Autumn 2017: USA & Australia tour🇺🇸🇦🇺🇯🇵🇳🇱🇷🇸🇸🇰🇶🇦🇨🇳🛩
Family cookout in ATL
It's been another great year for Incognito live, particularly since the summer when it's felt like we've barely laid our suitcases down before having to pack them again to catch some super early flight somewhere. 2016 was busy but I think this year was even busier bar the Christmas and New Year period which last year we spent in Indonesia. This year it's good to be home for a change, in fact our next flights aren't until late January when we play five nights in a row at the Blue Note Milan. Then it will get crazy AGAIN... I'll be embarking on a writing and recording trip with the rhythm section somewhere very exotic... followed by a trip to Jakarta for Java Jazz Festival. There will also be dates in Singapore and the USA in April and a trip to South America (Argentina/Brazil/Chile).
So where were we... ah, my last post spoke of the last Citrus Sun tour of Japan back in July 2017. Apart from a couple of one off gigs in Italy and Hungary, we had a very quiet mid-summer which was in many ways a good thing, especially as from September things got a lot more hectic. We played two nights in the Netherlands immediately followed by another six night, 12 show week at Ronnie Scott's in London. A few days later we had an Eastern European tour of Serbia and Slovakia (first time there). Less than a week later we were off to the USA for a 14 date tour.
Francisco and I in Nashville
The US tour began in Philadelphia at the Keswick Theatre which we also played last year. The next day we travelled to Atlanta to play two nights at the City Winery (two sets a night). This year we were able to have a cookout at my cousin's home in Sandy Springs (the first one in three years) on the second day which was as always a lovely opportunity to relax with my family who all know the band very well now. After Atlanta however there was a lot less time to chill. Atlanta's City Winery was the first of about four we played at on this tour. Apart from Nashville we played two sets a night in each of them. Somehow the combination of long set times and long travel arrangements took it out of us more than last year (and we had poor weather on some days, psychologically not great), it actually felt a little gruelling at times. This is the touring life (sometimes) but hey, we're Incognito, we always bring it when we go on stage!
w/Atlanta bass buddies Deontae Pearce and Sean Michael Ray
I really like the City Winery venues. Last year we played the Chicago CW so I was looking forward to playing some more of them. They are warm and friendly and the sound is consistently full and clear. We've had amazing audiences pretty much everywhere this year but City Winery audiences were particularly kind and giving (maybe it's the wine?!!) After Nashville we travelled to Annapolis to the Rams Head, to Bethesda Jazz & Blues near DC and to the Flagstar Strand Theatre Pontiac where we played a double bill with Spyro Gyra, before our first day off in seven days of touring. We returned to the Chicago City Winery before travelling to New Jersey. It was actually fun to stay in New Jersey this time rather than in Manhattan as Manhattan isn't really that far and we were able to hang out with Vanessa's family, many of whom live in East Orange. They took us to Limin's Cafe which apparently EVERYBODY knows in EO, had doubles for the first time, yum. Thanks to the power and reach of Instagram, Steven 'Lucky' Benson spotted my posts and offered to take me vinyl shopping in NYC, turns out Lucky also lives in East Orange and he came to the show at BB King later with his camera too.
Steven "Lucky" Benson takes Fra and I digging in NYC
Limin's Trini food in East Orange NJ
Imaani and I across the street from BB King Bar & Grill, NYC
Fra and I dig (in) Chicago
w/Imaani and Vanessa in NYC
Photo by Steven Benson
City Winery ATL
I stopped actively looking for records on tour years ago. It used to be one of my main tour pursuits, less so now that many things I 'want' can be easier to find online. Occasionally I can't resist but on this tour and for most of 2017 really, I have gone record 'hunting' with fellow Thames River Soul guitarist Francisco Sales who recently bought his first record player and hifi set up. He is mad up for digging, not necessarily deep and dirty digging but for quality pressings of classic music. So there's my excuse! However, I couldn't quite bring myself to buy everything I could've bought, in fact I bought hardly anything. I didn't want to overfill my luggage. I'm also in a bit of a funny place with acquiring more things like vinyl. Vinyl is something I have always enjoyed but I find I have so little time to enjoy it and I already have a fair bit, shall we say. There was a Joao Donato record (A Bad Donato) that was in mint condition that I put back that I regret putting back now but thats about it! Anyway that's how I felt in the US... right, now where were we... ah yes record 'hunting'... Fra and I jumped in Übers and hit a few shops in Nashville, Chicago (Shuga Records was great), NYC, San Francisco (but not Oakland, should've gone in Oakland!) and Fra on his own went to others. It's great to see so many classic titles reissued although I know that the audio quality of some reissues varies compared to original pressings - even when it says 180g. Fra came away well pleased so I'm happy for him and I stayed under my luggage allowance...
Last year I was lucky enough to spend some time with Tower Of Power legends David Garibaldi and Roger Smith who both still live close to the Bay area. This time though they happened to be on tour in the UK ironically so it wasn't possible to meet this time during the three days we spent in Oakland. I did however spend a great day hanging out at the Jim Dunlop/MXR HQ in Benicia CA courtesy of one-time Tower Of Power bassist and Agape Soul bandleader Darryl Anders. Darryl has been so generous and helpful to me in the short time I've known him. He is artist liaison for Jim Dunlop and MXR, as well as being a fellow Aguilar Amp user and fellow Atelier Z user!!! We couldn't have more in common! I already had a couple of MXR pedals but now I've tried perhaps the whole range of bass pedals which is really impressive. I will be making a new pedalboard showcasing some of these pedals in the new year, I just haven't had the time yet. Jim Dunlop have been making their Super Bright strings for some time now and I have been using the Nickel Wound and the Marcus Miller sets this year. I'm lucky enough to be test driving a new bass string for Jim Dunlop that so far is sounding and feeling great on my Atelier Z M245 and M265 basses. I had a great day at HQ trying things out and meeting some of the staff, and being driven around California for a couple of hours playing tunes is also a pleasure. Thank you Darryl!
Backstage at Yoshi's, Oakland
At the Jim Dunlop/MXR HQ in Benicia, California
After three nights at the wonderful Yoshi's in Oakland we flew down to LA to play one show on Catalina Island near LA. Thankfully Bluey's good friend Oscar offered to drive Bluey and I from LA to Sacramento which was great because I didn't fancy flying again! Oscar drove us through Allensworth and talked us through the history of the settlement that once existed there (it's now a museum but it was once a thriving town full of black owned businesses). That was a truly special day. Thank you Oscar!
We were joined by Maysa Leak on a handful of our US shows. It was a major treat to have her when she was there. Every year she comes with something new when she performs with us and it's great to see the other singers watching and listening to her sing so intently. I would dearly have loved to sit in the audience to experience that amount of vocal talent on one stage: Maysa, Joy Rose, Imaani and Vanessa Haynes - but on stage was pretty killer too! Matt Cooper once again couldn't be with us on the US tour so this time we had my old Salford Tech alumni Mike Gorman standing in for him. Mike is the first person I ever saw play a real Fender Rhodes back in 1990 (I didn't start playing until the following year) and he's one of the first musicians I ever met, so pretty cool to be on tour with him. We were also joined by Trevor Mires on trombone in the US. We completed the US tour in Sacramento CA where we were joined by saxophonist and flautist Najee for the final show. Incognito have a song on Najee's new CD Poetry In Motion called Let's Take It Back, we performed this with him and he blew on Colibri with us too. That was a great way to end the tour. Thank you Najee!
Colibri! San Francisco
I so wish this was still a record store! Well, Amoeba is still open just up the road...
I enjoyed an amazing 5 hour drive courtesy of Bluey's friend Oscar. He took us to visit Allensworth, a one time fully black run settlement, a place that wasn't allowed to succeed...
Long train running...
w/radio DJ Jay King
So some of the band went home - for 18 hours, before flying on to Australia. I opted to not be jetlagged and exhausted by all that flying and flew instead direct from LA to Brisbane - where I promptly became ill and spent two whole days in bed! Well, at least I beat the Jetlag.
This tour of Australia was a little different to last year's. We played three club shows this time but these were additional to four open air sets we played for the legendary big room DJ Carl Cox and Eric Powell's Mobile Disco. We kicked off the shows in Brisbane and followed that with Mornington, Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide. Relative to the USA tour we had a bit more free time between shows and a daytime open air party with Carl and Eric spinning Rare Groove and Disco classics in the sunshine is my idea of a fun and chilled out time, even with an Incognito gig sandwiched in the middle around 4pm! Carl is mostly known for his seemless Techno and House sets at the biggest events and stages in the world but for the Mobile Disco he takes things back to his Funk, Soul and Boogie roots and I heard many songs I haven't heard in years. FH
w/the man Eric Powell
w/the man Carl Cox
Meeting up with old friend Ramsay in Sydney
Jamerson T-Shirt courtesy of my buddy Roemello in Detroit...
Ravers take on the (light) rain at Wiseman's Ferry