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Thursday 27th October 2016 - Tour Blog: USA pt2, ATL, Chicago, Detroit, Charlotte, Annapolis, NYC, P

Charlotte NC. Photo by Chris Lewis

Knight Theatre, Charlotte, North Carolina. Photo by Chris Lewis

So once we were off the cruise, our travel plans got a little more gruelling - well a lot more gruelling, from sailing around the Caribbean overnight at about 30 miles per hour to that old rude wake up alarm for the bus to the flight to the taxi to the hotel - where often our rooms weren't ready for yet! I'm telling you it's very, very glamorous indeed ๐Ÿ˜‚ We played 12 shows in nine cities in eleven days. Given the distances involved, I think we've done amazingly well on this tour to play up to two hours some shows with nobody getting grumpy and the performances being so energetic. The audiences surely helped us along; we have some of our kindest fans in the USA so it's always nice when we get a chance to speak with people after the show wherever possible.

About to hit the stage with Maysa in Atlanta

w/ATL's finest, awesome bassist Sean Michael Ray

w/Detroit percussionist Romel Alexander

Deborah Bond opens the night at the Cobb Center Atlanta with her own band before joining us

ATL Aguilar rig

My Detroit rig, Aguilar DB751 and 2x GS410 cabinets

Backstage in Detroit w/Hiroshima's June Kuramoto and her road manager

Tommy OG at Detroit Opera House

Cruising downtown Charlotte with my cousin Emma

It's a shame we couldn't spend longer in Atlanta as I'd have liked to hang out with my family there for longer. Also many of us have good friends in ATL who made it down, although there wasn't that much time to hang out - next time I'll lobby for at least one day off! In Chicago we played in a different venue to our last visit, we played two sets at City Winery. Apart from having amazing wine backstage, the audiences we really giving to us and I get the feeling we could've played more nights (similarly we could've played more nights Yoshi's in Oakland). And did I say that the wine was amazing?

Next we returned to the Michigan Opera House in Detroit where we played a year and a half ago. Similarly it was a triple bill too with an almost identical line up. This time it was Hiroshima to open, the Bob James Quartet in the middle and Incognito to end. Last year Hiroshima also opened but we followed them and Fourplay were the main act (Bob James is the pianist/keyboard player in Fourplay). The love for Bob in Detroit is strong, I can say that after seeing him twice at the same venue and the crowd so animated. I got to talk to Bob for the first time the following morning. The first Jazz album I ever bought was Bob James Two and I've been a fan of his ever since. He's also well aware of the reverence the Hip Hop community has for him and his music as he's been sampled endlessly over the years. His cover of Paul Simon's Take Me To The Mardi Gras and his song Nautilus are two of the most famous Hip Hop breaks of all time.

w/one of my heroes Bob James. Bob James Two was my gateway record into his sound

Detroit Aguilar rig in close up

Bluey welcomes the crowd in Detroit

We followed Detroit with shows in Charlotte at the Knight Theater, Annapolis at the Rams Head and two shows at New York's BB King Blues Club. Most of these shows were sold out. At BB King's we were visited backstage by flautist Bobbi Humphrey (who joined us in Japan earlier this year as part of the Citrus Sun shows), Stanley Banks (George Benson's bassist) came with his amazing vibe and lit up the dressing room, DJ Steven 'Lucky' Benson (son of George) came by and took photos throughout the show and singer Irene Blackman (daughter of Don Blackman) came by too, so pretty much a party backstage!

Francisco Sales and I outside BB King Blues Club NYC

On our way to a ramen restaurant in Manhattan

w/Tommy OG on our way to meet Bob Power

w/Bob Power in his studio downtown NYC

w/trumpeter James Zollar and his partner Nabuko backstage in NYC

w/flautist Bobbi Humphrey

w/legendary long-time George Benson bassist Stanley Banks, minus his tambourine, although I swear I could still hear it!

w/singer Irene Blackman

After New York we drove down the road some to Philadelphia where I hooked up with Kathy Sledge's musical director Mike Kwas and Kathy's husband and drummer Phil Lightfoot before our soundcheck. I last worked with them in Dubai two years ago at the New Year's Eve Masterjam.

Keswick Theatre, Philadelphia

w/Mike Kwas, Kathy Sledge's MD

w/Philip Lightfoot, Kathy Sledge's drummer

One Love in Philadelphia

At this point of the tour there were barely any travel days and sometimes two shows in a day but the energy level of the band stayed high. The two final destinations were Bethesda and New Brunswick for the Hub City Jazz Festival.

Bethesda Jazz & Blues Club, Maryland. Two sold out shows

No more entry to either show unfortunately - even our guest list was over!!

Bethesda rig

New Brunswick ad

We found ramen again! Amish ramen...

Soundcheck w/trumpeter Tom Browne

It was a great pleasure to meet guitarist, producer and original Brit-funker David Bendeth in New Jersey. Earlier this year we re-recorded his classic club funk hit Feel The Real as one of the additional tracks on our Classic Albums CD collection. I'm so glad he likes our version!

Great fun being on the road with Deborah Bond again!

End of US tour shot of entire band: Bluey, Joรฃo, Francesco, Maysa, Andy, Tommy OG, Deboarh, Stafford, Francisco, Sid, Chris, Vanessa and myself

Although we were away for six weeks straight the tour really didn't seem that long. We worked very hard but also had some great experiences, met some amazing musicians and music lovers and musical heroes, visited new places and shared this as one big family. Many thanks to the whole band including Maysa, Deborah Bond, Stafford Hunter and Tom O'Grady who joined our regular line up, Chris Lewis our front of house engineer, Takami our tour manager and Rob Leggett our stage tech. FH

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