Thursday, June 20, 2002

World Cup And Other Musings From The Well

As I write this, the USA is hours away from its first visit to the quarter finals of the World Cup of 2002.
Now, it may not prevail against a German team who have won the whole cheese several times before, and who are
massively experienced at this level compared to the somewhat fairy-tale US squad who owe more to grit and
unpredictability than in depth of talent, but their achievement is no less historic and heroic for that. I fervently hope that you in the States are taking note and tuning in at whatever time of day or night you must to follow their exploits and cheer them on from the homeland.

It was therefore all the more galling the other night to hear from Onnie that NBC nightly news were dismissing them and their progress as a flash-in-the-pan, soon to be forgotten episode, and that soccer in general was no worthy sport for the American male, and was lacking in aggression and – yes – VIOLENCE (that most laudable and
demonstrable virtue to instill in our youth should they have trouble choosing a sporting activity). Then they
trotted out the slur to all that it was probably all right as a woman’s just whom is that a worse slap to – the US women who have won TWO world cups already and who are young legends and role models in their own right, or the millions of young males who are dying to play team soccer at school, college, and maybe professional level. Honestly, the irresponsibility of these cretins in television beggars belief. I would sack them on the spot.

Well, summer seems to have arrived with a vengeance and the American highway is melting under our wheels as we embark on our annual pilgrimage to see how many road and air miles we can cover in the June/July period. We will
scale the Rockies to perform at the Winterpark Jazz Festival – it’s so high up sax players and singers need
iron lungs to perform, and you can flick a guitar pick a hundred yards in the thin atmosphere – and we will cool
our heels at sea level with gigs in Annapolis, DC, Long Island and the like, with welcome ocean breezes to soothe
our fevered brows. In between, the great plains will see us trundling in – and out – of such venues as Kansas City, Cadott Wisconsin, Chicago and other stops through the prairie companionship. All we can do is hope for decent weather on our outdoor shows, and half-decent air conditioning for our indoor performances. I’ve learned that the most important piece of road equipment during the US summer is a small but powerful fan to keep the sweat from blinding me while singing.

All the more pronounced when one has just come from a British and European tour, most of which was conducted
in full–length warm clothing as it was barely showing signs of spring there during our travels. We kept threat-
ening to break out the shorts, but I think a couple of us managed it only once, and that for a dare! The gigs were
great though, and we got a chance to perform at one of the many Jubilee (locally termed ‘The Jubbly’) festivals – Plymouth – that were held throughout England on June 3. I’m glad we got to do that...not because I’m a royalist or could give a hoot about the queen or her whole masquerade, but to be an alien in England with bugger-all to do on a bank holiday – especially THAT one-would be akin to watching the party going on around you from within a sealed glass soundproof tank. Instead, we had a beautiful afternoon on the clifftops above the English Channel, along with old pals The BLOCKHEADS (of Ian Dury fame) and a wonderful dinner laid on for all of us at the opulent Victorian “Grand (yes, really) Hotel”. I felt as if Oscar Wilde were about to walk in and deliver some ascerbic witticism, or at least we’d have a hushed silence for a crackly wireless broadcast from Winston Churchill extolling British patriotic fervour. As it was, we had far too much good wine, got rollickingly legless, and behaved like a bunch of, well, like a bunch of musicians.

As many of you are no doubt aware, our DVD, “Tonight” is on the shelves of most reputable record retailers and top
class bookshops like Borders etc, and documents a performance from the House Of Blues summer before last. I
have heard nothing but good stuff from people who have seen it, and I’ll have to take their word for it, as since the actual surround-sound sessions I have yet to see (or HEAR) it in its entirety. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to lock myself in a proper preview theatre at the end of the tour and quietly ‘wallow’ in it without anyone else to pass comment or require their presence be recognised. I recall being sat in the ‘hot’ seat by the engineers at time of construction, and being awed by the experience of total immersion in the sound and thinking to myself that this is what it must be like to be at one of our concerts..I could hear people behind me, the band right up front, and I got that skin-crawl I used to get as a kid when I heard a killer record. I kid you not!

As for other endeavours, no, the CD is not done yet as we can’t get off the road long enough to put in any worthwhile studio hours and get nearer to fruition. We are, however, previewing tunes from it on this tour so if you get off your arses and come along to the nearest AWB show this summer, you’ll get at least a taste of what we’re up to, and where we’re up to in it. My best guess is that it’ll be done at the end of the touring year and ready for consumption at the start of ’03; we could have certainly brought out some half-assed placebo for you this term, but neither you lot nor us would feel much better for that in the long-run, and ultimately it has to be something AWB can be proud of before it sees the light of day. Meanwhile, we’re setting our alarms for the next World Cup game and I hope some of you are as well. Besides, whether the team wins or loses, it means at least I won’t miss breakfast.