OK. A few weeks back, on the www.j-tull.com website, Ian Anderson had announced that he was looking for people to voluntarily bring an Upright bass to his solo concert shows called Rubbing Elbows with Ian Anderson, since the band didn't want to bring one along from England. My buddy Bill Freeman and I had tix for the show in Tarrytown, so I respond to his manager named Kenny Wiley and said I have an Upright bass and I sent him pictures via e-mail. No response for a few weeks, so I figured that he already had a bass and he was all set. No big deal at all. Last Monday (3 days before the concert), Kenny e-mailed me again and asks me, if my bass is still available, to which I respond "Yes, but I can't get to the venue until probably 5:30 or 6:00 PM" (in Tarrytown, NY, show starts at 7 PM). He basically said that if we couldn't get there by 6, his bass player named David Goodier would just use his electric bass for the show.
Thursday, October 17:
We leave my house at 4:00 PM (Huntington, NY) with bass in Jen's Subaru Outback. We are making KILLER time on the Northern State, LIE, even over the Throgs Neck Bridge. We figure we will make it in plenty of time, maybe even have time to grab some dinner. Still making great time, we head up the Hutch and then all that is left is 287 West (for about 5 miles and then a short poke to Tarrytown). We get on 287 West at about 5:00 PM. Traffic stopped. Dead. Not moving at all. The electronic traffic board says "All Lanes Closed - Police Activity." What the F was that???? We were so F******* pissed off, I can't even tell you. Traffic did not MOVE at all - we were stuck in traffic that was now backing up for what ended up to be miles. Eventually, cars started to go BACKWARDS on the exit ramps, so we off-roaded onto grass backwards on the exit ramp - it was crazy. We made into the city of White Plains, which was in total chaos, traffic everywhere, horns honking, people pissed off and driving crazy, it was nuts.
It was now just about 6 PM - there is no way in hell that we are going to make it to Tarrytown, so I use my cell phone and call Kenny and tell him that we are lost and stuck in traffic and we are not going to make it in time. He says no problem, thanks for trying, and just go to the box office when you get you get there and there will be some tickets for you when you get there. So I thank him, and we spend the next 1 hour and 20 minutes! trying to get to Tarrytown. It was total chaos, a nightmare.
We finally arrive in Tarrytown at 7:20 PM, park the car about 10 blocks away form the venue, and finally arrive at 7:30 PM. The show had not yet started, due to the sound company also getting stuck in traffic, so we lucked out. I go to the box office, ask for tix for Frankie Camiola, and open the envelope which has two "Guest after show" passes in it!! I am so excited at this point, I almost wet my Fruit of the Looms. We then go in watch the show.
Ian is an unbelievable entertainer. He is incredibly witty, pompous, sarcastic, genuine, brilliant - just amazing. I never saw Zappa perform live, but in my mind there is nobody that came as close to having an audience feeding out of the palm of their hands like Ian Anderson. The show itself was really unique, with a couch on stage, with two local radio guys sort of like emceeing the show. Ian had hired a really great band consisting of a keyboard / accordionist, acoustic guitar, bass (electric!), drums, and Ian. He played tons of acoustic guitar, flute, mandolin, even harmonica. The show itself was half talking (Ian taking questions, etc) and half music. The topics of conversation ranged from frozen chickens, Ian's 2 ½ legs, salmon, making out with two guys, George Bush, Ireland and Northern Ireland, Scotland, swirling salmon sperm and salmon eggs in a bucket with a wooden spoon, musicians changing their own guitar strings, touring, concept albums, and MUCH MORE. The set consisted of (not in this order, but these are the ones that I remember):
- Life is a Long Song
- Cheap Day Return
- Mother Goose
- Locomotive Breath (complete with audience members trading fours with kazoos - hilarious) a beautiful instrumental written about his friend in Italy (can't recall the name)
- Up The Pool
- Thick as a Brick
- Skating Away on the Thin Ice of The New Day
- Boris Dancing
- Circular Breathing
- The Storming Shuffle
- In The Grip Of Stronger Stuff
- Dun Ring (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
- A Christmas Song
There may have been more, but that is all I can recall. The show itself was fantastic. His voice sounded good to very good (not ama;zing, but not lousy either). There was a 20 minute intermission between the two sets.
The Good Part:
After the show ended, my buddy Bill Freeman and myself went up to the stage and met Kenny and he said just to have a seat. They were breaking down the equipment, and David the bass player came over to chat. I told him I was the guy with the acoustic bass in my car, and he said no problem and we chatted for about 20 minutes. He was a session bass player from Bristol, and he really wasn't that familiar with Tull after '77!! It was pretty funny. He was a super nice guy and we had a great conversation about music. I then asked him, if there was any way that we could meet Ian, and he told us to hold on and he would check. About 5 minutes later, he called us from the side of the stage and we went back stage. There he was - one of my musical idols, chatting with some woman. David told us that he was talking "business" with some agency, so he might be a while. So we chatted with Kenny and David some more, and then David interrupted Ian and said there were two guys that would like to meet him. He stopped what he was doing just to meet us! I told him that I was the guy who had the acoustic bass and he said jokingly that 'I was only a few hours to late' (which was the truth). The conversation basically consisted of talking about how he himself was also caught in traffic due to truck which flipped over and spilled frozen chickens. I then asked him, if I could get a picture (which Bill then did take) and I said how much I admired his music and it was a great show. The reason Ian called it the rubbing elbows tour was that Ian doesn't shake hands anymore, and invented another form of male bonding by literally rubbing elbows. So Ian and I rubbed elbows and then took off. We left feeling SO naturally high, it was beyond description.
That's about it. My Ian Anderson story.