It’s been a low-key summer for the band except for a couple of German summer festivals, which we all thoroughly enjoyed. The focus for us during this period has been to recharge our collective batteries before what will be an intensely busy period, as we go into the 50th anniversary year of Wishbone Ash late in 2019.
Before heading for our individual summer pursuits we all gathered in Dorset, England, to celebrate the wedding of my old friend and long-time musical partner Bob Skeat. I’m sure you’ll all join me in wishing Bob and Lorna the happiest of marriages.
We are primed and ready to kick off the touring season in 2018 with the last of the Open Road tour dates, this time in Canada with a mostly British Columbia-centered tour. We’ll have well known Canadian bluesman, David GoGo, supporting us there in some really nice theaters on Vancouver Island, for example. People may remember him from when he opened for us in Germany many moons ago.
Next up, the year-long XLIX multi-country tour year starts. In case you haven’t figured it out, XLIX is 49 in Roman numerals and coincidentally makes for a cool graphic image. The band was actually formed in London during October of 1969 and appropriately, we’ll be touring the UK for five full weeks into November. Our tour support act will be a fresh new face for the British tour circuit, Felix Rabin, with his brand of blues rock.
In January and February as per usual, we’ll be in Germany, Switzerland, Poland and other European countries, and then we’ll join The Blue Cruise ,which sails out of Miami on February 10. This one is a five-day incredible value-for-money package organized by Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues, featuring some great acts (other than Wishbone Ash) from your vinyl record collections, including Justin Hayward, The Zombies, Dave Mason, Steve Hackett, Alan Parsons, The Orchestra featuring former members of ELO, Procol Harum, Al Stewart, Wishbone Ash, POCO, Vanilla Fudge, Colin Blunstone, Danny Seraphine, Rick Derringer, Randy Hansen and The Young Dubliners. More acts will be announced later.
Journalists Sal Cirrincione and Jon Kirkman will host this amazing event. Tickets are on sale at http://OnTheBlueCruise.com, with cabin prices starting at $1,099 per person.
The ship, which features two large music venues, will have undergone a $100 million renovation by the time the cruise takes place. Destinations during the journey include Nassau, the Bahamas and the private island of Labadee. Cruisers will get to experience the new “Mariner of the Seas,” providing more ways to play, delicious new dining concepts and a few surprises to thrill even the boldest cruisers, organizers said. “This is going to be a ‘wow’ ship with some of the finest music and events featuring some of the greats in classic rock.”
Back to Wishbone Ash: We’ll continue on with touring France in May and then in June we’ll make a welcome return to South Africa which will see us in cities like Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town. No doubt we’ll take in a photo safari while down there and I’ll be desperately trying to stop Joe Crabtree from diving in a shark cage off the cape, with Great Whites!
As for recorded music, I’ve been blown away at how quickly “The Vintage Years” box set has been selling. We currently only have around 300 left from a limited run of 2,500. If you are thinking about one of these as a Christmas present for a loved one, now is the time to quickly place an order on Amazon, for example.
I’m currently reviewing a pretty cool recording made on a recent tour date in Sacramento, California by Ash aficionado and serious tape-head, Jon Winder. It looks highly possible, through his generous donation, that we might be able to add this to the group of live releases which form the Roadworks Series of CDs available only at live shows. Tom Greenwood, of Blue Horizon fame, will perform mixing and production duties if we do go ahead with this one.
As far as vintage recordings, we pretty much predicted that “The Vintage Years” box set would prompt a slew of inquiries about unreleased material in the vaults, and it has, starting with the fabled Rockpalast Recording of WA from 1976 which looks set for release within the year on DVD, CD and vinyl format.
So, all-in-all, some very important new events on the horizon for the next couple of years. I’ve already heard that some UK fans will be hooking up with us in Canada; and of course, there’s the annual gathering of the clans to look forward to in Leicester’s Y Theatre this year on October 13.
I just now have a few short weeks of fishing, paddle-boarding and catching the last rays of summer sun before I strap on the V and head to Canada - see you all somewhere on the road or on the high seas in the coming musical year.