Email 9th May 2002

Subject: Fish 2002 - Caledonia and Fellini Nights

Dear Fishheads, Freaks, fans and the Company!
First of all a big thankyou slobbery hug for the Birthday wishes! :-) I was down in London for the week talking to agents and taking part in the "Closure" programme with Davina McColl for London Weekend Television. The programme airs in September and basically I took the opportunity to apologise to the ex-girlfriend for bringing her name into the evergreen play-lists for ever and a day and constantly reminding her of a not so great time in her life! I did point out that as my more recent ex played the model in the video that I have the same problems with the song these days! :-)
I felt slightly better about it all after recording the programme. Fellini moments abounded as on the day I not only ended up parked in a traffic jam directly outside the flat in Earls Court that Kayleigh and I both shared (before Belsize park) but also met a guy who was working Davina's autocue who I'd last seen on the tiny island of Bequia in the Caribbean in 1988 almost 14 years to the day. I'd been there with Tammi on our first ever "proper" holiday together to celebrate turning 30! Add to that a comical discussion with the two sound guys who were complaining about some "young American would be rock stars" who'd trashed their equipment after performing a set on the Saturday morning kids TV show. It turned out they were the Cooper Temple Clause from Reading whose drummer John T. Harper is the brother of my girlfriend Louise! To cap it all I bumped into my old International Rep from Polydor who I'd last seen in 93. Stix was the drummer in Secret Affair -an 80's mod band, who sold his soul and joined the "management" although it must be said that he was the finest and most muso-orientated record company rep I have ever worked with. He now works for Zomba and was there with the latest Dutch teen sensation who had decided to become a singer after appearing on Dutch Big Brother!
Stix had the dubious honour of being remembered forever in our camp when on his first ever trip with me in Hamburg, Germany he had to be woken up in the morning by the artist after a particularly heavy session having missed 3 wake up calls and being an hour late for departure for the airport. I had to pay the bills, organise cabs, check in and all the other details while the rep recovered! Add to that the amusing fact that during the night Stix had thrown up from his bed directly into the only pair of trainers he had on the trip. Washing them in the shower he squelched around all day as we visited various radio stations and magazine offices leaving behind the overpowering sweet smell of excess.
After the Green Room soiree I headed to my mates flat for a midnight chaser before collapsing around 3am! A fine evening indeed.

I met up next day with my agent Nigel Hassler, now at the Helter Skelter Agency, and we began throwing ideas together for the UK tour at the end of the year. We are both agreed that after the success of the Fellini tour that there is more scope and a lot more goodwill out there to support a carefully organised tour schedule for 2002/2003. He is very confident that the upward curve can be built upon without falling into the trap of "over touring". Dates should start to appear for the UK leg in the next month including the Awards Night at The Classic Rock Society on December 14th in Rotherham. Unless the SAS gigs at Chiddingfold move to the previous weekend then there may be a conflict of interest which will mean possibly only one night with Spike and the boys at the club. Spike and I are trying to find a solution.
Norwegian gigs are now confirmed as September 3rd Tromso, 6th Trondheim, 8th Bergen, 10th Stavanger and 12th Oslo. The Army shows didn't happen due to their restricted budgets however they are helping out with some arrangements in return for discounted tickets. It should be an exciting tour as we will be playing an assortment of material from Field of Crows and filling in the writing blanks while lazing in log cabins in between fishing and general R and R activities. It's a perfect break from the studio and I plan to record material both live and on route.
Apart from Bospop in Holland on the 12th July there are no further confirmations of gigs in July.

I'll be playing the Feast of Hope in Geneva with Jimmy O'Neill from the Silencers on May 25th. Numbers aren't worked out yet. This is a free festival.

I got back from London on the 26th hung-over from a night with my sister Laura who opened a bottle of wine before she opened the door. She is stressed out as she is selling her house in Twickenham and moving with husband Chris and her kids Ellie and James up to York. A night with her big brother sorted her out! :-)

On the 27th I recorded a session for the Frankie Miller Tribute album at Ca Va Studios in Glasgow. Rather than fill you in here on Frankie's history why don't you visit to find out about one of Scotland's most famous voices. Since his aneurysm Frankie has lost much of the control of his right side and has been fighting to regain the power of speech. He is still fully aware of everything around him and his memory is sparkling (much to some people's dismay:-). Thanks to Music Therapy he has recovered some of his voice and the mischievous look in his eyes still smiles as strong. The last time we were out together was in Berlin in 85 when after his gig there we went with Brian Robertson (ex Thin Lizzy, Wildhorses) to Annabelles Night Club which at the time was owned by Tammi's boyfriend. Mainly due to Tammi's presence as a waitress I hung out there quite a lot much to the annoyance of the guy. On the night in question we settled into a session and the bill started to run. Frankie headed off early as I think he knew what was coming and left Brian and I to take point on the Dawn Patrol. At about 4 am the club was closing, the bill duly arrived and I presented my credit card to take care of the 400 mark bill. They didn't accept cards and Brian and I considered a drunken sprint for the door. The boyfriend came over to the table which had been served most of the night by Tammi and ripped up the bill! A big score for him in his eyes and a big score for Drunk Musos Utd :-)
Brian had come up for the session at Ca Va and first thing I said to him was that he was owe me the money from 85.
The Tribute album looks like being a very happening project with Rod Stewart, Lulu, Maggie Bell, Jim Kerr and a host of other Scottish artists from past and present contributing a rendition of one of Frankie's songs. I had originally wanted to sing a song that Stuart Adamson was to record and had thought that after Stuart's death that I would be asked to fill in. I was very surprised when Alec Downie who is putting the project together asked me to sing "Caledonia", perhaps Frankie's most well known track (although written by Dougie Maclean). It was a number 1 in the short running Scottish Chart and I think was top 20 on the UK charts mainly due to Scottish sales inspired by the use of the track on a Tennents lager TV campaign.
I immediately agreed and when I found out the backing band it was an offer I couldn't have refused in any case. The band consisted of Brian Robertson on lead guitar, Ted Mckenna (drums), Zal Cleminson (Guitars), Chris Glen (Bass) and Hugh McKenna (Keys), the entire Sensational Alex Harvey band! Add to that a 25 piece BBC orchestra, a 25 piece Gospel Choir and the Shotts and Dykes pipeband and you have an amazing collection of sounds and musicians. It was also the first time I worked with my new keyboard player Irvin Duguid who had arranged the track and the strings for the orchestra. He is definitely a find and no-one will be disappointed with his addition to my new line up. As a writer I firmly believe he will make a major contribution to the new album.
The track has turned out well beyond expectations and is being considered as a single release in September by Eagle Records, the record company dealing with the project. Tennents Lager have also expressed interest in a repeat of the advert with the new version.
Magic moment of the session was Frankie's arrival from London. It was great to see him again and as I mentioned before he has lost none of his spirit. Funniest moment was definitely 7 musos trying to work out what Frankie wanted from the pub as part of the "carry out". As Frankie got more frustrated 7 musos went through their own game of alcohol charades -"Vodka, Frankie? NAW! Brandy? Naw! Whisky, Frankie? NAW! Sweet! - Malibu Frankie? Creme De Menthe Frankie? NAW!" etc etc. Eventually he drew what he wanted on a bit of paper and it turned out he wanted 3 Snickers bars. The entire room including Frankie was on the floor laughing! :-)
I was so proud when he came up, gave me a big hug and said "Thankyou, thankyou, brilliant" and made a sign for singing. To be given a compliment from a man with one of the greatest blues/soul voices from our wee country is something I will cherish for a very long time.
After the session I was in the hotel by the Clyde auditorium and spent too long in the bar with the band. When I eventually decided to go to catch the last train and get a taxi to the station the entire Auditorium exited and the concourse swarmed with punters who had been at the David Cassidy concert! Tres Fellini as I sat with the SAHB's, the Thin Lizzy guitarist and Frankie Miller! The 70's strike back!:-)
Needless to say I missed the train and got home thanks to a lift from Frankie's fan club organiser at 4am. Worth every lost brain cell!

Since then I've been working feverishly on getting the Studio in shape before I start rehearsal next week. I managed a TV appearance on BBC Scotland's "Caledonia McBrains" quiz show and once again I was on the winning team (15-9). I was with team captain Karen Dunlop and Rhona Martin who had captained the Scottish curling team to Gold at the Olympics. I bowed in reverence! :-) On the other side was Clair Grogan, formerly singer with Altered Images and actress in "Gregory's Girl" who I'd tried to chat up in Friars Aylesbury after one of her gigs in 81. I failed miserably as I wasn't an international celebrity at the time. She remembered though :-) Team captain was Scottish comedian Fred McCauley and the other team member was Jenni Falconer, a presenter on GMTV. I bowed in the face of incomparable beauty and had to remind myself that I was an overweight, balding 44 year old with a caravan of baggage and was lucky enough to have a girlfriend without drooling over a 26 year old presenter who had enough men lusting after her to fill Hampden Park. I know my place these days :-))))))
I'll be on the show again on the 27th May and have managed to get some audience tickets. Anyone interested in coming along should phone the Comedy Unit on 0141 305 6602 and ask for tickets for "Caledonian McBrains" mentioning that they got the number from the Fish web-site.
BTW On the last CMcB show they had a clip from the"Old Grey Whistle Test" in 84 when Steve Blacknell visited my house in Albert Street in Aylesbury to talk about my record collection. Question to Fred's team was what does "ceilidh" mean? Answer - a visit!

Finally I have to explain the situation regarding the delay on the "Fellini Nights" live album. I know there will be the usual odd cynics inferring that I screwed up again but in our defence all the parts were delivered on time to the CD manufacturing plants and we should have had the CDs over 3 weeks ago. Normally it takes just over 10 days to turn a run around but as some of you may have noticed in the Press recently the UK music business is in a bit of a mess just now. In late March EMI decided to cease operations at their CD processing plant in Swindon as part of their 1800 job cuts. Add to that TIB Wales running into severe problems just short of going into near liquidation and Disctronics buying out PDO in Blackburn and you have a scenario that created a severe shortage of manufacturing output. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that a run of 3000 cd's from an indy label such as Voiceprint will be knocked to the back of the queue if a major label comes with an order to a plant of 30,000! Rob Ayling at Voiceprint has called in a bunch of favours on this in order to get "Fellini Nights" to us asap and the date we have been given for shipment to the Studio is Monday 13th May.
The picture disc is suffering from the same maladies with only 2 plants in Europe capable of dealing with the product and both swamped with demand for vinyl from Ministry of Sound's dance label. Again Rob expects delivery in 2 weeks.
I personally am really disappointed as I wanted to get 2002 started with a release date on time. Kim has sorted out the mail order service which is running extremely smoothly and has been obviously impressing those of you who have been ordering from the site going by the comments we have received here. I am annoyed that after all our efforts we are let down by people who no matter how much you stamp your feet or shout down the phone don't particularly care.
Ultimately it's my responsibility and I apologise sincerely for the delay.

This is my last "free" week before I head into the maelstrom of rehearsals and a month of high activity on all levels. I head to Berlin before the RASS show to deal with family problems and to be honest I am seriously looking forward to getting the first show under the belt with the new band before preparing for the shows in June.
Everything is on course and after discussing musical directions with Irvin, Robin and others I am excited about beginning the creative journey that is "Field of Crows".

It'll be strange working on the material and rehearsing in my home this year but in a perverse way it could have the desired disciplinary effect we need to make it happen.
At least my cooking capabilities have benefited from the experience of the last year. Which reminds me I have to get the bike out before Liverpool! :-)

lots of love
Onkel Fish xx

ps now playing regularly - Soundtrack to Blackhawk Down - Hans Zimmer :-)
pps. (Sent 10 minutes later - Mo) Mucho Fellini!!!!! Just as I hit "send" on the keyboard to explain the delay on "Fellini Nights", a van pulled up at the studio and delivered our full order! Now being posted out today!

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