Thursday 13th October 2016 - Tour Blog: USA pt1, Hawaii, Oakland, Capital Jazz Supercruise X
Excitement as we wait for Jill Scott!
After Japan, the next stop on the In Search Of Better Days Tour was Hawaii. HAWAII!!! Most of the band had never been before, myself included and we had twelve shows over six days with a whole week staying in Waikiki, right around the corner from the beach. The venue was the Blue Note Hawaii which opened in early 2016 within the Outrigger Hotel complex. It's a brand new clean and comfortable venue in the vein of the other Blue Note's around the globe. Already it's attracted many globally renowned Jazz and Soul artists. Maysa arrived at pretty much the same time as we did, she had not done the Japanese and Australian dates that preceded our Hawaiian shows. We were touched by the response from both the audience and the great staff at the Blue Note who showed us love. Also there were a few people who so enjoyed the show they came back two or three more times with friends! It was great to play for so many people who'd never seen the show before.
I got to try out the Aguilar Tone Hammer 500 head in Hawaii for a whole week with two Aguilar DB210 cabinets. For a compact rig it certainly filled the stage with a warm sound and plenty of headroom
Atelier Z M245
The walk up towards the Blue Note Hawaii (left) every night looked like this!
We flew from Honolulu a week later and arrived in San Francisco, California for the short drive to Oakland to play at the legendary Yoshi's. Simon Phillips first told me about Yoshi's as he plays there every year with Hiromi Uehara. It has a great atmosphere, a warm sound and a very giving audience. We played two shows a night for two nights with a day off in between. Before the first show I met up with bassist Darryl Anders (Agapé-Soul/Tower Of Power/Robben Ford) who is a rep for MXR and Jim Dunlop pedals. He kindly supplied Bluey and I with some pedals. I have the MXR Envelope Filter and the Jim Dunlop Cry Baby Bass Mini wah wah pedal. I briefly ran them at sound check and I will put them through their paces after the Germany/UK part of the tour. I don't think I've ever carried so many pedals on tour, although they're not all being used everyday. I also have the LR Baggs Stadium DI that I picked up in Japan and a Boss OC3 that I accidentally packed... I thought I'd swapped it for my MXR Bass Octave Deluxe but I must've been sleepy at the time - luckily the OC3 is sounding great on the song I'm using it on, Everyday Grind sung by Maysa. A big thank you to Paul Turner from Jamiroquai for putting Darryl in touch with me. All four shows were sold out to vibrant crowds, many who got to the venue especially early in order to meet Bluey and Maysa and many who stayed to have them sign their CDs.
I'm loving the Amtrak train going down the middle of the street!
Tight stage, warm sound, warm crowds
The legendary Yoshi's in Oakland
Thanks to Darryl Anders for the new pedals!
On our day off Tommy OG and I were invited to lunch by Roger Smith and Dave Garibaldi of Tower Of Power at the gorgeous Wente winery in Livermore, which is around an hour's drive from Oakland. Francesco Mendolia was supposed to come too but he wasn't feeling well which was a shame. It was so cool to see Roger and Dave again after seeing them in Australia a couple of weeks previously, they treated us to more than just lunch; they shared some road stories and their own journeys as musicians from the earliest days until now. Roger also brought along some of his very own Bump City Wine Company 2014 red - I never knew you could bring your own wine to a winery!
Amazing lunch with Roger Smith, David Garibaldi and Tommy OG washed down with Roger's Bump City Pinot Noir!
Bump City, not "Bum City", that's just the way the pic came out!
After Oakland it was time to fly from San Francisco CA to Miami FL to board the Norwegian Getaway cruise liner (my nephew's favourite ship!) for the Capital Jazz Supercruise X. As usual we were only on the cruise for a few days days, finally disembarking in Puerto Rico. I arrived in Miami with the rest of the rhythm section the night before boarding the ship, giving us the chance to have a nice meal and a walk along the beach in the evening. (One day I will stay in Miami for more than 24 hours!) In the morning we met up with the others and boarded this ship along with some of the other artists and musicians due to perform. This included Jeff Lorber, Bilal, Jose James, Kenya, Donnie and Nicole Henry. Both our shows were on the same day playing the same stage to two separate audiences who'd reserved their seats earlier that day. There was plenty of time to see other acts and to just enjoy our rooms and the ships facilities. On the second day we disembarked for a few hours in Nassau, Bahamas and took a long walk (out of choice, rather than taking the allocated buses) to an outdoor stage about a mile from the port to see Jill Scott perform in the sunshine. Comedienne Wanda Sykes also did an hour set before hand whilst we went brown in the sun. Jill and her band were definitely on form and played for over an hour. Some of us followed that with a trip to Cabbage Beach a cab ride away before returning to the ship. That was a particularly good day, I even fell asleep briefly on my balcony as we set sail!
The magnificent Norwegian Getaway
Leaving Nassau behind!
My gorgeous stateroom!
Making the most of my balcony!
Two shows back to back, we wish we could've play some more for people!
The walk to see Jill Scott...
Deborah, Vanessa and I let out our inner child
It was an honour to meet Hip Hop DJ, producer and rapper and mixtape king Kid Capri (Def Comedy Jam) on the boat for the Hip Hop Legends discussion. His 1992 mixtape 52 Beats was a big influence on me, a lesson in breakbeat Funk. I also got to meet and talk with the gorgeous Monie Love, South London's own Hip Hop pioneer. She's lived in the US for many years now. That evening she performed both Queen Latifah's verses and her own from their classic King Errisson sampling Ladies First, one of my favourite Rap records from that era, circa 1989.
Watching the Legends of Hip Hop panel discussion with DJ Spinna
w/singer Baskerville Jones from The Rebirth. I'm so glad I've got to see them live at last, what a cool band
Briefly caught up with Kirk Whalum just before we got off the boat at Puerto Rico
w/Chris Ballin and Stafford Hunter as we approach Puerto Rico
On the final morning we docked at San Juan, Puerto Rico and made our way to the airport to fly to Atlanta, Georgia for the next leg of the US tour - the hard bit! Nearly a new city everyday! FH