Greetings from Austin Texas. I am headlong into my current project which I wanna tell you about before I tell my stories about the February 2018 UK tour I’m just barely back from. I’ve had the idea for a couple years to call a record “Bob On A Stick” with the songs and a PDF file of the liner notes and lyrics on thumb drives. That time has come. On 128mb memory sticks are 14 new songs and an extended PDF file with liner notes, lyrics and lots more info about this new record.
I lived in Sacramento, California for 15 years during the ’70’s and ’80’s playing and singing with a group of fabulous musicians who became lifelong friends. We all recorded many hours at David Houston’s Moon Studio from its early incarnation as a 4-track, then an 8-track, then 16 and finally a 24 track two-inch…all analogue.
On March 11th & 12th and November 18th & 19th of 2017, those favorite Sacramento musicians/friends joined me at Moon Studio to record 14 new songs. A single AEA R88 ribbon mic was used with David Houston engineering and giving astute production/arrangement advice on every song. He strategically placed each of us around the mic as we recorded 7 songs on each weekend. Spending those two weekends with this group of talented friends had the magical feeling of being in a bubble of creativity driven by love that came from decades of friendship and working together.
The sessions were a group participation with excellent arrangement ideas and on-the-spot creativity of song parts. The approach was to run thru each song a few times with everyone finding their places and then…hit the record button, play-and-sing with no overdubs, no splicing and no mixing. As the recording of each song ended, it was done!
The world-wide release of “Bob On A Stick” was scheduled for May 15th but due to several technical issues, it may be a few days later. If you want one of these collectable thumb drives (only 500 of them will be manufactured), it would help if you ordered them thru me at firstname.lastname@example.org
They are $10 plus $5.00 shipping IF you live in the US. If you are not in the US, its still $10 plus whatever the cost is to mail it to you in the country where you live. The thumb drives and downloads will also be available on CDBaby, amazon.com, iTunes and many other platforms that sell and stream my music.
As many of you may not know, the new cars and computers no longer have CD drives in them which have been replace by USB ports. I personally don’t like that but in keeping up with what is the future, I’m the only artist I know who is issuing a record on a memory stick. You just plug it into your car’s USB port or into your computer’s USB port and shazaammmm…you have me in your ears.
There are several things about this project that make it extremely special beginning with the fact that its on a memory stick but other than that…this is the most personal group of songs I’ve ever put out. In addition, the magic and wonder of recording these songs using a single mic surrounded by 8 of my favorite-ever musical friends resulted in a sound and a production thats unlike anything I’ve ever done. You can hear the decades of love and friendship in every note and every word. I’m more proud of this group of songs and how they came out than anything I’ve ever done. Its just simply a very special Bob Cheevers record.
You can to go bobcheevers.com to read more about it, hear snippets of each song and see videos (as soon as they get posted) of the recording sessions.
I hope you get this “record”. It feels like the best of me insofar as how I feel about life and love and living on this planet in this day and age. Since I’m doing this totally out of my own pocket, your early order will make it possible for me to buy the next round of thumb drives. This world needs help…your country needs help…our needs help. These are delicate times we live in, and more often than not, good music gives us hope and a bit of peace. That’s what I’d love to think this record has to offer. A bit of hope.
Thanks…and now here is the story of my February UK tour:
This past February, the whole of England and Scotland got hit hard by blizzard weather. For me, never having to wear a warm coat in Texas more than a couple times a year, it was great. A heavy snowfall was something never seen in the Austin area, and I go to wear my heavy coat, a scarf around my neck and face and two pairs of socks. But that was toward the end of the tour. Here is where it all began:
The February 2018 tour was one of the best. It seems the last several tours have gotten smoother than ever. As with my February 2017 tour, my London guitarist pal Geoff Haves accompanied me doing the driving, the heavy lifting and the guitar pickin’ on each gig. Our first stop was probably my 10th gig at Charlie Newman’s Square & Compass venue in Worth Matravers on the far west coast of England. Charlie, like his dad, is a stone carver and a collector of ancient bones that he digs out of the hillsides along the ocean across from which is the coastline of France. Kevin is the weathered gent who runs the S&C where each summer, there is a week-long stone carving clinic where for £100, ya get to choose your own block of stone and carve it with Charlie overseeing your work and helping out. He is also a washtub bass player and my first gig there, he played his bass so hard that the broom stick string neck broke and flew up into the ceiling where it stuck for several years of tours. It finally fell down, but the hole remains. Its the most unique gig I’ve ever done.
A couple hours from Worth Matravers along the coast is Bovey Tracy in Devon where my man Phil Royal put us on at the Dolphin Hotel where the gig was. Its always cool to play new places and see what kind of crowd comes which, in this case, was a full house of listeners.
Then onto Southampton where my blues mate Bob Long joined Geoff and me for what must have been my 10th year of gigs at The Platform Tavern. Bob is a soft spoken, white English acoustic blues aficionado who travels at least once a year to Clarksdale, Mississippi where he has become part of the blues scene there. His harmonica partner, Keith Miller was nicknamed “Roadkill” by me years ago because if he sees a deer or other eatable animal that has just been hit by a car, he has the wherewithal to stop, clean and dress it and take it home putting it into his freezer. He also plays a mad harp. Stewart Cross, the keeper of the Tavern’s flame, has welcomed me back year after year.
On next to one of my favorite gigs which I haven’t played in awhile…The Greys in Brighton where Paul and Ashley put us up after the show there. A true hippie couple from “my” generation, they have been in the same house in Brighton for 35 year. There is one bedroom with an ocean view.
The coolest singer/songwriter venue in London is the Green Note, run by Immy Doman and Risa Tabaznik. It was originally a health food restaurant that became a small music venue which grew into such a hip London music spot that they converted the basement into a second venue giving them upstairs and downstairs music venues. Its become my annual London gig after dozen years of playing at The 12 Bar Blues Club which closed a few years ago.
Another annual favorite gig put on by my good friend Martin Illingworth at Queenshead in Belper which has always been a sellout show in a great room full of really nice, listening folks. After the gig, Martin and his family put us up on their amazing centuries old house that has a bedroom in the basement which back in the day, served as a play space for the kids in that house and he one next door.
In no way would i not mention two of my favorite friends and two of the most beautiful people in Hull, Marie Nailor and Neil Kirton who always put on a fab show at The Tap in Hull where another double-bill-of-dear-friends usually join us…Michael and Dave Greaves who are legends in their neck of the woods. It seems like all of Hull crams into that venue to see the American play with his Brit pals. Always a charming and energetic night of music.
Our annual house concert and stay at Adrianna and Murry’s house in Glenmavis feels like coming home for a few days. Adrianna is a wonderful singer/songwriter, and Murry is a journalist who has written a couple rave reviews on my records. He and I took a long walk thru a beautiful cemetery where many of the tombstones were cordoned off due to one of them, due to its ancient-ness, fell over taking the life of a small boy who just happened to be near it. Murry and Adrianna, like so many of the folks along our journey, are healthy eaters with deep attachments to their musical and journalistic passions.
From there down to Glasgow and a first time gig at Celtic Music Radio set up by my friend Eva Lees and put on by the wonderful folks at the staton’s “Living Room Sessions” on Admiral Street. One of my best Scottish pals John Hinshelwood came to that gig with a couple of his hillbilly band mates. It was great to see them and catch as we always make it a point to do from year to year.
From there we traveled back east to Perth and yet another colorful stay with quite the man-of-the-hour, David McNamara. He and his wife Fiona have put me and my musical partners up for several years now, and our stays with them have always been colorful what with a house full of good folk and spell binding information about Scotland. This year, tho, I’ll have to say David out-did himself when a friend of his who is caretaker of the Taymouth Castle took us on a behind-the-scenes tour. Next year, in one of the gigantic rooms in that castle, I’m going to record a live record. The acoustics in that huge room are unbelievable and perfectly suited for a couple acoustic guitars and perhaps a cello and double bass. If the castle was good enough for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to spend the night in, the least I can do is record a live album there.
Nest stop was David Mundell’s fabulous venue Backstage At The Green Hotel in the Muirs, Kinross. David has been a staunch supporter of my music for years and has always welcomed me back for the next tour and encouraged me to keep at the music. At the Backstage, I got to visit again this year with my fine friend David Walker who I met here in Austin and who I’ve kept up with for going on a decade. His career as a singer and actor stretches back farther than mine, and he’s still doing well.
I’ve work years with my promoter pal Iain Streford who, for the last few tours, has put me in a great venue called Berets & Browns in Eurocentral near Coatbridge not far outside of Glasgow. He and I have been thru some pretty suspicious venue gigs together and have managed to make it thru with lots of stories to look back on sometimes with laughter and sometimes with furrowed brows. My Scottish cowboy mate B.J. Colt came in for this gig as he has for the last 6 or 8 tours. Last year at the end of the tour, he gave me a really cool, black cowboy hat just like the one he was wearing. I hadn’t worn a cowboy had since I was probably 6 years old and when I flew home after the tour last year, I left the hat with Geoff. Returning this year, I decided to wear that hat every gig and really got attached to it.
Back down in England again, this year I got to reconnect with Celia and Colin Bryce who live in Tynemouth, North Shields in a huge 4 story house with a great kitchen that has an industrial stove with hot-plate-like thingys on the top and several ovens and is bright red and massive. Lots of time spent in that kitchen as the rest of the house is uh…not very well heated. Colin is a doctor, and the two of them are singer/songwriter/musicians who have put me on at a great venue within walking distance of their house called Porter’s Cafe Bar which is the old ticket station right in the My pal John Montague and I walked from his house in Syston, England about a mile into town with the snow flying and no footprints or car tracks on the road. Other-worldly. John and I met all my other Syston area friends for a curry including Phil and Biddy Saunders, Danny and Rachael Britton and Dan’s Mum. John’s wife Angela had another engagement and couldn’t make it.
Station in North Sheilds run by two great folks Mick and Eve. I’ve played there twice, and each time it feels like home both at Porter’s and the Bryce’s.
Geoff and I then headed over to the Lake District to Whitehaven and a gig at whats called a “working man’s club” which would not be know as a listening room. My friend Tracy Marie Dale and her partner gave us great accommodations above the venue and set us free to do whatever show we wanted to do. We played my songs for the first 45 minutes to pretty much not response until we played our last song of the set which was an Elvis song. The place came alive, and I knew exactly what to play for the second set…more Elvis, Cash, Everly’s et al. Turned out to be a rocking gig.
I’ve worked for probably 15 years with my man Paul Templeman from when he was in the Sunderland area around South Shields to when he moved to the Isle of Butte and now where he lives on The Borders which is called that cause its near the border of England and Scotland.
Paul has always gotten me good gigs, is a master of all things stringed and sound systems and has never failed to put me up in the best places whether it be a fine B&B or his own house where he is a certified brilliant chef of all food types. We’ve played his String Theory Music Series the last several years in The Heart Of Hawick at The Tower Mill in Kirstile.
Geoff and I had a day of after that gig with great accommodations but when we got up the next morning, the massive weather front coming up from the south had already left a layer of snow on the ground so we made our way to the next port-o-call which was Systen in the English Midlands. Upon our mid-day arrival at the home of one of my oldest friends from these tours, John Montague, the weather was looking worse. There was one more gig on the tour at The Musician in Leicester where I met John years ago and where I’ve played many times and made lifelong friends including the owners Nikki, Wayne and Darren. My plan was to stay with John and his wife Angela a few days after the gig and be part of the album John was recording as well as visit with my friends in the Syston area, so Geoff decided to head back to Twickenham and hope to beat the bad weather that was heading north. He made it back in time, and the weather landed full force on the Midlands.
In what was the coldest winter in decades and braving what was possibly to be a snowstorm that night, The Musician gig went on without Geoff but with John playing guitar and the amazing Chris Conway on guitar, keyboard and English whistle. Chris is a world class musician/writer who, for the last bunch of years, has come out to join me at my Leicester area gigs. I met him thru my deep friendship with Dan Britton who is another fabulous singer/songwriter and a soul mate of mine. I met all these wonderful people thru John Montague who has often been the fulcrum point of the music scene in that part of England not only being a wonderful musician but also a dealer of high quality instruments. It was thru John that I met Fred Welker who made my “Bob Cheevers UK Tour-Master” acoustic 6 string and later its identical-twin-baritone 6 string acoustic.
While at John’s, we recorded a couple songs for his new album, talked music and life and ate well at the hands of John’s very healthy cooking. Every year when visiting my friends there in Syston, we have a “family meal” whether its at Phil and Biddy Saunders house with 15-20 musicians and family guests sitting around their huge table eating then singing songs and drinking whatever OR meeting at the lovely Indian restaurant in Syston. This year, we all met in the village of Syston for a wonderful Indian meal. It was freezing cold and the snow was blowing sideways, but John insisted we walk into the village to the restaurant rather than driving the mile to get there. I was nonplused not having proper shoes to walk thru inches of snow in, but John assured me all would be well and…that journey to and from the village was one of the most amazing parts of the tour. It was dark, a full moon and the two of us the only ones on the streets which had no footprints or tire tracks in the multiple inches of snow which was coming down in sheets. Faces covered with our scarves, warm coats zipped up to our necks and two pairs of socks, we made our way thru the glorious landscape of glistening snow laughing as our faces froze.
Getting to Indian restaurant, we met Phil and Biddy, Danny Britton and his lovely wife Rachel and Dan’s Mum all of whom and driven to the restaurant. A great meal and visitation was had by all after which John and I drove back with Phil and Biddy to their house for a “nightcap”. A heart-full visit followed after which John and I walked back to his house. The falling snow had subsided, and the country side was quiet in this white blanket of wonder. I have never been so glad that I followed John’s insistence that we walk into the village. I’ve not experienced anything like that perhaps in my whole life.
I took a coach back to Heathrow the next day having spent a few wonderful days with the Montague’s and our friends. Geoff collected me at the airport, and I spent the next couple days with him and his wife Janis. We walked around Twickenham and Kingston and saw the movie “Red Sparrow” with my heartthrob Jennifer Lawrence. The movie wasn’t up to our expectations, but my visit with the English couple with whom I have the deepest ties, the Haves, was as it always is…like family.
An early arrival at Heathrow for a smooth flight back to Austin and a wonderful reunion with my sweetheart Sharon Kay Berger and slowly but not easily decompressing from the tour bubble which this time was more difficult than ever to find my way out of.
With much love and my best to all of us everywhere…bob