As some of you may recall, in February I announced we would play a few dates this year and lo and behold it came to pass that the Wolf DID in fact play 10 very enjoyable (for us and I hope for those who attended) concerts. It must be the time of year that makes me write in such quasi-biblical terms, but anyway “Many Thanks” to all who came to hear and see what the Wolf does. Speaking of seeing: at venues with video projection facilities, our performances were accompanied by visuals, which received many positive comments from our supporters. Much of the visual content was created by Michael Wilk who worked tirelessly to complete the video project in time for our first audio / visual date. We all had a good time playing for the faithful once again, particularly since this year there were five of us on stage. Having Gary Link join us on bass and vocals seemed to give to whole band more energy than usual.
Considering how well the dates went this year, we have decided to again play selected dates in 2010, a couple of which have already been booked and posted. Wherever possible our shows will include the visuals mentioned above.
Let us hope that in 2010 things will improve for all who have been - and all too many who still are – struggling to make ends meet, to keep their homes, or to find a job. I recently returned from Cambodia - I was visiting the School we helped build - where I went to some of the homes of the families whose children attend the School. The poverty and need I observed there would be inconceivable for most North Americans, but knowing that someone else is suffering even greater misfortune hardly lightens your own load and worries. While the Holiday Season usually brings out the best in many people, the last 2 years have been so hard on so many that all the Food Banks, Soup Kitchens and the like, have experienced a large drop in donations and support and are desperate to fill the great need. So let’s all do what we can to lend a hand, every dollar counts.
This poem – received by one of Jutta’s Flickr friends in South Africa – says it well in a simple way.
The more you give, the more you get The more you laugh, the less you fret. The more you do unselfishly, The more you live abundantly.
The more of everything you share The more you’ll always have to spare The more you love, the more you’ll find That life is good And friends are kind
For only what we give away, Enriches us from day to day So let’s live Christmas through the year And fill the world with love and cheer. by Helen Steiner Rice
Happy Holidays to all. See you next year, until then:
A few weeks ago Jutta and I returned from another trip to Africa, this time we visited not only East Africa but also Egypt. No matter where we found ourselves; almost without exception people expressed their good wishes for America’s new administration and their hope that the US will reclaim its world leadership through new and enlightened policies. While it was gratifying to find so much good will and positive energy, we also saw the continuing and widespread need for assistance with education, medicine and other mainly poverty related inequities.
Of course during our absence things didn’t exactly improve here at home either, so upon our return we learned just how severe the recession has become. With so many people and families facing an uncertain future, struggling with unemployment, loss of housing or just barely getting by, food banks, clinics and support organizations in general, are in desperate need of extra funding. With that in mind, our family foundation wants to increase its contributions to various recipients, but how to raise the additional dollars?
Well why not see if the Wolf and Crew would like to play a handful, say maybe a dozen or so, dates this summer, not touring mind you, we’re done with that, but a few concerts would be fun. Then the Maue Kay Foundation gets some of the proceeds and Bob’s your Uncle. Turns out all concerned – the usual suspects – liked the idea and we WILL in fact play some concerts between June and Labor Day this summer. As I’ve said before, few are lucky enough to say what’s on their mind in song and then get handsomely rewarded for playing with their musical pals, to their loyal friends around the world. Why not make the most of one’s good fortune and spread some of it around, seems like a no-brainer. Oh and by the way, our old friend Gary Link will be joining us on bass for these dates, like I said, it should be fun. Please check “2009 Summer Concerts” for new dates as they become available. I’m looking forward to seeing you, the Wolf Pack, our long time friends, once again this Summer.
The Chinese have an old saying “May you live in interesting times” I dare say most of us find these times more interesting then we’d like. It is my fervent hope that all of you and your families are weathering the current storms and are holding up well, despite these trying economic conditions. One could spend days discussing how we got into this mess, but I believe the most productive thing we can do right now, is to band together to pull our cart out of the mud, so to speak.
When I was another young guy with a guitar, hitchhiking across North America in the early 60s, our country was far from perfect, with our founding fathers promises yet to be full filled, but there was a sense that we were on the move “to a more perfect Union” and most importantly THAT WE WERE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER. It may have been a feeling shared mainly by the younger generation but it rippled throughout the land and held out hope for better and more equitable times to come. Regardless of the ups and downs of the decades that followed, if there ever was a time when we needed to regain that team spirit and to discard the “every man for him self” mindset, in order to head our nation towards a brighter future, it is now. For in the worlds of another proverb “Unless we change direction, we are bound to end up where we are headed” and right now we’re headed towards even more chaos.
My daughter in Portland tells me people there are bringing food and clothes to the homeless, to help them get through the cold, snowy nights. I hope it’s just a small indication of how we as people and a nation will look after those amongst us who now desperately need our “brotherly love”. No one has a monopoly on compassion but often the poorest of the poor are the most generous in sharing what precious little – usually food - they have, for they know hunger and destitution all too well. I’ve seen this generosity in South East Asia and Africa and I know it’s common in our part of the world as well. But those with the least should not have to fend for themselves and also look after their neighbors. I believe that to be everybody’s job. I know many, if not most, are spending less this season because of the uncertain times etc. but perhaps we can take a few of the dollars saved and apply them to the food banks, shelters, neighbors and others who are now in greater need than they’ve been for many years.
While I’m on the subject of generosity, I’d like to thank those of you who donated to the Maue Kay Foundation this year. Rest assured that every dollar you contributed will be put to good use. I was also glad to learn that many of you were pleased with how the “Rock’ n Roll Odyssey” DVD turned out. We could have turned our story into a “Gone With The Wind -Part III”, six hour long project – which I know some of you would not have minded at all – but that would have taken even more months, if not years. You had been waiting more than long enough as it was.
It has been snowing here the last few hours, turning our neighborhood into the “Winter Wonderland” we hear about in song ever year at this time, which brings to mind the coming Holidays. May your families be united for the festivities and share a warm, peaceful, joyful celebration and may the new year be kind to our fragile small planet and all – man and beast - who call it home.
Despite my best intentions to post an occasional note, this is the first one in 2008 and it’s already late September. It’s not that I’ve forgotten our friends and particularly the Pack, it’s just that not touring for the first time in 40 years - more or less - gave me time for other pursuits and Jutta & I have been traveling quite a bit on behalf of the Maue Kay Foundation etc. That’s taken up a good deal of the year. We went Mountain Gorilla tracking in Uganda, visited the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy again in Kenya and recently sailed down the inside passage from Seward Alaska to Vancouver and so on. Each journey had its share of highlights and special moments of course, but we also learned more about the need to protect and conserve what remains of earth’s treasures. If any of you are curious about our experiences and efforts you can learn more at: www.mauekay.org and our you tube channel: www.youtube.com/mauekay Both sites feature video clips with my narrations concerning our projects. In the next few weeks I plan to add a couple more clips from our recent journeys.
The end of last year I mentioned that I was certain the much delayed DVD video biography “John Kay & Steppenwolf – A Rock ’n Roll Odyssey” would be released early 2008. Well one last delay notwithstanding it really will finally be released this time - officially on September 30. The disks are ready to be shipped and Charlie Wolf has his advance orders prepared to go out the door in a few days. As mentioned before the DVD includes “The Last Wolf Fest” for the fist time on DVD. The two features combined tell our story and that of our special relationship with our most loyal supporters, the Pack. I’m pleased with the results and I believe that my friend Morgan Cavett, with whom I started this project several years ago would be pleased as well. Most importantly I hope that YOUwill enjoy it and also find it informative, because it contains more than the typical rock band biography.
Despite the difficult times we’re now going through, economically and otherwise, I hope that all is well with you and that your families are in good heath and in good spirits. Until the next time.
As most of you are aware 2007 was our last year of “touring” and we won’t be making our annual trek across North America next year. But despite the fact that we won’t see our supporters on the road in 2008, by posting a few words here from time to time, I’d like to stay in touch with the many friends we made during our years of traveling, particularly with our loyal “Wolf Pack”. While it was the music that brought us together, I know that many of you share the convictions and concerns expressed in our lyrics over time - I have quite a few of your letters as proof – and care about things greater than yourselves and in various ways apply yourselves to the greater good. I mention this because I believe that those of you who belong to that group may be interested in some of my “non-musical” endeavors for which my wife Jutta and I created The Maue Kay Foundation (MKF). With that in mind I intend to occasionally post some updates concerning MKF video documentaries on DVD, video clips at:www.mauekay.organd other new developments. It is my hope that spreading the word about the need and the great work being done by the entities MKF supports, will create a ripple effect of support.
The MKF work not withstanding, “Wolf World” has a couple of announcements to make. The much delayed “John Kay & Steppenwolf – A Rock ‘n Roll Odyssey” video biography, started by my late friend Morgan Cavett, will definitely be released in the first few months of 2008. Additionally we hope to include “The Last Wolf Fest” footage on this disk. As many of you know “Wolf Fest” was previously only available on VHS. As soon as DVDs are available we will post it here and also send word via an e-blast.
Our keyboardist and bassist Michael Wilk and guitarist Danny Johnson are hard at work developing a new musical, multi-media act which is scheduled to begin touring in the spring of 2008. As soon as booking information becomes available it will be posted on this site, stay tuned.
Finally I’d like to send my best wishes to all of you for the Holidays. Despite the hectic pace of this season, may you enjoy times of tranquility and joy, may you celebrate with your loved ones and make memories to last a life time, may you spread good cheer and give comfort to those in need and may 2008 be good to all of us here on this little fragile planet.
Well I’m finally home and have time to put a few words together. As most of you know we played the last show of our “40thAnniversary Tour – 2007” in Aberdeen, MD on Oct 6. I must say it was a very good night. The concert was held at a Baseball Stadium and the crowd was into it from the downbeat and quite enthusiastic. You could feel the energy in the place. In the audience were some of the most dedicated members of The Pack. They came from near and far, from all over North America and Europe as well. Towards the end of the show some of them held up a large banner that read “THANK YOU FOR ALL THE YEARS”. Well that goes both ways so after the show I was glad we were able to shake some hands, take a few pictures and spend a little time with some of those who’ve seen to it that we were still thriving after “ALL THOSE YEARS” Seeing some of the familiar faces, made the evening rather special for all concerned I think, it certainly did for me.
Whenever we take the stage our mission is give our very best of course, but this year, knowing that most in attendance would see us for the last time, it was particularly important to us that we sent everyone home smiling. We hope those of you who saw us play in 2007 are able to say “The last time I saw John Kay & Steppenwolf, they were as good as ever”.
Touring this year was particularly demanding on some of our people considering the logistics of moving us and our equipment all over the continent, Norway and Brazil. By early September the hectic schedule got pretty crazy and we can only thank the touring gods that everything went according to plan. Divine intervention notwithstanding; I want to express my gratitude to the usual suspects at Wolf World and Chris Bray and Charlie Wolf in particular since they were burdened with much of the aforementioned extra effort. I would be remiss if I did not also thank Paradise Artists and Bill Monot our agent. They have been an important part of the Wolf Team for many years and greatly contributed to our touring success.
I’ve been asked what my plans are for the near term. In 2008 Jutta and I intend to travel – primarily on behalf of the Maue Kay Foundation – to various parts of the world where we support a number of projects. I suspect that we will become even more involved for the need is great and almost endless. While I’m on the subject of the foundation, I should mention that we will auction off some “Wolf” items at:
Proceeds, as always, will go to the foundation. Charlie Wolf will send an e-blast with the auction start date. After all items are gone our ebay store will close permanently. To all who previously purchased memorabilia there, a big “Thank You” Somewhere in Cambodia there is a child with a mosquito net to prevent it from getting Dengue Fever and in Kenya a baby elephant orphan that will be raised to be reintroduced to the wild when it is grown and so on and so forth, and your dollars helped see to that.
From time to time I intend to post a few words here, just to keep in touch. I’m holding the door open to all future possibilities, who knows what’s down the line, your crystal ball is as good as mine, so stay tuned and stay wild.
My Holiday note is a little late this year, been quite busy settling into our new home after lengthy preparations and a challenging 2500 mile move. However things are fairly together now and we’re looking forward to the Holidays. Thanks to Jutta our tree is up and decorated, featuring, as always, a Santa Claus ornament my Mother managed to smuggle out of East Germany when we escaped from there in 1949. It’s a little worn but holds special memories, because it’s a gift from the family that gave my Mother and I shelter for 5 years after we arrived there as refugees from East Prussia. Their kindness made an early impression on me and that little glass Santa reminds me of their generosity of spirit, something I’m trying to nurture in myself, although It’s admittedly a work in progress. At this time of year however, it seems to come a lot easier, I guess it’s the season and I’m glad of it.
This touring year, once again, was a very enjoyable and successful one for The Wolf, thanks as always to the support of the faithful and the good efforts of everyone at “Wolf World”. However the private lives of several of our people and some of our supporters, had some very difficult twists and turns and I hope the Holidays prove to be peaceful and uneventful for all concerned and that the new year brings no more trying and unpleasant surprises.
For that matter, I wish the same for all of us and all of you. Considering the state of the world we live in, it would be plenty to be thankful for, if we are granted peace and some tranquility in 2007. And while the “prince of peace” is certainly not the only one who preached tolerance, compassion, forgiveness and generosity, considering his birthday will soon be celebrated by so many, I don’t think it’s inappropriate to be mindful of those teachings, particularly at this time, and to apply them wherever an opportunity presents itself. The need is great, the abandoned, betrayed, forgotten, abused, ill and hungry many, both human and critters also. If at times the need overwhelms us and we feel our efforts won’t make a difference, then perhaps it helps to recall what Mother Teresa once said:
“Few of us can do great things, but all of us can do small things with great love”
So let’s spread a little love around. I’m sure every one of us knows someone in need of it. Hope to see you somewhere on the road in 2007.
As many of you know friend and Wolfpacker Ray Amoroso has been fighting a long and hard battle with cancer. I’m sorry to say that a couple of days ago he succumbed to his illness and left us. I will remember him the way he was when I last saw him, in good spirits and determined to beat the cancer. The last thing he said to me was “Never give up, never give in”, as we said our “Good Byes” on the morning after our concert in Lancaster, PA. His family and friends, several of them Wolfpackers, had also been there to see the show and in many ways I felt that that evening had a special feel of community since for so many of us it was really dedicated to Ray and his battle. We were all rooting for him of course and my thoughts were often with him these past few months, particularly since our family had a similar battle to fight this year. While I did not know Ray very well because of the limited time we spent together, my impression of him is that he was a kind and generous man. If there is any justice in the great beyond then surely he will be welcomed in kind on the other side.
Farewell Brother Ray, may you find peace and fly with the dove.