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:
Eyes Wide Open
You See Red
Front Page News
The Spirit Flies Free
The King Will Come
Throw Down The Sword
Take It Back / Growing Up
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.