Tuesday, March 8, 2005


Having returned to the States last week to resume my customary position behind the Fender five-string bass guitar I was surprised as to how much of a culture shock it was this time around, having been a virtual absentee for some months (except for the winter gig routine) and getting used to the ‘other’ world. Suddenly TV seems alien and shrill after the relative calm of first Scotland and then the Caribbean and it appears there really must be something drastically wrong with ME, as I don’t seem to be suffering from acid reflux, multiple allergies, obesity, cardiac arrest, diabetes, cholesterol or blocked arteries, and I don’t recognize any of the small beige creatures that obviously inhabit all American toenails as being a personal problem either. Perhaps these things all come via the smuggling of illegal goods into the country – you know the really deadly things that they ask you about on the US customs form….fruit, vegetables, cooked meats, farm animals, and of course god forbid you have been near a horse, a cow, or a sheep on your foreign travel, and as for that stash of ten thousand dollars you might be carrying – well, that’s a worry.
Basically I feel cheated that I have nothing to “ask my doctor” and am beginning to feel I might not fit in here as much as I used to when there were televisual campaigns for normal things – like liquor, tobacco, detergent, things that look like butter, chapstick (is Suzy still alive?), Pillsbury dough, and great food additives such as iron filings, sump oil and broken glass. Maybe it’s just a local northeast thing, but I don’t think so.
What IS a northeast thing is this terribly boring winter stuff that keeps everyone who isn’t chomping at the bit to get on the slopes and down the piste, indoors. All we get to see are sloppy interstates with brownish snowbanks at the verges and trees that are shaped completely wrong…not a coconut in sight, and my legs and feet are rebelling at having to be covered at all times lest frostbite set in. It is all horribly unfair and I want my money back.

Which brings me again to this magic sum of $10,000 that seems to be the edge of financial paranoia to American border control, and the IRS, who will not permit us to pay more than that sum into any US bank account without a quick visit to Guantanamo Bay for a bit of third degree. Now, there was a time when 10K was a LOT of money to most people whose names didn’t end with ‘Bilt or ‘Feller but nowadays it’s kind of what I assume would be a normal wedge that people might take with them for a 3-week beano in the Caymans or Barbados or Bermuda. Let me put it this way, no self-respecting drug dealer would show his face with a mere ten G – that being apparently the significance of the amount in question, as it was seen as a nice chunk, a-ready for the laundering. So, Mr. Greenspan, or whomever decides these things, with gas heading for $3 a gallon, with homes in the suburbs regularly at 3 million plus, with every man, woman and child ensconced behind the wheel of small army tanks instead of cars, and with dinner for two with a bottle of half-decent plonk running in the region of $150 (that’s without the brandies or ports afterwards) I seriously think it’s time they made it significantly more appropriate to today’s needs, lifestyles and emergency funds – say, 20K in your underpants and we might want to have a chat to you behind the two way mirror with the snap of a rubber glove to get your full attention. And there’s another reason you won’t find me ‘asking my doctor’ without something close to malaria or poliomyelitis hanging over my immediate future. I ain’t that much a fan of the gloved hand!

Nevertheless, it’s good to see so many smiling faces at the gigs we just did last week, and I’m sure there will be a lot more this coming week when we head back into Pennsylvania, then down through New Jersey and on into the DC area for the weekend, and a trip to the crab capital itself, Annnnnapolis in Annnnnnn Arundel county next Sunday. Now, I’ve no idea who Ann Arundel was or what she did but she must have been ‘a bit of a goer’ to quote the famous Eric Idle line from Python, in order to get a county named after her. I can’t imagine it was common for women to get shit named after them back then, so she must have had some serious sway over her opposite numbers to be so honored, and in such an august and traditional spot as that. They don’t come much more hoity-toity than Hannapolis, do they? I think I would like to have met her in an upstairs room of some colonial tavern in umpteen-sixty-five, and offered her some exotic and tempting items from o’er the sea…..fruits, vegetables, cooked meats, farm animals and such skullsmugglery. As for the ten grand…..

As a parting shot on this column, I want to warn you that the new single is about to come out of the box, and it is an instrumental version of “Work To Do” which Klyde has done a beautiful job of, on guitar, and Fred lent a hand in there too with some very tasty licks indeed. The smooth – jazz genre has been trying to get us to give them an offering for a couple of years now, so we finally buckled and actually had a most enjoyable session doing that (and a brand new “Pieces” version) to add to the CD you’ve seen as the ‘Best-Of’ since last summer, and which is to be launched in April on the Liquid8 record label with the above-mentioned tracks included. There is also a 15 – minute DVD enclosed, with Onnie & myself telling all sorts of lies about our history, our present and our future (if any) and we have some bits of ‘live’ from last summer, and some of Klyde doing his six-string magic in the studio for this current issue. We hope you will want to add this to your AWB collections, and make us all Hundredaires, for our sins. With the right publicity, the right airplay, and the wind in the right direction when the bear lies down to sleep, then we MIGHT just sneak in and have some commercial success for the first time in eons, and I just might get my hands on that elusive, enigmatic and symbolic ten thousand dollars.

But I’m damned if I’m going near a farm, cows, sheep or horses before visiting you lot.