The usual routine applied, and we left Brockenhurst (after one more lunch at the Rose and Crown) about 3:30, getting us in to Frankfurt in the early evening. We’re staying at a different place than we have in the past…at the The Villa Kennedy on Kennedyallee. Actually, it’s been a long time since we’ve played in Frankfurt….last time was back in 1990 on Steel Wheels. But we have stayed here to work other cities….like Hockenheim. It’s quite a nice hotel…only a year or two old. We killed some time in our room, and Christian Raupach, who is organizing my solo run, had called me to discuss a number of details, one of which was to set up a rehearsal for me the next day. Tim Ries had agreed to come with me to check out Christian’s own band, Shilly Shally. We made the plans, and he said he would have his wife, Andrea, pick us up about 3.
With that taken care of, we eventually strolled down to the bar for a cocktail. There we saw Guardie, one of our security guys, and sat with him for a while talking and sipping. The bar manager was kind enough to recommend a restaurant and booked it for us. We invited Guardie to go with us, but he declined as he had other plans. The restaurant was called Dorade, and as the name implies, it specializes in fish dishes. It was a relatively short walk from the hotel, about 10 minutes. We walked along the Main river and found the place easily. It was not crowded at all, and the hostess gave us our choice of seats. We chose a nice spot and looked over the menu. Our hostess was really nice…and spoke with a strange accent I couldn’t quite figure out. I asked her name, and she told me Yelka…and when I inquired where she was from, it was Croatia. I asked if this was her restaurant, and she said it was. After some chit chat, I asked her what she recommended, and she answered with the namesake of the place, Dorade. So both Rose Lane and I ordered it, and she was right. It was delicious, as was the Greek Chardonnay that she recommended called Tepobaeiaeioy. But don’t ask me to pronounce it!
After dinner we talked some more to her, telling her about us. She was thrilled to have one of the band there, and I signed a couple of things for her and another one of the personnel, a nice fellow named Stephanos. Great place, and I hope we get to go back there again…maybe during my solo tour in September.
I went to the gym after the morning routine….after the Thai massage in Brockenhurst…and trying the stretching exercises that Torje Eike had shown me, my neck and shoulder have been doing much better. But I’m still taking it pretty easy…and doing a bit more cardio than I have been in the past. It’s good to change up the routine some.
Andrea was there at 3, but Tim was running a little late…he was dealing with some issues related to his next CD, which will be Volume 2 of his “Rolling Stones Project”. He’s working on how to market it…and is discussing options with several record companies in different countries. Anyway, he joined us about a half our later and we drove to ?? to meet with Christian and his band. Andrea told us a little bit about the surroundings as we drove…we went through some nice forests on the way…and we arrived at the rehearsal space in short order.
We didn’t have a lot of time…so when we arrived, we got right to it. As we walked in to the rehearsal room, we could hear the band playing my tune “Pagan Pig dance”. So we started with that one after some quick introductions were made. We went through about six or so tunes in the ninety or so minutes that we had to rehearse, and all the guys were working hard to learn the songs. Christian has a fine band, and we ultimately decided that we would use Shilly Shally on the grand finale of the tour, at a club called , Sinkkasten in Frankfurt.
Andrea drove us back to the hotel afterwards. We had a dinner that she had arranged at a place called ??. We invited Tim to attend, but he already had other plans. So when we returned to the hotel, I went up to refresh myself and get Rose Lane while Andrea waited for us downstairs. Christian came in shortly after, and we all walked to the restaurant from the hotel together. At the restaurant we met Konnie Keller, who is an executive at the HR1 Radio Station in Frankfurt. I’ve done an interview there a few years back, and we plan on doing a one hour special during my “Green Leaves and Blue Notes” tour. Konnie was kind enough to join us for dinner so we could discuss some of the particulars of the program. The food at ?? was excellent…and we all enjoyed each other’s company and had a very good discussion about the tour. One bonus of the night was the great piano player in the restaurant. His name was Eugene…his card did not have a last name on it…. and during dinner I kept an “ear” on him. He would occasionally jump into a boogie…and I recognized several of the tunes he was playing…amongst them, “Honky Tonk Train Blues” by Meade Lux Lewis. He was rockin’ it hard….and finally I couldn’t help myself and had to go over and sit in with him. He was very gracious and seemed to enjoy the “intrusion”. When he took a break, we called him over and introduced ourselves around. Really sweet cat, and a hellova player.
We wound up the evening….with Konnie going on her own way and the four of us walking back to the Kennedy. There we said our goodnights to Christian and Andrea and turned in.
The Commerzbank Stadium is a nice facility…but not made for music, I’m afraid. After our morning routine, we left for the venue around 3pm. I went to write up the set list…and seeing some of our crew, they immediately gave us the word about the poor acoustics of the place. I finally walked out to check it out myself….and could tell that we were in for a challenge as far as the sound goes. It’s covered stadium, and there was a full 7 second delay after striking a note or hitting a beat on a drum. Ouch…a nightmare for us to deal with.
Christian and his friends came back to the Rattlesnake, and I went to meet them and talk for a bit before the show. We had a good chat, and I was pleased to meet ?? who may wind up distributing my CDs in Germany. After that and all the other regular preparation, we took the stage around 8:45 or so. To be honest, it was a nightmare from the beginning. Not only was the sound absolutely horrible in the place, but the volume was very loud for some reason…making it a total “wash”. I could barely tell what I was playing all night…much less hear the other musicians with any distinction. We all struggled though it…and while we all did our best, there was just no way to make the place sound like we would all like. Nevertheless, we managed to put on a pretty decent Rock Show under the circumstances…but I have to admit that I was grateful after the last note was played and we headed back to our hotel. There has only been a handful of other venues throughout my career that I thought were as bad as this to play in….and you just have to focus as best you can and deal with it…but it’s not a pleasant experience, that’s for sure.
Rosie and I wound down with a few glasses of wind and called it a night.
ON TO PARIS
Time to move on…and we are traveling to Paris today. It’s always fun to go there…such a wonderful city, full of life and electricity…great food, great shopping, great sites and fun people. We were split into two hotels due to the fact that there was so much going on….conventions, art shows, music events, plays and more. The city was really booked up and buzzing. Rose Lane and I were to stay at the George V (….a Four Seasons Hotel for the last 10 years or so), which is where we all usually stay. The other half of the Stones entourage would be staying at Fouquet’s, about a block away. I love the George V….and we had a very different and wonderful suite this time. We always have a nice room there, but this one was really special, being a two story affair. Downstairs was a sitting room with a dining table, TV and bathroom…and access to a really nice private patio. There was a hallway with a staircase that took you to the upstairs area….where there was an office and a bedroom with a generous bathroom arrangement, and another patio. Nice digs.
We settled in, grateful for the space…and after getting things in order, we went out to find something to eat. We didn’t even bother with making a reservation or checking with the Concierge…we just walked out and knew we’d find something close by. We walked out and to the right of the George V…and stopped at an Asian restaurant where we had a cocktail. We considered dinner there, but decided we wanted to walk around a bit more…and found ourselves on Rue Marbouf…a little avenue that we’ve been down before that has several nice restaurants on it. We decided to try a new place, which was a small Italian bistro called ??. It didn’t quite “rock our world”, but it was ok and we enjoyed being in a new place. We were both pretty tired from the travel and went back to the hotel to crash.
The next day we sort of chilled out. We did go out for a bit to the Monoprix (a sort of grocery/hardware/department store on the Champs) to get a few items Rose Lane wanted for her trip to Italy. It rained in the process, and we had to wait a while for it to subside. Rosie wanted to do some other shopping, so I took the bags we had back to the hotel and waited on her there. In the evening we went out to dinner at a place the concierge had recommended called Chez Andre. There we met a nice American couple named Al and Joyce Sommer. Al has a company called Del West that makes precision parts for Formula One racing cars. They live in Montreux, Switzerland. We had a nice talk with them as we enjoyed our meal (quite a good one). We talked about the Montreux Jazz Festival which is coming up soon….and they were kind enough to invite us to come there someday. Always fun to meet new folks! That wrapped up the day….and back at the hotel Rose Lane went through her bags to re-pack for her trip to Italy where she will be on a painting retreat in Tuscany with Val Carson put together by Il Chiostro (www.ilchiostro.com). She wanted to leave a bag with me and just take one with her. I surfed the tube while she packed, and after that we put our heads on the pillows.
Rosie had to leave the hotel about 9:45….so we had put in for a wake up call at 8:45. She got ready and zipped up her bags, and I saw her off down in the lobby. Gonna miss that girl….but this is a unique and wonderful opportunity for her, and I know she’ll love it. I went to the gym for a bit and killed time until we left for the show. The last Paris show we did was one of the best of the tour…it was just a couple of days after Mick’s birthday back in July of last year. I wanted this to be a good one, too…and wrote up a set list that I felt the fans would appreciate and that would be fun for us. The end result was:
Start Me Up
Let’s Spend The Night Together
All Down The Line
She Was Hot
Waiting On A Friend
Can’t You Hear Me Knocking
I’ll Go Crazy
I Just Wanna Hold You
It’s Only Rock And Roll
It’s All Over Now
You Got Me Rocking
Honky Tonk Woman
I had a few friends coming to the show. Bill Holmes (who has some forestland not to far from our place in Georgia) and his friend Rose; and John Malloy and his pal Mike Massey, both of whom are Charlane clients as well as big Stones fans. I went to see them in the Rattlesnake for a while….chatting with them only for a short time as the RI was really overcrowded with so many folks. Paris is always a “biggie” for Mick, and he had lots of guests…but so did Ronnie and Charlie…and Keith had a goodly number too. It made for a tough scene to socialize with all the folks elbow to elbow…but all had a great time. Matt Clifford was one of Mick’s guests…and it was great to see him for a minute.
The show turned out well….if not as good as the one a year ago. Still, Stade De France was sufficiently rocked, and the reviews the next day were all very positive.
Our final off day in Paris. I had invited Bill Holmes to come to dinner with me, so after killing time with my usual routine in the first part of the day, I had the concierge make us a reservation at a place called Restaurant Drouant, which came with a high recommendation from him. I met Bill there at 9. It was really good to be able to have some one-on-one time with my friend. Bill and I have gone to some field trials together, and once ran our dogs on horseback together up in South Dakota several summers ago. Now he’s spending time in Viet Nam, of all places, trying to start up some businesses there. We had a wonderful time catching up on our lives, and the impressive food and wine made it even better. We both had a special pork dish…a typical country kind of pork that is a little fatty, but with a very crispy skin on it. Excellent. We shared a nice Chablis Gran Cru, and all was well with the world. We shared a cab back to the George V, and then he went on from there to his hotel, not far away. We said our “bon swoirs” and i went up to do my packing for the next day’s travel to Lyon and Barcelona. The time in Paris flew by, and I was a little disappointed not to have gotten out more….but nevertheless, any time in Paris is a good time!