It’s been a while since I last sent out a message or posted my news and Midsummer Day seems a good time to do it. I’d like to welcome all the new people who have been kind enough to join my ‘friends’ list, either by writing to me on the guestbook or by signing the e-mail list at a show. The delay has been due to some unavoidable technical stuff, happily now sorted, so here goes:
After my year’s break, I started up with my own concerts again at the end of January and did a run of low-key shows, some with Uli Kringler and some solo, and was gratified to find that absence really does make the heart grow fonder. All the shows were well attended and some were sold out. It was great to be back on stage with my own songs and I am still really enjoying our’ back to the 30s’ stage set-up when I play with Uli. We’ve been playing for over a year now with just one microphone, front of stage, no wires and no monitor speakers, completely back to the roots! It gives us maximum freedom to improvise, the guitars sound like they really do sound and we can use the full spectrum of sound from a whisper to a scream. There were more concerts from February to April, in Germany, the UK, in Holland and in the USA. The Dutch shows were small but lovingly put together and I hope to concentrate on doing more there in the near future. One UK highlight was a guest appearance with Justin Currie in Bridport, when he got me up to play the harmonica solo on his Del Amitri hit ‘Kiss This Thing Goodbye’ for the first time since it was recorded over twenty years ago. Justin sang and played brilliantly and I remain a fan!
I played twice in Amsterdam inside a month and the first show was distinguished by the attendance of English author Redmond Hanlon, who partied down while I was playing, but was a very enthusiastic convert to the music. I first came across him when I read his book ‘Into The Heart Of Borneo’, which any male reader will remember for the appearance of a river fish with a tendency to insert itself in an intimate place while a man relieves himself! Nasty stuff but a very funny and fine read…
In the States I played on the East Coast and in Chicago, finishing up with a few days in Nashville and a show in Memphis, a visit that included a meal in Elvis’ favourite diner near Beale Street. While in Nashville I spent a good bit of time with Dan Penn again and will take up his offer to record another CD together, towards the end of this year. (I’ve written about a dozen new songs over the last 18 months).
I made a lot of new friends at all the shows and though, as so often, a lot of my upcoming touring is in Germany, I plan to get back to all those places and keep spreading the word as best I can.
Having sold the very last of my CD stocks last year (which is good), I found myself in the position of having no music to sell at my shows (which is bad). This situation will shortly be put right with the release on Blue Rose Records of a 3 x CD compilation, with 2 CD’ worth of tracks from my earlier albums and one of demos, out-takes and genuine rarities. It should be out in late summer. I also recently heard that my early â€˜90s ‘Rockpalast’ live TV recording (with Steuart Smith and Vince Santoro) will soon be brought out through MIG.
Talking of Steuart Smith, some of you will know that after the five years or so during which I was lucky enough to tour and record with him, he went on to play for the Eagles, which he has now done successfully for ten years.
I had an unexpected opportunity for a reunion with him in the studio, when I was asked by my friend Wolfgang Niedecken, boss of BAP, one of Germany’s most popular rock bands, to produce an acoustic solo album for him. Knowing him to be a huge Bob Dylan fan, I put together a studio team at Dreamland Studios in Woodstock, New York, where I recorded my Travel On album in the 90s. Most prominent at the sessions were Steuart, on keyboards and guitars, and ex-Dylan sideman Larry Campbell on most of the other stringed instruments you can imagine: guitar, dobro, mandolin, fiddle, pedal steel, cittern “ you get the idea! The producer played some guitar and harmonica, but otherwise the very simple recordings featured only a handful of musical guests, most notably my long-time hero John Sebastian of the Lovin’ Spoonful, who came in to play a harmonica duel on one song.
The whole project was made in total secrecy and turned out really well. Wolfgang sang his heart out, played acoustic guitar live with the band and everyone laughed a lot, lived and ate together and had a great time playing the music live with no click tracks, in the old fashioned way.
The album will be released in September and, as it is Wolfgang’s first real solo record, should get a lot of attention. I will be involved in the promotion and live presentation, of which more details later.
In the meantime there is a lot to do at home and in the office, preparing for all this upcoming activity, and I’m delighted to say that there are two full tours in the calendar in November of this year and in March 2014. (You can see the dates here on the Tour Dates page or on facebook).
It all kicks off after the summer with my â€˜once every two yearsâ€™ visit to Kempen, this time with not one, but two concerts back to back on September 13th and 14th. The first show will be with Uli Kringler and the second with my very talented children and some surprise guests.
That’s about it for now. I wish everyone a great summer and hope the weather is better than it has been for the last year or two!
See you somewhere down the road,
Julian, Somerset, June 2013