December 2015 - Update from Leo
Greetings! HSS have been on tour for most of November. I started writing this newsletter on our tour bus rolling through Germany to Luxembourg in a hazy fog - the weather that is: not me suffering from a pre-birthday hangover! It seems that I'm always on tour when it's my birthday. Many thanks for all the birthday wishes: I've tried to reply to as many as I can.
We've now finished touring for 2015 and I'm back home in Cardiff spending a few days relaxing and catching up on paperwork. We'd like to thank all of you who came to see us play. It's always a joy to meet you, new fans and old. We appreciate your continued support.
We have had so much fun playing for you. We always try to play the songs you request but this time around had the chance to try out some new, as yet unrecorded, material. Judging from the emails we've received it appears that you approve of the new songs.
We apologise that we haven't managed to play in more countries in 2015 but we haven't forgotten you and will keep plugging away until it happens.
In January 2016 we're looking forward to recording the new CD at Damon's 'Platform Studio' in the UK, with Ed Truckell, our 'front of house' engineer, behind the board. We have over 12 songs to consider but there could be a few more surprises on the day too. It's another step on a musical journey that never ends. No release date is fixed but I expect it will be sometime in April: we've also made a note of some of the suggested CD titles you've sent in. Thank you for those.
2016 plans are not yet finalised but we intend playing selected shows and festivals throughout the year in as many new countries as we can, followed up with a major tour in November. Please keep an eye on our website for updates.
We would like to acknowledge, and say a big thank you to, our crew: Adam Whitmore (Tour Manager) and Ed Truckell (FOH engineer), without whose hard work it would not be possible for touring to run so smoothly.
Wishing you a great Christmas, and every thing you wish for in the New Year.
October 2015 - Update from Leo
Hi - I'm always late with the newsletter: I should really call it a mid-monthly report! It's another sunny day here in Cardiff despite being told the other week to brace ourselves in preparation for Hurricane Joaquin that reportedly was heading our way. It didn't arrive: not even a breeze!
HSS are on a bit of an unexpected break. We were booked to play in Mexico City but the promoter informed us that there had been a death in his family and pulled the gig. What can we say except that we are very disappointed. I know some of you had already bought tickets. Many apologies. I hope you got a full refund.
Our two French shows, Woodstock Guitares and Festival Des Grosses Guitares and Mandal Blues in Norway were great fun. Thanks to everyone who came to see us. We'd like to play more shows in both countries and maybe some festivals next summer.
Joe, Damon and I are getting ready for the start of our November European tour and as usual you'll find all the venues here on our website. You'll notice, this time around, that there are some venues on the date sheet that we've not played before so, aside from meeting old friends, l hope we'll make some new ones too.
It will be even more fun for us this time around because we'll be playing in a few new songs on each show from our upcoming fourth CD before we finally commit them to disc. The release date will be early 2016 but we don't yet have a title for the record. Any suggestions?
Next year's plan will be a little different from our usual schedule of spring and autumn tours. Instead we plan to play as many festivals as possible throughout the year in as many new territories as we can and then follow up with a longer autumn tour. There will of course be one-off gigs throughout the year.
That's all for now. Hope to see you out there on the road.
12th September 2015 - Update from Leo
Hi, hope all's well with you wherever you are. I know. I'm late again with this short newsletter. Sorry about that. Summer's almost gone here in Cardiff and it seems that we're heading towards winter before we've got used to warmer weather. On every festival we've played so far this year it's rained at least some of the time. Thanks to all of you who stayed to hear us play despite the rain. Never mind the weather I love playing outdoor gigs. It reminds me of the festival I played way back in 1969. It rained on that gig too!
I'm pleased to say that we've finished writing songs for the next studio record. Recording time is already scheduled and the release date will be early 2016. We'll be tracking in one go whenever possible, just like the old days with a minimum of overdubs.
I mentioned in a previous newsletter that we're adding in some of the new material on our November tour. It will be fun to play the songs live and we hope you'll enjoy hearing them.
Now the plans are all in place for HSS I'm about to leave for Italy and a week's Qui-Gong holiday. The idea is to charge up my batteries before the next fun run but of course I'll be sampling the Italian cuisine too.
In mid-September HSS play two indoor Festivals in France followed, in October, by concerts in Norway and Mexico. We're very much looking forward all those shows. We don't go to those countries often enough. In fact it's our first time in Mexico and it's pity we can't play a few US dates too whilst we're in the general area but currently it's taking around 120 days to get US visas processed.
The second part of 'The Road' European Tour starts in November. You'll find all the dates here. We're all looking forward to doing a run of gigs. The journeys are sometimes tedious but back-to-back gigging really tightens up the band. I've been touring now for over 53 years and it's never a job if you love what you do!
In December we take a break from touring. Concerts are currently being scheduled for 2016 and there are already plans for some UK gigs. America is still being talked about and I hope that, this time, it will work out for us. We intend to play more festivals worldwide in the coming year. It's always fun and a privilege to meet so many of you out there on the road and I cannot emphasize enough that if we've not yet played your country, rest assured we're working on it!
Thank you for your support.
6th July 2015 - Update from Leo
This is a combined June/July newsletter. I'm always running late! It seems that every time I write, it's a glorious sunny day here in Cardiff. That is, sunshine in between the rain showers of course. I hope you're enjoying a relaxing summer wherever you are.
I've just returned from Music City after a few weeks spent songwriting and visiting family and friends. For those who don't know, I lived and worked in Nashville as a staff songwriter for many years and only moved back to the UK, and the city of Cardiff, 3 years ago.
Unfortunately, we have some very disappointing news. I regret to say that we have had to cancel our July North American tour through no fault of our own but for reasons beyond our control: namely, our work visas were not processed in time. This is a huge disappointment for Joe, Damon and myself and we send our apologies to the fans and promoters involved. We will endeavour to re-schedule the shows, and are already making plans for US gigs in 2016.
Despite there being no US gigs, we are still able to play The Blues Festival in Windsor, Ontario, Canada on July 12th. It will be a short visit to Canada, although we're flying in a few days earlier to enable us to enjoy the Festival weekend. I hope some of you who live nearby can come along.
We are using the 'off road' time to work on songs for the next record scheduled for release in Spring 2016. It's always exciting seeing a project take shape: title not yet decided.
Throughout the summer we play festivals and concerts in Europe. There are shows in Norway and France: these will be posted on our web site as soon as we have the details: most dates are already on the website here. Please visit the page for new additions.
'The Road 2015' autumn tour starts on the 9th November. It will be fun to do a long run of gigs and we will be adding a few new songs from the upcoming CD to our set. Many of you ask when we will be playing in your country. HSS would love to play everywhere: we're hoping our agents can make it possible!
That's all for now. We have a rehearsal in two days time for the weekend gig and I certainly need to pick up a bass and refresh my memory!
See you all soon.
22nd May 2015 - Update from Leo
Hi - me again! The holiday period is fast approaching and HSS are taking a break from the road: it seems strange to write a newsletter with no imminent tour dates to prepare for, but it's always good to stay in touch.
There are of course some one-off gigs and festivals over the next few months in Europe and the USA but HSS are not doing any extended touring until November. I know you'd like the dates for your calendars and I'm pressing our agents for the schedules so that we can pass them on to you. All shows will of course be posted here as soon as they are confirmed.
We're using our free time to write for the next studio record. The project began in Nashville earlier this year with longtime friend and co-writer Fred Koller and, over the past few weeks, Joe and I have finished six new songs. We'll write another batch over the coming months and then go into a rehearsal studio with Damon and put the pieces together.
Songs come to life on the road so our plan is play some of the new material on gigs during the summer and have the record ready for release early 2016. The CD title is yet to be decided.
Many people have written to us asking about future vinyl releases. Our biggest obstacle is the ever increasing, exorbitant mailing charges of Royal Mail in the UK. I love the sound of vinyl so we need to find a way round this.
On a personal note I'm working on my upright bass skills and enjoying the sound of the acoustic: we will use it on some of the tracks on the new record. I won't be giving up bass guitar but playing songs on a different instrument gives me a different perspective and makes me work outside my musical comfort zone.
That's all for now. Apologies for this rather short letter!
13th April 2015 - Update from Leo
Hi - me again! It's a beautiful, sunny day here in Cardiff. We've just returned from 'The Road' March European tour. We had a great time meeting up with old friends and making new ones. We're always working on new material and hope you enjoyed the new songs we included in the set - it's likely that you will hear something new each time you see us play.
On the last date of the tour, April 1, we played the beautiful city of Tallinn, Estonia, for the first time. I hope on the next visit we will have more time to explore it. Thank you to those who came to see us and for such a warm welcome - we look forward to returning soon.
On this run of shows, I realised a long-time wish and played the 'upright bass' (see the photo above) on a couple of songs! It was the first time I'd played upright bass on a gig since the first two TYA records… and I loved it! I have to thank Dave 'Roe' Rorick, former bass player with Johnny Cash, for introducing me to Charlie Chadwick and the amazing 'Chadwick Folding Bass'. His invention makes travelling with a 'large beast' a practical option.
More shows are scheduled for The Baltic States, France and Holland for later in the year and an extended European tour is already booked for November. We continue looking into the possibility of playing in other territories including Australasia, Japan and South America. You have also asked us to play some more UK dates and we have set the wheels in motion to do this.
The US tour is coming together for the period July 11 to August 1. Confirmed shows are The Windsor Blues Festival (July 12), The Iridium, NYC (July 15), The Sellersville Theatre (July 18), and The Mount Baker Blues Festival (August 1). More shows are to be confirmed.
Our new CD 'The Road' is in the Top 10 Amazon.de New Release Blues Chart, having reached #1 a few times. Thanks for your support and for the many encouraging emails.
We will be updating our gig list within the next week or two and will add it to the May newsletter: it will be posted on our web site here.
Have a wonderful week! Kind regards
3rd February 2015 - Update from Leo
Hi - it's a beautiful, sunny day here in Cardiff, but very cold. I'm staying indoors in the warm and taking the opportunity to sort out my bass gear ready for the 'The Road Tour 2015'… and making the difficult decision as to which bass to take this time. Ideally, I'd like to take all 18 on the road but I can't: sometimes, when it comes to choice, less is more: well easier! Which ones would you like to see?
Our tour kicks off on 13th March in Germany and we'll be promoting our live CD 'The Road', which will be released there on 13th February. The CD was recorded in Europe during our October/November tour last year.
On 5th February we're playing a one-off 'CD pre-release' party at Jagz, Ascot, Berkshire. I hope many of our UK friends will come along to hear us playing in the intimate atmosphere of a smaller venue. On 9th February, we play 'The Giants Of Rock Festival' in Minehead; a coastal town in Somerset. Swimming in the sea, sadly, will not be on the agenda, though without doubt it would be invigorating. We're looking forward to meeting as many people as possible while we're there, and will be out after the show to say 'Hi'.
This year is going to be very exciting for us: we intend to tour as many new countries as possible: our agent is pencilling in schedules as I write. A number of North American shows are already confirmed and more are planned for July/August. We update the gig list regularly on our website so please keep an eye out for upcoming shows in your area.
Many people ask if HSS play TYA songs as well our newer material. The answer is 'Yes of course' and we will enjoy playing some TYA songs for as long as fans want to hear them. The music I recorded with Alvin Lee, in particular, has been the soundtrack to my life for over 50 years and with the help of Joe and Damon I intend to keep the spirit and the legacy of those songs alive. 'Hundred Seventy Split' is a jam band and we'll include a few different titles in our set list every time you come to see us.
Stay warm. Hope to see you out there on 'The Road'!