followers, fans, friends and those of idle curiosity,
Many best wishes for a fruitful and joyous 2008 from me, the band
and crew of Jethro Tull.
It has been a busy year of touring through 2007 and we have visited
many familiar and not-so-familiar countries, cities and cattle
The Locomotive briefly drew Breath in UK cities from York to Salisbury
for an acoustic tour before zipping out to South America with Martin,
Doane, John, David and Ann Marie Calhoun for an early Latin lunch.
Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Greece, Italy, Austria, Switzerland,
France, Poland, Israel, Romania, Bulgaria, Finland, Denmark Iceland,
South Africa, Canada and the USA kept the boilers stoked for the
Anna Phoebe on violin and Florian Opahle made the occasional appearance
and James filled in on drums during the Summer when Doane was otherwise
Martin and Doane both faced medical intervention from time to
time but, luckily, there was a fully qualified doctor on board
the train. Martin has just successfully undergone surgery in the
UK and is now recuperating, post-Christmas, in Canada with his
family. Doane is hopeful of avoiding his own surgical fate with
the pointy thing and snippety whats-it for months – even
years – to come and is complying with his surgeon’s
advice to keep up the physio, sleep and eat a lot and watch as
much TV as possible. Well, that’s what Doane said he had
With some little private investigations, I now know that I have
the prostate and the colon of a new-born babe and only walked a
little oddly for a short time after.
King Blair went. New man now at No 10. Obama’s timing was
perfect and the growing snowball down the slippery slope to whatever
awaits the USA has really begun. Bad year for a mortgage and earnings
in USD. Good year to acquire precious metals, hybrid cars and Christmas
gifts in New York if you are European and changing Euros.
Royal Award for Ian
I read in the New Year’s Honours list two days ago that
I have been given a small medal to wear and more letters after
my name. Always controversial, the Honours system in the UK brings
mixed blessings. Mine is a lowly MBE which confers on its owner
absolutely no right to be called Sir, sport sword, garters or rubberwear
and requires only a discrete bow or curtsey from friends and family.
The rest of you can tell me to bugger off.
The hundreds of modest folks who gain such honours annually do
so from years of quiet service in public sector work, out of sight
or ken of the masses, and their names forever mean nothing to the
rest of us. So, to temporarily join their ranks does mean something
positive and rather uplifting. I wrote two days ago in a press
"Well - I guess the MBE might be considered the village postman's
award. Community stalwart. Good egg. Humble servant.
But I feel proud to receive this as I am that postman in a musical
kind of way: a parochial bringer of good tidings. Door-to-door
salesman. Wandering minstrel. All the same kind of professions,
Just as well I didn't get it last year when Emperor Blair was
still ruling in what is now The Brown House. I might then have
felt compelled to have disrespectfully turned it down.... "
40th Tour Plans
The 40th Anniversary of Jethro Tull is upon us in February 2008.
Having initially thought that it was all best avoided in any reference
to our upcoming concert tours, I slowly changed my mind after chatting
to the others in the band and to some of the fans. Now I have agreed
that we will celebrate the tours with a full laser light show,
a dancing troupe of honed and bronzed young men fresh from the
Madonna boudoir, 60 foot inflatable flute-phallus on stage, Chinese
acrobats and fireworks nightly – and – live prostate
examinations for lucky competition-winners during the concert intermission.
OK – I exaggerate: there will be a little 40-year awareness
spread lovingly but discretely for at least the UK tours with the
occasional invited guest and some production and lighting references
to the “Old Days”. The set-list will be chosen mainly
from the first three albums with a few bits and pieces from a little
later. Songs and tunes which defined the early Jethro Tull from
blues band to eclectic, pre-prog inventiveness.
But it would hardly be appropriate for old Sourpuss and his cohorts
to give too much credence to birthday bashes in this sense. I,
personally, look forward much more to celebrating the 41st anniversary.
In this upcoming year of 2008, we have plans to visit a few less
places than last year. I already have some time set aside for studio
work and lazing about in the garden.
But there are already some 70 shows in place between April and
end of August, just waiting for the first week of January to go
by so that the various promoters can return from skiing their buttocks
off and back to their offices to begin the grim task of signing
their lives and homes away on the dotted line of contractual commitment.
Watch for more dates to go on this website in the upcoming weeks.
Following the releases last year of the Tull Acoustic best-of
CD and the Live In Montreux DVD and CD, there is now a definitive
documentary and history of Jethro Tull DVD in the final stages
of post-production, due for release in March, they tell me. It
features the contributions of most past band members, friends and
associates as well as live and studio performances from a multitude
of sources over the years. Many thanks go to the fans and fan clubs
who helped to provide much of the reference material and information
to the producers regarding the sourcing of this archival material.
Jeffrey Hammond wrote much of the DVD cover notes and contributed
a painting of Blackpool for the artwork. It is not quite finished
to his satisfaction but might, just might, be for sale….
Mick, Glenn, Clive, John, Barrie, and subsequent band members
make their appearances in the DVD and who knows what they might
have said – or not said – about truly yours? Will they
have spilled the beans about my life-long habits of crack cocaine
abuse, cross-dressing and machine-assisted sex? Will they tell
of the night when Robert Plant and I shared a young Taiwanese soft
fruit-seller? The Vegas gambling debts? The secret flight to Bagdad
to try to avert war in the Middle East? Arm-wrestling with the
Pope, (Bless his soul) on a midnight cruise of the Bosphoros? If
they do, I will sue, I guarantee it.
During the mid sector of the Winter US tour, we were reunited
with some of our orchestral friends from the New England Conservancy
with whom I toured in the USA in 2006. Marissa, Megumi, Meena and
Courtenay made up the Calliandra String Quartet and bowed, wiggled
and drove their way across half of America. Well, at least it felt
like half of the way to those fragile Yankee gals who are more
used to the delights of the tour bus than the self-driven rental
car. They did do one night on the over-full bus at the end of their
stint with us, but on questioning, Meena (who had never been on
the bus before) offered at soundcheck the next day only, “What
happens on the tour bus stays on the tour bus….” Cryptic
and worrying words from one so young and flower-like. Not sure
what she meant. Obviously, protecting the reputation of the road
Like many of you, I will be planning some quality vacation time
during the year and plan to revisit Iceland, Switzerland and take
a short cruise from Istanbul to Athens through the Greek islands
and Turkish coastline. I am not exactly a travel agent (although
I carry out that function to some extent for the band and crew
of Jethro Tull) but I do have a few suggestions for you if you
are head-scratching over the issue of where and when to go.
Switzerland is a great Summer destination with pretty good continental
European weather. Some of the best train rides in the world and
the loveliest parts of this little country are easily reachable
via international flights into Geneva and Zurich. http://www.myswitzerland.com/en.cfm/home
will go a long way to getting you started on a Swiss visit.
Iceland is another destination associated, not entirely correctly,
with the frozen wastes. This super-trendy, cosmopolitan gem of
the North Atlantic is a fascinating blend of geographical, geological
and social interest. A bit pricey if you are coming from the USA,
due to the current weak dollar, but worth almost every penny. The
famous 101 district of Reykjavik around Laugavegur, the main street
of shopping, restaurants and bars is the place NOT to be on Friday
and Saturday nights unless you want to party hard and long… Check
out http://www.icetourist.is/default.asp?cat_id=30 for the possibilities.
The purchase of a timepiece from the only watchmaker in Iceland,
The J S Watch Co. http://jswatch.com/enska/enska.html will impress
friends and family. Gilbert ‘O Gudjonsson, watchmaker, will
show you his creations, all numbered and beautifully presented.
They keep damn good time, too! Laugavegur 62 is the address, Reykjavik’s
The West coast and the islands of Scotland are a wonderful entry
into a maritime and mountain experience, but take your waterproofs
and a warm jumper as this area is famous for unpredictable weather
all year round. For an overall mainland Scottish Highland coverage,
try http://www.visithighlands.com/ The Shetlands (Northern Isles)
can be explored form your armchair via http://www.visitshetland.com/
and its slightly Southern neighbour, The Orkneys, at http://www.visitorkney.com/
The Outer Hebrides are covered at http://www.visithebrides.com/
I have not actually tried them but http://www.hebridean.co.uk/
will offer the best of luxury small ship cruising, so I am told,
and destinations not on the usual cruise ship list. Travel with
The Hebridean Princess. A great way to visit the edge of Scotland
and its Islands. On my list for 2009.
Those of you from Europe and the UK may wish to take advantage
of the dollar decline by stretching your Pound or Euro a bit further
by visiting the USA. Cheap flights to the East Coast in Summer
might land you in Boston or New York. A trip through New England
up the notorious and truck-hugging I-95 interstate freeway will
take you through Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode
Island and Maine. Don’t forget beautiful Lake Champlain and
Burlington, Vermont. Actually, avoid the I-95 wherever possible
and travel inland. http://www.visitnewengland.com/
My New Year’s resolutions are many: mostly involving tidying
up work spaces. The office, the studio, the warehouse where all
the musical equipment is kept – all in need of the annual
Hopefully my stomach will shrink of its own accord, requiring
only a few less vegetarian curries than last year to help it along.
My hair has started to grow back at an alarming rate, or it seemed
in a moment of wild optimism this morning. Oh, yes – did
I mention my new spectacles….
I must remember to be nice to children and grannies. I will try
harder to be a good and tolerant person. Especially when made angry
by the occasional drunken Philistines and boors in our audiences
in certain countries. The NY Times says that in recent years, excavations
in Israel established that the Philistines had fine pottery, handsome
architecture and cosmopolitan tastes. If anything, they were more
refined than the shepherds and farmers in the nearby hills, the
Israelites, who slandered them in biblical chapter and verse and
rendered their name a synonym for boorish, uncultured people. Archaeologists
have now found that not only were Philistines cultured, they were
also literate when they arrived, presumably from the region of
the Aegean Sea, and settled the coast of ancient Palestine around
1200 B. C. Well – they are still drunken Philistines to me….
I will try not to indulge in childish, sexist commentary whether
from the stage or in private oratory. Lavatorial humour is definitely
out, unless provoked. What provokes lavatorial humour? Well, dodgy
lavatories for a start. The sooner our theatres and auditoria get
round to refurbishing the backstage areas along with the front-of-house
restorations they are so volubly proud of, the better I will feel;
the better I will dumpy-do.
I will congratulate my fellow musicians when they play well; commiserate
when they know they haven’t. I will treat drum roadies with
the respect they deserve. Especially when serving the whims and
fancies of that tyrant of dustbin-bashers, Doane Perry. Dastardly
Blackadder to poor Jay Rubin’s Baldrick.
I guarantee never to use my Doctorate or MBE attached to my name
lest housebreakers and chainsaw murderers decide that I must be
successful and wealthy and harbouring the crown jewels. And a D.
Lit or MBE never guaranteed a leg-over, did it? Well, DID it? Sir
Paulie Mac isn’t doing well in that department, is he? Sir
Mick is now doing penile (sic) servitude and Sir Elton is, like
me, beyond caring. Not that we don’t think about it on Sundays
and high holidays.
OK – now it’s time to get back to the basic purpose
of this message:
Happy New Year to you all and sundry and may the Good Lord Bless
you if He is not busy doing something more important. Not really
believing in an interventionist god, I think we might carry out
our own tiny and earthly blessings on those we love, admire, appreciate,
merely tolerate or - even rank along with the Philistines. For ‘tis
the season of love, forgiveness and renewal of the human spirit.
And paying off the credit card bill, refinancing the mortgage,
speaking in strange, high-pitched voices to grand-children and
smothering the cats with sentimental affection and lobster.
See you along the way in 2008.
IA England, Dec 31st 2007