago, the views of the mountains just keep getting more and more beautiful, moment by moment. Snow on the tops, evergreens at the foots and along the sides of the roadway, and the sunset reflecting off the background facets, all add to special and spectacular effects.
12 noon Thursday, 30 October - in the hotel sauna room. This hotel is just as nice as the one we had in Dornbirn, but this one is smaller and designed with more of a mountain lodge theme. Indeed, I woke up and looked outside to see that we are surrounded by mountains at close range.
Vicki needs a laxative so I volunteered to go to the store. But the nearby stores had none. So I walked to find a drug store. I hiked off for about 2 Ĺ miles only to find myself back at the hotel, having made a complete circle of the town. A very refreshing morning hike with picture postcard views of Austrian houses and mountains.
I slept well last night and for about 9 Ĺ hours. I was relaxed and tired after having had a sauna yesterday and a toke of Bartís spliff after dinner last night. I am well rested for the gig tonight.
My favorite color is you. /////// Take care of you for me.
Friday12 noon, 31 October - On the magic bus riding through the Alps. Mountain peaks, valley creeks, walls of shear clouds, little houses, train tracks and trestles and too many postcard scenes to describe. The design of the bridges and tunnels were impressive and each time we came out of a tunnel, a new vista with light and shadow, clouds and sun, peaks and valleys and mountainsí majesty. Austria is truly an amazing country for sightseeing.
Sometimes Iíll take something that youíve said and stash it away wrapped in velvet folds of memory to be taken out and savored at time like right now. I do the same thing with certain prayer and meditations: tuck them away for safe keeping. Then I retrieve them from deep in the catacombs or from just below the surface of my any old ordinary moment and use them to make a special time of thinking of you. Sometimes I donít even have to remember what you said, I can just think about how you made me feel in a brief phone call over great distances. And that eases my missing you - like right now.
2:15 PM Friday, 31 October - same day. Same ride. We stopped in the mountains for a scenic break. Then we came down and crossed the border into Switzerland.
12:30 PM Saturday, 1 November. Breakfast in the Salzhous Club in Winterthur, Switzerland. This club is a nicely designed venue built in what was once a salt factory and warehouse. It is the largest venue we have played on this tour so far. The club celebrated its one year anniversary last night with free admission to a large party featuring our Soulciety show. We had over 1,000 people in the place and had a good show, good response and good vibes.
The club owners went all out to see that we had everything the we needed to be comfortable and content. The afternoon catering was first rate deli and abundant: rolls, deli trays, juices, Evian water, cases of beer, gin vodka, coffee, tea - everything over flowing. We had dinner after the sound check at an Italian restaurant. (I had vegetarian ravioli.)
They served us champagne before we went onstage at 11:00 PM. After the hit, Italian champagne flowed like water, as did the Holland beer, brandy and Turkish hashish. A good time was had by all.
At the end of the night, I went to the hotel where Bobby, Vicki, Bart and Lalomie were staying. While Bobby and Vicki volunteered to move into Bartís room so that he and I could have their double room, I decided to sleep on the bus rather than displacing them. I listened to the cassette of the gig on the bus and went to my bunk around 4:00 AM. I slept quite well until 11:30 AM.
I am so impressed and thankful for the "niceness" and good-nature of everybody traveling on this tour. Theyíre all genuinely friendly, caring, artistic and spiritual and humor loving people.
12:30 PM Saturday, 1 November - Continued. Yesterday I had a bit of stress over Martin, the bass player and musical director, wanting us to have a horn rehearsal before sound check, in order to tighten up horn parts and to go over a new song. I was miffed because I didnít want to learn a new song and I didnít want to do any extra rehearsals; but after all is said and done, the rehearsal worked to make my parts noticeably tighter. So be it.
There is also some little stress with Lalomie and Vicki and their relationship with the band and show; this according to the band members. But I havenít really noticed it as being any big thing at all.
I do notice that it is disconcerting for me when the other Black Americans go off to hotels and I stay with the band for sound check or for meals and 90% of the conversation is in German. I am left out of the chit chat and must introvert my personality. I am sometime lonely in the group. Also, they all smoke and I donít. But this combination has had its benefits: I am getting more physically tolerant of smoke and I am getting even more time for contemplative reflection. I can also spend the time writing in this journal. I have even started two or 3 song lyrics. So everything has its good side. Itís all working for the up side.
Then, took a break from writing in this journal and I just finished doing some yoga stretches out on the clubís dance floor with the house deejay proving the music and light show. Cool.
3:30 PM On the bus ride to Munich. As we ride though the countryside I notice several people walking the roads between the farms: mothers pushing strollers, joggers and bike riders. It is a clear day in Switzerland, perfect for walking, strolling, jogging or bus riding passing through.
"How do they do it, so good like they do? They got it down like that!"
Plot for a novel: traveling on a tour bus with people who are developed souls with heavy past lives, each having mastered some aspect of self and spiritual development, to be revealed and sharedÖ
Boy! We just listened to a dynamite tape of last nightís show. It was bad! That band was rocking!! Whoa! The whole show was good and the last set with Bobby Byrd was classic!!! This Soulciety show has real commercial potential. Bobby Byrd bringing his original R&B soul thing; Lalomie with her new soul music and her new-found audience for her songs; and, the Soul Society band bringing their youthful exuberance and their European image to the stage, makes a super package. The show itself really moves; it has dynamics and it builds to a climax - all things you need for a theater type show. This could be like "Beehive" or with just a little plot and dialogue, it could be developed into a full scale musical.
2:00 AM Saturday night/Sunday morning. We pulled into Munich around 7:00 PM and checked into the Hotel Senator. I had the double room rented for the band. I was hoping to stay in it alone but at the last minute Stefan, the drummer came in to stay here. Boy, was I pissed off and bummed out. Not only did I want some privacy, Stefan was not my favorite member of the crew. He is both too weird and too much like me. He went out to dinner and I stayed in until he came back. We decided to go out to a jazz club to hear a jazz quintet. We took the subway and walked 10 blocks in the brisk autumn night air. It was quite refreshing and invigorating.
We got to the club and I enjoyed the group and the music immensely. It was avant-garde jazz - free and swinging. The musicians were quite good - European, arty and humorous. I was totally glad that Stefan had urged me to come. He and I had good conversations, mostly about the tour and the music we are making. I enjoyed his company, which is surprising because at one time I thought he might be gay and several times on this tour he has plucked my nerves with his detailed and meticulous sound checks, his wandering off alone and being away somewhere when the bus is ready to leave and his aloof detachment. But I know heís just different from me; and a lot like me too. He is new to the group so he is kind of an outsider. Heís a really good drummer.
This is a good demonstration of the fact that I shouldnít be prejudiced against anyone. Everyone with whom I come in contact potentially has information, inspiration or something positive to share with me. Iím sleepy, watching the Navy vs. Notre Dame football game.
12 noon Sunday, 2 November at Church. I have come to a very large church for Sunday Mass. I have walked 2 miles to and through Old Munich. The bells of the church drew me in for rest for my weary bones and sore feet. The church has a ceiling at least 60 feet high and voices and sounds echo like Gregorian chants with massive reverberation added. Catholic Mass in German - strange - and even stranger with echo effects.
I walked through the much of the major tourist section of Munich, through the main train station and through hundreds of people and I only saw one other Black person. Throughout this whole part of Europe (Germany, Switzerland and Austria) I see very few Black people; as few as there are whites in much of Africa. The global village is a virtual reality in cyber-space and in the minds of future thinkers.
Coincidence: When I walked through the main train station and exited out the main doors, I ran into Jens, who had taken the subway from the circus grounds where the tour bus was parked. He was headed to the hotel where I stayed to take a shower before going to the recording studio with Bobby Byrd. It was lucky that he ran into me so that I could give him the room key.
On my walk back to the hotel I saw at least 15 other Black folks. But in my previous two times in Munich I had already come to the conclusion that there are more Blacks here than in most of the other places in Europe.
Happy halleluiya, up in here!
I leave my watch set for the time zone where you are. I only check it to imaging what youíre doing - like right now.
3:15 AM Monday night 3 - 4 November. On the bus for the night. The gigs tonight and last night were interesting in that they were in larger venues and contrasting promotions. Last night (Sunday) we played the Strom 2000 Club in Munich which holds about 500-600 people. However the club owner-promoter had several problems publicizing the gig so we only got about 120 people. The sound and lights were good and the audience was fairly enthusiastic. After the gig, the bus was parked outside the hotel, instead of going back out to the dreary circus grounds rail yard where it usually stays in Munich. This was a lot better for the band people. Stefan and I slept in the bandís hotel room.
The gig tonight (Monday) was in Zurich, Switzerland at the XTRA Limmathaus Club, which is a brand new venue that can accommodate up to 3,500 people. It just opened three days ago and tonightís show was only the 2nd event to be held there. It is a fantastic facility with brand new equipment, fixtures, decorations, backstage rooms, appliances, etc. It is designed like a theater, with a proscenium stage; but the audience stands, just like at all the other venues we have played.
The XTRA Limmathaus Club had a great light show that reminded me of the Fillmore West in San Francisco circa 1970 and state of the art sound equipment for the front house and monitor mixes. For the main system they had 32 track board, delays, noise gates, compressors, Eventide 3000 Harmonizer, and DAT and cassette decks.
Last night I did not have a good gig. I made lots of mistakes and really didnít get into it at all until the Bobby Byrd part of the show. But tonight, even though I had headache right up until showtime, I had a really good gig, right from the first song through the end of the show. I played well and I danced and added lots to the proceedings.
Early this morning I got up and had breakfast at the hotel, even though I had just eaten late last night after the show. After breakfast I went out to get a newspaper at the main train station. Before I left the hotel Lalomie asked me to pick her up some cigarettes and Bart said to let him know if I ran into an Afro shop. I knew that finding a black beauty supply shop was a long shot to say the least, but oddly enough, I did find a black beauty supply place in a really out of the way spot in a little office building mall. I walked back to the hotel, got Bart and took him there.
On the ride from Munich to here (Zurich) we had a minor border incident at the Swiss border. I was asleep upstairs in my bunk when I was awakened and told that we all had to show our passports. So I got up, came downstairs an took my customary seat at the rear of the bus. There was a customs policeman on the front of the bus checking passports. Stefan decides to push the button, opening the back door and then he gets off the bus, just to stroll around and smoke a cigarette. The policeman got excited, put his hand on his gun and wanted to know what was going on. For a brief moment there was tension and a bit of confusion. The customs police does check each and every passport but eventually lets us go on. I got so mad at Stefan for doing such a stupid thing, that when it was all over and we were again rolling on down the road, I gave him a piece of my mind, and then I just went back to up to my bunk to sleep.
Anyway, the concert hall, XTRA was super slick. It was attached to a newly renovated hotel so that you could go from the backstage dressing room area, through a door and right up a flight of stairs to your hotel room. I let Martin and Tim sleep in the bandís room and I slept on the bus. But the building was quite a complex: a 150 seat large restaurant/cafť and the venue had a couple of smaller club rooms as well. Quite an impressive facility. New, modern, state of the art, top of the line!
12:30 PM Wednesday afternoon on the bus. Last nightís venue was a smaller club in Konstenze, Germany. The club was built like the place was a rectangular pit. We were concerned about the audience weíd get out in the countryside on a Tuesday night. Sandra guessed weíd get two people, I said I hoped for 50. We got almost 100 college age people who danced from the first note on until the end of the Bobby Byrd encore.
Our show is funkier and tighter than all get up. Itís gotten to the point that the music will be funky, no matter what. Some of the musicians/performers might have better or lesser night, but overall the show is going to be funky and tight as a piccolo snare drum. The show has a lot that can be improved upon, but itís quite a package. Itís more like a review than a concert and it moves enough and is continuously grooving enough to play in a dance club.
I continue to learn and gain lots of insights; and, I also have points of concerns. This is a magical mystery tour of dues paying, learning and fun for all of us involved.
More German countryside. This southern region of Germany is like the bread basket of the country. Beautiful farmland and massive acreage of orchards and vineyards. Weíre listening to Lalomieís demo tape of songs she has worked on with Claus for her next CD while we are traveling on the bus to the next gig town where weíll play tonight. The tape was made from an eight track demo, but the songs are awesome. Itís going to be a great album and it should come out at the perfect time to follow up her current Soulciety release which is just breaking out now. Her current album is getting good reviews, dance club response and MTV play of her video. But these new songs are the Bomb! She will be ageless and timeless and a star when this new stuff comes out.
New views and vistas sail past the newly cleaned windows of the bus. I can see clearer now. Things and issues are becoming more and more completely or better understood with each passing moment. It is more of a process of unfolding. An issue will arise; then deeper levels of perception and understanding will be experienced. Lessons are revealed as moments pass and days come and go.
The ebbs and flows of vibrations with and between the people on this tour are interesting and instructive. But assessing my own thinking and feelings is to be aware of my own development.
Issues: ∑ Better accommodations: bus vs. hotel rooms and my attitudes about my treatment. ∑ My relationships to this group and to the individuals and parts of this touring package. ∑ Music, the music, and music theories. ∑ German culture and attitudes: forge straight ahead in a precise, well-planned campaign vs. going along with or even considering oneís feelings; mentality vs. the spirit. ∑ the physicality of the touring: muscles, shoulder, back, lip lungs, and conditioning. ∑ Smoke and smoking. ∑ Never underestimate good and smart people - theyíre everywhere that I am. People are always deep and deeper still. ∑ Being a Musician: what it is, what it means.
All the places I go and all the things I get to do and see are just marks in the time until I see you again
Today we took the bus on a ferry boat across a lake - a 20 minute ride on a bus on a boat. The weather continues to be good: today it is sunny and in the upper 50ís, at least. On the highway we did run into a minor traffic jam - our first one - on a two lane highway in the countryside.
Today our ride should take about five hours to Regensberg. Then after tonightís gig we will travel overnight nine hours back to Hamburg, where the tour started, for a day off. We will then have eight more shows to do.
2:45 PM we ride and ride and still the German lands are beautiful. Itís nap time in my bunk. And I am finding more comfort there. It sleeps well. Much better than I thought it would when I was first introduced to it.
A McDonaldís at a rest stop on the highway. These have become a regular Godsend. McDonaldís chicken wings are the closest thing to eating at home that I get. Though yesterdayís dinner was for me a casserole of pasta, tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, topped with two kinds of melted cheeses. The bomb! McDonaldís is like home. Funny, I donít even eat at McDonaldís at home, but here in Europe, Mickey Dís is like home.
Food and eating on this tout is no problem: every venue has afternoon deli tray catering and dinner before we go on or, if we prefer, after the gig, around 1:00 AM in the morning. There is continental breakfast every morning, so I get plenty to eat, I think I am gaining weight, big time. No playing tennis and no calisthenics on the whole tour may be taking itís toll on my fitness.
I have this idea for postcards with pre-written verses or poems or messages - like greeting cards: Missing you, business trips, on tour, wish you were here themes. I think itís a winner of an idea.
2:45 AM Wednesday Night - back on the bus, traveling nine hours overnight to Hamburg. The mood on the bus is super lively. Everyone has been drinking and smoking and there is an after-gig euphoria. But the elation is more than that: all of the German people in the tour group and even Sandra and Lalomie, are headed "home" tonight. And we have tomorrow off. So everyone is super "up" waiting to get sleepy enough to go upstairs to our bunks. Then we all hope we can sleep straight through to Hamburg.
11:00 PM Thursday night, 6 November. Hotel room. We made it to Hamburg. I slept on the bus until about 11 AM this morning and we got to Hamburg about 30 minutes later. We went directly to the Soulciety Records office and spoke to Goetz. Their office space was large, open, neat and sparsely furnished. Very efficient, modern, computer outfitted and proper. The place was big enough to be a night club.
After that all the band people went to their respective homes and Bobby, Vicki, Bart and I checked in the same hotel we were in when we were here before. Very comfortable, clean, spacious, slick, purple and TV movies on pay TV. I got some take out food to eat from the same Turkish restaurant as before and chilled out in my room all evening.
3:00 PM Friday, 7 November. On the bus in Hamburg. Today Bobby, Vicki, Bart and I checked out of the hotel and went to the Soulciety office, where we made calls, sent faxes, e-mail, took pictures, etc. until everyone gathered for the departure on the last leg of the tour. On the bus ride we watched a video tape of a tribute and telethon for Bobby Byrd that was shown of VH-1 in Europe last year. It was cool, with Fred Wesley, PeeWee Ellis, Eddie Bo, Rad, and other Soulciety groups performing. All the performances were really good, but the highlight of the show was the singing of Bobby and Vickiís daughter, Colleen Anderson, who was in great voice and very emotionally inspiring. Bobby, Vicki and Bart had never seen the show before so they were quite moved by the tributes and the music done for Bobby.
7:00 AM Saturday, 8 November, On a plane at Hamburg airport, loading and readying for take off - to London to make a connection for the U.S.
My father died of a heart attack yesterday. It was just that sudden. Iím on the way home.
Yesterday our bus ride ended at the gig site, The Pumpe Club in Kiel, Germany around 5:00 or 6:00 PM. We unloaded, set up and started the two hour sound check procedure. We were all hungry se we went up to the dressing room to check out the catering. I made a call to check my messages on my voice mail back home and had a message from my brother saying that my father had had a heart attack and that he was in the hospital. When I called my motherís house, my brother answered the phone and he let my mother tell me that my father had passed.
I was surprised but not shocked, even though my father was an active 73 year old. He had gone to church two days ago and bingo last night, so he was not ill nor an invalid. He drove himself to the hospital for stress tests (tread mill, stairs, etc.) and had had a heart attack. My mother was called and she went to be with him and he died peacefully soon after she got there to talk to him and pray with him.
12:30 PM London time, Saturday afternoon. On the plane readying to leave for DC. Last night when I found out that Daddy had died, I decided I would do the gig and then leave on the next makeable flight. We were in Kiel which is only two hours from Hamburg. I found out that we were to leave right after the gig, traveling along a route that would take us back past Hamburg. I would take a plane out from there.
Ideally, I would have liked to have not had the people on the tour know about my personal grief. I would not have told anyone but Jorn, the tour director and the bus driver, so that after the gig, there would not have to be this pall over everyone. They could go to sleep on the bus and I could be dropped off at the airport and they all could be told tomorrow in my absence.
But of course, it didnít work out that way. When I took Jorn out into the hallway outside the dressing room to tell him what had happened and that I would be leaving the tour, Lalomie came out to speak to him, and she overheard what I was saying to Jorn about my father. So Jorn and Lalomie knew before the gig. I told Jorn that I didnít want the group to know before the show and be saddened on the stage. But Jens knew and Vicki knew and probably one or two others knew as well.
But the show did go on and it went quite well, indeed. We got a large Friday night crowd that danced and was very appreciative. I played well, probably because I was a little distracted. I was active onstage, though I did take a couple of breaks during the show, leaving the stage, once to tell Jorn to call Gotz in Hamburg on his cell phone to let him know what had happened.
Actually, I was deeply saddened to have to leave the tour before it was over and before the big gig in Hamburg on next Friday, when Gotz and his partner, Emu, would get to see the show, and it would be taped for television. The show was seriously strong and tight now and, without a doubt, I was a serious component of it. I would be missed.
After the show, there was the pall I hadnít wanted hanging over the whole cast. One by one everyone came to share their condolences and I assured everyone that I was and would be fine. I talked to my mother on the phone and she was her usual angelic, super positive self. And Cookie assured me that my mother was bubbly, full of energy and peace and was consoling everyone else. But Mama definitely wanted me back home, saying everything, including the funeral, would have to wait until I could get home.
So I was going home on the first thing smoking, which was a 7:00 AM flight Hamburg to London with a 12:25 PM connection London to Washington, DC arriving at Dulles Airport at 4:00PM EST. It would be expensive ( an additional $500). But my mother seemed pleased and impressed that I could be home by the next evening.
The Soul Society show people were deeply affected as they realized the gravity of the situation for me and how my leaving would be changing the dynamics of the show itself and the touring ensemble. I really regretted what my leaving would be doing to the show and the group. We had been so bonded together; so much like family. And I didnít like that it was I who was putting the group through these changes.
Lalomie gave me one of her big hugs and asked if I needed anything, including money. Bobby and Vicki slipped me $100. Sandra seemed to be already sure she would really miss me. I told her that I expected that I would be missed because, as is my usual practice in any ongoing relationship, I had made myself indispensable.
In this group, I had filled every gap and every role that I saw that I could fill without being too pushy or egotistical. I had been a listener, confidante, expert, humorist, talker, journal keeper, bridge builder, over viewer and articulator for the ensemble cast that we had become. I have no doubt that I will be missed, I just didnít want to put my new friends through those changes.
Martin, the bassist, said out loud what several of them were thinking when he asked if I really had to go? Bobby voiced it in another way when he said he couldnít imagine doing the show without me. He and I really did relate well onstage. He looked to me for support aside from his mainstays, Vicki and Bart. Bobby said that should do what I had to do at home, but if there was any way I could get back for the Hamburg showÖ
The round trip ticket Hamburg-London-Hamburg was actually cheaper than the one way business class ticket which was all that was available on the flight I was taking; so, of course, I bought the round trip ticket. So if the money for the airfare for DC-London-DC could be found, I was definitely willing to come back to Germany for next weekendís gigs. So who knows?
Iím starting on my second wine spritzer on this plane and with no sleep last night, so who knows, indeedÖ
What goals did you have? None more humble or majestic than those you achieved: self sufficiency providence self control a slow ever so slow learning to exhale learning to let go and let God.
The youngest son becomes the eldest son teaching his sons discipline is doing what you should even when you donít feel like it even when itís imposed by the strength of anotherís will discipline can be taught by living examples.
Sometimes lessons arenít complete canít be completely understood until weíve moved on to the next level the impact of a life canít be completely perceived until that life is completed yours is done now and we love you for it
3:00 PM EST - Still on the plane. One hour from landing in DC. Iíve eaten twice, watched two movies and mow Iím listening to a tape of Soul Society live at the XTRA in Zurich and thinking that the band is getting ready to play tonight back in Germany.
I started this story a month ago and along the way I wondered how it might end, never imagining anything like this for the finale. This month was so much of a learning experience, so much more so than I could ever write down. I met a lot of good musicians and bonded with a crew in Germany: Tim, Sven, Bobby, Vicki, Lalomie and the rest.
6:00 PM Thursday, 13 November - On a plane at Dulles Airport, British Airways Flight #216 to London.
This is not an epilogue. The story continues.
I am on my way back to Hamburg, Germany! Just to play this Friday and Saturday nightsí gigs with the Soulciety All Star show in Hamburg and beyond. This is one wild development in a week to remember. I am going back to Germany because the other musicians on the tour put up money to pay for my ticket to take this flight to rejoin them for the last shows, particularly the one tomorrow night in Hamburg being taped for TV. So I guess that means that they liked me or that they thought that I added something to the show; or both.
I was just at this same airport, Washington, DCís Dulles International, last Saturday. I landed here at 4:00PM and came through customs and pushed my luggage cart up the ramp to the departures entrance and my daughter Kailaís boyfriend, AD beeped his horn, right there right on time to pick me up and whisk me away to Richmond.
I was at my momís house at 6:11 PM, just a little more than 24 hours after getting the news of my fatherís death. I had had little or no sleep, so after a brief visit with my mother and brother, I want home to Cookie and my bed. And what a great bed it was at that!
I spent most of the hours of Sunday and Monday at my motherís house. She needed no consoling. She was perpetually "up", smiling and constantly talking to the horde of endless visitors and callers. My mother is spiritually enlightened, religiously well grounded and puts the most positive spin on anything that happens and on anyone she encounters. I expected her to react to my fatherís sudden death, or not to react to it, in just the way that she did. Others were more shocked and dismayed than she and our family. We were all fine and remained fine all through the mourning period and the funeral services.
We made the arrangements for the funeral to be held Tuesday at noon, after one hour of visitation beginning at 11:00 AM. The funeral services went as smooth as clockwork and as error free as my father would have wanted. I played my soprano sax with all the musical selections during the funeral. With so many relatives and church members there, it was like a regular Sunday service. Just before the eulogy, my brother, Muzi, read his remembrances and it was just a perfect piece of literature for the moment. I played an emotionally charged rendition of "Amazing Grace" and the pastorís eulogy was brief, just as my mother had requested. We went to the burial grounds for the interment and then back to the church for the repast.
I learned so much in these few days: that my father lived a life of sacrifice and saving, leaving my mother and family with an organized, comfortable estate; that he was well liked by relatives and friends; that he took care of my mother and they were compatible and complementary; that life is fragile and appearances do not indicate in what order people will die; that the life we live prepares us for what today and tomorrow brings; and that I am loved and respected by many old and new friends.
My father left my mother a few thousand dollars cash stashed in the house, several thousand in their checking account, several more in their savings account, a sizable amount in a retirement savings account in addition to their $125,000+ house. He had amassed all of this from scratch by working hard, scrimping, saving, sacrificing and by the shear strength of his will to do so. His life was a testament to setting goals, discipline, and fiscal conservatism.
Even though his death was sudden, two weeks before I left to go on tour in Europe, my father had come to me with all the information about his banking and retirement accounts, safe deposit box, cash in the house, etc. all written down. He said that he wanted me to type all that information into my computer so that I would have it when the time came. He also left instructions about what to do upon his death. I had then written out a last will and testament which he signed. Prior to that, my father had always resisted having a will or discussing anything to do with his estate planning, so he obviously felt that the time was appropriate for getting his affairs in order. * * * *
Before the beginning of this touring trip, I had been working on producing my next recording for release. One of my biggest concerns has been securing a record deal for this set of recordings. I have spent so much money, time and energy on this production and now that it is just about completed, I find that I donít like it. Maybe I have new views and opinions about what my next album should sound like and be about, now that I have been to Europe and I have seen what the market there is like. But whatever the reason for my disenchantment with the material is, this is a major disappointment.
I hope that the recording project can be fixed and brought up to standard so that I can find some measure of satisfaction with the music on the album. I will have to remix some of the songs, delete some, edit some others and add some new songs to the collection in order to make it right. I have already spent over $7,000 on it and I could easily spent another $5,000 re-working it. When and where will the funds come from and should I actually go forward to complete the project are major questions to be considered and answered.
6:30AM London time, Friday, 14 November. Now we are landing in London and I have to decide whether to stay in the transit area of the airport or go into London for few hours before catching my 2:30 PM plane to Hamburg. Should I try to rest at the airport or continue my lack of sleep until I get to Germany?
2:30 PM London time on the next plane. Weíre leaving and I am beat as can be. I did go into London. After we landed this morning, I took my horns to Terminal One, checked them in the Left Luggage area. I then took the underground tube for the 30 minute ride into downtown. I went to the part of town where there are lots of jewelry shops and traders and bought gold charms for Cookie and Kaila. Then I went walking through the Covent Gardens area before taking the tube back out to the airport to make this plane. Now I hope that I can get a little rest before arriving in Hamburg for tonightís gig.
4:00 PM in Clausí car, on the way to Lubek, Germany. Gotz met me at airport in Hamburg and we had a pleasant talk on the way into the city. He took me to the Aston Suites Hotel which was "the bomb!", Euro-design, two room suite with picture windows, microwave, mini-bar, and right across the street from a carnival with sparkling lights, rides and foods. The hotel was very posh and the setting was very romantic.
After I showered and freshened up, Gotz drove me to the club for sound check. Everyone was happy to see me and I got hugs and props from the band.
The show that night was hype and tight. Everybody put out their absolute best for the hometown Hamburg audience. The show was kicking and well received. The place was jamming from start to finish. Emu and Gotz were gassed and proud of the band and the show. Everyone was duly impressed.
1:00 PM Sunday, 16 November - Hamburg airport, waiting for my flight to London head home. After the show in Hamburg Friday night, we all went to the LaFonque Club for an after hours drink and smoke. I had a good conversation with Emu about the show, his work at East West Records, Soulciety, marketing, etc. I felt like my comments were helpful to him in evaluating the potential impact we could have through Soulciety and I know that I gained insights from him concerning the importance of marketing in the scheme of our record industry efforts.
I got back to my hotel room stoned and exhausted. I had gotten up at 6AM in Richmond, VA; gone to the bank and other errands with my mother at 9AM; packed my bags and left for DC with Garry at 12 noon; had lunch at the airport hotel at 2PM; waited for my plane which left at 6:45 PM; took the seven hour flight and landed at Heathrow Airport at 6:30 AM London time; killed time by going into downtown London until noon; flew out of London at 2:30 PM; landed in Hamburg at 5:00 PM; showered and went to sound check; and did the gig, playing hard from 11:00 PM to 1:45 AM and got to my room around 4:30 AM.
I slept from 5AM until 2PM on Saturday. AT 3PM we left for the gig in Lubek. Lalomie and I rode with Claus and the drive was less than one hour to go the 60 kilometers. The venue in Lubek was the central common area of a mini-mall, but it had a good size, permanent stage, more than adequate lighting and a very decent sound system.
As the musicians arrived and prepared for sound check, we were all into the realization that this would be the last gig of the tour. We were all ready for this gig. The audience filled the space and they were exuberant, appreciative and demonstrative. In fact, they ere the best audience of the whole tour, without a doubt. They screamed and shouted, they danced and swayed from the first song and they gave abundant and long-sustained applause after each segment of the show.
After I did my "I Canít Hold Back" number, the applause went on and on even after I started to talk and began my intro of Lalomie. After Lalomieís four songs, they cheered so much that she had to come back for an encore. And of course for the Bobby Byrd set they just went off: jumping, waving arms en masse, screaming and at times peaking like they were having church!!!
We played like there was no tomorrow. We gave it our collective all. What a great way to end the tour, with such a tremendous show and fantastic audience!!
After the show we were all drained and drenched, with every stitch of clothing completely soaked through. We sat around, tired but happy, talking about this night, the tour and going home, while listening to the tape I had recorded with my little cassette recorder on the stage. After that, we all went to the Lubek McDonaldís for our last supper. Lalomie and I rode back to Hamburg with Jens and I got to my hotel by 3:30 AM.
I watched some pay TV and went to sleep after requesting a wake up call at 8:45 AM. I got up on time and had breakfast. Stefan came with his wife and two year old son to take me to the airport at 10:45 AM. Claus came to the airport to bring me tapes of the shows and he and I had a good conversation about this business of music over coffee and tea.
Now Iím on my flight to London flying at 35,000 feet, having a class of wine, headed back home and looking forward to life after the tour.
EPILOGUE In the weeks after the tour I have maintained contact with the Soulciety crew via e mail and learned that almost everyone that was a part of the touring ensemble still feels that the tour was a supremely positive experience and a turning point in their lives.
I realize that touring musicianship is like ambassadorship.
Financially, the tour cost Soulciety Records three times the amount that they had thought would be the most they could lose in a worst case scenario.
My phone bill for calls from Europe totaled $1,600; more than I netted from the tour.
I have decided to finish working on my next album for release later this year.
I am working on going back to Europe to do another tour with my own group next fall.
I finished the following three songs that I started writing on the tour:
Fog between you and the mountain doesnít mean the mountain isnít there Clouds hiding your destination donít mean you wonít get to where you know youíre supposed to be if itís your destiny/ then it will be
If seeing is believing/ keep seeing it in your mind And no matter when youíre leaving/ youíll get there right on time
Free wheeling/ cool running moving in the light Smooth sailing/ happy landings everythingís gonna be all right
You donít climb every mountain Some you have to go through But when you come out of the tunnel A [bright] horizonís ahead of you
Problems/ can mean progress Solve them/ and youíre blessed/ youíve passed a test
Free wheeling/ cool running moving in illuminating light Smooth sailing/ happy landings everythingís gonna be all right
Fog on the road to where youíre going doesnít mean where youíre going isnít there Whatís important is that youíre knowing your inner visionís not impaired
No matter how small the vehicle your dreams are as big as you dare No matter how dark the gloom is the sun is shining somewhere
And itís headed your way/ This is the day thatís been made for you/ to make your breakthrough
Free wheeling/ cool running moving in the light Smooth sailing/ happy landings everything being all right
He took you to the station led you by the hand The track ran by the hotel on to a foreign land You rode the train alone wondering about your fears Were the streaks on the windows raindrops or your tears
Time travel/ moving through your mind time travel/ back and forth in time
He met you at the station every time you made the trip Heíd beg you to come to him when he kissed your lips Back then things were simple For the young life always is Remember when love was what you got Now itís what you give
Time travel/ you come and you go time travel/ moving to and fro time travel/ you come and you go where and when you stop/ you just donít know
He left you at the station You had to catch a plane You bought a one-way ticket Only questions remain Is love lost ever found Are those tears or rain Will he meet you at the station if you ever come back again
Time travel/ moving to and fro time travel/ where it stops you donít know
JUST BECAUSE YOUíRE YOU
Just because youíre you/ smiles beam all over town cause everywhere you go unpleasant things come tumbling down
Just because youíre you/ people come to you to learn and you teach them with your care and concern
Just because youíre you/ your presence spreads joys making grumpy grown men act like happy little boys
Just because youíre you/ people know angels exist the way you move about spreading heavenly bliss
But more than friends and strangers/ I see how much good you do But the reason that I love you is/ just because youíre you
Just because youíre you/ I want to be by your side and wherever youíre going Iíll go along for the ride
Just because youíre you/ I want to be in your world and thereís nothing I wonít do to keep you happy, Girl
Just because youíre you/ I write poetry to try to express the joy you give to me
Just because youíre you jangled nerves are soothed/ rough curves get smoothed/ It just goes to prove/ thereís nothing you canít do Just because youíre you
Just because youíre you/ I can see the job through We have this special love and itís always brand new I have to say it again and again but only cause itís true The reason that I love you is just because youíre you
THE JOURNEYS CONTINUE