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U.K./EUROPE TOUR - 2006 (part two)
by Jim Stewart

eric, graham and joan After a very successful concert at Paris' Grand Rex Theatre on March 21, the Joan Baez tour group was scheduled for immediate departure for Munich, Germany, by tour manager Crook Stewart. Instead we were ushered to one of the City of Lights' finest upscale restaurants as guests of French promoter Gerard Drouot. Upon arrival at the restaurant Joan was inundated by professional autograph hunters who were, at best, amazing in that they knew where to find her, despite last minute schedule changes. The restaurant's wonderful staff swiftly led us to a secluded room where everyone could relax and not worry about their out-of-place work attire - such as my Joan Baez baseball cap and t-shirt! After the grand dining experience, tour bus driver Billy Glanville (photo below right) and his assistant Neil shuttled Joan and company off on a long 510 mile drive to Munich for the start of the second half of the spring 2006 tour.

billyWhile in France, Joan had rehearsed songs to specialize the upcoming German concerts in Munich, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Dresden and Stuttgart. She quickly recalled her beautiful 1979 composition, "For Sasha." The opening lyrics, "Here by my window in Germany, frost is high on the linden tree, and I remember where we are..." took me back decades to when the song inspired me to plant a linden tree in my yard that grew to be a visual treasure with bright green waxy leaves and delicate aromatic yellow post-winter blossoms. It's amazing what a song can inspire a person to do! "Banks of the Ohio," "Sagt Mir Wo Die Blumen Sind" ("Where Have All The Flowers Gone"), "Wozu Sind Kriege Da," "Wenn Unsere Bruder Kommen," "Suzanne," "Donna Donna," and "Here's to You" (Joan and Ennio Morricone's anthemic contribution to the "Sacco and Vanzetti" film score) also proved to be special favorites for the German audiences.

With three shows in a row under our belts in three different German cities, everyone was elated to have a full day in Stuttgart with no travel and no concert. Joan, Crook and the tour's stage and hall sound engineer Jason Raboin became a spirited shopping trio, while bassist/vocalist Graham Maby and I found a local coin operated laundromat with a sweet elderly lady proprietor who kindly helped us manage the German washers and dryers....and even helped us fold our laundry! The next day Joan and I explored an old cemetary located directly behind the Hotel Maritim that was filled with beautiful aged, ornate markers. As we wandered through the well-manicured graveyard, we discovered that a wall separating the cemetary into two sections was obviously an outdated boundary that divided the Jewish section with monuments displaying stars of David from the non-Jewish section. (pic of Joan below was taken in the cemetary)

joan Ticket sales for the entire tour had been brisk, with seats being added at many venues, while other concerts were moved, when possible, to larger venues. It was impressive that no matter where a concert was held, or how big a hall was, the sound was always wonderfully consistent, thanks to Jason.

Next up on the tour schedule was Padova, Italy, some 420 miles from Stuttgart. It was nice that the drive uncharacteristically covered some daylight hours, enabling us to enjoy amazing views of the Alps and miles and miles of rolling vineyards.

The hotel in Padova was located right on the River Paleocapa and was within walking distance of the city's old town with its many shops, restaurants, churches, scenic squares, and my personal favorites, gelato palaces. At last the good weather angel had smiled upon us and encouraged me to stroll around the city's busy shopping area where I ran into Crook, Jason and Joan, shopping away, and the tour's lap steel/guitar/mandolin/vocalist Erik Della Penna and Graham relaxing at an outdoor cafe with cappuccinos. Later, Joan and I celebrated the sunny day by walking along the river where she stopped by a waterfall to enjoy some ducks frolicking in the sun and water.

The wonderful double-deck tour bus we used to roam around Europe had two lounges. the downstairs lounge became the center of conversation and snacking, while the upstairs lounge became the place for music and movie afficionados to hang out. Usually Erik and Graham migrated to the upstairs lounge to discuss and enjoy remastered early jazz recordings of Djengo Reinhart, Stephane Grappelle, and Peggy Lee, along with some comic relief by the likes of Peter Sellers. One evening Erik mentioned that he had written a song called "Neighbors," which he performed in the style of 78 rpm era singer Ukulele Ike (Cliff Edwards), on an untitled forthcoming Kill Henry Sugar CD. I asked Erik to play the demo of the song, and it blew me away! I asked him to play it two more times, and I finally begged for a copy of my own. I found Joan in her suite on the bus and hustled her to the upstairs lounge to hear "Neighbors," and she was equally impressed. It wasn't long before everyone on the tour was whistling and singing the infectious Della Penna tune as they went about their duties. Finally Erik and Graham started performing "Neighbors" during soundchecks. It most certainly became the tour's theme song! Joan had asked for a copy of the Kill Henry Sugar CD demo and played it often. She was particularly drawn to a song called "The Kingdom I Was Given," which she meticulously transcribed to a sheet of paper and surprised Erik by singing it during the tour's last soundcheck. That evening, she further surprised Erik (photo below right) by announcing to the audience that she was going to sing an impressive new song she had heard, and asked Erik and Graham to join her on "The Kingdom I Was Given." Erik later called that moment one of the proudest ones in the life of "EDP" (Erik Della Penna). It was wonderfully moving.

erik The Italian concerts in Padova, Torino, Milan, and Trento were all remarkable successes with enthusiastic audiences not wanting Joan to leave the stage and encouraging her to sing as many as five encores! For the Italian audiences she sang the song with the longest title of any she has ever recorded, "C'era Un Ragazzo Che, Come Me Amava I Beatles E I Rolling Stones," which brought cheers from the audiences and turned them into massive Italian sing-along groups that would have put Mitch Miller to shame! It was stunning. Joan also sang the Italian favorite, "Un Mondo D'Amore," which is featured on a very rare Vanguard 45 rpm only record released in Italy in 1970.

The starkness of the Palasport San Lazzaro sports arena in Padova caused some audience members to remark before the concert that they were sad that Joan was performing in a sports arena because the sound couldn't possibly be any good. I advised them that they had no worries since Jason Raboin was at the audio controls, and once the lights were dimmed they would think they were in a cathedral. After the show, members of the audience stopped by the merchandise area to tell me how wonderful the sound was and to thank Jason!

It was "Joan Baez Day" in Trento, Italy, where Joan was presented with the key to the city and was serenaded by a wonderful children's choir. The Corriere del Tenntino newspaper ran an extensive multi-page Joan Baez tribute that included many pictures from Joan's career. The audience found a souvenir copy of the newspaper on each seat in the arena. Rock singer Patti Smith was in Padova and stopped by Joan's dressing room after soundcheck for a visit. At Patti's request, she and Joan sang together a couple of Baez classics, and Patti was in the audience that evening for the show.

crook, joan and erik After the final Italian concert in Trento, the tour group faced a 590 mile bus ride back to Germany for the last of tour shows in Dusseldorf and Berlin. When bus driver Billy stopped for fuel, the weary travelers made a beeline inside the truck stop to buy sandwiches and snacks, and Joan found an ideal little purse to take home for her granddaughter. Travel boredom really set in as an impromptu hat fashion show was staged, with Crook, Joan and Erik (photo at left) making strong fashion statements with their chapeau choices. Berlin proved to be a wonderful host city for a Joan Baez concert with its interesting history, beautiful museums and wondrous architecture. I found myself with a hotel map with the route to the Brandenburg Gate clearly marked. It was an interesting and moving experience that made me want to return to this city for a full visit someday.

The audience at Berlin's Tempodrom was as wonderful as any at a Joan Baez concert on this tour! It was a special tour finale and inspired everyone to go about the business of going home by rounding up all possessions so the bus could return to England, and the rest of us could make our ways to the Berlin airport the next day. Memories, most certainly, will linger of the venues, sold-out enthusiastic audiences, and visits from friends and fans who often brought flowers and other treasures to make hectic life on the road more enjoyable! Once again, the well organized Joan Baez online discussion group was represented at nearly every venue with smiling faces, excited words of concert anticipation, flowers, food and other goodies. Lastly, I don't know what I would have done without the assistance of Joan Baez fans and friends Catherine Turek and her husband, who were at many of the concerts and helped with merchandising activities, especially early in the tour when I was challenged by a bum leg.

For information on the upcoming Fall 2006 U.S. Tour, visit the tour schedule page. For more information on Erik Della Penna's forthcoming CD as a member of Kill Henry Sugar, keep your eyes on their website. On behalf of Joan Baez and her touring family, we wish you well and hope to see you along the tour trail!

Read part one of Jim's report on this tour.

There are many more photos from this tour. Be sure to check them out. Enjoy!

Photos by Crook Stewart and Jim Stewart, 2006

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