Posted on 1/28/2009at 3:02 AM
So, what made November 4th, in Antwerp, Belgium so special? For it was the day the world celebrated together.

What a day it was. We were all anticipating the big day – the presidential election. I had hustled beyond belief getting my absentee ballott in. With the help of Melissa and my friend Jessica at the UPS store back home, I got it done. My absentee ballott didn’t even show up until the day after I left the USA to start the tour, so my ballott chased me around Europe for about a week before I got it. But, like I said, I got it in. But let me tell you about the gig…..

As we pull up in front of the hotel, we see Herbie Hancock’s bus. I assumed they were leaving. Turns out, they arrived a day early, as they were playing the night after us. I was very curious about this particular band Herbie was touring with – Terence Blanchard, Gregoire Maret, Lionel Loueke, James Genus and Kendrick Scott. Just like Chick, Herbie’s energy is astonishing. He’d already toured Europe for six weeks over the summer with a band playing the music from his historical, Grammy-winning CD, “River: The Joni Letters,” which, ironically, included Vinnie on drums. Herbie was now touring for another 10 (!!) weeks through Europe with this band. Man, how do Chick and Herbie keep themselves upright??? Anyhow, knowing how precious days off are on the road, we didn’t in the least expect anyone from Herbie’s band to come to our show. Sleep is at a premium on the road, man.

Anyhow, we played this hip theater right across the street from the central train station. I have to say, the train station in Antwerp was one of the highlights of the tour for me. That building is astonishing. It looks like a medieval church or something. Incredible structure.

About five minutes before we hit the stage, who do we hear walking up the backstage stairs but Herbie!! In fact, Herbie’s whole band showed up!! We were pretty flattered. As I said, I know how important it is to utilize those rare days off on the road to catch up on sleep, so we were really honored Herbie and his men showed up.

Backstage after the final song, while the audience is still applauding, I could see Chick, John and Herbie huddled up in a corner. Uh, oh……could it be??

Yes, Herbie would join us for the encore!!

By this time, we were close to perfecting our Miles Davis tribute medley of “In A Silent Way” and “It’s About That Time”. With Herbiie sitting in, we knew it would explode! And, uh, it did!! ☺ With Herbie playing the acoustic piano and Chick playing the keyboards, what you would expect to happen happened. It was SO happening!! Then I started thinking, “I really wish this could be heard on a recording…” Well, guess what? It will be! The “Five Peace Band” Live CD will feature that Miles medley from Antwerp. You better get your hands on it when it’s released.

After that encore, we were all on a high. It was such a rush playing with Chick, Herbie, John, Kenny and Vinnie, I was flying, man. The rest of Herbie’s band came backstage to join in all the hand-slapping and celebratory yelling. But we all knew we had to get back to the hotel for the REAL show…..

We all high-tailed it back to our hotel so we could see the election unfold. It was a special moment as all of us – Chick’s band and Herbie’s band – sat in the hotel bar watching the big screen together. Herbie seemed to take special pride as Obama’s base, of course, is in Herbie’s hometown of Chicago. It got intense for a second as the first thing we heard was that McCain had won South Carolina and Georgia. We were all thinking, “Don’t start no s***, now!” After a few drinks and some “don’t worry, we’re cool…”, we settled down and watched as much as we could before we couldn’t hang as it was getting close to 4AM.

I went up to my room to try to watch the rest. As fate would have it, this was the only hotel on the ENTIRE tour that didn’t have CNN International!!!!! Can you believe it??? They had BBC, but not CNN. So, I wish you could have seen me – I put BBC on my TV and live-streamed CNN and MSNBC on my laptop. It looked like mission control in my room! At around 5AM, I just couldn’t hang anymore. But by that time, Obama had 201 electoral votes to McCain’s 110 or something like that. I knew then it was safe to go to sleep. When I woke up…..

The world was celebrating!

When we got to the lobby to check out some six hours later, locals in the hotel lobby were just walking up to us and saying “Congratualations!! America did it!!” Everyone was so happy. It was unbelieveable the way people in the street were just congratulating us. Just before we got on the bus, a woman walked up and said, “America can be respected again.”

There it is.

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