Now that the dust has settled from the British tour, the Philly and New Haven dates immediately prior, and of course the Tokyo turnout, it is time to assess the results and review the audiences one by one, and maybe give you all term grades for a) enthusiasm, b) attendance, and c) generosity at the merchandise table.
Well, taking the last first, it would seem that the New World wins hands down with their unmatched speed at putting hands in pockets and fetching out wads of green folding stuff in return for all the offered souvenirs - CDs, posters, T-shirts, caps, ball gowns, odd socks, and used underwear (signed, or soiled by the band, of course). Japanese souvenir-seekers were a close second, and we came back from there with a bare minimum of supplies to take to no. three...........England, where the paucity of charitable spirit in the merchandise department is in no danger of being challenged around the globe. Yes, folks, once again "South Britain" redefines the term stingy, the further South, the stingier with the almighty pound.
However, that was more than offset in the first category, when the strength of the reaction to the gigs, the new additions to the set (and to the band) were wholeheartedly endorsed by all whom we met, and who wrote to the website with their various critiques and compliments. Thanks, folks............it makes it all worthwhile to know that you're digging what we're doing, and that, just sometimes, we seem to get it right for you. Phew!!! Philly and New Haven were revelatory nights, too, with packed houses for the two-band show with Tower of Power, and the sweat, especially at Toads in New Haven, was collecting in pools all over the place. Shouldn't be surprised if there's a sudden outbreak of malarial mosquitoes with all that standing water about, and, hey Toads...... how about cleaning that place someday, or is there an official mandate that decrees all clubs be stinky, dirty, and imbued with the subtle fragrance of a decade of stale beer and human lather? (actually, Jazz Cafe can heed that too)
As for attendance, well the Western civilisations are going to pass the year with no problems - you were all in your seats (or on the floor) in the UK and the USA, but our Oriental students may have to repeat the year on that score, though we did find that we were there during "Golden Week" (a national holiday) so I suppose that, and the fact that we hadn't been there for four or so years, had some definite impact on the overall numbers. Still, the enthusiasm was there, and once Catfish and Matt, our tour manager, had visited a couple of other clubs to spread the word, everything picked up for the end of the week and we were rockin' by then. All things considered, it's been a very enjoyable and fulfilling month out there on the high seas, even if not all plain sailing - but what do you expect doing this as a way of life?..............Grief, mate, I'll tell you - and if you don't get much, then you're dead lucky. So far we seem to have had our share of the good side of that particular caprice, and long may it continue.
Now we begin the HOT work of the year, beginning Saturday in Dallas, at the Tom Joyner Festival down there at the Starplex amphitheatre - I spoke to radio just this morning, and they warned us that it would be 95 degrees (F) for us this weekend. I may be reduced to a blob of pink foam by the end of that one, so do be kind and sweep me up, put me in the fridge to cool off, and then reshape into a bass player for continuing hours of use and abuse through the rest of the summer. A summer which, incidentally, takes us to the Essence Magazine Festival in New Orleans, The Hampton Jazz Festival in coastal Virginia, the Milwaukee Summerfest in - yes, you've guessed it, and several other riverfests, waterfests, including a Memphis Soul "Stew" on the fourth of July, and otherfests of various size and sort to keep us continually enlightened and amazed at the never-ending permutations of human leisure activity under the summer sun. Hot Fun In The Summertime, was how Sly and The Family Stone put it, and hot fun is what we intend to have on this next cruise. Shorts have been cleaned, sandals dusted off, parasols repaired and at the ready, and air-cooled underwear brought out of cold (excuse the pun) storage to better ease the heat resistance. No doubt hotel pools will now be open, and a fine array of swimming and diving skills will be on display from the AWB Aquatic Team (we specialise in synchronised sinking) and we will try our best not to frighten the children and intimidate the parents with our ribald cries and blood-curdling waterfowl imitations while playing our own particular brand of Marco Polo, or Marco Pierre White (the well known English Chef) as we prefer to ridicule it.
All in all a cornucopia of Cancerian carnival connections coming up, and we are looking forward mightily to seeing you all again out there with limbs bared (Phowar), and other parts scantily enough clad (..ladies) to reduce us to quivering wrecks for the next six weeks. See you round the back of the bike sheds, then.
Seriously, come and meet and greet by the souvenir stall and we'll do our best to sign all your bits & pieces, and don't forget to clap on "two" and "four" while we're up there on stage (Nancy Reagan can ignore that of course). See you at the soda fountain..........mine's a KnockerBacker Glory, with a splash of Macallan!!