News Update: January 2009

Having devoted most of 2008 to the dubious celebrations of  the 40th Anniversary of Jethro Tull,  I am, once again mercifully free of nostalgia, claghorn and the blue comfort blanket of the repertoire of our earliest years.

Well, perhaps not entirely free, as some of the really old songs will stay in the set-list for a while to come, but it will be nice to broaden the repertoire again to include more recent and even brand new material in due course.

We stretched out across much of the world for the year gone by but it is only when you come to try to include all the places where we have enjoyed success over the years that you realise how big the tiny planet really is.  So, inevitably, we didn’t get to some of further-flung cities and venues that we would have liked to visit. Sorry Borneo. But Rock On without us anyway.

We did manage, after a quick fling to Russia, a healthy British tour of more dates than I think we have played in one year since the beginning years of Tull. We were joined on those dates by various ex-band members, Mick Abrahams, Clive Bunker, Dave Pegg, Jonathan Noyce, Barrie Barlow, Jeffrey Hammond (backstage at least) and a few notable guests from various walks of musical life and style. Mostly Autumn, Fish, David Ward Maclean, Anna Phoebe, Martin Skyrme (from the pre-Tull John Evan Band, Blackpool circa 1967), the new Folkie Seth Lakeman and Welsh band,The Crook Family appeared on various UK shows to bring a touch of something different. Our thanks go to all of the above for their time, trouble and musical offerings. I hope we did them justice when learning and performing their music alongside our own.

Many shows in Germany followed the UK with a trip to Turkey sandwiched between. Our German shows featured French Chanteuse Saori Jo with her faithful guitarist Miguel who surprised the audience, as well as us, with thoughtful but rousing singer-songwriting moments of Gallic passion. We hope to have them with us again in Germany this year.

Czech Republic, Italy and Switzerland alternated with more German shows before we headed out to the USA for the first Tull Summer tour in the States for a long time. Notable moments were the overdue return visits to Long Island’s Jones Beach and Denver’s Red Rocks Arena.

Spain, Holland and various Scandinavian countries followed (sadly without Doane on some of them due to a brief health issue) but we had the full contingent of band and crew for India which, of course, coincided with the dreadful Mumbai terror attacks. Having just arrived for rehearsal with our guest Anoushka Shankar, we heard about the shootings as they unfolded live and dead on the world’s television sets. The subsequent hostage-taking and events in the three locations dictated that we postpone the Mumbai concert until the end of the Indian tour when we were able to reschedule the show after a decent couple of days of  mourning and soul-searching on the part of Mumbai citizens. We have arranged to send a significant sum of money to a Mumbai charity for the benefit of victims and families. http://www.abillionhands.com/abh_concert.html and, from the pages of Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Billion_Hands_Concert

My personal thanks go to the rest of the band and the crew of Jethro Tull as well as Anoushka and her musicians for sticking with the tour when the concerns and fears of further terrorist outrage could easily have sent them (and me) running for cover.

After our return from India, there were a few delightful Christmassy Ian Anderson shows in Italy with the assistance of the Buapest-based Sturcz String Quartet.

And, finally, a Jethro Tull Christmas Carol Service concert at St Brides church in Fleet Street, London for the homeless persons’ charity, The Connection based at nearby St Martin In-The-Fields Church.  http://www.connection-at-stmartins.org.uk/  This was recorded live and will be the subject of a CD release for charity in later months of this year. My thanks go to Martin Barre, David Goodier, John O’Hara, James Duncan, engineer Mike Downs and the good people, both clergy and lay, of St Brides who organised the event with the help of David Rees of Tull Fanzine, A New Day. The Usually Quite Reverend George Pitcher is our man at St B and boss cleric Canon David Meara seems to happily tolerate the annual intrusion of not-quite-believers. Also, thanks go to our guest readers, Andrew Lincoln, Gavin Esler and Mark Billingham.

So, now it’s the New Year, 2008 done, dusted and discarded. A new American President and a new dawn for US international relations. In the wake of Israeli adventures (or misadventures as they may well turn out to be), Mr O will have his work cut out and his supporters will have to maintain the faith, display patience and trust that some things might actually start to come good by this time next year. The economy, however, might not be one of them. Let’s hope that it is not a one-term presidency and that he gets a real shot at the Change he talks so eloquently of.

After such a busy year, the first few weeks of 2009 will be spent at home, refurbishing my recording studio and catching up on lots of personal things. New studio works will commence in the next weeks. Some music recorded in 2007 has to be finished and it would be nice if, after writing and performing new tunes for and with Anoushka, we could get together for long enough to record them. But, as AS is a busy gal, and currently busy with Dad playing Pandit Ravi’s new concerto for Sitar and Orchestra it might take a while for our diaries to coincide again.

You will see the first postings of 2009 concerts in the tour section of this site and new dates are being added as they are confirmed during the next weeks. Broadly, the first part of the year is devoted to Jethro Tull concerts with the Ian Anderson solo dates and tours from September through to Christmas.

IA solo shows are mainly in the USA (about 20 concerts spread over two tours) and the UK, Czech Republic and Germany.

The first IA solo show is much earlier, at London’s beautiful Barbican theatre on the 3rd May and is promoted in conjunction with Flutewise, a magazine for flute students in the UK. There will be three guests on the show and it will feature me and my usual band playing repertoire from Tull – not just flute instrumentals but songs as well – and some solo stuff. The guests will have their solo spots and play with me and the guys too. Guests scheduled are Ian Clarke, a stalwart of the Classical and crossover scene, Teymour Housego who is an Indian bansuri (flute) player and Classical flautist, Abigail Burrows.

Various parallel events will be held at the nearby Guildhall School Of Music and in the foyer areas of the Barbican Centre. See more soon at the Flutewise website:  http://www.flutewise.org/

We learned with sadness of the untimely death yesterday of sound engineer Rob Braviner, longstanding engineer and organiser for Fairport Convention and who worked Jethro Tull for several tours back in the 80s. Rob was 49. He had been ill for several months and will be missed by all who knew and worked with him.

Various current and ex-Tull band members have projects afoot at the moment. See these web pages for further news of concerts, recordings and tours.

At present, John O’Hara is working flat-out on rehearsals with the Welsh Opera on a theatre musical in Cardiff. He then goes on to arrange and direct a stage adaptation of Pete Townsend’s Quadrophenia, scheduled to tour the UK later this year. Martin Barre is planning more solo dates and recordings. Doane Perry is working once again with his other band Thread  in Los Angeles to complete some recording work for a new album. David Goodier plays in Jazz gigs around the Bristol area and teaches bass students what not to do. Dave Pegg will be about with the Fairports in the UK from the end of January through beginning March. See http://www.fairportconvention.com/gigs.php for their tour dates.

The wonderful Anoushka Shankar will be in the USA for some shows at the end of January. http://anoushkashankar.com/tour_html.php AS is a delight to listen to and one of the most talented and skilful musicians I have ever worked with. Certainly the most challenging in terms of keeping up with her youthful vigour in performance on stage. The rest of the time, she is a pussycat.

James Duncan is busy with his project http://thefancytoys.com/ and has some gigs in the London area.

Anna Phoebe is back from her laser surgery in the USA. Not of the cosmetic surgical kind but of the over-the-top, heady, rock extravavganza fun-for-all-the-family tour which is the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO) annual bash. Anna is their star fantasy fiddler and has a thing (or two) about Spandex. http://www.trans-siberian.com  The lasers, smoke machines and dry ice do funny things to a girl….

My thespian son-in-law, Andrew Lincoln, is in rehearsal soon for a play, Parlour Song, to be presented at the Almeida Theatre, March, April, May in London. http://www.almeida.co.uk/production_details/production_details.aspx?code=78

Apparently, this play contains some strong sexual language. So what’s new in the Lincoln household? Potty-mouth son-in-law.

I have just taken delivery of a Tascam multi-track digital recorder, the X-48 and a Malcolm Toft-designed good old-fashioned analogue mixer, the ATB32. The best of the old world and the new, the X-48 has on-board editing and mixing, which will be extremely useful but the traditional hands-on-faders, pots and pans of the Toft analogue mixer appeal to my sense of producer/engineer involvement in the very physical process of recording and mixing. That’s the good thing about music and music making: the blending of traditional and new, tried and trusted with cutting-edge, digital precision with the warm and organic analogue approach we grew up with. http://www.tascam.com/products/x-48.html  and  http://www.toftaudio.com/atb32.html

Finally, thanks go to our web-site manager, David Coursey, for keeping up with us for the last year and his prompt attention to the new 2009 additions to www.jethrotull.com

See you in the next few months. Tally-ho and roger that!

Ian Anderson,

18th January, 2009