OK, how to sum up this huge swathe of gigs in a simple blog post. Can’t be done really. The proper way to do it would be a travelog or TV show like Anthony Bourdain or something ( a well- known, somewhat rock & roll New York chef and food show / travel personality ). Our’s would definitely top his though, both for food, exoticness and rock & roll. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Anthony but there’s just simply nothing like a real rock & roll lifestyle - living it, loving it and delivering it.
Before I attempt my summation of what we’ve just been through, before taking a well - earned rest during the lazy, hazy days of summer, I want to confirm that on some of the last few dates in Poland and Turkey, as some of you quickly noticed, our dear compatriot Bob Skeat could not join us on our travels due to personal family matters. My good bud, Pete Bennett, late of Roger Filgate’s band, flew in specially from the States to fill Bob’s shoes, bringing with him, his trusty 1963 Fender Jazz Bass. He did a kick - ass job. We did not drop a beat. Sincere thanks to Pete and all thoughts and best wishes to Bob.
I already attempted to sum up Europe and North America but really just touched on things. Yes, we played to many incredible audiences and the music developed along the way, as we responded to different conditions. The song Open Road, for example, from the old 1980s Twin Barrels Burning album, developed into a show stopping barn - stormer. It became a guitar work - out. I think I’m gonna push for this to be on our next CD as a bonus track. Stupid and mischievous business people in the background have continually thwarted attempts by Mervyn Spence and myself to get both this CD and Raw to the Bone rereleased through Germany’s Repertoire Records as twofer, so we’ll just add it to our next record. It’ll be way better than the original anyway, and it has become OUR road song for sure, of late. Speaking of which, recording starts in earnest in August for the new studio CD, here at Read Hall, UK, where I’m penning this blog before heading out for a final festival in Poland.
Back to the tour: We wound things up in Ankara,Turkey where we played at this amazing club - to call it such, is an understatement. The Jolly Joker is one of a chain of 3 in Turkey and is truly rock & roll. We were treated with such overwhelming respect and hospitality, I cannot begin to thank our host Hakan and his team, enough. He treated us to a meal, which will go down as one of the finest in all the travels I’ve undertaken with this band. We sampled all the delicacies that this amazing country has to offer.
Ankara is a beautiful, chic, modern city that sits on rolling hills at an elevation of around 1000 metres and before dinner we charged around it in a white Land Cruiser, playing a recent Jolly Joker recording of Uriah Heep’s performance there, at serious level to get in the mood. Man, they are sounding good these days. I was only sorry to hear of Trevor Bolder’s recent illness. Get well soon, my friend.
Ankara, the city, is quite different from ancient Istanbul, a city which we also could not get enough of. The night life and vibrancy of this place have to be experienced to be believed. Even at 2.00 am on a Wednesday, people were partying like it’s 2099. If you are a sensory addict, as I am, you just simply drink in the sites and smells of this ancient city which has a unique feel being the exact point where East meets West, culturally speaking. Ancient mosques, including one of the world’s oldest and biggest - the Hagia Sophia, a myriad of winding streets selling everything under the sun, Turkish tea, belly dancers, musicians, carpets, spices, vegetables, fish, kebabs and housewares. Life is lived out there on those streets. We walked a lot of them.
I’m crazy about food and so the first order of the day was to sample some of the famous sardines caught fresh, right out of the sea by the many fishermen on the Bosphorus Bridge from whence they are sold directly to the restaurants below. We had a lunchtime feast of battered sardines and a delicious Sauvignon Blanc produced in Turkey - world class and not cheap!
I took as many photos as I could in the limited time that we spent there, so you can get a feel for things by browsing through those. The band members are all going through life changes it seems - some good and some not so good, as are you all, I’m sure. The summer will be a good time for all of us to catch up on our neglected personal lives. Muddy and Mia Manninen are finally making the long talked - about move to the West Country in England, near Bath. They are even bringing Mia’s horse with them! Joe will continue his global travels, I’m guessing. He never stops and has an unbelievable network of friends in many countries. A true child of the internet, he gets the networking thing going like no one else I know.
As for me, I’ll be playing in Ballyshannon in a week or so,at the Rory Gallagher International Tribute Festival which has become quite a thing over the years. I’ll be hooking up with old friend, Pat McManus and we’ll air out a few classic Ash tunes plus some songs from Rory’s catalog. Then it’s straight back Stateside, and to the surgeon for me, to get a torn rotator cuff tendon repaired, something I’ve been dealing with for 3 months. It’ll be a 6 week ( minimum ) recovery for that, but I plan to be fighting fit for our festival appearance on the island of Vrsar in Croatia. in July. It’ll give me some time to hang out with family and friends and especially my two darling granddaughters, Sophie and Ella. Our autumn UK tour dates are up on the site including a London appearance at the Islington Academy.
ASHCON 2013 IS A GO000oooo!!!!! Start making your reservations for that one which takes place on November 2nd. . Guy Roberts is your point man email@example.com. It’s going to be great, as usual with all the attendant events that surround it. More on that, later.
Very quickly, I’ll let you know that we are virtually complete in our booking of the 2014 European tour, focusing largely on Holland, Belgium and the GAS territories ( Germany, Austria and Switzerland ) and there will also be a French tour next year PLUS 2 tours of the USA and Canada - one Spring tour in the South and West and one very similar to the recent jaunt up and down the Eastern Seaboard and then on out to the Mid West. That one will happen in the Fall.
All this and a new studio album will help us sleep well at night and we’re all really looking forward to meeting up with you, our dear fans and friends, as we drop into your locales somewhere on the planet. Now if we can just finalize that complete world tour I’ve been promising myself, well then, we’ll really be cooking with gas!
Sayonara ~ A.P.