Well, another year leaves us all and a new one begins and every year I make promises to myself that I will get loads of projects up and running that are on my bucket list, but things always seem to transpire to stop many of them from happening. Having said that, a few do reach reality and so perhaps one of my wonderful Dad's favourite sayings, "Aim for the Sun and you will at least reach the moon, but aim for the moon and you are only likely to get halfway", has rubbed off on me but this year I am aiming for Mars, so hopefully will get beyond the Moon.
A lot of things have transpired over the last 3 years that have made life extremely difficult for us all, especially the pandemic which decimated so much of the entertainment industry as well as destroying lives as, yet again, the worldwide powers that be, chose to ignore all the warning signs and any post-mortems are unlikely to happen until way after many of us have departed this mortal coil.
Meanwhile, we all have to pick up the pieces both collectively and as individuals which is not always that easy as you get older. As many of you are aware, apart from my type 2 diabetes, (which is controllable if I do what I'm told and keep taking the tablets), my real health concern is the arthritis in both my hands and feet which is making life extremely difficult. The pain in and around the trapezium and capitate makes playing extremely uncomfortable and quite unbearable at times, but I'm learning that music is my pain killer and almost hypnotically play through any discomfort and will continue to do so until I no longer can… and this will be my last "grumpy moan" on the subject!
The Xmas tour was lovely apart from the weather, which was atrocious and made travelling extremely difficult, and of course the well-documented theft of my equipment by some low-life scum, which has made life extremely difficult as regards re-building my main rig for the Palladium shows.
I had so many calls from musicians and other people offering to loan me anything I needed if they had it, which was really unbelievably kind, and there was one piece of equipment, a Sycologic, which is virtually impossible to replace, but I really have to thank Geoff Downes for coming to the rescue as he had one that he has kindly loaned us and I am so grateful to him as I am not sure how the Palladium could have gone ahead without this piece of equipment… and incidentally, if anybody reading this, knows where there just might be one I can buy (not borrow), please get in touch!
There are a few people I have to mention, who really helped me during 2022 and first on the list has to be Rachel, my fantastically supportive wife, then there's my kids and grandkids who are always there if needed and of course our wonderful rescue dogs and cats who make our lives complete.
On the work side of things, I have a great set up with Brian Lane as my manager, who really does care about what I do, plus Val his PA , Kilimanjaro and Larry Magid, (my agents in the UK and America respectively), and then there's Rob Ayling who is pivotal when it comes to releases past present and future plus all merchandise and Erik Jordan, my co-producer and simply the best technician I have ever known. And of course, Karen Pitchford who is so brilliant with all our PR and last, but by no means least, my dear friend Wayne who introduced me to all things internet and looks after the best website I could ever dream of.
It's a small team, but a caring one and I thank them all.
So here we are in January 2023 and it's going to be a busy month as it mainly revolves around preparation for the 2 Palladium shows in February. Erik will be pretty much flat out both with re-building the rig somehow and also spending a lot of time with me, programming for the complicated shows.
There is a lot of rehearsal to prepare for and the band and crew are already hard at it and it is the pre-rehearsal work that everybody does, that enables rehearsals when we are all together to be their most productive.
I also mentioned on the website that I felt it was time to retire the English Rock Ensemble name and invited new names to be put forward and we received many inventive ones too, but the majority of replies wanted to retain the English Rock Ensemble name as it carried history with it and held the memory of many past members who are no longer with us… and so… the band will stay as The English Rock Ensemble.
I mentioned that I have a lot of projects that I am determined to get off the ground this year and these will all be mentioned in future GORRs throughout the year.
Finally A Gallery of the Imagination was made available on the Xmas tour and I am so happy as how well it has been received . Official release is next month (or so I'm told), but what an official release means these days is anybody's guess… anyway, I hope those of you who get a copy, enjoy it as much as we did making it.
In the meantime, may I wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2023. I think we all deserve it!