“Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” – Lennon.
How was yours? For me, 2022 was like being blindfolded on a pre-war switchback ride after a greasy curry.
January’s excitement in the wake of me having just sold Proper Records and Proper Music Distribution was unbridled. The prospect of being able to spend more time at home while continuing to enjoy the rest of my life in music was genuinely invigorating. I was determined not to be a slave to a release schedule, but to carry on - ad hoc - releasing great albums by friends through The Last Music Company.
The ideas I had to fill the vacuum left after thirty-three and a third years at the Proper coalface were bubbling away every day, but I let them evaporate without further thoughts of life in the commercial world while Miriam and I walked the dogs daily, planned a nice long trip to Ireland and I started booking shows for a couple of Last Music turns, where I would be playing drums again.
Sounds great huh?
After just a few weeks in our new wonderland, the bubble burst when Miriam suffered a brain hemorrhage. (After a period of intensive care in hospital, she returned home where she continues making a full recovery).
Needless to say, I immediately pulled the plug on pretty much everything but after several months at home, Miriam was insistent that I should do stuff. Among other things, the UK tour with Bill Kirchen was looming and so in July, I accepted her generous offer and went off having too much fun with Kirchen and Paul Riley while the family moved in to look after Miriam. I collected Bill from the airport for an overnight stay with us and we hit the road for our first date the following day. Eighteen days later, fuelled by coffee and fun, we topped-off the tour with a sold-out show at Bush Hall in London. It was a double-header with Geraint Watkins and the Mosquitoes with Paul and I enjoying the ride in both outfits on a memorable night. After only two days off in eighteen days, the indefatigable Telecaster master left Bush Hall after midnight to go to a hotel at the airport for an early flight for a festival show in Italy the next day before returning to Austin, Texas for weekend gigs via a house concert in New York. Giant!
Geraint Watkins started performing more regularly than ever with the Mosquitoes and venturing farther afield as he continues to emerge from his life as sideman of choice for some world-class artists - and there’s a project in the pipeline for release early in 2023.
Due to all of the above, Last Music Company only released one record in 2022 and that was Wild Kingdom by the wonderful Hot Club of Cowtown. This was the year that the band celebrated 25 years, albeit with Zack Sapunor effortlessly replacing the now retired Jake Erwin on bass. They undertook a UK tour after lockdown was lifted and a return visit is already planned for 2023.
Something I was able to do while at home was to assemble the three remaining members of Chilli Willi and the Red-Hot Peppers (Pete Thomas, Paul Bailey and Paul Riley) for a zoom call interview which I am now in the process of editing into a couple of podcasts. The audio quality is a bit duff but it’s full of great memories from what we now refer to as a bygone era. You just wait.
Jimmie Vaughan got back out there with a lengthy run of dates promoting The Jimmie Vaughan Story box set we released just before the lockdown, and he also opened for Eric Clapton for many dates on his US tour. However, at the time of writing, he is recovering from heart surgery. Recuperation will take some time, but as ever, Jimmie is determined to get back out there as soon as possible. I’m sure that everyone will join me wishing him a speedy recovery and sending best wishes to his family.
We lost Bobby Purify, but memories of our time together made me dig some stuff out of the archive for release in 2023 including some unreleased Dan Penn demos that are magnificent and truly worth waiting for.
Our thoughts are with Andy Fairweather Low and his family. Shortly after we announced the release of his new album for 2023, his wife was taken critically ill and Andy duly cancelled all his future tour dates to be at home caring for her. Truckloads of love Andy.
So that’s the last page getting torn off the calendar. 2022 didn’t have quite as many blank spaces as the previous two years but thankfully, 2023 is already liberally peppered with plenty of things to keep the juices flowing…while life happens.
…and our postponed trip to Ireland is inked for April 2023.
Wishing you all a healthy and prosperous new year.