Everybody Powwow! – New York – This Is The Life!

New York TO SOUTH DAKOTA 1978

Arriving in New York, Joe Eula turns out to be a very good host. He has a stunning apartment on West 54th Street, and seems to know everyone; Andy Warhol, Liza Minnelli, and Miles Davis (with whom I have a memorable brief phone conversation) to name but three. It would be very easy to be seduced by all the magic that New York has to offer, but I am here for a purpose as Joe reminds me; I needed to get busy.

After a few days acclimatizing and sight-seeing, I head north towards Harlem to visit The American Indian Museum. I feel a little exposed with my bulky leather camera bag slung over my shoulder.

I drop a quarter into the hat of a homeless man near Times Square, and walk on. I am immediately aware that I am being shadowed. I jump on a bus and make my escape. Whew! That was close!  This is 1978, and New York has a tough reputation.

Or am I just imagining things?

I miss my stop, and head further into Harlem than I intended. I’m out of my element here. A kindly gentleman points out my error, and directs me south a couple of blocks.

Finally I walk into the museum, a relieved tourist!

Sightseeing

Over the next few days I visit The American Indian Museum, The Hispanic Museum, The Museum Of Natural History, and The Museum of Modern Art.

Everybody Powwow!

I pound the streets and soak up the atmosphere. This is so different from North Yorkshire. I feel a sense of freedom amongst these huge buildings and vast avenues.

This is the life, I write in my diary, and later use this phrase as the chorus for a song for the album. Here it is:

All humanity is here. People of all colours and shades. I try to engage in conversation as much as I can, and mostly people are friendly and seem happy to talk. They are amused by my accent!

But where are the Native Americans?  I can’t seem to meet one. Not even at The American Indian Museum!

HEADING WEST

I think I’m going to have to head west.

I say my good byes to Joe, and board a flight to Chicago. We leave in bright warm sunshine, and arrive in deep snow. It’s very cold. I’m not expecting this, and besides, I have more flights to catch, to Watertown, South Dakota, via Minneapolis St. Paul.

Both flights are delayed by the weather, but finally I arrive in Watertown, and am greeted by my new hosts Br Benet, Br. Michael, and Br. Sebastian. They’re Benedictine monks and live at Blue Cloud Abbey where I am toEverybody Powwow! New York stay for this stage of my journey. All three are dressed in bulky casual clothes, and don’t look like monks at all. They’re very welcoming, and take me for a pizza, with jugs of light ale.

Later we drive to the Abbey in a huge car. We stop to pick up a hitch hiker. He is an old Indian man. He is very large, and only speaks Lakota. He shakes my hand and smiles. I have met my first Indian!

More to follow

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Links to further blogs about Everybody Powwow! below:

Everybody Powwow! – The Master Recordings. (Part 1)

Bernie Marsden's Yellow Marshall - Everybody Powwow!By the time Ian Tompson greeted me at the front gate of Humber Road Studios in Blackheath, on the first day of recording Everybody Powwow!, I thought I was well prepared, and was looking forward to finally getting in the studio with my songs…


Everybody Powwow! – A journey into the Badlands.

Everybody PowwowOn February 27th, 1973, an American public, wearied by the Vietnam War, woke to the unreal prospect of guerrilla war in its own heartland……


Everybody Powwow! – From San Tropez to JFK

Everybody Powwow!EVERYBODY POWWOW! – Back Story – Part 2

I wake to the sound of surf, the sea, lapping at my feet. The light hurts. I push down into my sleeping bag. It’s wet. There’s a heavy dew. I rub my eyes, my skin is sore, the sun is already hot. I reach for a bottle of water, drink and lie back….

Everybody Powwow!

San Tropez to JFK – Everybody Powwow!

San Tropez to JFK

I wake to the sound of surf, the sea, lapping at my feet. The light hurts. I push down into my sleeping bag. It’s wet. There’s a heavy dew. I rub my eyes, my skin is sore, the sun is already hot. I reach for a bottle of water, drink and lie back. Soon the beach will start to fill up, but for now it belongs to me and my comrades, sprawled about the embers of last night’s fire. It’s 1971, I’m sixteen years old and this is Tahiti Beach, San Tropez, France, the favourite beach of the beautiful people.

San Tropez
San Tropez Tahiti Plage 1971

Brigitte Bardot has her house on the headland and, like moths to flame, the rich of Europe gather here for the summer. The beach is lined with huts, and in front of each hut, in neat rows, are parasols and benches in many shades of livery. Different groups at different establishments, each with its own favoured celebrity.

BB‘s

BB‘s is San Tropez’ number one and that is where we like to end up at dusk, playing chess, and making a beer last an age.Right now though I’m lying on a stretch of beach a couple of hundred metres wide. It’s the only stretch of public beach in the bay, and for the summer this is our home. We are not the rich of Europe, we are “les freaks”, hitch-hikers, travellers, buskers, students, a group of friends enjoying the good life for a few pounds a week.

LIFE ON THE BEACH

Breakfast is a fresh hot baguette and a can of sardines in olive oil. Whoever gets up first goes to the campsite and, using the money we earned the previous night busking, buys the day’s provisions. We get up early, swim, eat, and re-establish the camp in daytime mode. For the rest of the morning and afternoon, we read, swim, drink, and eat, and watch the people go by. In the evenings, we cook on a camp fire, sing songs, play chess, busk, and generally fool around.Occasionally the police come and tell us to move on, sometimes we get invited to beach parties, but mostly we’re left alone.

On this particular day in August in the summer of 1971, I am lying back in the sand when thump!, something hits me on the head. It is a well-aimed book, Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee by Dee Brown, thrown at me by my friend and hitch-hiking buddy, Tim. Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee

“Read that! It’ll change your life!” He laughed. Well I did read it, and I have since read it many times, and delve into it often. And Tim was right, it did change my life! Over the next few days, I write a song inspired by Dee Brown’s book:

Bury my heart at Wounded Knee

Lay me down by the cottonwood tree

Yes we know when you come we die

Take me home where the eagles fly

We rehearse it round the camp fire before playing it on the waterfront, in amongst our Dylan and Donovan repertoire. Busking is simple in 1971; there is no hassle; just turn up and play really, and people are generally kind, and generous. We usually get quite a crowd.

Robert Hart sings the song on the album (Everybody Powwow!), and it still retains the bones of the chorus that I wrote on Tahiti Beach, San Tropez,  all those years ago!

So that was the beginning of the journey. A journey that would take me across America into the heartland of Sioux territory.

Everybody Powwow!

JOURNEY TO NEW YORK

The physical journey begins on the slip road leading onto the A1 just outside York (England). It’s now seven years after that fateful hit on the head, I have a music degree, a couple of hundred pounds in my pocket, and I’ve just left my home and I’m hitch-hiking down to London to catch a plane to the USA, to Pine Ridge. I know I’m going to write an album. But I need to make this journey to know what to write.

A van pulls over. The driver says he’s going all the way. It’s my lucky day!

Five hours later, I’m in London, and I make my way through the underground to Heathrow.

Simon Webb

I’m fortunate to have great support with equipment and lodgings on this trip, (I couldn’t make the trip without it), organized by Andrew Coggins, a friend of old. A camera shop in York had agreed to lend me a high-end Nikon camera, 36 reels of Ektachrome film, and a Sony portable cassette recorder.

So I start recording and taking pictures as I travel.

The incredible sound of the ticket hall in Piccadilly Circus is the first recording I make, and later use this as an introduction to one of the songs on the album.

This is my first trip by plane, so it is all new to me, the airport, the plane, the take-off, the sensations of jet travel.

The standby flight costs £64, and I manage to get on the next plane. It’s a VC10, a very cool aircraft. I order a drink, and I sit back and relax. At last, after years of planning, I’m on my way!

We take off and rise through the clouds into a clear blue sky. The sun appears to hang in the same position as we move west. I write a song title down: Chase The Sun. And then start to write what becomes the chorus.

I’ll chase the sun all day

And the moon all night

Straight for your heart

I will follow the light.

JFK AIRPORT

I arrive at JFK airport, and head for the bar. I not quite ready for the next part of my trip yet. New York had a fearsome reputation at the time, and I have no idea what my host in the city is going to be like.I know his name, Joe Eula, and that he is famous, and that he is Liza Minnelli’s designer.

Everybody Powwow!
Liza by Joe Eula

And that he has agreed to put me up for a few days.

A couple of beers later, revived, I take a cab into New York. As we cross the Brooklyn Bridge and the city of New York stretches out in front of me, my spirits soar. This is going to be interesting!.. (more to follow).

New York 1978
New York 1978

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Links to further blogs about Everybody Powwow! below:

Everybody Powwow! – The Master Recordings. (Part 1)

By the time Ian Tompson greeted me at the front gate of Humber Road Studios in Blackheath, on the first day of recording Everybody Powwow!, I thought I was well prepared, and was looking forward to finally getting in the studio with my songs…


Everybody Powwow! – A journey into the Badlands.

On February 27th, 1973, an American public, wearied by the Vietnam War, woke to the unreal prospect of guerrilla war in its own heartland……


 

Everybody Powwow!