Hey Y’all. I’m writing to you from Way Down South, just like the song: Wilmington, North Carolina, to be precise. It’s further down the coast - 12 hours further by road from where I normally roost. I’m still working on future Wishbone Ash projects, though.
I’m in a part of the state that fortunately did not suffer major damage from Hurricane Florence this past September. So, whilst this is currently the laid-back South, don’t let that fool you. I’m still keeping my Eyes Wide Open (shameless Christmas plug for my biography of the same name). Some of the place names in this area might give you a hint of the mysteries lurking just beyond the swaying Spanish moss that hangs from the trees around here: The Cape Fear River and Mount Misery, to name but two that I’ve encountered. They speak of dangerous locales, where you’d surely need to keep your eyes open.
It IS a little warmer here than up north in New England, that’s true, but recently I heard tell of up to three feet of snow in the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are not too far away. Pauline and I actually did escape the snow in the Raleigh / Durham area on the weekend, after a short road trip there to visit family - our two darling granddaughters, to be precise. We’ll visit again this weekend to catch one of them in her performance in that perennial Christmas favorite, “The Nutcracker.” See, there is normal life outside of rock & roll.
Back to the band. There’s so much travel that’s been going on this year, both personal and musical, that I firmly believe all the members of Wishbone Ash have taken on a kind of gypsy lifestyle. In fact, next year looks to be even more of the same, with trips to South Africa, Europe and then two American tours on the horizon, plus one very special destination which we’ll announce shortly. I’ve personally taken to stashing guitars and amps all over the place, just so that I can function more easily, without having to carry so much on and off planes. It can get quite confusing and tricky. But with Brexit looming in Europe, one wonders about upcoming delays at ports and so forth that could slow bands like us down, since so many of us traverse back and forth across borders in the course of our work.
There are some nice festival appearances also scheduled for next year. The On The Blue Cruise, of course, in February, departing from Miami. We’ll be featured alongside the likes of the Steve Hackett Band, Al Stewart, Dave Mason and the Zombies. There’ll be a festival near Katowice, Poland in May, and then another festival in June will feature us at the Ballyshannon Rory Gallagher Festival. From there it will be straight to South Africa for the aforementioned five-date Barnyard Theatre tour. We’ll end the month with a nice festival in the South of France, Carpentras to be precise. It’s called La Nuit de Blues.
We’ll see our various homes once again in July, but then August will rock, with festivals in Nuremberg, Germany and Switzerland at both the Seaside Festival and Summerdays Festival. All details will shortly be on on our website, http://www.wishboneash.com/.
In October we’ll again be girding up our loins for the traditional UK onslaught. We played a record 31 shows there this year. This time in we’re planning to kick off a very special year of 50th anniversary tour celebrations. The band was formed way back in October of 1969 and specifically we’ll celebrate this milestone 50th year throughout the remainder of 2019 and into 2020.
To think that a rock band could exist as an entity for all this time boggles my mind. It really does show how rock as an art form has dominated popular culture for over half a century, even when looking at the career of a little ol’ band like ours. Of course, some will say, ‘but it’s only you Andy Powell who has run the course for all these five decades.’ That’s true - I have put a lifetime of work into it all; but Bob Skeat is now into his third decade of dedication, which includes numerous recorded works, and Joe Crabtree already has one decade plus behind him. Mark is into his second year but has lived as part of the Wishbone Ash community for decades, having played his first slew of Wishbone Ash songs at our very first fan convention way back when. The fan conventions themselves and the tradition of tours supported by the global fan community really show how bands like us thrive. In fact, Mark is an amazing example of how the lines become blurred between the band and fans. He satisfies both criteria, having been part of the the Wishbone thing since age 9, when he first picked up a guitar.
If all goes to plan, we'll have some extra production elements on our next U.K. Tour, with video projection of historical footage and archival imagery under the auspices of Andy Clarke, who’s worked with us before as well as Yes and Pendragon in the past, to name but two other acts.
Now … I must just take time out here at the mention of our wonderful fan base, to pause and acknowledge the passing of a very dear friend to many of us, Pat Hyre. After a very personal battle with cancer, Pat left us earlier this month. As a resident of Clovis, New Mexico, she is survived by her devoted husband Steve and daughter Cassandra who often accompanied her to Wishbone shows, most particularly on extended trips to Milwaukee from where she hailed originally. She had, however, lived in the U.K. and we got to know her after she bought some jewelry designs to us as her way of honoring the impact the band’s music had on her and her family. We joined forces to feature her work, making it available to friends and fans. In particular, her pendant designs, are proudly now worn by many of you at shows. Pauline had been working closely with Pat on a special 50th anniversary pendant which sadly was not completed. Pat’s favorite song of ours, by the way, was “Tales Of The Wise.” We’ll miss you, Pat. Those who came in contact with her will always remember what a happy and kind person she was.
So on that sobering note I’ll say ‘the season’s greetings and y’all take care now, y’hear?’ And please be sure to check for updates to our tour plans on Facebook and, of course, http://wishboneash.com/ .
Pictured: The band performs at The Irish Centre in Leeds on Oct. 21, 2018. Photo by Trevor Cotterell – Concert Photography Plus