Before this trip even started, things have been slightly hectic for me. I've been getting FaceBook notes all week from people in London. Folks are coming to see us do what we do. One 1 of the nights is sold out. The pressure is on. LOL.
I'm just waking up. I can see Louie called me twice and Zuleica called too. I'm nervous.
I met up with Zuleica. She's the manager of everything. We jump in a cab to JFK. The driver is an old timer. He talked us into a stupor. He's one of those guys that are just happy to be alive. Not a bad guy, just talked entirely too much.
Here's my question. Zuleica asked him how much was the ride. He responds "It's going to be $117. And that doesn't include the tip." Did he think that he needed to tell us that the tip wasn't included? How many cabs has the tip included in the price? Idiot. I just hate it when service people expect tips. I'm not oppose to tipping. But I don't want to be made to feel obligated to give one. And don't be insulted when and if I CHOOSE not to leave one. Maybe I don't have tip money. And his cab was old and the AC wasn't working. And when we got there, he let us out across the street from where we wanted to be. But whatever.
OK. Now this is a very touchy subject I'm about to bring up.
Some of you may find these next statements highly offensive.
So I'm in my seat. I look up and there's a Jewish guy praying. He's standing facing the divider(wall), bowing continuously toward the wall.
For me, prayer is one thing I feel everyone needs to do. And I believe that all religions and religious people can coexist. But we are on a plane! Thousands of feet in the air. If I'm going to pray, I can pray in my heart while seated in my chair. I understand that there are positions that some cultures pray in. I don't know God to be unreasonable. I don't think God will be offended at my prayer if I pray in my seat. I'm not going to speak in tongues loud enough for the other passengers to hear me. I believe I can pray in a way not to alarm or offend others. And let me say this. Before we left, there was a warning on several news stations of a terroristic threat on a lot of flights leaving the US today. Including this one. All US embassy's closed today because of the threat.
We all were aware of it. And this man waits till we're all up in the air to start bobbing toward the wall? There are other Jewish men like him on this flight. Two sitting right in front of me. They're sitting in their chairs laughing and talking.
Now for those of you reading that are Jews, trust me, I don't have a problem with Jews or their prayers. But given the recent events between the people of Israel and and the people of the Middle East, praying in this plane and especially at this time can make one feel uneasy. I'm not an Islamic man but even now I can see the racism in this situation. This man is praying openly and outwardly. He has his Jewish clothing on. The Hat, long black coat, and the whole 9 yards. And it's tolerated. No one is saying anything. The flight attendant walked around him. No problem. But I wonder how this situation would look if he were an Arab man. Praying in his native tongue. Praying on his knees with the small rug and everything. I truly don't believe for a second that the Flight attendant would have walked around him. I'll bet an undercover security agent would have popped out of nowhere and asked the man to sit down. But maybe it's just me. Just saying.
Aug 5th 1:40am
I'm sitting on the connecting flight next to Lisa Fisher. We've sang on plenty of records together. But this is maybe the second time we sat down and talked at length. And I'm feeling so blessed to be chatting music with someone who has been where I'm going. Someone who paved the way and is still current. Listening to her talk about music, I can hear the experience she has. It's awesome.
August 6th 1:33am
Today we had a great rehearsal.
This is a little off the subject. But today I woke up feeling somewhat in the middle of two extremes. On the one hand, I'm 44 and I want to complete a nice solo project on myself. The reason I mentioned my age is because usually, people my age give up on solo careers. But I feel like I'm just starting. The project will have to be properly funded and marketed. I can't afford to throw something out there and just see what happens. I'm way to experienced and passionate about what I do for any major company to make decisions for me. I know exactly what I want and the market I want to take on. Even visually. I know what I need to look like. For me, as well as many other singers, the issue is finances. So I made a decision this morning. I'm going to do a few songs on Honeycomb. I only did one(Your Body). But I think I'll do a few more before completing my solo project. Sound like a plan?
We went through sound check already and it was cool. Usual stuff. But one thing that's going to be different is the pyrotechnics on stage. This is a first for me. Bombs? Really? And there's one that's right next to me.
Here's the thing. Luciano was the headliner for the night. I know, who the heck is Luciano?
And that is our biggest issue in America. Especially the soulful house seen. Nothing wrong with having a favorite DJ or even a favorite club, but we're not at all open to new DJ's or, for that matter, new sounds.
Luciano is HUGE! Not a soulful dude, but I'm glad we had an opportunity to meet and work with him on this gig. This guy is packing stadiums.
OK. We rocked the show.
Aug 7th 7:57pm
Hung out with Zuleica, Angie Ski, Nico, and Lisa. had a great dinner. Lisa bought a flute. I didn't even know that she could play.
My room is insane!
Aug 9th 9:30pm
Louie made a dinner reservation for myself, Lisa, Axel, and Jose.
The food was, easily, some of the best food I've ever tasted. We're all so happy. They had what looked like extremely thin slices of pork(don't judge me! Yes. I eat pork). it was a little sweeter than prosciutto. Turns out, they were slicing the meet off of a cured pigs leg. Hoof and all!!!
Of course I ordered the ribs for an appetizer. LOL. Somehow, I feel a racial joke in there somewhere.
For my main course I ordered the Sirloin steak. The food was truly a ministry.
Tonight's show will be a good one.
Aug 10th 2:00am
The show was absolutely crazy. Jose and Lisa sang their heads off. I did my thing and I performed an instrumental. Now that was a first. I brought my Melodica(a keyboard harmonica). And we jammed. Axel had a friend that played violin that just randomly jumped in. He was so good. That was crazy. It felt good to play an instrument on stage again.
And I danced. Yea, I know right?
But I have to wake up early for a flight to London. Soo..... Goodnight.
On our way to London. Yay!!!!
Aug. 11th 12:31am
Upon arrival I got nervous. This place is legendary! I've payed here before, but still. It's overwhelming.
Random thought. I love having friends that you can argue with and at the end of the argument we can still hug and and say "I love you bro."
Spent time talking with Louie and Zuleica. I say this often when I blog.
I respect Louie's organization. He has a machine running that I admire. This one does that, and that one does this. And I watch his work ethics very closely. I feel that Honeycomb is going to get to that place soon. I need to be watching and paying attention.
August 12th 1:39am
Tonight was about the energy and the love from the crowd. There were people there young and old. Natasha Watts and her husband came and showed their love. Dean Zepherain and Kristel Morin from Tribe were there. They brought Nathan Adams with them. He looked great. I saw a lot of friends even from France, Mialy. It was a family affair. My old friend Georgianna Hamed look amazing. I've not seen her in years.
Christopher Harvey was there to fully show his love and support. He's a music lover and collector of music/DJ for many years. Fitzroy from Soul Survivors magazine was hanging too. He came through last night. All cool people. I played keys all night. It's been a long time. I'm feeling inspired though. For me to play Latin music on a stage in front of a crowd full was big for me.
Close to the end of the show, the power went out. Yea!! THE POWER WENT OUT! The mics were on. But now theres no band. Lisa Fisher sang an acapella medley that either she made up or I've never heard but she showed her entire butt totally off!!!!! It was mesmerizing. She showed experience and skill. Her ability was immeasurable. It wowed even the band. You ever see "The Wizard Of Oz" when Glinda, the good witch appears? it was very much that! We were in a trance.
We finished the show with a Santana groove. Bluey from the group "Incognito" came on stage and jammed with us. It was just great.
Can't wait till we start doing this regularly. When we're doing this, life is good. Louie was conjuring up his Tito Puente band leader skills. Remembering EVERYBODY'S part. Queuing them before the part comes in. He was good.
I think the highlight of this trip for me was a casual moment in the van with Lisa, Anane, Zuleica, Gerard, Jose, Moises, and Louie. Lisa talked about having a Grammy. Now for those of you that don't know, most singers aspire to be a Grammy award winning artist or at least they would like to have one. I used to practice my acceptance speech. When a Grammy award winning or nominated artist is about to perform, usually the one introducing them will say "Grammy award winning/nominated artist......"
So clearly it's a big deal.
When Lisa was asked about it, she said(and I'm paraphrasing) that she was happy to have one. But her musical bliss didn't come from that. For her, a Grammy is great for marketing or networking or whatever, but in terms of being impressed, a Grammy wouldn't be the thing that does it.
Jose Mangual Jr. Did I mention him? Lisa named him the Oracle. He was the oldest and most peaceful cat on this gig. He's an old timer with life experience that we can all learn from. We were talking and he said that the first thing he's going to do is learn how to use his cell phone. He has one but its brand new. He never used it. After this trip he felt like he was behind the times because at every turn we all had our cell phones for one thing or another. The thing about Jose is that his musical experiences go beyond mine some 40 years. He's performed on great stages, with some people we only read about. He's like a Latin James Ingram, or Jeffrey Osbourne. Never had superstar status, but is always relevant and working. That's the kind of career I want. And to be in the company of this gentle spirited man was a treat that I didn't expect.
The overall group was beautiful.
I'm looking forward to the next one.