The White Page
  A Road Diary


Date: Tuesday, September 24, 2002

From: Alan

This week finds us perambulating across the Southern states, heading for a potential confrontation with tropical storm/soon-
to-be-Hurricane Isadore, still in the Gulf at time of writing
but due to land onshore tomorrow night or early next morning.
Well, our bus is filthy from two days & nights of desert dust,
Boeing-sized bugs and the odd fuel spill, so perhaps we’ll be
all shiny and new by the time it’s had its whirly way with us
and there’ll be no need to pay for a truckwash if the expected
rainfall from Izzy meets its due potential.

Right now I’m attempting to control a bouncing keyboard as we
pass through Oklahoma on a road that bears more resemblance to
an army proving ground than a US highway, and I can only assume
that the state has a) had its funding withdrawn, b) the
promised “road works” we see signs for didn’t show up on the
right year (they simply put up the barrels & cones to slow us
all down), or c) the American Dental Association has entered
a pact with the Governor to assure a constant quota of loose
fillings and perpetuate their subsequent ministrations………….
“smile for the camera? - piss off, I’ve just crossed Oklahoma!

All rattling aside, I have to report a fine first week of our fall tour, featuring new singer and multi-instrumentalist
Klyde Jones, whom many of you will recall from the Soul Tattoo
album, and, in particular, his fine lead vocals with me on
“Every Beat Of My Heart”. Klyde has filled Eliot’s vacant spot
onstage in AWB as the talented Mr. Lewis has taken some time
off from roadlife to find a bit of home life and creature
comforts that maybe one or two of us lucky bastards take for
granted, having cemented some of those things before we became
famous/busy/permanently-absentee-from-realitees. We all wish
him well, and I’m sure that he will benefit from some time to
step back from the rigors of touring life and refocus his keen
musical sights; when’s the album coming out, El? (and where
should I send all this vodka that’s now piling up night after night?)

While I mention potential confrontations with weather phenomena
I guess I should state my reservations against confrontations
with middle-eastern firebrands at a time when our economies are
going through some of the biggest turmoil in decades, and when
we collectively have failed to satisfactorily finish the job
set out in the last campaign (unless someone’s found his ass
today while I’m bouncing through OK., or we rebuilt Kabul late
last night with the aid of Donald Trump’s spare worksquad).
Personally, I remember the last Gulf war too clearly; it began
on the first night of our tour, and we played the next two or
three weeks to tiny handfuls of diehard punters who were the exception to the masses huddled wide-eyed and glued to CNN as
Stormin’ Norman and his swashbuckling band blazed their way
into the patriotic psyche - and left us audience-free and broke
as the cost of fuelling our bus went through the roof, and
ticket sales through the floor. If that sounds entirely selfish
just think of the ramifications of another more protracted and
politically more complicated engagement with, again, no remote
guarantee of getting the bastard, and if we do, of being able
to replace him with anyone less vicious or murderous in the
long run. And we cuddle up tighter to the Saudi princes in the
process, while blithely ignoring that it was fifteen of
insurgents who perpetrated Sept.11 and consigned that date to
Hell forever in the American and British memory. Oy McVey!

So back to the music (coffee break’s over) and a refresher for
Onnie and myself especially, who have seen Klyde go back to the
original vocals and versions of some of the AWB material for
his template, and in doing so we are revisiting some of the
‘lost chords’ of the soaring seventies.. and his soulful voice
has been causing noticeable squealing & squirming among many of
the female number in the audience this past week, so I have to
believe that he has stirred some of these memories in them too.
Whatever the cause of this frisson of excitement in the ladies’
gallery, I can assure you it’s entirely spontaneous and
unabashed and certainly nothing to do with our roadies
releasing white mice among them at strategic musical moments.
Once we get this leg of the tour under our belts, we
intend to review some of the other gems in the old repertoire
that have lain undisturbed collecting fairy dust for years, to
see what might please you for a change, and further explore
some of our new brother’s silk degrees (and maybe also my
gritticisms, too). Then it’s on to new stuff, entirely.

All I can say in winding up is that I’m as happy as a clam in
soft Caribbean sand, and please Messrs. Bush and Blair let not
some misguided machismo and military madness spoil my fun right
now when there is too much of beauty and soulful serenity around
to be worried about warmongering, and the spoils and troils of
buried oils on foreign soils, and nations coming to the boil –
we all will lose in the short run, and multitudess will lose
their all in the long run.
Me, I’ve got to run – I’ve a hurricane to catch.