Traveling along life's highway with Rock and Roll couple Rose Lane and Chuck Leavell you can enjoy what they are doing when on tour with The Rolling Stones and multiple other musical personalities. They will also be sharing ideas and thoughts on the environment, forestry, alternative energy, dogs, horses, birds, and their love of the land.
Some three weeks or so before we were to play
our original date in Havana, President Obama announced that he was going to
come there on the same date. So the Cuban Government came to the band to ask to
move our date from March 20 to March 25th to give time for him to do his thing
and depart the country. The band agreed, and so on March 18 we flew to Miami to
“way lay” for a week before flying to Havana on March 24. We stayed at..a nice spot in Miami Beach. Faena Hotel in Miami. We were all up for a few days off and
some sun...unfortunately, it did’t quite work out that way. The weather was
awful. Rainy, windy and cold.
Sunning by the Pool
We managed to get a little sun time in when the
clouds would break now and again, but not much. I spent time in the gym and Rosie
and I went shopping some in the area, but basically we killed most of the time
up in our room, which was a nice suite. I had a Yamaha digital piano sent there
so I could work some on the David Gilmour songs I needed to learn for his tour
I would be on in June and July.
We had a couple of nice meals here and there,
watched tv and got out when the weather permitted.
Finally, on March 24 we all packed up and flew
out of Miami to Havana. A short flight, but we had to go through a rigorous
immigration process. We were all very excited about playing there...it had been
a long time in the works and would be one of the most historic shows we’ve ever
done. I had arranged an interview on show day, the 25th, with CCTV, the Chinese
equivalent to CNN. My pal Sean Calebs would do the interview. We’ve known each
other a long time, meeting when he was with CNN and we’ve done several
interviews together. But for now, we were just concerned with getting into the
country and to our hotel. After finally clearing immigration, we checked into
the Malia Habana Hotel. It turned out to be quite nice....we didn’t quite know
what to expect, and I’d say it was better than I thought it might be. Rosie and
I went down to one of the restaurants....La Bella. Not a very memorable meal,
but it filled the bill for the moment.
Mick had arranged for all of us to go to a
musical event that evening...at a place called La Casa de la Musica. The
performers would be Osain del Monte and star
percussionist Pedrito Martinez. That proved to be a fantastic experience. The
music was all percussion and voices...no other musical instruments. There were
probably a dozen or more musicians/singers that swapped around playing the
various percussion instruments and traded off as lead singers. We had a
fabulous time there, staying fairly late.
We had a bit of a time getting
back to the hotel...no solid arrangements were made for us to have vans, and we
waited quite a while, finally deciding to hire a taxi. Everyone has heard about
all the old cars from the 50’s and early 60s that are there, and our cab was an
old ‘57 Chevy. Nice.
The next day we had precious
little time, and I vowed to make the very best of it. I dressed up and Sean
picked me up to go do the interview, which went well and it was great to hook
back up with him. The Bureau Chief was a really nice English gent named Michael
Voss. After doing the interview and taking some pictures, Michael asked me what
I was doing next. “Going back to the hotel, I suppose”, I answered. He asked
“Well, would you like to take a quick tour?”. YESSS! Michael has been there for
almost 10 years and knows the city (and country) inside out. He was an
excellent tour guide...taking me as quickly as possible through the main sights
like Revolutionary Square, where Castro would give his famous five hour
speeches...and through Old Havana and other highlights of the city. He was a
wealth of information on the history, and I learned quite a lot from him. It
was a wonderful “accident”. He also took me to a couple of places where some of
the most beautiful old cars were so I could take some pictures of them. A truly
Soon it was time to get back to
the hotel and leave with the band for sound check. The venue was, well, sort of
a huge field that had maybe a dozen baseball fields within it. The crew had set
up our big stage in the middle of it...and we got an earful of stories from
many of them about how difficult it had been to make it happen. But thanks to
their expertise and persistence, they got it done.
We went through sound check and
then I worked on the set list. Met with Mick to finalize, then had a little
down time. The catering was...not that great. It was in a tent not far from our
backstage tents...and they had cooked a couple of whole hogs and some corn...
but hey...I’ve had lots better back home in Georgia! Plus there was a plethora
of flies all around, and it was very hot, making it not the most pleasant of
situations. But it was food, and we ate it.
An hour or so before the show,
someone told me that my friend Jimmy Buffett was there. I went to find him, and
low and behold, there he was. We had a fun time catching up. He’s a sweetheart
of a guy...wish I could play in his band at some point! There were other
celebrities there in attendance...Naomi Campbell, Richard Gere, for a
couple...and there were lots of Cuban celebrities there as well....actors,
As show time approached, the
crowd kept growing in numbers...and while it was impossible to get an accurate
count, the best estimates given was “well over half a million”...and perhaps as
many as 750,000. Whatever the number was, it was just an amazing night. The
band rocked hard, the Cubans and all in attendance were joyous and you could
just sense the feeling of freedom all around. It reminded me some of when we
played in Prague back in 1990 after the Wall fell in ‘89. There was a similar
feeling in the air and with the people. Back then, the posters read: Tanks Roll
Out....Stones Roll In!
Rose Lane and Sasha Allen
Back at the hotel some of us
celebrated in the bar...talking about how well the whole tour had gone, and
what a beautiful way to cap it off by playing that show. It will certainly go
down in history...and I hope so much that I get to go back there again...and
stay longer. And maybe play music there again.
That capped off one of the most memorable tours yet
with the Stones. Now time to get back home and prepare for the David Gilmour
Feb 3rd was our first show of the tour...in Santiago. We had prepared well and were confident and ready to go. We had a good sound check in the afternoon, then we all settled into our normal pre-show routines. I did the set list, which included “She’s A Rainbow” as it had won the “By Request” song out of four choices. That came off really well, as did the entire set. Attendance was really strong...maybe just a few hundred or so seats short of a true sellout...with some 62,000.
This will be our 4th trip to Argentina. The first time the band played there was in ‘95 on the Voodoo Lounge tour...then again in’‘02 during the Bridges to Babylon tour and the third time in’‘06. We arrived BA on Feb 4. Rose Lane and I had dinner at El Mirasoul (The Sunflower) at the suggestion of the Concierge of the hotel. It was just half a block from the Four Seasons where we were staying. We had a fine meal there...Argentina being known for its beef, we shared a nice tenderloin steak. We had the next two days off. On the 5th we met up with our friend Diego and his brother, Nick, at The Alvear Grand Hotel where their mother has owned an apartment for many years. Beautiful hotel, and we had some drinks in the bar with them there. Then they took us out to a place called Solovoice for dinner. We had a nice conversations about several topics. One was about a property that they own with their mother down in the Patagonia region. Some 600 or so acres that is apparently a special sanctuary for all kinds of birds. Their dad bought it back in the mid 80’s for something like 1.2 million and they are going to do an eco-friendly development on it that will no doubt bring a very nice profit for them. Diego also shared an idea he has about a possible tv program similar in nature to The Voice, American Idol and/or America’s Got Talent....except rather than focusing on the talent of a presenter, it would focus on the development of a song. So more focused on the songwriter. Could be interesting.
Rosie and I walked around the Recoletta area on our days off....browsing all the shops and checking out the neighborhood. We went into a couple of fun “Gaucho” shops...they have such great knives, leather goods, saddles, ropes and the like. As we bought some of that stuff the first time we were there, we didn’t add anything to our collection, but enjoyed looking. We also made rounds in several of the clothing stores, but didn’t do any damage in those, either. We did buy Rose Lane a nice silver necklace at a place called Cordon, one of the Gaucho stores. Nice piece.
On the 6th, Herren and Susan arrived and we met them out at the pool after they had checked in. We ordered a bit of food there and enjoyed hanging out for a bit, then took some down time before having dinner with them back at Mirasoul. It was good again, but not as good as the first time.
The 7th was our first show in BA. This has to be the most passionate Rolling Stones fan base in the world. So amazing to watch them...beautiful dark haired dark skinned people celebrating the music, swaying in waves, singing along, jumping up and down. No place quite like it. We had a good show....a couple of small hiccup moments, but nothing serious.
The 8th and 9th were off again for us. On the 8th we had dinner with all 6 of us....Diego, Nick, Herren, Susan and Rosie and me. Diego took us to a fine place called Fervor on the same street as our hotel, about 7-8 blocks away. Nice bistro kind of restaurant with excellent seafood and beef....so we ordered a fun variety of things and had another grand time together.
On the 9th we went to a walking mall on Florida Street....as the Concierge had told us about a place we could buy Miles and Rocco some Argentinian Soccer jerseys and have their names put on them. For numbers, we put their ages (10 and 7)...Miles’ birthday is on Valentine’s Day and Rocco’s comes in April so we put their birthday ages for this year under their names. Fun! We walked around the area for a while, but again, other than the jerseys, we didn’t buy anything.
That evening we dined at a restaurant connected to the Park Hyatt hotel called Duhau. It is rated as one of the finest in BA, and while certainly a nice place, might be a bit overrated. Still, we had a fine time again with Herren and Susan.
Our second show was on the 10th. Another sellout at 58K...and another fun and exciting night. We changed the set up some, trading out 5 or so songs different from the first show. Also...prior to the show, in the afternoon, the four Principals were kind enough to video tape a segment for me congratulating me on my induction into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. The 12th was a special and critical day for me. I had asked Buck Williams to negotiate on my behalf with David Gilmour’s manager, Paul Loasby. They had come to terms, and I had talked to Joyce Smyth (Stone’s rep) to make sure that there was no likely Stones activity for June and July, so I accepted the tour with David. Now I’ll have a lot of homework to do...but this is a good thing and I’m buzzed about playing with him. He is still fleshing out the rest of the band, but I do know that my pal Greg Phillingaines will be in it, and David’s current drummer, Steve DiStanislao. No doubt we’ll get more news on the rest of the band soon.
Herren and Susan departed that evening to go back to Little Rock...then on to the Cayman Islands where they would spend a couple of weeks with a friend of theirs. So Rosie and I bid them a safe flight and said our goodbyes.
For our evening....we had been invited (along with most all the band and staff) to the US Ambassador’s residence, a huge palatial place of some 45K square feet with a couple of acres of groomed grounds. We had met the Ambassador, Noah Mamet, the night before at the private party just as we were leaving. Very nice man and the residence was truly stunning. He had a BBQ setup in an outdoor pavilion near a nice swimming pool. The meal was really good and we all enjoyed ourselves.
The 13th was our last show at La Plata...another fun night, and perhaps the best of the the great BA audiences. Again, we mixed the set up a little and all enjoyed the gig.
On Valentine’s Day we had the day off...again in BA. Rosie and I had FaceTime with the Bransfords, wishing Miles a happy birthday. We spoke to Ashley and tried to do FaceTime with her, but guess our schedules conflicted for that. Great to have some family talk, and all are well. Apparently Miles has a crush on a girl in his class. We didn’t ask him about it, but Amy had told us....his first crush...so sweet. After that and some pool time (I’m getting a nice tan!) we walked up Alvera St again to go back to Cordon. I had an interest in a jacket I saw there....but on second look, I passed on it. We booked a table for the two of us back at Fervor....and had a fine dinner there. Then it was time to start packing for the next day’s departure to Montevideo, Uruguay.
RIO AND AN AMAZING GIG
This would be a long day, but I didn't mind in the least. My flight from Atlanta to San Juan left on time at 8:30am. Rosie drove me to the airport. I hated to leave, but duty called. The flight was fine...it took just over 3 hours. I mostly worked on my journal. When we got there I took a cab to the Ritz and sat in the lobby, still working on my journal until time for all of us to leave to go back to the airport for our flight to Rio. We were delayed leaving the hotel for about an hour. We got there at about 5pm. We sat on the plane for another 45 minutes or more before we took off. It was great to see everyone, and they were all excited about Miles. I had sent most of them pictures via email. So we finally got going for about a 7 hour flight to Rio. This was somewhat exhausting...but I've had worse. I watched a movie...."Good Night and Good Luck" (about Edward R. Murrow), played Scrabble on my computer and read. I tried to take a nap, but it wasn't to be. I did work with Mick on the plane for about 30 minutes to start on the set list for Rio. This was to be a big show...a free show on Copacabana Beach and the expectation was that at least a million people and likely more would attend. There was also to be a live broadcast on XM Radio in the States and a live TV broadcast in Brazil. In addition to that, it is to be edited for a pay per view event later in the month in the States. It will be showed in select theaters across the US for an entry fee of something like $12. So bearing all of this in mind, we began to put something together. We knew it should mostly be familiar songs...and also knowing that we would not get a sound check we couldn't do anything too "exotic"...but we did want to put in one or two tunes that would be at least somewhat "interesting". Anyway, we got a start on it and left the final for the day of the show. At least this would provide a draft for the tv folks that needed something to go by.
So we arrived in Rio at 3am. We had to go through customs which took 30 minutes or so, then finally headed to the hotel. We got there at 4am, and we were all pretty well burnt by then. I got to my room with that feeling of being really tired yet buzzed at the same time. I opened a bottle of wine that I had brought with me and had a couple of glasses while surfing the tube. I ran across an interview that Mick and Keith had done way back when we were in Toronto rehearsing...it had been done exclusively for Brazilian TV. The usual stuff...nothing Earth shattering. I thought the interviewer didn't really ask great questions. After that I turned out the lights and faded.
Slept until 11am and awakened feeling good. After the "wake up routine", I made my way to the hotel fitness center for a much needed workout. That really helped. Then I decided on a nice long walk on the beach, which is right across from the hotel. My room overlooked the stage that was being built for the big event...so before I left for my walk I took some pictures of it. During the walk I could get the feel of how excited the city was about the show. There was already some bootleg merchandise for sale...quite a lot of it...and many of the locals were sporting RS t-shirts and such. I vowed to come back either later or the next day to get some pictures of all this. When I got back to the hotel I went to lay in the sun for a bit and had some lunch. Then back to the room to see if I could hook up an "iChat" with my iSight camera with Amy, Steve, Ashley and Rose Lane. Ashley had been to an event in Gainesville, Fl for her new job and had rented a car and driven up to Atlanta to see the new baby and the family. When I had been up there with them I suggested we try the iSight thing so I could keep track of the baby and just to get this going. I bought all of us iSights back at Christmas just for this purpose...and while we did one or two quick experiments since then, we've never really used it. I had emailed them to suggest a time that we could hook up. I already had mine hooked up with the camera on the line open...and when I got to the room I could hear some noise coming from my computer...sure enough, there on my screen I saw their living room and could hear them in the background talking. So I hollered for them and they came into the picture. the images were pretty "choppy", but still I could see them and they could see me. We talked for 10 or 15 minutes...and of course they held Miles up to the camera so I could see him. It was also great to see Ashley, as it had been a while. For my part, I took the camera to the window and showed them the building of the stage across the street. It was all so cool, if imperfect. They had some trouble hearing me...but I could hear them fine. I'm hoping we can iron out the bugs in this and use it more often...especially now that we'll be touring in so many far away places.
With the iChat done, I hung out in the room just chilling out for a couple of hours. I thought it might be a good idea to make a reservation for dinner...the hotel seemed to be pretty crowded. I had hoped for a 9 or 9:30 slot...but was told they were totally booked until 11. I went ahead and booked 11 and decided I'd watch a movie, so I pulled out a DVD of The Wedding Crashers, which I hadn't seen and watched it. It killed a couple of hours, but it still wasn't time for dinner. I flicked through the tube and found some mystery movie with Morgan Freeman that I watched. 11 o'clock came and I was sucked into the movie...so I called to see if I could delay....they said fine. I thought it would be over by 11:30, but it wasn't...and the main restaurant closed at midnight. So I cancelled my table and watched the end of the film. When it was over I went down to see if the "secondary" restaurant was still open, and luckily it was. So I took a table on my own and ordered some food. I saw Caroline Clements and Dr. Brad Connor (who was there at the band's request just "in case"...) and a few others at another table and while I was waiting for the food I went over to talk to them for a bit. When dinner came and I was back at my table, Bobby and Holly Keys came over. They had been out to dinner at some local restaurant and the entertainment at the place had been a magician. They had been really impressed by him and recounted to me some of the tricks he had done...one which involved being blindfolded and pouring a drink while standing on a chair about three or four feet above Holly into two different shot glasses perched on top of her head...pouring right up to the brim without spilling a drop. We talked for a while and had a couple of drinks...then they left me to finish my meal.
Back in the room I stayed up about another hour before falling asleep on the sofa.
Looking out at the beach and the stage from my window after I got up at about 11, it was already beginning to get crowded. I took a picture or two before going to the gym for another workout. Sat in the sun for a bit after that and had lunch by the pool. Back at the room I decided I should go out on the streets with my video and my digital cameras to take some pictures. It was a hot and humid day, and the streets were totally buzzing. There was a ton of bootleg Stones merchandise...at least four or five times what I had seen the day before. I took some pictures of the different stuff for fun...and also took pictures of other street scenes. It was about an hour walk and very entertaining.
There had been a special foot bridge constructed so that we could walk across the street to the stage...and I went across it to get a shot of two from there...and to check with Will, my tech...to make sure he hadn't had any problems with the gear due to the heat. He assured me it was all fine...so I took the shots and went back to my room. I called Mick to see about discussing the set list, and he asked me to come see him in a half hour, which I did. We made the final decisions, doing mostly well known numbers and three of the new songs...but decided instead of Gimmie Shelter we would do Night Time Is The Right Time, which would offer at least something a little different. We also decided to do Midnight Rambler, which would give a bit of a jam to the fans.
I went back to get ready. Our dressing rooms were in the hotel, down on the second floor. So I cleaned up and went down to check it out about 6pm. We were to play at 9:30...there was a couple of opening bands before us. So I had a bite to eat in the Rattlesnake Inn and then went back to my room to take a couple more pictures of the crowd before we went on. By then the whole beach and the streets were covered in bodies...and there were lots of boats anchored near the stage. It was quite a scene. I watched one of the opening bands for a bit and then went back down to get ready...picking out my clothes and such.
The time came....and we made the walk across the special foot bridge to the stage...the crowd was roaring loudly as the lights went down just before we kicked off. I took my cameras with me to record some of the whole thing...and even took a few pictures during the performance. It was a solid show...everyone seemed to be relaxed but with a bit of extra energy. It was totally fun to see such a huge crowd...especially with the level of excitement. I took a few shots of the audience during our ride out to the B Stage. They were all having so much fun and were all singing along....grooving to the music and having huge fun. Wow, what a great gig!
There was a big party in the hotel after the show...and I went down for a bit...but it was so crowded and it was mostly people I didn't know at all. I saw Steve Bing...a friend from LA that had flown in with Quincy Jones and some others for the show...and talked to him for a while. Really great guy, and nice to spend a few moments with him. But after we finished our conversation I had had enough excitement for one day and went back to my room to do some packing and call it a day.
I went down to the pool after being up for a couple of hours and finishing my packing...but when I got there it just didn't feel right and I decided to retreat back. I just relaxed and watched the tube until it was time for us to leave for the airport. There were several news clips of the show...CNN, local tv, BBC all gave it good coverage. At the designated time we met down in the lobby to board the bus. There was quite a big crowd outside, and when we went out of the hotel one by one we were greeted with shouts and applause. Some local tv camera crew tried to get me to come over...but I opted not to go...it was just too much of a scene. So we loaded up and made the drive with a police escort, which was a good thing as traffic was heavy. On the plane we all talked about how great the show had gone and how incredible it was to have been playing for so many people. For me, it topped my previous "biggest show" when the Allman Brothers played Watkins Glen, NY with the Grateful Dead and The Band to 600,000 people. Wow, what an experience this has been! Now on to Buenos Aires for two shows at River Plate Stadium...
For some reason I found myself in a slightly somber mood upon our arrival in BA the night before. Sort of melancholy. Like in Rio, this was the same hotel we had always stayed in, but it has been bought by the Four Seasons and has been renovated. It still had a very familiar feel to it, though. There had been some fans at the airport and there were more at the hotel waiting for us. Nothing like the incredible throng of fans that awaited us back in '95 when we first played here, though. We had done 5 shows back then...all completely sold out. We had flown from Japan...an extremely long flight...and arrived very tired from the trip. To our surprise, we were greeted at the airport by about 300 or so fans....and they followed us all the way to the hotel in what was like a scene out of a movie...a crazy high speed chase. They were leaning out the windows of their cars trying to get a glimpse of the band...waving at us frantically, honking their horns....shouting, screaming at us. It was probably the closest thing I had ever seen to what the "Stonesmania" and Beatlemainia" of the '60s must have been like. When we got there, there had been another 300 or so waiting. They jumped all over our vehicles then...pounding on the outside of them and pressing their faces to the windows...shouting, yelling...almost crazed. I was in the van with Lisa Fischer back then and remember her getting very frightened and almost starting to cry...it really was a total freak scene, but of course it was out of love for the band...and it was the first time the Stones had ever come to South America.
The hotel is in two sections...the first main building is a 12 story structure and behind that is a courtyard with a pool. Then there is the older and more historic section of the hotel called The Mansion. It is an elegant old mansion with beautiful interiors....carved wooden walls in some rooms, guilded painted walls in others. All with vaulted ceilings and fine hardwood floors throughout. This building holds several suites and is where Keith, Ronnie, Charlie and Michael Cohl were staying. The fans had staked out all around the hotel...maybe as many as a couple of hundred or more. The fans "camped out" mostly around that section in hopes of seeing one of the principals come to the window or walk out on a balcony. Whenever they caught a glimpse of them, they broke out in cheers and applause...and would start singing their soccer chant:
"Oleeee, ole ole oleeeeee....Ree-chard, Ree-chard!!" if it was Keith. Or "Oleeee, ole ole oleeeee....Roneeee, Roneee!!:" if it was Ronnie. And of course Charlie would get the same...only he hardly ever let them see him. This went on the whole time we were there, and the commotion made for very little sleep during our stay. Still, we all were amazed by this incredible show of affection for the band, and it has left us with a mutual affection for Buenos Aires.
We had come back to a similar, if slightly muted, greeting when we played here on the Bridges To Babylon tour in March of '98. We had played 4 shows then. Now here we are again...and again the fans have staked out the hotel. Not so many as before, but still there and still very enthusiastic.
So in my somewhat moody state, we had arrived back in this familiar scene. I guess I was suffering from being away from Rose Lane and of course Amy, Steve and Miles. Being on your own for a bit is OK...but after a week or so I long for the companionship and tend to lean towards a funk. Anyway, we had checked in and I had been given what I think was the same room I had the times we were there before...overlooking the pool area and where you could see the fans outside on the street. Our arrival had been relatively early...around 7 or 8. I had chosen not to eat on the plane and was pretty hungry, so took my book down to the restaurant and had a meal on my own. I didn't see anyone else in the band there...and the restaurant was pretty quiet. I finished up, went to the room and messed around unpacking and diddling about until I made a place on the sofa with a blanket and a pillow and nodded out to CNN.
Landed in Sao Paulo and took the hour-plus drive in to the Grand Hyatt hotel. Wow, has this city changed since we were last here in 1998! I recall it as being a bit tatty and run down, some crumbling buildings and quite polluted. These days it is very modern with lots of sky scrapers, and a lot cleaner than I remember.We were pleased to find out that this hotel has a Club Lounge, where select guests can go for cocktails and snacks in the evenings and a little breakfast buffet in the mornings. So we decided to go there...two floors up from ours, to check it out. There were already several members of our staff there, and soon after we arrived, Keith and Patti Richards came in and joined us at our table. We had a fine time talking about all kinds of things...about how Sao Paulo has changed, about how well the tour is going and how well the band is playing. We talked about our families and how they are all doing....and we also talked about recording possibilities. The band has laid down some blues tracks back in December in London...and Keith told me to come to his room sometime soon and listen...and that he wanted me to overdub on them at some point. All good.Our new friend Alan Greenberg, who we had dinner with in Rio, was kind enough to send us some suggestions for dining, shopping and such. But as we were tired from the travel, this first night we opted to eat at the hotel restaurant in the lobby. So after the Keith and Patti hang, we went down for that. One of our tour Doctors, Dr. Peter Hackett, joined us and we had a nice conversation with him during dinner. That closed out the day and we went up to the room where I practiced the mandolin for a while before bed.
We are to have several days off here during our stay...and this is one. Our dear friend, Quint Davis, head of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, was coming in to stay for the two shows we have here. We love Quint and always have a fab time with him. After our morning routine which included a trip to the nice gym at the hotel, we got word from Quint that his plane was delayed and that he wouldn’t get to the hotel until about 2 or so. So Rosie and I decided to go to the Cuidad Jardin Mall, one of the ones that Alan suggested, to kill some time and do some shopping. That made for a good outing, although we didn’t leave a whole lot of Brazilian Reals there...but gave us a two hour walkabout in a comfortable and nice setting.
We hooked up with Quint back at the hotel. He recently had surgery on his foot, and it had been a long day for him. But he wanted to go out to dinner with us, and I made reservations at one of Alan’s suggestions, an Italian place called Gero. That turned out to be a great decision...really nice decor, fantastic service and food. Back at the Hyatt, we bid goodnight to poor Quint, who had survived a long day and was no doubt feeling it in his foot.
Time to “make the doughnuts”....a show day. After another hit at the gym, we left on the 3pm van to the Morumbi Stadium. Another huge venue that seats 65,000 for our concert. Quint went with me in my van and hung out with us in our dressing room. We had another little run through backstage for the choir and a couple of tunes...then went to catering for a bite. Showtime came and we did our thing...to a wonderful Sao Paulo audience. We had a little bit of rain during the show...the first one of the tour where it rained during our performance. But it was light and didn’t wash us out...and the rain shows seem to endear the audience to the band, so it was all good.
We now have two consecutive off days...Quint was feeling his foot from the long flight, airport transfers and the gig day, so he opted to take a breather during the day. Rose Lane and I went to the Jardin area (not near the Jardin Mall...a different part of town) and walked all around R. Augusta St. where lots of shops are. We had lunch at a sort of Middle Eastern place called Almanara, which was ok. Back on the street we found a little enclave that had a good many small booths selling mostly jewelry crafts...and bought some things for our daughters and Rosie bought a couple of pieces for herself. We finally decided to find a taxi and head back to the hotel. For dinner, through our friend Nick Winegardner, we were able to get a table at Alex Atalla’s famous D.O.M. restaurant...rated as one of the top 5 restaurants in the world. So the three of us brought our appetite with us there. D.O.M. has only “tasting menu” options. You decide how far you want to go with it...I think there were three major options to choose from....a vegetarian, a sort of middle ground one and a full on feast one. We all choose the “middle ground”. It turned out great...as is usually the case in these kinds of restaurants, there are lots of small plates...but by the end, you’ve had plenty to eat and feel quite full. Every dish had a very unique flavor and all the dishes were based on indiginous foods from the region. We were duly impressed. The last dish before desert actually had an ant in it. A sort of medium sized black ant sitting to the side by itself with some other food. We were told to eat the ant first. I did...it had a nice sort of spicy flavor to it. Rose Lane also ate hers...but Quint declined to do so.
After the dinner, we went to a party given by a friend of Mick’s. It was one of those kind of places with very loud disco/electronic/dance music going on. We entered and made a quick run of the room...there were lots of “beautiful people” there...truly beautiful Brazilians. The music was a bit too loud for me to enjoy, but everyone was having a great time. We saw that there was an outdoor area and went to check that out...only to be stopped by a woman acting as a guard. I had to find someone in our group that could let her know it was ok for us to get out there, which we finally did. That was a better scene...quieter, nice to be outside. Some of our folks were already there...Sasha, Bernard, Tim Ries and some others. Then I saw something that I had to check out...a mint condition Willys Jeep...probably about a 1945 or so vintage. I have two of them at Charlane that we use in our hunting biz and have been looking for one or two more. This one was amazing...in such good condition, still in the standard olive drab color. A real beauty. Wish I could have taken it home!
We stayed for about 45 minutes and then it started to sprinkle rain...so we bolted for the door and got the only cab that was stationed outside. That was a good thing, because just as we were leaving, the bottom dropped out and it started pouring. We would have been stuck in the “very loud room from hell” if we hadn’t split. Great timing! It was just enough time to enjoy it and see and meet some nice local folks.
We got up, had the usual morning gig and then decided to go to another mall, called the JK Iguatemi Mall. Fairly new, about four years old...and very upscale. All the usual suspects...Boss, Prada, Gucci and the like. Quint was with us...we strolled around for a couple of hours without making a whole lot of purchases...although Quint bought some presents to take back to New Orleans with him; Rose Lane bought some PJs and I bought a pink t-shirt. The bad news was that on the way back we hit this unbelievable traffic jam....and literally sat still for quite some time....and when we did move, it was like one foot at a time. What should have taken 15 minutes wound up taking an hour and a half. That wore us out. But finally we made it, and had some down time before dinner. I had made reservations at Fogo de Chao, a typical Brazilian meat house...and a fairly well known chain of restaurants around the world. Quint decided to opt out...that long ride had gotten to him and he just didn’t feel like going out. So it was just Rosie and me...it was fine...good food, quiet place...basically what we expected.
More mandolin practice before bed.
Was up a little earlier today...it has been 10:30 or 11 the past couple of weeks or more, but today it was 9:30. Rosie was still in bed. I hit the Nespresso machine three times before she got up. After doing the emails I went to the Club Lounge just at 11, before they closed, to put together a plate of food for us. I headed off to the gym and had a nice fairly heavy workout....back, triceps, abs and then 35 minutes on the treadmill. Back in the room I finished off what Rose Lane didn’t eat on the plate and showered up to get ready for the gig. Quint had called and we agreed the three of us would meet in the lobby for the 3pm van. I had put together the By Request songs the day before, and “She’s A Rainbow” had won handily. So we would go over that in the run-through back stage. We put in “All Down The Line” in the first part of the set...we haven’t done that one on this tour yet. So we went over that as well. The ballad would be “Wild Horses” and we touched on that just a bit, which wound up the rehearsal.
Quint and I went to catering....the had a nice dish that was apparently a Brazilian favorite, which was very much like Jambalia. It came with a rose colored spicy sauce and together was really good. I had two helpings.
We went back to our dressing room to wait out the time before the show started. In the interim period, a group of folks from the Giannini String Instrument company came into our dressing room. Very nice people and I enjoyed studying their line of products online: http://www.gianniniguitars.com/?v2
They make some really interesting instruments....I’m interested in their Brazilian Viola, which is a ten string acoustic instrument. They also make a mandolin that looks pretty cool. Our crew is in touch with them, so I am going to follow up and see what the possibilities are.
Another killer show...“...Rainbow” came off great, and the crowd loved it. All the other tunes in the set rocked with the same consistincy we’ve been expertiencing. We got a little bit of rain towards the end of the set...just as we were starting “Gimme Shelter”....but it was a light rain and didn’t cause any major problems, although the stage hands had to come out a few times and do their best to dry off the ramp and part of the stage.
Back at the hotel we had another hang in the Asian restaurant for a bit...Quint, Rosie and me, Dr. Richard Daywood and some others were there. Nice wind down before retiring for the night.
Two more off days in Sao Paulo. We pondered our options for what to do for today....and the answer was...NOTHING! We were both a bit knackered (as the British say) and I wound up hooking up my computer to our TV in the room and playing a couple of movies. As a member of SAG-AFTRA, I get movies for consideration for the Academy Awards...and had been holding a few in my bag that we had not seen. So we watched “Spotlight”, a film about the abuse of children by the Catholic church and the journalists from the Boston Globe (special investigative group called Spotlight)....and “The Big Short”, a film about the financial/housing crash of ‘08 and how 3 different groups of high level investors saw it coming and profited immensely from it. Both were quite good and it was a fine way to pass the time and get some rest. For the evening, Luciana had invited some of us to a party she was giving. We decided to go, and hopped in a cab to get there. It was a really enjoyable and fun party...her husband, Marcelo, is a very nice guy and they threw quite a “wing-ding”. Fine food and drink in a beautiful high rise condo with an amazing view of the city. There was a covered outdoor patio that we enjoyed hanging out on....while it poured with rain. We met some interesting folks there and had good conversations with several of them. All of them had positive accolades about our show. After three or so hours, we decided to say our goodbyes and head back....Tim Ries was with us. We called for a cab, but after waiting for 10 minutes or so, one of the guests, a gent we had talked to for a while at the party named Louis Rosen (who is in the jewelry business), came out and offered us a ride in his car with him and his wife. It was still raining hard, and we were grateful to go with him and get back.
Leap Year Day! A bonus day. I headed to the gym and after a good workout, we decided to try out one more mall that was nearby, the Marumbi Mall. There was another shopping mall across from that...and we explored them both. Both were highly average, but at least we had a decent walkabout. Back at the hotel we rested up a bit and decided to go to dinner in the French restaurant, Eau, at the hotel. Caroline Clements had told us she was going with Barry ??, the fellow who handles our airline charters. We tagged along with them and enjoyed their company. We had not known Barry very well, so it was a good chance to hang with him and learn about his background. He has tour managed a good bit for some artists...The Beach Boys being one of them. The food was OK, if not great...but again, it was mostly about the conversations and being with friends.
Back in the room we did some more packing for the next day’s departure.
PORTO ALEGRE AND LIMA
3/1 Starting the third month of the first quarter of the year. My how time flies....so we had the bags ready for the usual 11am collection and I went to pay the bill. A short gym hit....then a bit of time to kill on the computer and watching the news before we gathered in the lobby for the 2pm departure. Bus ride to the airport, board the plane and make the short flight to Porto Alegre. Another bus met us to transport us to the Sheraton Hotel...which we had been warned was not up to our usual standard. We arrived there about 6:30.... and while it indeed wasn’t as nice as most of the other places we’ve stayed, it wasn’t horrible and we wouldn’t be there all that long anyway. Always fun to go to a new place....but the problem is that we had very little time to spend there. We only had this evening, the show day tomorrow and then would leave on the 3rd.We went to the bar for a drink...and saw that some of our crew were staying there as well. Great to see them and spend a little time socially with them. Pierre de Beauport, Cole Xuereb, Ken Fallon and some others were there. We decided to stay in and dine in the hotel restaurant, which was, like the hotel itself, on the “highly average” list.
Before leaving for the show, Rosie and I took a little walk around the mall that was attached to our hotel. Not a whole lot there, but at least we got to walk around a little. We both left on the early van. I wanted to do a bit more charting on the David Gilmour songs in my dressing room. I only got through one tune and started on another...but time ran out and that was it. The weather looked “iffy’...but of course there was nothing to do but go with the flow should it rain. We did the run-through backstage, I hit catering for some food, took some down time in the dressing room and it wasn’t long until time to hit the stage. Well....we’ve had some memorable ”rain shows“ in the many years I’ve had with the band...but this one may rank as number one. In the top three, for sure. It didn’t start raining until right when we hit the first notes of the night...and it came down hard for most all the set. There were two or three times when it went from pouring to medium, but for the most part it was a torrential downpour.
Rosie and I did our morning thing, then had a little time to walk around again. We did the mall a second time, then hit the streets for 30 minutes or so. Not a whole lot to see, so we came back and readied ourselves for the departure and flight. This would be a longer one than we’ve had in a while...4 1/2 hours. I watched a movie...”Mission Impossible“...not sure which number it was, but the latest one that was released. Third or fourth, I think. We arrived in Lima in the late afternoon....having gained two hours. The ride from the airport to the hotel was quite ”interesting“...it reminded me of the traffic in Mexico City, or perhaps even India. Heavy, heavy traffic, all the cars, trucks and other vehicles vying for space and position....lots of horn beeping, fists shaking, finger pointing and in one case our driver was given the middle finger. It was comical for the most part, but certainly not the most comfortable ride with a lot of clutching and breaking and accelerating going on the whole time. Finally we got to the Westin...about an hour drive. We had eaten some on the plane and weren’t hungry enough to go out to dinner...and as there was a Club Lounge at the Westin, we opted to go there, have a drink and eat some of the food that was laid out. There was a good many of our group that decided the same...including Keith, Patti and others. After an hour or so of that hang, we turned in.
Deciding that we should not just stay in the room all day, I consulted the Concierge about some options, and we wound up hiring a car and driver to take us to ”Downtown Lima“, which is one of the older sections of town. Good idea, but not on a Friday! We had a nice driver, Jose, that spoke enough english to make us feel comfortable...but the traffic was just horrible. It took us over an hour to get to that part of town, only to find out that some of the main streets we wanted to see were closed due to some demonstration. Jose had suggested a restaurant in the area, but given the traffic, he said it would be too complicated to make that place and suggested another. That took a good 30 minutes to get to, but it was a very nice place, called ”El Bolivariano“. A huge restaurant with several rooms, large and small. But it was not crowded, and we had an enjoyable lunch. Our waiter was very nice and took us on a little tour of the place after we finished. Then we loaded up with Jose and told him to take us back to the Westin. On the way, he told us of a shop we might be interested in called Kuna...we had expressed an interest in buying some pashminas and other similar type clothes and scarfs made from the local Alpaca or Llama wool. It turned out to be a good stop....Rose Lane found a nice piece for Ashley, and I found a cool jacket for half price and a fine t-shirt. Then we made it back to the hotel and rested up a while.
There was a dinner planned this night for the whole band, staff and some of the crew. Unfortunately, most of the crew folks couldn’t make it due to work, but there were about 22 or so of us that did come. The restaurant was called Astrid Y Gaston, and is rated one of the finest in Lima. Fortunately it wasn’t very far from the hotel...and at the appointed time those of us in the band and staff all gathered and took a bus that had been arranged to get us there. All the principals came shortly after we did. The room was generous in size and very pleasant to be in...and the kitchen was just behind a large counter in front of us. They had arranged a huge table for all of us ti sit together, and we sorted out our places and settled in. It was a wonderful night...the food was excellent, and they had also arranged some entertainment for us. A local band and singer. The band consisted of two excellent guitar players, three percussionists and the female singer. One of the percussionists also danced with another female dancer that came out after a few tunes. It all made for great fun and a wonderful memory. So great to have a time like this for all of us to celebrate the tour and spend time together...and a very generous thing for the band to arrange.
One more day to explore Lima. We hired Jose again and went out to an area called Miraflores, next to the area we were in, San Isidro..so it wasn’t all that far to go, and the traffic wasn’t nearly as bad as it was the day before. Jose suggested we go to the Indian market first, which we did. But it was very touristy, and most all the shops were the same. But we checked it out and spent 45 minutes or so exploring before deciding to leave. Then Jose suggested a mall that had several restaurants that was near the ocean...located high up a cliff. That was a very cool spot, and we wound up having lunch at a nice Italian restaurant called ??. After a light lunch we walked around the mall....and there was another Kuna that we visited and wound up making several purchases for gifts. Rose Lane also bought a piece for herself there...and after leaving Kuna we went to a jewelry store a few doors down and bought her a nice silver ”leaf“ bracelet and some earnings. That wound up our day and we had Jose take us back to the Westin.
For dinner, the Concierge had suggested a place called La Gloria. It was very good...quiet (which we like) and the food lived up to the Concierge’s recommendation. The waiters spoke very little english, but we made our way through without difficulty. I was really tired after we got back, and hit the sack very soon after our return. Had a nice long sleep...about 9 hours. Must have needed it!
No gym hit today...and after some wake up time, we went up to the Club Lounge to grab some food and more coffee. After that I took a walk to a nearby square that was fairly deserted and sat in the sun for 30 minutes while listening to some David Gilmour tunes. Then went back to the room to shower and get ready to go to the Monumental Stadium. We were in the early van, leaving at 1:30. I had intended to do some Gilmour work, but wound up walking around a while taking pictures, then practicing a bit and taking a nap. The rest of the band arrived in due course and we did a run-through, playing Keith’s ”You Got The Silver“, ”Like A Rolling Stone“ and ”Can’t Always Get...“ with the choir. I could tell Mick was a bit tired, and heard him say he had not slept all that well. After the little rehearsal, there was some filming done with another local traditional band...with all of us looking on while they played and danced. It was a fun moment and served to give us all a boost.
We had a little down time before hitting the stage. The food in catering was less than standard, so I only had enough to make sure I didn’t go hungry on the stage, then just relaxed until showtime. As we hit the first song, it began to rain...and it did not let up during the whole show....one of the rainiest shows we’ve ever had. Not just a light rain, but a heavy one. It must have rained two or three inches at least during the two hours on stage. Cole had covered what he could of my keyboards with towels, but even though I am under the roof of the stage I got quite a lot of wet stuff blown my way...so I spent every moment in-between songs drying off my keys and hoping they didn’t crap out on me. Fortunately it didn’t seem to do amy damage.
Mick got really soaked all the way through the set, and whenever Keith and Ronnie went out from underneath the roof, they got soaked, too. But these rain shows make for something really special with the audiences, and that was certainly the case this night. They ate it up, and the band gave everything we could.
I felt for the crew....as after the show it kept raining, and I was told that it didn’t stop until they had just finished loading out. They also told me that they poured gallons and gallons of water out of the monitor systems. I know it must have been really hard on all of them, but they are troupers and didn’t complain about it.
Back at the Westin we did some packing and had a drink in the Club Lounge, then hit the sheets.
Pisco Sour....the new cocktail
Bags sent off...bite to eat in Lounge, meet in lobby, on the bus, into the plane, wait for the Principals and finally take off and head to Bogota. Between the long ride from the Westin to the airport...the flight, and now a 45 minute ride from where we landed in the Bogota airport just to get to immigration (about 45 minutes), get through that and board another bus for another 45 minute ride to the hotel, we were “traveled out” by the time we got to the Four Seasons in Bogota. This is a very new hotel...only open about four months...in a very old building. We took up all 65 rooms, so we had the place to ourselves. Our room was fairly small, with no separation between the bedroom and the little sitting room, but it was a decent room...although it would have been a lot better if we had a couch long enough to lay in. The couch was more like a love seat, so it wasn’t all that comfortable for Rosie and me to sit in that room.
We went down to the restaurant area, where several others in our group gathered to have a drink and explore the food possibility. Keith and Patti were there, Tim Ries and a few others. We sipped our cocktails and talked for a bit, then Patti came over to tell us we should come up to their room to listen to the stuff the Stones recorded in London in Dec. Keith had invited me to do so a few times before, but somehow we either missed his message or were out of the hotel. So this was the chance to hear it. The band had gone to London to “mess around” and see if there could be any material to come out of it. I had not been invited, which had hurt my feelings...especially knowing that Matt Clifford was there. But I was in no position to force myself into the mix, so I had no choice but to stay out of it. But to make things worse, what had happened was that while they apparently explored trying to do some new material, they wound up playing some blues tunes. One thing led to another, and they wound up with 9 or 10 tracks of blues. For them to do that without me there tore me up. But I took it as best I could, and at some point Keith, Ronnie and Charlie had expressed that they wanted me to overdub on some of it. Mick has not mentioned a word about it to me. Anyway, this night was finally the time to go up to Keith’s room and give it all a listen. Rose Lane went with me, and Tim Ries also came, and Darryl. Darryl was on the sessions, and had told me some about it. We all gathered in his sitting area, and he put the music on. It sounded really great...and as Keith pointed out several times, this is why the Stones started playing together in the first place. They loved the blues and that was most of their repertoire...with perhaps some Chuck Berry thrown in. The mixes we listened to had Matt’s part either way down in the mix or not there at all for the most part. But from what I could hear of him, most of the parts he played sounded benign to me for the most part. This is a delicate thing...I like Matt, and part of me is glad he was there....but I know if I had been there it would have come out more authentic. Anyway, Keith wants me to have a shot at it at some point. I truly hope that comes about, but there are challenges to make it happen. First, what about Mick? How does he feel about it? Second...where and when would we work that out? Well...hopefully it will be done. Obviously I want to do it and will do everything I can to sort it out.
Keith had some other “sketches” of ideas that he played...that Matt was also on. They were not even demos of yet....just sort of jams and riff ideas. So I don’t know what the band will do about it all coming together...will the blues thing be a stand alone project? Will it be a part of some new stuff that they will eventually finish? Whatever happens, I certainly want to be a part of it. We’ll see how the whole thing turns out in time.
We were there fairly late...until 2am or so. Then left, giving Keith accolades about all of it and letting him know that I’m ready whenever he is for me to get in on it.
A new place to explore....Bogota. Rosie had contracted a little stomach virus, but we wanted to get out some. We spoke to the Concierge and arranged a car and driver to take us out. We first went to the Andiamo ?? Mall, which was quite upscale. We walked around, peeking in some of the shops....and while so many of these malls are quite the same, with brands you can find anywhere in the world, there were some that were more indigenous to Columbia. We didn’t see anything we just had to have, so we got back in the car to do some more looking around. But poor Rosie wasn’t doing well, and she asked to go back to the hotel. I asked our driver to take her while I walked around the area some more, waiting for him to come back for me. About an hour later I met up with him and he took me to another shopping area called Santa Barbara. This was an older arrangement, with a Spanish vibe to it. There were lots of stores, but mostly not what I would call upscale...not that they wasn’t some nice places, but it was more a combination of average with a few nicer stores in the mix. I walked that for 45 minutes or so, but again didn’t see anything amazing, so I called our driver to take me back. It had started to rain, so that was a good call.
Back at the hotel we killed time....Rose Lane had gotten a little worse, so staying in was the thing to do.
More time to kill in Bogota. But it seems that whatever Rose Lane had came my way. I don’t know if Montezuma ever made it to Columbia or not, but his revenge certainly did, and showed up big time in both of us. Ugh. So there wasn’t a whole lot of going out today.
Still feeling the effects of whatever bug it was, we made it to the gig. I felt somewhat better, but still weak and not 100%. Went through the usual routine...bit of a rehearsal backstage which included the choir, and we were ready. Show somewhat of a blur to me as I was so concerned with just getting through it without a bad incident (which I did, thank God), that it’s not one of the most memorable ones for me. I do know the band played well and the sold out stadium rocked the whole night. So all in all a great success.
Had hoped to wake up feeling better...and at first I did...but it wasn’t long before I realized that I wasn’t done yet with this thing. We were packed up the bags for the luggage call and killed time until time to meet everyone in the lobby for departure to Mexico City. All smooth for the most part, but Montezuma followed us all the way. Yuk.
Arrived Mexico City and after immigration and customs, which was a bit slow, made our way on the bus to the Four Seasons hotel.
Arriving too late to consider going out, we opted to dine in the in-house Italian restaurant called Il Grecco ??. Tired as we were, after the meal, which was quite good, we retired to our room and crashed out.
The 11th we were invited to a party at a private residence...Federico Gastaldi. Most all the band were there...sans Charlie and Keith....Rosie and I enjoyed meeting some of the nice local folks that were in attendance, and were served some good food and drink. They had a long and narrow outdoor courtyard where a bar was set up...and in the back was a BBQ pit where a cook was tending to the various meats they served. After a couple of hours there was a surprise....a professional couple of tango dancers. Actually, we were told they are the current world champion tango dancers. Amazing to watch and very entertaining.
In the coming days after the tour, we began to focus on
other things. For me, it was
mainly to get what work done on Charlane that I thought we
needed to prioritize. That
meant getting a fence built around our duck pond (to keep
out the deer and hogs after
we plant it); site prepping some of the Bullard Tract so we
could get some of it planted
this coming season; mowing our woods roads; taking down any
dead trees that we
wanted to saw up; working with Emmitt Shurling on various
projects on our buildings;
planning for staining our horse pasture fences; spraying
herbicide in several areas at
Charlane and several other projects. It also meant getting
our schedule together for the
coming months. I managed to book some good work. Karl Denson
had invited me to do
two gigs with him...one at the Capitol Theater in Port
Chester, NY on Sept 11 and the
next day at the Lockin’ Festival. Both of these would be for
Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe
(with special guest Chuck Leavell). Widespread Panic was
also to play Lockin’ and
eventually asked me to join in on their set with Jimmy Cliff
as a special guest the same
night of Karl’s gig.
I also booked several speeches...the first would be on Sept
21 for the US Industrial
Pellet Assn. in Miami. After that, on Sept 24 I would
keynote for the Colorado Open
Lands Trust in Denver. Then Oct 6 in Lake Tahoe for SFI
(Sustainable Forestry Initiate).
I also booked a conference called Fortune Brainstorm E (for
“energy) in Austin, Tx. I will
play a short 30 min set with he band (Randall Bramblett
Band) and then Joel Babbit and
I will be interviewed on stage by Brian Dumaine, the main
moderator of the conference.
That would focus on our work with the Mother Nature Network.
Oct 1 would be a 45
minute solo gig at the Idle Hour Country Club. Buck Williams
also booked me a show
with Randall and band at Chastain Park in Atlanta on Oct 16.
All these speeches and
music appearances would be nice lucrative income for me,
helping us to get through
until our quail season starts in late October. Also....since
Ashley is pregnant, Rose Lane
and I decided we would fly up to see her and Peter for a few
days in Manchester right
after the Chastain show. So there would be plenty to keep us
Relaxing In Rosie World
Rose Lane has been diligently working to book our quail
hunts for our various
clients....the Stones had asked us to keep late Jan-end of
March on hold as a possible
South American tour...so we would prioritize our most
important clients to come before
late Jan. Finally, around Sept 8 or so, we got word that the
tour is on. So now at least
we know the parameters and can work with more accuracy on
dates. We will be leaving
around Jan 18 or so....which is just after Ashley’s due
date...so I’m just hoping that she
will have that baby when I’m here!
The shows with Karl Denson went really well. The Capitol was
not sold out...maybe
about 60%, but it was a fun gig. My partner in IROCKU,
Howard Citron, brought a group
to the show there, and it was good to see him. The Lockin’
Festival with Karl also went
well, although there were some sound problems with the
monitor system. I hung around
to play with Widespread Panic with Jimmy Cliff as a special
guest. We did 6 songs with him.
The Harder They Come D
Many Rivers to Cross F
You Can Get It If You Really Want D
Sitting in Limbo D
Guns of Brixton (Gm)
I Can See Clearly Now D
I also did ”Stone Me“ with Widespread before before Jimmy
came on. There was quite a
crowd attending...maybe 20K or so. Other artists on the bill
included Derek Trucks and
Susan Tedeschi; Robert Plant; The Jayhawks; Gov’t Mule and
Lena Rosaline Denson White with Rose Lane
With all this on the books, another ongoing focus had been
on Rose Lane and Alton's
mother. Her health, both mental and physical, had been in
decline for a good year or so.
By this time, she was really in bad shape. So much so that
we had Hospice
involved...they helped to get her a nurse that would check
on her most every day in her
home...she was basically confined to a hospital bed that
they had provided. Hospice also
assigned a Doctor to her....although it was the nurse and
the sitters that were with her
every day. Rose Lane and Alton both spent as much time as
they could with her, but she
had become unresponsive by early to mid September...and she
passed away the morning
of Sept. 17 at age 92. She fought the good fight, but it had
just become too much and she
finally let go. Along with the grief of losing her, there
was relief in knowing her journey
had come to an end. The service for her was well attended
and we laid her to rest in the
cemetery of New Richland Baptist Church where we laid her
husband, Al, so many
decades ago...in '72, I believe. In the following days,
weeks and months there would be
much for Rosie and Alton to deal with...the Estate, deciding
where some of the furniture
and other belongings would go, Probating the Will....all of
that. Rose Lane inherited
around 400 or so acres in a couple of different tracts,
which we will attend to probably
next year in terms of thinning some timber. Alton inherited
her house and maybe double
the land...but all of that had been determined many years
ago so they both knew the
situation. Alton and Rose Lane both handled the whole event
with grace, love and
togetherness. Time passages...
The trip to Manchester was most enjoyable...a nice getaway,
and the leaves were just
hitting peak colors. We had a nice stay with Ash and
Peter...helped them put together a
new baby bed and some other furniture in the house. Their
house is pretty much done,
with some things still to be finished...but the focus was
definitely on the upcoming birth
(she is due Jan 15) and getting the baby room in order.
Upon our return, I set my mind mostly to Charlane hunts, a
timber thinning that we had
going on on around 100 acres or so, and the site prepping of
the Bullard Tract that we
would plant about 70 acres of Longleaf Pine on. All of that
went really well....until I had
a most unfortunate accident. I was doing some final mowing
of the tract when my John
Deere 4240 caught on fire. I was by myself and there was no
fire extinguisher on the
tractor. Within about 3 minutes it began to flame up
significantly and within 6 or 7
The Burning Tractor
there was nothing to be done. Chris Gordy, who was supervising the actual
planting, was driving by and ran to try and help...as did
Alton, who was also passing by. I
had called Hal Hamilton quickly, and he got there as soon as
he could with one of my
four wheelers with a water tank on it...and Alton had a fire
extinguisher. We managed to
save three of the tires, but that was about it. A total
loss....and it was not insured. Oh
well...I loved that tractor...it was my real workhorse. 110
horsepower, and very tough. I
had just bought a new starter for it to the tune of $350 or
so...and only a couple of months
prior had bought a new rear tire for it. So now I have to
see what can be salvaged from it
and just move on. I don't know if I'll have the time and
money to buy another similar
tractor before our upcoming South American tour...probably
not. But I'll deal with it as
best I can.
Our hunts have gone really well so far...fun repeat clients
for the most part, but one or
two new ones...with everyone enjoying their experience, and
I expect most of them will
continue to patronize us in the coming years. Our staff have
it down quite well now and
things have run very smoothly. We've also managed to get
some hunts on the books while
we will be gone....which is good as it will keep our staff
busy and create some income.
I got a call from my friend Warren Haynes in late Nov to
invite me to be a special guest
with his band Gov't Mule in NY at the Beacon Theater on New
Years Eve...and I
accepted. Not long after, Buck Williams called to say that a
couple of days before that,
Widespread Panic would invite me to guest with them at the
Fox Theater in Atlanta. So
that worked out nicely and I booked both gigs. I was given a
somewhat surprising and
heartwarming reception at the Fox by the Widespread fans...and
they also gave me a very
strong reaction after every tune...especially ”Dead Flowers“
and ”Jessica“. Very cool.
The Mule gig also went well....but not without some shaky
moments. For one thing, some
of the tempos were, in my opinion, way too fast, making it
difficult to settle into a
groove. The ”theme“ of the evening was Watkins Glen...so
Warren did 3 sets...one of
Grateful Dead tunes, one of songs from The Band (neither of
which I played on) and then
the closing set of Allman Brothers songs. We didn’t start
until midnight...making for a
very late night. But at the end of the day, it went fine and
the fans seemed to enjoy it. The
players were all the Mule band, Jack Pearson added on
guitar, Paul Riddle and Sean
Pelton (from SNL band) on drums.
While in NY, I took a minute to call Bernard Fowler to ask
him who would replace Lisa
Fischer on our upcoming South American tour with the Stones.
He told me a girl named
Sasha Allan. I googled her up, and she seems to be very
talented, and she is quite
attractive...so I’m sure she will do fine.
On Thanksgiving, we had all the family with us for a couple
of days. Amy asked us to
keep the boys for two days before she and Steve would get
there, which was a real treat.
Ashley and Peter had gone to stay a couple of days in our
Savannah house before driving
over to spend Thanksgiving with us. So in the end we had all
the family together, at least
for a short time. Peter and I managed to get a little half
day hunt in, which was good
fun....and we all had a wonderful time.
For Christmas, since Rosaline had passed away and the
Bransfords would be spending it
at their place...and with Ashley too pregnant to travel, we
decided to spend it with just
Rosie and me in Savannah. A nice little 5 days of just us.
We had a party on the 23rd with
some friends we have made there and some new folks that we
had not met. That went
great. The only sort of weird thing was the weather...80
degrees most every day....and that
has been the case all winter. So far we are on track to have
the warmest winter on record.
But no mind...it was kinda nice in a way.
So today is New Year’s Day. Having finished the Mule set at
2:30am, Rosie and I had a
couple of drinks at the bar of the Americatania Hotel where
we were staying...and got to
our room just after 3am. The car to take us to the Newark
airport arrived at 10:30 and we
departed about 15 minutes after that. Flight was on time,
and as I write this we are 30K
feet up in the air with an hour and a half to go before we
land. Then it will be the drive
home and we should get there around 6pm. We have a couple of
days before the hunts
crank up again...and from there we have hunts every day
until we leave to go up to
Manchester to hopefully be with Ashley and Peter when the
baby comes. We leave Jan
13. With all of the stress I’m feeling at the
moment...burned up tractor, being dissed by
the Stones and always worrying about money...the thought of
a new grandchild gives me
something to look forward to. I keep telling myself to rise
above it all and to keep things
in perspective....and to keep the faith that things will go
as they should....and for the
Indeed the hunts we had on the books went really well. Roger
Pride, had a great hunt with us as did Don Whyte’s group
before him. His friend, Bing
Kearney, was actually the host of the group for everyone.
Bing owns a couple of big
outdoor stores called Shooter’s World down in Florida...as
well as a construction
company that does road building and such. All really great
guys and we enjoyed having
Lane and I left on Jan 13 for Manchester. It was so great to see Ashley and
Peter. Ash was ”full of baby“ and ready to give birth...but she didn’t do so on
the due date of the 15th. We spent time with them at their house, and went out
with Ashley a time or two to do errands. It was cold, cold in Manch, and it
snowed while we were there. Quite beautiful to look at, but makes driving a bit
of a challenge. Still, we had no problem getting around. We had dinner at a
Greek restaurant with the four of us one night...Ash and Peter were friends
with the owners. At the end of the dinner, the woman owner predicted they would
have a girl...as it turned out, she was right!
Despina Rose Tziros (Precious)
on the morning of the day before I was to leave, the 16th, Ashley went into
labor. We all expected the baby would come within a few hours, but as it turned
out she had a 27 hour labor...and had the baby around 5:30am on the 17th. Peter
called us several times during the process, and finally around 7 or 8am he
called us to tell us it was indeed a girl...Despina Rose Tziros. We made our
way to the hospital by mid morning. So great that she came while I was
there....I had about 5 hours or so before I had to leave for the Boston airport
to head to LA for rehearsals.
little gal was just beautiful, and we were all elated. I held her as long as I
could, finally having to go back to the house to pack and head out. Rose Lane
would stay there for another week to help out, and I had a 3:30pm pickup from