The one year I was on the road with Phoebe was quite a wild ride, to say the least! We had a very friendly band, and we certainly all liked each other, but musically, it was an incredibly “mixed bag”! The keyboard player had been suddenly assigned to me (I was made musical director on the same day!) one day before our tour was to begin. Her management had the old keyboard player (musical director) come in all the way on a 2-hour train ride, just to tell him he was fired. Next thing you know, they have a keyboard player who the manager “once” heard in a Holiday Inn lounge, and they’re thrusting him into this gig. So what happens? He parties so heavily the night before the tour, he falls down the stairs of his home and breaks his leg! So before you know it, there I am, carrying his luggage at the airport, he’s on crutches, and I’m highly aggravated! I mean, he turned out to be a great guy, and even a great friend, but he was no talent at all.
To make matters worse, Phoebe never, ever came to any sound checks, so we used to have that hour a day or so to just kid around! Not only did I kid around a lot with the band during those “checks”, but I also started singing and playing certain songs I loved, like “Treat Her Right”, and many more. This turned into marathon rehearsals for what then actually became my next album, “Hot Pickups”, which was my second release on Rounder. All along, during those rehearsal/joking around sessions, the guys in the band would say to me, “Hey Arlen, you know it really sounds cool, you should do something with that material!” Well, sure enough, that band, minus the keyboard player, became the group I used on my album, and we had a great time, and it was actually a very successful record! You just never know where the inspiration is going to come from, and also you never know when the opportunity will present itself in which you can maximize things such as rehearsal and playing time! Thanks to Phoebe never coming to a sound check or rehearsal, I ended up with a whole new album, fully worked out and well-inspired beforehand! On a more serious and personal note, I know that Phoebe has recently had a stroke, and I send her all my best wishes for a speedy and full recovery!