THE TOUR BEGINS!
Today started with Ashley coming over to get together with Rose Lane do to more shopping for the new apartment. They left about 11:00, so I had some time to myself for coffee and emails After about an hour of that, it was off to the gym for a good workout. Ninety minutes of pushing weights and oing some cardio gave me a good energy boost, and I went back to my room to make a couple of calls. Dan Beeson, my publicist, had come to town to attend the first show. He’s worked hard to usher in the Fox News Network piece that will be done soon, and it’s good he’s here to help things along. So I called him around 1:30 to let him know we should leave for Fenway at 2:30. I met him in the lobby at the appointed time, and we should leave for Fenway at 2:30. I met him in the lobby at the appointed time, and we were off to the stadium. Upon arrival I arranged a pass for him and showed him around the stage and backstage areas. He went back to the hotel to get ready for the show, and I stayed to meet the band for sound check. They arrived at about 4pm and settled in to the respective dressing rooms. We hit the stage for sound check around 5 and ran over a few tunes to get the balances right for the house mix and for our monitors. We also ran over a tune for the “B” stage, as that is a more complicated situation for sound with us moving from the big stage out to the “B” stage in the audience. Our stage manager was getting a bit nervous as we were holding the doors to the stadium past the estimated time…but we wanted to get things right, so we did indeed have to keep the fans waiting a little while. Finally we finished up and went back to our dressing rooms.
By then Rose Lane, Ashley, her boyfriend Peter, Lynn Lavery, Herren and Susan had all arrived. The “hang” area where people get drinks, eat and socialize is called the “Rattlesnake Inn” on this tour. Being the first night, it was incredibly packed with people…family, friends, working personel…Steven Tyler from Aerosmith was there, Carley Simon, Don Was (below)… lots of famous faces graced the Rattlesnake Inn. I went in a couple of times, and folks were wanting to talk to me, wish us good luck and such…but it was a bit too much for me to try to eat something and deal with all of the well-wishers there, so I took my plate to my dressing room for a bit of peace. Darryl and I chilled out for a bit in our room just to clear our heads and have a little bit of quiet before we got ready for the show. As the clock ticked down, it was time to go to wardrobe and select some threads to wear for the night. Being rather hot and humid, I chose not to wear a jacket, and chose a cool t-shirt with a regular shirt over that and some roughed up jeans.
We have a new fashion consultant with us this time, William Gilchrist. He’s proved to be very talented and easy to work with, and has brought all of us some great clothes to have for the tour. We’ve all been measured from head to toe and William has taken the time to talk to each one of us to get a vibe about our likes and dislikes. I think he’s the best consultant the Stones have ever had for a tour, and the look on stage in my opinion has never been better. I had discussed the set list at length with Mick over the past several days, but wanted to have one last discussion to make sure we had the best possible song selection. So after a short meeting with him to finalize it, I turned the list into Arnold Dunn, who is responsible for printing out 100 or so copies to be distributed to everyone who needs it.
With only minutes to go, it was time to suit up and psych up for the show.
Final good wishes from friends and family were given, then it was time to gather together for the ride to the stage. The dressing room area was on the opposite side of the stage, so vans had been arranged to take us around the stadium. As we arrived at the gate, we were greeted by a couple of hundred or so fans waiting outside the Green Monstor (nickname for Fenway Park). All shouting phrases of good wishes and all very excited. make our way into the stadium for the final short walk to the stage…all giving each other high fives and “have a great one’s”. Lights down, pre-show stage for the first show of the Bigger Bang tour! The set was no doubt one of the best opening nights we’ve ever had.
HERE’S THE SET WE PLAYED:
Start Me Up
You Got Me Rocking
Back of My Hand
Beast of Burden
Doo Doo Heartbreaker
Night Time is The Right Time (a tribute to Ray Charles and a feature for Lisa Fischer)
The Worst (Keith)
Miss You (B stage)
Oh No, Not You Again (B stage)
Satisfaction (B stage)
Honkey Tonk Women (B stage)
Out Of Control
Sympathy For The Devil
Jumping Jack Flash
Encores: Can’t Always Get What You Want and It’s Only Rock and Roll.
We were all proud of the set and much relieved to have the first night behind us. It all went off with very few hitches, thank Heaven! The reviews the next day were all absolutely fantastic. All raves and positive, much to our relief. We couldn’t have asked for a better start!
I had arranged do to a second show at a private party thrown by my friend Tom Connor. This is with a band we call The Werewolves. The band is nebulous and the players change a bit depending on who is available, but this version included Jerry Portnoy (harmonica … hasplayed with Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton and others), Jimmy Dillion on guitar and vocals, Troy Gonyea on guitar, Steve Ramsay on drums, Jon Ross on bass. Stu Kimball, who plays guitar with Bob Dylan, was also in attendance and was going to sit in, but had to leave before we called him up. It was a close call as to which show was the most fun … the Werewolves are so much fun to play with … doing mostly blues types of numbers played with tons of enthusiasm. I did “In the Night”, an old Professor Longhair song, “Statesboro Blues”, “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out”, “Back at The Chicken Shack” and a couple more. Jimmy stepped up to the plate for several songs as did Jerry. We made it into the Arts section of the Boston Globe the following day, which was a hoot. Great fun and a wonderful way to cap off the opening night of the Bigger Bang tour!
Monday was an off day for the band, but not for Rose Lane and Chuck! What does a guy that plays piano with the Rolling Stones do on the day after opening night? Why, help his daughter move into a new apartment, of course! We were pretty exhausted from the two shows the night before, but we knew we had to jump in and help Ashley move her stuff into her new digs. We had arranged for some movers to come and do most of the heavy stuff, but there was lots more to deal with…like dishes, glasses, clothes, stereo system and such. Rosie and Ash had rented a van to this purpose, so we made a couple of trips back and forth to pack up and bring to the new place. Of course the new apartment is up two flights of stairs, which made it even more fun!
Rosie and Ash had rented a van to this purpose, so we made a couple of trips back and forth to pack up and bring to the new place. Of course the new apartment is up two flights of stairs, which made it even more fun! It really wasn’t all that bad, and we had fun in the process. It felt good to help her get going in a new situation, and she’s very happy and excited to have a new place in a different neighborhood. After the move we took some down time before getting together for dinner at the House of Siam which offers great Thai cuisine.
As it was pretty late for dinner, we were about the only folks in there which made for a relaxing and private setting. We enjoyed the meal and some wine, talking about the preceding days and all the excitement, and also discussed details of the Stones set list and other particulars of the whole thing…picking it apart to sort out opinions of how it could be improved. Then we walked Ashley home as the restaurant was only a few blocks from her place and from there Rose Lane and I walked a few more blocks to find a cab for home. I’ll tell ya, we slept very well that night!
Second show on Tuesday was pretty much a repeat of the opening in terms of song selection. Mick and I discussed it and we both felt we should stick close to what we had so we could continue to get comfortable with the tunes and the whole situation. We did change Heartbreaker for Bitch, which offered some small difference. For me, this performance felt like we had been on tour for months in terms of comfort level and confidence. Opening night always causes us to be slightly anxious and tense … and the second night we were all reminded that we’ve been doing this for decades and we know what we’re doing! It flowed like silk. Mick sang and moved with total ease and confidence … Keith was smiling all night and all of us had that feeling of being in the family again, a wonderful family that enjoys each other’s company and appreciates each other’s particular talents and contributions. we’ve been doing this for decades and we know what we’re doing! It flowed like silk. Mick sang and moved with total ease and confidence … Keith was smiling all night and all of us had that feeling of being in the family again, a wonderful family that enjoys each other’s company and appreciates each other’s particular talents and contributions.
One interesting moment was that while we were playing “Honky Tonk Women” on the return from the B stage to the A stage, I looked down and saw someone that looked just like Senator John Kerry looking up at me. I later found out it was indeed Kerry…and that Ashley had been sitting only a few seats away from him at the show. She had introduced herself to him and told him she was my daughter…he responded with a very favorable comment to her about me, indicating that he knew some things about me…guess he had either heard of me from some of my trips to Washington, DC on forestry and environmental issues, or perhaps read somewhere about my efforts. Ash had her picture taken with him, which was sweet of him to do.
After the show there was a great hang in the bar of the hotel. Our friends the Oettenings from Germany were there and kindly acted as hosts to buy several rounds of drinks. My manager Buck Williams had come in for the show and was there to help celebrate as well as Tom Connor, Jimmy Dillion, Ashley and Peter, Herren and Susan, our good friend Scott Jones and others. We all had good fun recounting the recent days and the night’s performance. Rosie and I said our goodnights around 2 am and had no trouble falling asleep!
In the early afternoon I went in to do the taping for the Fox News Network piece. Mike Straka is the anchor and brought along a cameraman with him. They got shots of backstage, on the stage, dressing rooms and such and we did an interview at my keyboard rig In the early afternoon I went in to do the taping for the Fox News Network piece. Mike Straka is the anchor and brought along a cameraman with him. They got shots of backstage, on the stage, dressing rooms and such and we did an interview at my keyboard rig. Mick, Charlie and Ronnie gave on-camera comments and Keith was ready to do so, but unfortunately time ran short and Straka had to leave before Keith was ready. The good news is that they got lots of good stuff for the piece, and I think it’s a winner. I’ll post the airdate as soon as I know when it is.
Arrived in Detroit on Aug. 30. We stayed at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham, Mi…so we had quite a long taxi drive of about 45 minutes to get there from the Detroit airport. The Townsend has a great restaurant in the hotel, so we decided to just eat there and not go out, which proved to be a good decision. Afterwards we flopped in our room to watch some television and check in on the terrible devastation of hurricane Katrina down in New Orleans, Mississippi and Alabama. Wow, what a tragedy. It looks to be such a mess down there, and people are suffering in so many ways. It would appear that there will be some bad ecological damage along with the damage done to property, homes and buildings. Our hearts pour out to all the folks that have to deal with this extraordinary event, and we all hope the recovery and rebuilding will go well. In the meantime, Rose Lane and I have discussed what we can personally do, and decided to contribute to the Red Cross and Salvation Army.
The next day was our concert at Comerica Park, the baseball field used by the Detroit Tigers.
I worked out in a local gym not far from the hotel and then came back to have lunch with Rose Lane. My friend Bob Seeley, who is one of the best living boogie-woogie piano players in the world lives in the Detroit area. I had been in touch with him via several emails over the past couple of weeks and he and his wife Shirley had planned on coming to the show. They met me at our hotel in the afternoon to ride with us to the sound check. Bob is in his 70s and is in amazing shape, a true inspiration to me as a musician and in his physical capacity. We arrived at the stadium and I arranged passes for him and Shirley.
We did the sound check which was fairly short, and then had some down time before the show. I was also working on an edit of my song Pagan Pigdance via phone conversations with Randy LeRoy in Nashville, so I had to make a few phone calls to him to explain the edits. He sent me a couple of .mp3 files through email for me to listen to. After a few tries we found an edit that seems to work nicely. We also did edits for Tomato Jam and Jessica, so we now have three songs ready for radio play off my new CD, Southscape.
I took Bob and Shirley around the various dressing rooms to say hello to Mick, Keith, Ronnie and Charlie. They all graciously agreed to do photos with them, and I acted as photographer. Greg Gumble, a well known sports broadcaster had also come to the show and was back in the backstage area. I had exchanged several emails with him over the previous few weeks and knew he’d be there. We had a nice chat, and being a big fan of the band’s was really excited about the show. Bob, Shirley and some other friends of theirs and myself had a good time talking backstage as well, up until time for me to get ready for the show. Again, we did not divert much from our recent shows as far as the set list goes, but it still proved to be a tight show, well paced.
The next day, Sept 1, was my brother Billy’s birthday. Billy lives in Memphis and is a preacher for a deaf congregation of the Church of Christ there, as well as doing missionary sionary work all over the world for the deaf. He’s quite a bit older than me…turning 67 on this birthday. I don’t get to see him much, but we stay in touch through emails quite a lot. So I sent him birthday wishes first thing after I got up.
I had several phone calls to make regarding the edits of the songs we’re working on for a single on jazz radio from Southscape. After tending to that and some emails, Rose Lane and I went out. We found a great Thai spot for lunch and then shopped around. She sound some great boots and a couple of articles of clothing that we purchased, then decided to go to a movie. We actually went to two movies … first we saw “The Constant Gardner,” a wonderful and intriguing if dark film about a corrupt pharmaceutical company that is taking advantage of African tuberculosis victims. Ralph Finnes did a wonderful job as did Rachael Weisz in the female lead. After that one we took a short break before seeing “Hustle and Flow”. This is a really well put together film about a pimp in Memphis that has aspirations of being a rap artist. It made me laugh and cry in different places, and all the actors were really wonderful in their respective roles. Terrence Howard played the lead and was just great. Isaac Hayes made a cameo appearance which was very cool. So we got our dose of cinema entertainment, which provided us with a relaxing day. After that we touched base with Darryl Jones and Lisa Fischer, making some dinner plans. We have mostly been going out with just the two of us, and it was nice to have their company. It was a good dinner, but the companionship and conversation were the best part of the meal.
We talked about all kinds of things from how the tour is going so far to how our respective families are doing to the places we’ll be going and other topics. Darryl and Lisa are such wonderful folks and we had a great time. We packed up our stuff the morning of the 2nd, as our bags were to be picked up at 11 am. I finished my packing around 10:30 and headed to the gym to get in a good solid workout before we headed to the airport. Got that done and went back to shower and change. I called Neal Sapper (my consultant for jazz radio) to discuss the singles we’ve been considering for Southscape. I told him that after considering all the angles I thought that Tomato Jam would be the best choice, and he agreed. However, he thought we should do one more edit to shorten the sax solo. I told him I’d have a listen and see if I could come up with something. After several listens, I heard a place that I thought would work. By then it was time to go, so we loaded up in the bus to head to the airport. When we got there I knew we’d have at least a half hour before takeoff, so I called Randy LeRoy at Final Stage Mastering to tell him about the edit. He put up the track and played it over the phone to me while I gave him the points to cut. It didn’t take him long to understand what I was talking about, and he said he would get on the edit and send it to me that evening.