I can’t remember another summer with so much free time but it’s not been such a bad thing. With an upcoming autumn/winter date sheet of some 82 shows , the band needed some down time and the ability to recharge our batteries. I know each of us has been enjoying that, visiting some new places, building new relationships and getting physical, with, in my case some paddle-boarding, fishing, yoga and yes, playing music in a much different way than I do on the road.
I’ve been messing around with the mandolin which I love and also getting used to my new Cole Clark acoustic guitar, playing open mic nights with some great players locally courtesy of Fred Ball. This Monday, for example, I played some blues with the JD Seem and Bluephoria at the Georgetown Saloon, a longstanding local venue, which has actually hosted Wishbone Ash in the past.
I’ve also taken in a few shows this summer, as an audience member. Vince Gill came to our local music theatre and that was a great lesson in twin guitar, as applied to Texas swing. Then there was Joe Walsh and a few nights ago, Miss Bonnie Raitt up at the Oakdale Theater in Wallingford Connecticut - both excellent rock shows. Of course it’s always a bit of a busman’s holiday for me, as we say in Britain, because you find yourself enjoying the music, but then analyzing the sound and performances and song selections as if it were your own show that was being produced. Bottom line is that there is always something to learn by watching other artists, whether it’s the merchandise they have on offer or the live sound mix or the actual music itself. I’d love to go to concerts a lot more often, but it’s also a very expensive proposition as our fans know. So, I’ll be extracting the most nourishment from our own setlist once we are back on the road in earnest, very shortly.
We just played a couple of festivals in the UK, most notably Weyfest in Surrey England. Next we’ll return to the States for the long haul out to Denver, Colorado by road, which has become something of a tradition as a place to kick off our North American dates.
The Take It Back Tour will kick off at the wonderfully named Soiled Dove venue and will serve as the inaugural tour stop. Talking of sound, they always produce a beautifully balanced live mix at this very cool club.
We’ll work our way east via Kansas and Milwaukee at the great Turner Hall; and the Wildey Theatre in Edwardsville, not far from St. Louis, promises to sell out as usual. What is it about St. Louis and Wishbone Ash? Get your tickets soon, folks.
The East Coast will get a real solid coverage. Connecticut fans, make sure you get tickets soon for Daryl’s House Club and Infinity Hall.
For fans out West and in the Southern United States, I’ll let you know that we are already getting dates confirmed for April. Happily, our very expensive US work permits will stretch to the end of that month.
With a break of 10 days at the end of this month-long American tour, the next stop will be the ‘Disunited’ Kingdom. I’m fascinated to see how things are post-Brexit. I can tell you that already the economics of touring there have changed drastically for the worse, due to the collapsing exchange rate - not good for a company based in the States, like Wishbone Ash LLC. No matter, none of this is going to affect the quality of the music one iota, but please make sure you catch the dates. You never know what can occur in this volatile financial climate and crazy US election year.
For the last 10 dates of the upcoming UK tour, including AshCon which falls once again on the last day of the tour, Aynsley Powell will once again join the band to bring in his special skills in percussion, acoustic guitar and vocals.
By the way, for those who have not had the pleasure of seeing the band at the Grand in Clitheroe, you are in for a treat. It’s a wonderful venue which we have decided to make the home for AshCon this year and Guy Roberts, Andy Yates, Mike Day and Wishbone Ash will be pulling out all the stops to make this a really special event.
This summer, our German agent, Patrik Mertens, has been working very hard to book dates in Germany and Poland as well as Holland and Austria. Europeans will not be disappointed come January and February.
The Tough and Tender Tour will launch in Hamburg at the famous Fabrik, where many will remember the live DVD of our show there was recorded. Anther superb place with fabulous sound and lights and a real special warm rock and roll atmosphere.
In fact there are so many old haunts of ours to be visited in the next few months that I’m personally very excited. I like to catch up with the fans and folks running these places and also visit the often quaint localities, sampling the delights each unique location has to offer. Many of you now make weekends away, to relax, in this way making the shows a highlight of our travels.
Holmfirth is one favorite destination in the UK which is always a great night with plenty to do and see during the day if you like exploring the Yorkshire Dales together with local pubs. Last year in Germany, several Brits made the pilgrimage to Nuremberg another fascinating tourist destination, and the Hirsch there is one of the best venues forming the backbone of the German rock tour circuit. In fact 90% of the venues we work in have owners and promoters who are in it for the long haul and work intensely to keep music live. We and you, the fans, appreciate this, I know, especially in this new age of disposability with everything including music.
We’ve got a couple of new tour shirts to show you that’ll go along with the tour and we’ll be possibly repackaging a compilation or two. The big news on the compilation front, though, is the Snapper Records’ “Wishbone Ash The Vintage Years” deluxe box set that will be out possibly by September 2017. A lot of work has been going into this 32-CD retrospective this summer with ancient 24-track masters being located and licenses achieved from people like Universal Records. It promises to be one of the deepest and best-produced packages ever seen for a band of our pedigree featuring music from 1969 to 1990. A beautiful coffee table book will be part of the whole thing, along with photos, artifacts and historical material. It’ll be like a time capsule for any rock fan to peruse the early years, in depth, from a veteran 47 year-old British rock band. The folks at Snapper are masters of this limited-run production, but even they are foaming at the mouth in terms of the sheer quality of the material they have uncovered. It promises to be one of their finest productions.
Check out the full tour schedule at wishboneash.com/tourdates
Best Bones, Andy