This would be the first time ever that a concert has been held at the famous Churchill Downs in Louisville. I hit the gym at the Seelbach around noon, and then went back to the room. I had quite a lot of emails to go through, and worked right up until it was time to head down to the gig on the early bus. Rose Lane would come later on the late van. We had decided that we should send a box of stuff back home as we had accumulated some things during the course of this leg of the tour and needed to “lighten our load” some. So we started a stack of items to send back before I left for the gig. At that point, the weather looked good. Clear skies for the most part, with a few scattered clouds. Down at the gig I took my camera out to take some pictures of the beautiful grounds of Churchill Downs. Rose Lane and I had been there many years before when the Allman Brothers Band had played at the coliseum in Louisville a day or so after the Kentucky Derby ran, and had attended the Derby with Bunky Odom, who was working on tour with the band at that time. It is a fond memory. The Downs have been renovated in recent times, and the place is just beautiful. I walked around taking some shots for a while, enjoying the scenery. Then went to have a bite to eat and work on the set list before the rest of the guys showed up. By now some dark clouds were forming…but the weather forecast still said no rain. I met with Mick on the set list…and of course put in Dead Flowers with it’s reference to “…making bets on Kentucky Derby day…” in the lyrics. I also had an idea about having the famous and familiar “Call To Post” played before the pre-show music and video would start, and Mick agreed to it. So I had our soundman Dave Natale set that up. It would be just 12 seconds of the bugle call while the stage was dark. I knew that folks would go crazy when they heard it. With that done, I went to look for friends in the Rattlesnake.
My pal Damon Johnson would be there as Alice Cooper was opening up the show, so I saw him and met his lovely wife Lynda. We talked for a while, and I made some other rounds seeing Neal, Lee, Kennedy and Sarah. I had arranged 10 passes for my pal John Dupree, but couldn’t find him. Eventually Keith wanted to do the warm up thing, and I went backstage to play. We went through Dead Flowers and a few others for a bit, and then I went back to the RI. Rosie and I decided to go catch some of Alice Cooper’s set, and went up for a while enjoying watching the band. Afterwards we caught back up with Damon and Lynda in the Rattlesnake…and Alice Cooper. We talked with them for a while and took some pictures with them. It had begun to rain a little during their set (they had been soaked on the Halifax show a week or so earlier), and it looked as if it would be even worse for us. I went back to make final preparation for the show, and Arnold Dunn came to me asking if I had talked to Keith about the Call To Post thing. I told him no, that I had assumed Mick would tell him. Apparently he had not, so it fell to me to go discuss it with Keith. I gave it my best shot, trying to convince him that it would be well received by the crowd…but he vetoed it. Ah well, no matter…it would have been a cool thing to do, but if he didn’t dig the idea, then that was that! I went to tell Dave and the others to cancel it.
Finally it was time to hit the stage…and indeed, the rain had increased. But that didn’t stop what would be a great performance…and while the rain persisted for most of the show, it did stop a few times, giving us all a break from it. The band grooved through it all, and the audience was with us all the way from the beginning. Great fun, great show. Another first for the Stones.
Back at the hotel Rosie and I decided we’d have a look at what the bar scene was…. thinking that we might look for some of our friends and have a drink. But as soon as the elevator doors opened we could see that it was just too nuts to get into it. Some well meaning fan came up to us immediately wanting to talk…and there were tons of people all over the lobby and in the bar. So we politely said a few words to the guy and turned right around, going back up to our room. I was starving and while I usually don’t like eating so late, ordered up a club sandwich which we shared along with some wine I had brought back from the show. So we packed up our bags and nibbled on the sandwich and sipped on the wine for a while, finally hitting the sack about 2am.
The reviews of the show in the papers were all great, talking about how wonderful it was that the Stones had finally come back to Louisville. The last time we played there was on the Steel Wheels tour back in 1989. Both Rose Lane and I had wished we could spend at least one more day in the South…but today we would be moving on to Wichita. So after getting ourselves going, we dealt with the box of stuff we were sending home, checked out of the room and loaded up on the bus with everyone else to do the travel thing. We lifted off about 4pm for the hour and a half flight to Wichita. As we gained an hour, we landed earlier than usual at about 4:45. I had accepted an invitation from Jason Johnson, a fellow that we do business with for Charlane Plantation. Jason bought a company called Quail Restoration Technologies. They make a very clever system for re-stocking quail and pheasants on suitable lands. I had heard about the concept from my friend Roy Fickling a few years ago. Basically, the concept is that you buy one day old chicks (in our case, quail chicks) and put them in what is called a surrogater. This device is about 4′ by 8′, and is like a large box that holds the birds. Inside is a special feeder and waterer as well as a heating system to keep the chicks at the correct temperature during the critical time they will raise in the surrogater. The device is placed at a predetermined place in the woods where you want to populate. Each box can hold about 125 or so chicks. Then the chicks are raised up to about the age of five weeks, at which time they are released into the wild. This process can be repeated about 4 to 5 times during the nesting season. We have three surrogaters in operation at Charlane, and we can release about a thousand birds during the season. We’ve found that it has been very successful…but like anything else, you have to carefully follow the process to do it right. We have also found that these birds….unlike adult released birds…will form coveys with wild birds, and even survive beyond the hunting season and will breed with our wild birds. It’s a great way to help increase the population, and we’ve been very happy with the results at our place.
Anyway, Jason had contacted me a few weeks prior to us coming to Wichita and had invited us to come have a home cooked meal at his place there. He picked us up at the Hyatt hotel about 8pm and drove us to his house. There we met his wife Wendy and her sister Haley as well as their parents…and Jason and Wendy’s beautiful three kids. Wendy had cooked a nice meal, and we enjoyed the food, wine and the company for the evening. Jason and I talked quite a lot about outdoor issues, and of course about his system and how the company is faring. He mentioned some good ideas about trying to improve it, and said that he was pleased with the way things were going. A lot of wildlife biologists have been somewhat negative on the concept of released birds, but with this special system, many of them are taking a close look and some believe this concept has merit. There are some studies going on where the “surrogater birds” are banded, making it possible to some degree to track them. It’s a bit early to say what the studies will find, and a lot more research needs to be done. But I am personally convinced that this system does work and does help populate birds into the wild….as long as the habitat is there to support them.
Anyway, after dinner we thanked the Johnsons for their hospitality, and Jason drove us back to the Hyatt. We had an easy night, watching tv and reading before bed.
Another historic show for the Stones. This will be the first time the band has ever played in Wichita. We could feel the excitement of the city, and there had already been some press about us coming to town. Jason had told us the day before that there was an undeniable buzz throughout the whole area. The concert was sold out, and there would be more than 30,000 attending.
By now Rosie and I had shaken off the “road dust” of our previous week with the travel to Reno, the Giant stadium and Churchill Downs shows and were feeling sort of back to normal. It was quite warm in Wichita…in the upper 80’s. Our hotel, the Hyatt, was right next to the Arkansas River which had a nice sidewalk running down the side of it, making for a great jogging track. So after hitting the fitness room I decided to take a good jog along the river. It was glorious…there were no clouds in the sky, and the sun’s velvet rays rained down on me as I ran. I managed close to an hour, basking in every minute of it. Back at the room we showered and went down for a quick lunch. Rosie and I had noticed a Gander Mountain store just three blocks from the hotel, and decided to walk there for a look around. Tim Ries went with us, as he had seen us during lunch and wanted to tag along. The three of us hoofed over to the store and looked around for 45 minutes or so. It was refreshing and fun for me to be in a store like that, and I enjoyed seeing all the hunting and fishing gear, the canoes and kayaks, the ATVs and such. We didn’t buy anything…it’s just too much to try and deal with carrying around items like that….but it was a groove just to see it all.
By then it was time for me to leave for the gig. Tim had already left the store to take a walk, but as I was on the early van I had to go back to the hotel. We left Rose Lane at Gander still browsing…
At the gig I did my usual routine…set list and such. We had the little warm up in Keith’s room. I had put in Let It Bleed for the first time on the tour, so we went over that and jammed for a bit. Then I went to the Rattlesnake to try and find my only guests of the evening, Andy Hansen and his family and friends of about 12. Andy has hunted with us at Charlane and is a great guy. He works in the health care business and has a company called Western Associates. We found him and chatted with him and his group for a while. one of his friends had brought his son with him..I would guess the age was about 10 or 12. His dad said he was learning to play the drums….so I excused myself for a minute and went to find Charlie, asking him for a pair of signed drumsticks to give to the boy. Charlie was happy to oblige, and the sticks made the boys night….which made my night!
The concert was fun. Mick had thought about doing a chorus of the famous song “Wichita Linesman” by Jimmy Webb…and we had thrown that in just before Let It Bleed. It made for a cool little moment and the crowd loved it. I spied Andy and his friends out in the audience when we were rolling out to the B Stage, and we waved to each other, making for a fun moment. The band was tight and groovin’, another great one.
Returning back at the Hyatt, we went to the room and decompressed. Rosie took my stage clothes to the wardrobe room to give to Isobel, and then we turned our attention to the packing job. While we were doing that, Val Adamson, Michael Cohl’s personal assistant, came by to drop off some paperwork that Michael had for me. It was a list of all the songs the Stones have released on film or DVD, as well as those never done or never released. This is good info to have for our upcoming shows, and no doubt Mick and I will be consulting this list in addition to the one we already have going. Val hung out with us for a while, then we said goodnight and finished our packing, turning the lights out about 2.
One more hit at the fitness room in Wichita…then I wanted to do another jog along the river. But it was really windy outside, so I opted for the treadmill instead. Then back to the room to do final emails and get ready to move on to Missoula. We’ll be staying at a unique resort called Paws Up. Rosie and I had called it up on the web and checked it out….looks fantastic. On some 38,000 acres, it offers all kinds of activities from horseback riding to ATV riding to hiking, fly fishing and much more. We have an off day there tomorrow, and we decided that it would be great to try and get in a little horseback riding and a massage. On their website, you could actually make reservations for these things, so we did exactly that. I did a follow up call to them before we took off, and we confirmed the details….ah, this will be great!
As we were loading up for the bus, Mike Hattaway called me. He was in South Georgia looking at some pointers that are for sale from a breeder/trainer down there. He gave me a report on the dogs he saw, and based on that I told him to buy a young black and white female he had liked. The guy had several dogs for sale, but this one had especially caught Mike’s eye and was actually less in price than some of the others. This fired me up a bit….thinking about getting back home in December and getting our young dogs in the field for training. I love doing this, and with a new one to fool with, I’m pumped!
It’s quite a flight from Wichita to Missoula…about three hours. This gave me time to work on this journal and to do some more homework on the upcoming filmed shows.
We landed in Missoula and were met with the usual bus to get us to the hotel. Paws Up (www.pawsup.com) lived up to it’s promise, and we were checked in to our really cool digs…a huge private cabin they called the Panfish Popper.
Rosie and I nosed around a bit, enjoying exploring the beautiful grounds of the place and having a cocktail in the bar and dinner in the restaurant called the Pomp. We were about the only ones in there, which made for a nice and relaxed meal. Ronnie and Jo Wood did come in as we were about finished and we had a nice chat with them.
We took our “mountain buggy” (a three seat golf car) back to the Panfish Popper and lit a fire in the fireplace, winding down in the wonderful Montana woods.