The Grand Piano Tour USA (2006)

It's the last day of the short 2 week Grand Piano Tour of America and it has truly been an eye-opener for me in many respects. Firstly I really didn't think that a tour of my simply playing the grand piano on stage would work. I argued with loads of people about this, finally succumbed to "pressure" and was extremely pleased to be proven wrong as it's probably been some of the most enjoyable times I have ever had on stage and musically the most satisfying.

I do love playing the piano above all other keyboard instruments and hopefully, even though my touring days as a solo artist are nearing an end, one offs doing these kind of shows can still happen.

The travelling has taken its toll though and for the last few shows I've really had to pace myself. We've had very long drives, early mornings and late nights and the last few shows I've needed to go straight back to the hotel and fall exhausted into bed and forego the after-show signings which I always enjoy. I was warned by the medical powers that be that I could no longer undertake strenuous touring and this has proven it to me, hard a pill as it is to swallow.

There have been many many highlights on the shows and fabulous audiences who have more than played their part in making the show work. Without great audiences the show can't rise to new levels and I feel on this tour I have played the best piano of my career, which is a nice way to bow out I suppose.

Some of the pianos have left little to be desired though if the truth be known - just because it has Steinway stamped on the lid doesn't mean to say it's a great piano as some were obviously very heavily used and battered rental jobs and were difficult to play, but in a strange way that added to the interest for me as I had to find ways of working around this and using the "better areas" of the piano concerned.

I also threw in stories and music that I have never ever done before and this was great to do. The theatre venues were particularly lovely to perform in although having said that BB Kings in New York was absolutely amazing for me. I appreciate how hard it must be for audiences to sit quietly at tables, facing the wrong way even, and listen to the music.....but they were unblievable...the same at the Birchmere,another club with similar seating.

We have a simple rule for these places, no food and drink to be waitress served whilst I'm performing as it's really off putting, not just for me but for people trying to enjoy the performance. We have this written into the contract and 99% of places are fine about it....in essence everybody stocks up with food and drink before the show to get them through the first half and again during the interval. Unfortunately this didn't work initially at the show in Annapolis and I ended up going on stage more than an hour late which made life difficult for all concerned but the crowd were fantastic...(except for a couple of exceptions) !!!.....and the show soon got in to its normal happy flow.

All in all, I have had a tremendous time playing the piano, meeting friends and it's been a nice way to finish the solo touring here on the East Coast of America. There is talk of doing the same on the West Coast early next year just to complete the USA side of things.

Thanks again to everybody who came and supported this tour. I have been amazed and really humbled by the amount of sell out dates .......it has meant a lot to me to know that I really do have some super friends out there.

Date Venue Reviews
Monday, June 12, 2006 Seneca Niagara Casino reviews
Niagara Falls, NY
Tuesday, June 13, 2006 Whitaker Center reviews
Harrisburg, PA
Wednesday, June 14, 2006 North Fork Theatre reviews
Westbury, NY
Thursday, June 15, 2006 Ridgefield Playhouse reviews
Ridgefield, CT
Friday, June 16, 2006 Melrose Memorial Theatre reviews
Melrose, MA
Saturday, June 17, 2006 Ram's Head
Annapolis, MD
Sunday, June 18, 2006 Birchmere reviews
Alexandria, VA
Tuesday, June 20, 2006 BB King's reviews
New York, NY
Wednesday, June 21, 2006 Keswick Theatre reviews
Glenside, PA
Thursday, June 22, 2006 Rex Theatre reviews
Pittsburgh, PA
Friday, June 23, 2006 The Abbey reviews
Chicago, IL
Saturday, June 24, 2006 Pabst Theatre reviews
Milwaukee, WI