Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Night Fly

Last time I flew with the JRB to South East Asia I had my big road case full of drums, a cymbal bag, stand bag and my luggage. It's hard to believe that I only have these two bags this time. I will be in charge of our backpacker travel guitar once we get to the airport.

We arrived at Kennedy Airport around 11PM for a 1:30AM flight and we had an easy time checking in because we hardly had to being any gear. The only big item was Brian's travel upright bass. The Jazz festival's and embassy/consulate has provide that there will be instruments/backline at all the venues and workshops. While we were boarding we met a new friend/fan, a Malaysian student who is studying at Penn State.

Once we were on the plane and got settled in, the guys started getting ready for the long 15 hour flight to Hong Kong.

It was so great to be able to have some time to catch up and talk about our last show at the Iridium on June 5th. It was Johnny's birthday that night, it was a great way to celebrate and have a musical send off for our Malaysia trip.

The flight from JFK to Hong Kong took us up over Canada, the Arctic
Circle and back down over China.
Well I think Johnny and I slept about 12 of the 15 hours of the flight and before we knew it we had landed in Hong Kong for a 3 hour layover before we continue on to Malaysia.

The Guys looked rested and refreshed when they got off the plane.

The airport was deserted at 4:30 AM here and we had a few hours to kill, but Johnny used the time to work on some new stage costuming ideas;)

Soon after we found our we found our gate we made a video of a new on the spot arrangement of Unchain my Heart. You might be able to see it already posted on the Johnny Rodgers Band FB page or visit us at Johnnyrodgersband.com

Whenever I See Your Smiling Face part 2

As we prepare for our third cultural
diplomacy trip as musical ambassadors for the US Dept. of State, I'm reminded of all the beautiful and kind hearted people we have met along the way. I am looking at all the photos of our trips to The Middle East and South East Asia and the one thing that stands out is all your smiling faces :) Each one so unique, special and warm, it makes me smile myself.

While we were rehearsing for our Bon Voyage concert last week at the Iridium Jazz club in NYC (http://iridiumjazzclub.com/), we were looking for a new opening number that would express something universal and welcoming. Johnny came up with the idea of doing James Taylor's song, Whenever I See Your Smiling Face. I love playing this song and I think it's the perfect welcome for our Malaysia concerts.

Often the first contact we have with someone, even before a handshake, is a smile. No words have been spoken, no physical contact, yet in those first few silent seconds we receive so much information through a persons energy and vibration. Often lifelong friendships start with a smile and the sparkle in the eyes, you just know from that instant that there is a connection to something deeper than both of you, a kind of understanding that you share the is-ness of the moment. It is in those first few milliseconds before thoughts and judgements are formed, where you can find peace, a common ground. How many times have you met someone and neither of you speak the same language, yet there is understanding, friendship? I feel that most diplomacy and sharing of culture starts with these beautiful smiles we all have in common.

Did you know smiling can reduce stress, boost your immune system and your mood? Here is a link to some more fun facts about smiling;

That silent sixth sense behind the smile is rooted in our five senses; touch, sight, taste, hearing and smell. These gateways are how we can experience Sculpture, Dance, the Visual arts, Music, Cullinary arts etc. These are all ways we can relate and learn about each other culturally, but more importantly these bridges of expression keep us present and rooted in being. They bring us together in the art of being alive and sharing the most common of bonds, life.

We are retuning to Malaysia next week through the generosity of the US Embassy, Consulate and SPARKS,
a wonderful arts organization in Sandakan. We made so many friends in Malaysia on our last tour there
and we have been blessed to stay in touch with all of those smiling faces
through social networks and even webcast that was a joint effort between the US Embassy and the Mannes College The New School for Music Prep Division. These electronic opportunities have helped us share music, teaching materials, recipes, music gear advice and most of all friendship.

Even though we haven't been to Malaysia in a year or so, I still feel connected to all the wonderful people I met there during our first tour. I am looking forward to sharing music, stories, food and of course smiles with all of you. So come on, give me a smile