AshCon Wrap.

Heading down to Heathrow Airport for the long journey home. Just wanted to thank everyone who made this, for my money, the BEST AshCon! I thought we played a blinder of a set and I thoroughly enjoyed Xander and the Peace Pirates - a very classy act who could have held their own in musician towns like Nashville, Brooklyn or Austin TX. Thanks to Mike Day for putting them forward for AshCon.

Doris Brendell has been supporting us on 19 tour dates for this tour and played a fabulous extended AshCon set. Talking about great musicianship - this band pulls off arrangements and theatrics that would be a bridge too far for most. And to cap it all, they are great people!

Mike Day, Jim Lochhead et al gave a wonderful acoustic set during the afternoon. I thought their version of Everybody Needs a Friend was truly inspired!

Although we weren't there we heard that the evening before AshCon went fabulously, at the pub, with Nick de Jong and Fred Renz excelling on guitars. The owners of that establishment truly looked after our folks in style too. Big thanks! By the way, new mother, Sarah who we saw a few days earlier, sent a big Southampton 'hello' to all since she couldn't be there this year to lend her dulcet tones to the occasion.

The Flying Vs, during their afternoon set gave an energised performance of Ash material - reeducating me in the process, into some overlooked songs from our catalogue and also highlighting the feel of our music as it was in the old days. Well done guys! Really enjoyed it!

I thought the Grand, in Clitheroe, being a world class venue, truly worked. It was the right size and seemed to add to the warm feeling of what is always a special feel- good event for the bands and fans alike. Great lights, stellar digital sound, raised seating area at the back, a bar etc. A few folks wondered if there might have been a café on hand. Usually, I believe, there is this facility and I'm sure we could have arranged that for you. Point taken.

Guy and Sue Roberts and their band of merry helpers pulled out all the stops, working with the venue and fans to really produce something special, both in the hall and backstage, where we had our own party, with Colin Harper, my coauthor, and Heather his wife, holding forth, keeping us all entertained. Mike and Pauline Holt worked their magic. Big Harry gave Pauline, my wife and tour manager, a night off by selling our merchandise. Special shout out to Pete Marsh for his wonderful Lino cuts and paintings (he produced our tour shirt). A lady whose name I didn't get, also produced some great artwork on the band. Thanks to all concessioners that helped make a great day!

I could go on and on - I'm feeling very happy today, as I believe are the rest of the band.

~ Andy Powell.

Tour Shots

Thank you Alan Barnes Photography!

Check out the photos here

Tour Musings

Thanks to Milwaukee-based, super-fan and sometime merch maiden, Claudia Abrams, for reminding me that I haven’t produced a blog for this site in many a month. I’ve simply been too preoccupied with social media, like everyone else. It’s hard to slow down to the degree needed for a blog, when things are flying by so fast in real time on Facebook and Twitter plus all the news feeds and other stuff being dumped in our in trays each day - bargain deals on flights, hotels, clothing you name it. So, I’m penning this now, at your urging Claudia, and will see you in Clitheroe shortly, when you fly over from the States to attend the meeting of the clans at our fan convention there on November 19th. Dedication from you indeed!



I’m finding that in this election season, rock & roll simply doesn’t compete with what’s going on globally. For the record, as a dual citizen of the US and UK I’m a liberal, a Democrat - firmly anti- Trump, pro Hillary and with my British hat on, anti - Brexit. I’ll leave it there, suffice to say that politics has really become the new rock and roll. The politicians and comedians out there now make our anti establishment, rock posturing back in the 70’s look positively quaint. Those harbingers of the decline of western civilization, the Rolling Stones, the Who and even the Sex Pistols, now seem highly non-threatening, akin to old ladies taking tea in some out of the way, crusty little tea room in a faded corner of Britain’s post colonial past. F-bombs and insults against all accepted norms of decency are commonplace in social media and everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame and a few rock bands ‘sticking it to the man’ ……now seem quite pointless. Step aside rock and roll. Trump for one, has taken some the nasty excesses rock and roll has been accused of through the years, misogyny, racism, financial corruption, lack of respect for elders, war vets, great national and global achievements and plunged us all to new depths IMO.



For my part, back to the good old side of rock and roll, you still just have to love the travel aspect of it all and the sheer craft of grappling with guitars, vocals and sound systems, together with the staging of it all each night, on tour. That never fails me. Then there’s the prodigious output of studio albums over the last 25 years; the live albums, DVDs, my memoir Eyes Wide Open. I challenge anyone to level any accusation at us for being non productive in recent years! Although, I will say that right now, you’ll understand if I’m not feeling the urge to produce anything new recording-wise.



All the current action seems to be on the road for all bands, great and small. The labels, especially the independents, seem to be in what the British used to call a tiswas, not really knowing how to deal with behemoths like Amazon who dictate the price the product will be sold at and hence the label’s profits. Coupled with all of that, the recording budgets now being offered to artists are non existent. Additionally, the post Brexit effect of the collapse of the UK Pound sterling against the Euro and US dollar means that even the meagre profits from touring are being gouged out by around a third. Tough to get incentives on a business level right now. But, this too will pass, I’m sure. It’s our job to find new ways, new artistic avenues, and to roll with the punches - something I’ve learned to do through the many years of keeping this band on track. I find it all perversely stimulating. Wonder if my accountant will.



I’ve said it before but I sometimes wonder if politicians see and hear as much as we musicians do, as we rush from city to city, state to state, country to country. They could learn a thing or two. It’s great to get out of one’s bubble. Diners, truck stops, hotels, car rental places, theatres, pubs, restaurants and restrooms even; you hear all sorts of snippets as to how folks see the world and you can learn from it all. We’ve met and talked with real nazi party members (scary), UKIP nutters, lords and ladies, and regular so-called normal working folk. Last night for example in Stockton on Tees, two blokes at the urinals in the theatre,



“Have you seen Wishbone Ash lately?”

“Nah, they’re not the band they once were, are they?”

"Well, in my opinion they are what they are - that’s all I’m sayin’. Have you seen Martin Turner’s lot? (expletive) ”



And off they went (I’ve not seen my former partner’s band).



I will say that folks have been very complimentary in person out by the merchandise stand, post show on this tour. Only last night in Preston, I heard, “I love the new setlist” to “A great mix of old songs and newer material” “Phoenix - phenomenal” “What a wonderful song Take It Back is” . We’ve also been very pleased with some of the newer and different venues our agency has come up with this time round, as well as the tried and tested favorite venues. Morpeth and Preston - we love you! For those who are interested; Here’s one of our recent setlists:



Bonafide

Eyes Wide Open

You See Red

Front Page News

The Spirit Flies Free

The King Will Come

Throw Down The Sword

Sometime World

Take It Back / Growing Up

In Crisis

Open Road

Deep Blues

Jailbait

Blowin’Free

Phoenix





We have the marvelously theatrical Doris Brendell Band on tour with us and each night I for one, marvel at their sheer professionalism, great songs, stage craft and great sound balance. This tour really is a value-for-money, bang-for-the-buck for audiences, and we are happy to have you aboard Doris! The same will go for the tour we are planning in Germany and Poland for January. The very cool Steve Hill, winner of the top blues artist national award in Canada, his home country, will present his amazing one man band blues show as our tour opener.



Meanwhile, talking of openers, I’ve seen clips of Xander and the Peace Pirates on YouTube and look forward to catching them in the flesh at our above mentioned fan convention on the 19th. The Flying Vs tribute band will also strut their stuff on that day and Wishclone Ish - the band put together by you the fans, will be entertaining the troops on the 18th at the Crown Pub in the High Street Clitheroe. Thanks to Mike Day and Nick DeJong for all their efforts in organising this. This part of the weekend is a come - all situation where, if you know a Wishbone Ash song you may participate on whatever level of involvement you wish, from what I understand. As for the venue for the actual event itself, I cannot speak highly enough of the Grand. A former cinema and nuclear bomb shelter (true), this place has seen it all. Now featuring a state of the art sound and lighting system, recording studio and internet café, I’m very pleased that we are holding our fan convention there this year. Oh, and I forgot to mention that myself and the band will be producing a short afternoon set plus ‘insight session’ something akin to the special VIP sessions we've been doing at US shows. We’ll allow folks up on stage for photos and signings plus we’ll be laying out lots of details about how we put a soundcheck together, songs and guitar playing, bass playing, drumming tips - all of it. There will be a roving mike for questions and answers from the audience, as we always love to hear your opinions on what we do as well as suggestions. We strongly advise buying tickets for the convention in advance available from wishboneash.com or direct from the Grand Box Office Ph: +44 (0)1200 421599.



Finally, I’ll let you know that one project, in addition to my memoir, Eyes Wide Open, currently getting a lot of traction, is the much vaunted deluxe CD box set - Wishbone Ash The Vintage Years. Work is well under way on the 30 plus CD set being planned for 2017 by Snapper Records of England. They are experts at this, having produced award winning sets by the Pretty Things, Family, Ian Hunter and the Small Faces to name but a few. Classic Rock’s Dave Ling will provide the verbiage for the 100 plus page coffee table book set to accompany the box and Martin Turner and I will be supplying unseen and unheard archival music and images from our personal collections. Martin will also remix and be involved in mastering certain discs as will Pete Reynolds. The box set promises to be a deep limited edition (2,500 units worldwide) release, one-stop archive of the career up until 1991.



We’ll continue to update you on this and other events as they progress. There are summer festivals already on the books for 2017 plus tours being booked already. All in all plenty to keep the good ship Wishbone Ash on course and productive. Meanwhile, for me, it’s back to US politics and the election at home - mine and many people’s, current obsession. See you on the road and please put the AshCon weekend in your diaries.



Best Bones ~ Andy Powell.

Ash Flash

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

RIP Nigel Gray

Last night, I received the news that Nigel Gray, our producer during the late 1970s and early 1980s, had died. In a year of attrition in the music industry, Nigel's passing still comes as a huge shock. He was not old. Our sincere condolences go out to his family and loved ones.

Really, he was one of the best producers of his era and one of the best that we, as a band, ever worked with. Other artists that he worked with included Godley and Creme, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Hazel O Connor and the Police, of course.

Wishbone did not have big hit albums with Nigel, unlike the Police, but the quality of his work was second to none. He quietly coaxed the best performances out of us, mixing old school production and engineering techniques along with cutting edge concepts in modern production.

Originally medical doctor by profession, on a human level, this probably gave Nigel a quiet consultant - like approach in dealing with outsized musician egos. Personally, I learned a lot from him with regard to attention to detail in recording. He was very much concerned with finding the right groove for a song while all the the while keeping a great sense of fun in the studio during recording sessions. His abilities with guitar sounds, together with his final mixes in particular, were stellar.

To hear an outstanding example of his production, just check out our album Number the Brave, where he worked in Miami's Criteria Studios - an unfamiliar work place for him - bringing forth stellar work from us and translating our ideas into a very contemporary sound at that time. Pauline and I fondly remember times spent with Nigel, his wife and three sons in Miami during these recording sessions.

Nigel - you will be sorely missed.

~ Andy Powell.

Interview With Andy Powell

Check out this new interview with Andy from "The Progressive Room"

Click here to read the interview