Rolling Stones 2005 - Well, here we go again! Rose Lane and I (that us at our beloved Charlane Plantation!) arrived in Toronto on Sunday, July 10. It was a non-eventful flight, except for an hour delay leaving Atlanta. We phoned the folks from the car company that was picking us up to tell them that we were delayed a bit.
The rest of the flight was fine, and we arrived in T-Town around 6 p.m. After loading up the van with our six bags (man, it’s hard to pack for a Stones tour!) we were driven to the house that has been rented for us for the next five weeks. We had seen pictures of it that had been sent by some of the staff working on accommodations for the band, but the pictures didn’t do it justice. Really cool digs. It’s a contemporary house in a great location … close to the Yorktown area, not far from the house we had for the 40 Licks tour.
It has a baby grand, which is very helpful for me. Another nice feature includes an exercise area with a treadmill, stationary bike, universal machine and free weights. That’s great for me, as it eliminates the need for me to join a local health club to get in my workouts. There is also a sun deck where we can lay out and relax. Toronto weather’s been great. We know the neighborhood well, as we learned it from the last several tour rehearsals, so it’s really like coming to our second home. Toronto always treats us like home folks and we have lots of friends and associates that live here. So for the next four days we settled in, getting to know our house and arranging schedules and such.
Rose Lane will be taking some art lessons from an instructor that she worked with during the last rehearsals, so she contacted her to set things up.
There is also a sun deck where we can lay out and relax. Toronto weather’s been great. We know the neighborhood well, as we learned it from the last several tour rehearsals, so it’s really like coming to our second home. Toronto always treats us like home folks and we have lots of friends and associates who live here. A few weeks in to the rehearsals now. We’ve all settled in nicely and have touched on lots of material, including some great new tracks from the new CD, A Bigger Bang. The new ones that seem to show the most promise are Rough Justice, Streets of Love, Back of My Hand, Rain Fall Down and Neo Con. We certainly won’t be able to play all of them at the beginning of the tour … I’d say Rough Justice and Street may get priority as they’re getting radio play now, long before the tour starts.
We’re all getting more comfortable with them as well as exploring some other tunes from the deep well of material the band has. It’s tough, as at some point you have to make some hard decisions as to what you can realistically keep in the mix and what has to go or at least be held back for later.
Our daughter Ashley and her boyfriend Peter came in to town late on July 20. They went to dinner with Rose Lane that evening and came to rehearsals on Thursday. The crew folks as well as everyone else was glad to see her. She worked on the last tour during the European leg in the merchandise crew, and made close friends with all the crew folks during that experience. So it was like a reunion of sorts for her. She enjoyed seeing her old mates and she and Peter loved listening to the band rehearse.
They both asked me tons of questions about the process and about what tunes seem to be making it to the final cut. I haven’t kept an exact number yet, but so far I think we’ve touched on 50-60 songs. This will really be a challenge, as we want to find that delicate balance of new material, favorites and rarities. But the main thing is that the band is really beginning to gel.
We have Sundays off, which is nice as it give Rose Lane and me a chance for quiet dinners out.
I’ve kept my workout routing going, and have also secured a bike to tool around with and get some aerobic outdoor exercise. The weather has improved - it had been really muggy with high humidity and very hot. But recent rain showers and a front have cooled things down a bit. This makes it more enjoyable to be outdoors, whether on the bike or just walking around in our area. I’ve been sorting through all the lists of songs given to me by friends and associates who are Stones fans.
Comparing this with the songs we’ve been rehearsing and the ones that show the most promise of getting to the stage. I plan on working hard on this in order to make a tighter list for next week. The horns (Tim Reis, Bobby Keys, Kent Smith and Michael Davis, below) as well as the vocalists (Lisa Fischer, Bernard Fowler and Blondie Chaplin) have arrived so we’re shifting into a higher gear in terms of honing in on the material. I’ll be meeting with Mick to put our heads together on this. Then we can really dial in on what a set will look like.
About the time we left to come here to Toronto I ordered some advance copies of my new CD, Southscape. They will be sent out to the marketing folks at Megaforce Records and Sony/RED, our distributors. Our company Evergreen Arts owns all the rights, but Megaforce and Sony/RED will be responsible for getting the CD’s into the retail stores. They all seem to be very enthusiastic about the project. We’ve also discussed some promotional ideas, like getting advance copies to all the jazz stations across North America and have been working on some marketing ideas such as getting the CD into non-traditional outlets. We’re also gearing up for promotion … garnering interviews with magazines, radio, TV and such. I’m excited about getting it out there. We’re also working on the possibility of getting my DVD, Live At The Douglass Theater, played on some of the Cox Cable markets. We don’t have a firm deal yet, but it’s looking pretty good at the moment. We should know something more solid in the next two weeks on all of this.