Postcard - Stratless In Seattle
November 2003©Nigel Spiers
Not a cloud in the sky as our 747 slowly drifts over endless Los Angeles suburbia after an 11 hour movie marathon featuring The Hulk Vs Legally Blonde II.
My room at the Airport Sheraton has the bed Roz dreams of. It is so wide we would only meet by accident in the night and have to introduce ourselves at breakfast each morning. Maybe they use these beds for those new wide screen porno movies.
Bugger! I’ve left my razor at home. The lobby shop is a treasure trove of fascinating pharmaceuticals for a keen amateur chemist. “Yes I’ll take some of these little white pills and those blue ones and some of that Advanced Fat Burner as well please”.
After a day in LA I’m off to Seattle. I’ve heard very good things about this town and I’m planning to squeeze in a visit to Microsoft, Boeing or the Space Needle. However all this goes out the window on the flight from LAX. The woman next to me wants to talk – eeeeek! However it’s only a 2.5 hour flight and she is very charming. She tells me she is on her way home to Seattle and then gives me a copy of her business card – Cherie Hendrix.
Are you thinking what I’m thinking?
“So what do you do” I say.
“well my husband and I operate a semi trailer which we take around all the US music festivals and is a portable Jimi Hendrix museum” she replies.
“you’re not....err I mean you’re not related to ..... err are you?” I stammer.
“Yes I’m Jimi Hendrix’s niece” she smiles.
She then suggests I go back to their place to see the museum and she and her husband will then drive me up to see his grave. I thank her saying I would give anything to do this but I am being met at the airport and have a business meeting this evening. She suggests I should therefore visit EMP.
Three hours to my London flight this evening. I rush down to Paul Allen’s (Co-founder of Microsoft) amazing tribute to Jimi Hendrix – EMP (Experience Music Project). The EMP building is in the heart of downtown Seattle, right next to the Space Needle, and looks like somebody has tipped up a giant bowl of fruit salad and jelly. As I walk in I’m confronted by a giant Jimi, easily 100 feet high, playing Purple Haze at Woodstock on the world’s largest video screen.
Hendrix fans from around the world have come to worship with many openly crying and I must admit to a lump in my throat.
Paul Allen has collected many of Jimi’s guitars even a weird looking 8 string bass he used on Isley Brothers recordings. This is followed by a delicious hour in the Chicago Blues hall and then onto the museum of famous vintage electric guitars. You can record your own album on-the-spot, learn to play Jazz piano and even lessons in improving your Rock vocal technique all in dozens of interactive booths. I reel out after a couple of hours wearing the most garish Hendrix shirt from the museum store.
The sun is setting as we head to Tacoma airport turning the snow-clad Mt. Rainer into an amazing 14,500 foot glowing pink ice-cream cone. It is only 3 hours drive from the airport but the air is so clear here that this amazing mountain appears to hang right over this very beautiful city.
Day two in London and I crawl out of bed after a skin full of fine British ale last night. One look at the stranger in the mirror and it’s clear that only a full body transplant is going to help. Someone once told me that if you drink quality you won’t have a hangover – what a plonker.
The St Giles Hotel seems to be a favourite of visitors from Middle and Eastern Europe. At breakfast the restaurant looks like a scene from a B grade 1970’s film. Bouffant hair do’s straight off a Dusty Springfield record cover. Flairs from two fads ago. Men in shinny suits with sleeves half way up their arms and off-white socks poking out from beneath their calf-length stove pipes. There’s lots of that 70’s orange and the whole place looks like an international op shop convention.
Much of the talk here involves the trouble brewing over George Bush’s visit to London next week. Everyone is expecting massive demonstrations and according to The Guardian Bush’s squad of minders have been told to shoot to kill. Interestingly most Brits I have spoken with seem to forgive Blair for his part in the massive Iraq cock-up saying that he was simply naive but truly believed he was doing the right thing. This kind of conviction in a politician is highly undesirable.
I can only assume Blair is praying for rain.
Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings at the Royal Albert Hall:
With a line-up of Bill Wyman, Georgie Fame, Albert Lee, Terry Taylor, Graham Broad, Nick Payn, Frank Mead and Beverly Skeete plus guests including Andy Fairweather Low, Mark Knoffler, Chris Stainton and Peter Frampton you could assume you were in a for a big night.
Unfortunately the problems started at the top. Poor old Bill Wyman is terminally repressed and quite unsuited to the stage. I couldn’t help thinking that each time he pops down to the bank he must bless that day he met Mick and Keith.
1. Just because you have a band of good musicians doesn’t mean you don’t have to practice.
2. If you are a covers band you have to choose really good songs rather than just an endless string of 2nd rate 12 bars.
3. You have to entertain not just perform.