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.
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Mexico City, Miami and Cuba
MIAMI AND CUBA
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