The White Page
  A Road Diary

Date: 24 December, 2004
FROM: Alan
SUBJECT:CHRISTMAS 2004 leading to NEW YEAR 2005 leading to. . .

My ears are burning. I know that many of you are a bit displeased at my
recent output on this page - and that's too bad, but it has been a very
busy last six months and the day after tomorrow is of course Christmas, so
I am keenly aware that this is a last-minute grasp for redemption by way of
a greeting to one and all (whether you have complained or not).

First, let me say that the big tour was magnificent and was easily the best
thing we have done since the heydays of the seventies, and I have to admit
it might have topped even that; I have never worked with a better crew, or
with better artists than Michael and Daryl & John, nor have we ever been
better cared for in all respects by any tour I can recall. Of course, the
technology and logistics are so much better now than then, but it's the
human factor that really counts, and that goes for all you lot in the seats
as well, for making us so welcome. We knew going in that there would be an
awful lot of people that had never been to an AWB concert nor had
probably heard much of our music, but saw that as a challenge we could
easily handle given the 'Soul' quotient of the package and the fact that
fans of the above-mentioned acts were pretty likely to find some of our
ingredients to their taste. Happily, they quickly became gluttons.

Next, I have to thank Daryl in particular for coming up with the idea for this
winning combination of artists and for inviting us to put three harmonious
acts together to perform separately, then all together at night's end.
That's what managed to do the business in a summer that will go down as
one of the worst in memory for big dates cancelled, whole tours downsized
or just plain vaporized, and names with great track records taken off the
tracks and shunted into stockyards. I haven't a clue what happened out
there this year - was it the 'economy-stupid'? the upcoming political
hostilities (The Uncivil War)?, too many gig-nights in too many outsize
venues? We'll never know - at least we were lucky enough not to feel the
sting, so I guess he had the right idea after all.

After all the luxury and cosseting on the Rock N' Soul Revue, we had to
come back down to earth again at the end of October and revisit the
climate that we're more accustomed to, but which also gave us the chance
to be the focal point once more on our own gigs . . . the main -course as
opposed to 'The Appetizer' on the grand tour. Chicago and Philly were
memorable among these, and I have to say the soul food in Warmdaddy's is
spectacular. We became the Overweight White Band in just two nights there
and I have developed an addiction for greens that no-one who grew up with
me would believe; greens, in Scotland, were soggy, tasteless, pale mush
that filled out whatever our parents could afford at the time, and which
were largely force-fed to us with the grim reminder that if we wanted to
have a remote shot at survival in the early years after the Second World
War when grub was mighty scarce in the British Isles, we had better siphon
it up, or else.

Well, we never had THESE greens (nor the Chevy or the Baptist church)
but somehow we found the path. When we get the chance to gig with
people like The Rev. Al Green, it all starts to make sense; if our church had
had music like that, we would have gone, instead of refusing to sit through
one more hour of grim, despairing Calvinism, blistering and excoriating sermons, and the lumpen hymns & psalms that all defined the Scottish
ecclesiastical experience. In short, a must to avoid. I recall Daryl telling me
some years ago of his enjoyable memories of church in small-town
Pennsylvania, and his joy at first returning from the 'Big City' (Philly) to a
starring role in front of his old congregation - WITH HIS OWN MUSIC!!
Perhaps that's why the last time I drove through my Scottish hometown on
a Sunday morning there was (inevitably) a mere trickle of wobbly &
withered old souls attending the Lord's call - absolutely nobody else.
Churches are closing faster than clams on a hot beach.

. . . BUT - there's so much more to do on Sunday nowadays.

We can shop to our hearts' content; we have adopted the American way
with wretched husbands being dragged kicking and screaming round giant
emporia of everything from newflooria to neuphoria; we have Sunday -
football (thanks to the new messiah, Rupert Murdoch, to whom all sport &
schedules must bend to feel the cool, nourishing waft of his Foxy TV
dollar), and we have decided that it is a better place now, with or without
the gods - angry or otherwise. Never again will we be forced to stop, look
and listen for one day a week when we can go hurtling past the Sunday
Stop like a bus with a demented driver and failed brakes. Even an old
agnostic like myself isn't so sure there wasn't some merit in the 'auld wey'
as the Scots would put it, and that there is a loss of cultural value as a
result of today's absence of any engendered serenity. Still - one believer's
loss is another heretic's gain. (What's this - Gorrie on religion? . . . that's like
Bush on English literature.)

But I digress. This was supposed to be a seasonal greeting to all of you who
visit us at from time to time (and those of you who visit
us all the time). I'm doing this instead of Christmas shopping, so I really
can't complain at my lot. May next year bring you goodness and grace,
may peace break out the world over, may the real culprits be caught and
exposed, and may you all grow a third arm - or stop driving with mobile
phones in-hand.   Finally, may I go now?