Holiday Greetings to all our friends:
Over the Thanksgiving weekend I had some time to reflect on the many highs (and some lows) of 2003. A trip to South East Asia in January was certainly a most memorable way to start the year. I’m still editing video footage taken in Burma, Thailand and Cambodia, and reliving some of those special moments. For me the most moving experience of the journey was visiting the glass tower memorial near Siem Reap, Cambodia, which is filled with the skulls and bones of some of the victims of the Killing Fields of the Khmer Rouge. Our young guide there, lost his entire family during that murderous time and grew up in a refugee camp in Thailand until an older survivor rescued him, brought him back home and taught him what he knew of Cambodia’s history and culture. May he and his ravaged country know a kinder future.
Not long after returning stateside it was time for The Wolf to come out of hibernation and we were pleased to find that our first 2003 engagements were four sold out shows in Missouri. The St. Louis area has always been good to us and the audiences there made us feel very much appreciated. In May, while at a show in Madison, WI, a tornado ripped through my neighborhood in Tennessee.
I’m most grateful that my family was unharmed. While our house and the studio survived intact, the cleanup of downed trees etc. will take a few more weeks to finish. Time and Mother Nature will take care of the rest. During the logging operations following the storm, I spent quite a bit of time in the woods with the timber crews and managed to contract a tick borne illness which resulted in having to cancel a couple of shows in Reno and Camp Verde. I’m glad to say I recovered quickly and that I’m feeling fine.
As is the case almost every year, in 2003 we shared the stage with some artists we have not seen in a while. We were glad to see and hear that Joe Cocker (at a festival in Quebec) and Jethro Tull (in Sturgis) were in fine form and good as ever. Willie Nelson and his band, which we saw on a night off in Utah, was also a delight to witness. Considering what Willie has done for American music and the farmers, Congress ought to give him medal. One more highlight I should mention was our concert at Harley Davidson’s 100th Birthday Bash in Milwaukee on August 30. While we often play so-called Biker events, this one had a vibe that is rare. There were TV crews from all over the world taping the event and the huge crowds that visited the various stages, featuring a variety of artists, just seem to be in a great party mood. I for one certainly had an excellent time on stage that night.
In between all of the above, as well as the rest of our touring. Michael Wilk, valiantly kept chipping away at finishing the audio mixes for our video projects. Yeah, yeah, I know you heard this before, but 2004 really will see the release of at least one of those if not two. Speaking of videos, I don’t know if any of our Canadian friends saw the “John Kay & Steppenwolf – Magic Carpet Ride” documentary on the BRAVO (Canada only) channel, but I thought it turned out quite well. Our thanks to Mark Hall for creating a true and accurate account of our story.
Before I mention our plans for 2004, I want to thank our supporters, (who keep the faith and show their enthusiasm at our gigs, year in year out) and everyone at “Wolf World” who made the 2003 tour so enjoyable for me. Everyone: Michael Wilk, Ron Hurst, Danny Johnson, Charlie Wolf, Chris Bray, Doug Adams, Mike Connell and Steve Blackburn did their part and sometimes more, to make it so. Professionalism and dedication are often hard to find these days and it’s certainly gratifying when it comes in abundance.
Finally let me say that in 2004 we may play as many as 25 concerts.
Apparently there was a rumor going round that we would not be touring next year, well that’s not the case. Furthermore we are anticipating the reissue of all our recordings from 1980 on, on Rainman Records. These releases will be spread out over the next 18 months or so. In addition there are a couple of video releases scheduled on Rainman as well. We’ll keep you updated as things develop. In the meantime I wish you and yours all the best for the coming Holidays and Hey; Let’s not be Scrooges out there, dig deep, the need is great.