THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!
It’s so rewarding to read the positive comments on this thread. Yes, we didn’t please everybody, but what a great night. From one comment, it would seem that having a few speciality nights until 3.00am might be the future for the Wilton events, but don’t expect artists every time.
I interviewed Darrow at his home in Chicago in 2010. Many of you will have read the results on this site and in the Soul Up North fanzine. Darrow was clearly in a poor financial state and needed some help. Val and myself pledged to help him out by getting him a CD released showcasing his Crossover recordings, and possibly a CD of all his Chicago 60’s tracks. Darrow was also desperate to do some shows in the UK and Europe.
In 2011, we started making plans to fulfil our pledges. I already had connections with the Scottish Soulful Weekender, so that was the first show we managed to secure. Darrow had a leasing deal with Ady Croasdell at Kent, but this was about to expire, so it was time to get in touch with Ady to get things moving again. From the start Ady was very helpful; not only was he keen to complete the Crossover CD but was also in favour of the 60’s CD. Whilst Ady and myself worked on the Crossover CD, I continued to look for more show venues. I asked Ady if there was a possibility for Darrow at the 100 Club all-nighter.
Dates for the all-nighter weren’t right for Darrow’s visit, but Kent’s 30th Birthday was just perfect, so thanks to Ady, that was another show secured. We arranged for the band “PUSH” to back Darrow at both these shows and sorted out the songs to be included. The band needed the keys that Darrow would be comfortable singing in, so during our next trip to Chicago in 2012 we sorted the song keys, booked his flights, signed the contracts and prepared him for his trip to the UK.
Our next Wilton’s Soulful Sessions was already planned for the 10th November, so we decided to make this the third show for Darrow’s UK trip. The Wilton all-nighters were poorly attended throughout 2012 and we had little confidence that the show would be a success, so the cost of a live backing band was out of the question. I decided that backing tracks were the answer, so I asked two talented musicians and members of the band “PUSH” - Ernie McKone & Mike McEvoy, to help us out. The results were fantastic and give us confidence to push on with the show at the Wilton.
The dates were fixed: 1st November - 100 Club, 3rd November — SSW, then a week’s rest, and finally 10th November — Wilton Soulful Sessions.
“Best made plans” — Tuesday 30th October, Darrow’s flight day, his passport was refused at the airport. Darrow was put on standby and told to get a new passport the following day. I was in contact with him constantly throughout the day at the Passport office in downtown Chicago. I asked Darrow to make sure that the office knew what time his flight left that night, so they could fast track his passport so he could make his flight. Seven hours later they give him his new passport, but he couldn’t get to the airport in time. He did get to the airport, only to told the flight was closed and due to depart. Darrow’s girl friend Augustine, who funded his new passport, came to his rescue and pleaded with officials to give him a second chance on the flight the next day. Darrow’s head was full of thoughts of letting his fans down, and the repercussions of a breach of contract with the show promoters. Augustine won him a second chance and a ticket was issued.
We were in contact with Darrow and Augustine throughout and passed on the bad news to Ady in the early hours of Thursday morning. This delay meant that Kent’s 30th Birthday bash with Darrow had to be cancelled. Ady was now left with the daunting task of rearranging everything for the following week.
Now the pressure was on Yogi Haughton at the SSW — would Darrow make the next flight and get to Dumfries? I asked Augustine to send me a scan of the ticket to see the details. On seeing the ticket details it was clearly another standby situation, no seat number, no guarantee of a seat unless someone else failed to turn up. It was clear that we had to get our act together to get Darrow on this last chance flight. I sent Darrow a pleading letter addressed to the American Airline officials, stating what was at stake if he didn’t get a seat on the flight, asked him to get to the airport three hours before his flight departure and show it to every official he came across. Darrow was kept waiting to the very last minute, then told to board, but then told to come back and wait, as another passenger with a ticket had arrived. Darrow was in shock so close to boarding. Another passenger arrived for the last seat; Darrow thought that was it, his last chance had gone, but wait - the last passenger had left his passport somewhere, so Darrow got the last seat and made it to the UK.
Ady managed to rearrange the 100 Club, so all three shows were now back on. We met Darrow at the airport and drove straight to Dumfries, picking Kath up on the way. SSW was rammed with people all weekend, Darrow’s performance and the band “PUSH” was outstanding, the whole event was a great success. Next was the 100 Club in London; another long trip. Ady had sold all the tickets for the 100 Club and after all the heartache, could now relax and enjoy the show. The crowd just erupted when Darrow stepped on the stage and the whole show was amazing.
Now back to Yorkshire for the Wilton event. Because of all the flight problems Darrow had no time to rest up, he had three shows in one week, so we let him rest in the hotel as much as possible. Some great news here - his new Kent CD was nominated “CD of the Month” by Black Echoes; Darrow was really proud. Tickets sale for the Wilton event had been very slow initially, causing us to worry about the success of the event, but then in the last two weeks surpassed our expectations.
Well, we all know what happened at the Wilton — the event was bursting at the seams, a fantastic atmosphere, so many smiling faces and a great performance from Darrow, who by this time was quite exhausted.
I would like to thank you, the fans, for making this project possible. Thanks to promoters Ady Croasdell and Yogi Haughton for setting up two great events for Darrow. Thanks again to Ady for producing the fabulous Kent CD, “Crossover Records 1975-79 L A Soul Sessions”. Darrow for taking time to talk to people, sign CDs, have photos taken - he was so patient with everyone and was such a gentleman throughout at all the venues. Thanks to the talented guys at Boogie Back Records — Ernie McKone & Mick McEvoy for band arrangements and backing tracks. Thanks to our guest DJ’s at the Wilton — Arthur Fenn & Mike Charlton for top quality sets. Special thanks to my wife Val for putting up with my tantrums and for dealing with all the financial aspects, ticket processing, and lots more. Thanks to Val & Kath for being Darrow’s little helpers in Scotland, and on the door at the Wilton. Thanks to Mouse for ticket sales and help with setting up the Wilton venue, and general support with Darrow whilst he was with us in Yorkshire. Thanks to Chalky for promotion and video work.