March 12, 2016 § Leave a comment
Taj Mahal & Linda Wolf 2015
Yes, you read that right! November 7 – 16th in Havana — and what a trip it will be.
46 years ago, I first met Taj and 45 years later I met him again. And now we’re going to Cuba as part of Cross Cultural Journeys cultural trips. Me, as Journey Ambassador/Photographer AND TAJ MAHAL as the luminous LUMINARY that he is.
Taj is national treasure… An embodiment of the American blues tradition… brilliant, and classic. I feel so honored. It’s going to be a once in a life-time experience. And you can come!! Well, a few of you can come!!! Already in 2 weeks, without publicity, 10 people are registered. Only 15 more can come.
Check this: The Itinerary
Backstory: 46 years ago, 1970 we’re talking about, I was crashing at Leon Russell’s house in the San Fernando Valley with the other members of the Joe Cocker Mad Dogs & Englishmen Tour which was about to take off in days on our whirlwind tour around the US, for which the documentary movie was made.
Last year, as many of you know from my FB posts, Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks (who modeled their 12 piece band after the JCMD&E tour) invited all of us alumni to a memorial/tribute/reunion concert in honor of Joe and the MD&E tour, at the Lockn’ Festival.
To say we had a love fest among alumni and the TTB & friends is mild — we hung together for 6 days and it was the pure 60s/70s substance… high energy and love was palpable, so much so I heard Leon wrote 8 songs for Susan and cried for 5 days after Lockn because of the amount of love he felt from his peers…Seriously, for me, being with my old friends and new ones, doing photography on stage, singing in the encore with my daughters on stage, being in that sonic experience is one of the 10 highlights of my life that I can list on my fingers!
But back to 1970… A few days before we left LA, Leon had us all get in cars together and go to a doctor in the SF Valley to get shots for the possibility that the Tour would be extended and we’d go to Jamaica. That same day, if I recall, we went over to “The Plantation” — this house in San Fernando Valley that some 14 musicians (at one time or the same time) lived at, including Taj, his guitarist, Jesse Ed Davis, Delaney and Bonnie, Carl Radle, Chuck Blackwell, Bobby Whitlock, and many others.
That afternoon, which could have been afternoon and evening and night, I hung out while Delaney and Bonnie, Leon & the Tulsa guys and Taj were jamming. I remember it like yesterday. I remember the room, and particularly I remember watching Bonnie dance as she sang. She swung her hips in a circle one way and then the other and back again and every move was recorded inside me — I went home and practiced her moves and still to this day do that hip dance and think of her.
I remember Taj back then – he was just beautiful and so soulful — but if we talked or spent any time together that day, I don’t remember. I didn’t have my camera with me that day. Why? I have no idea.
After that, it was not too many days more before we took off on the Cocker Power plane and my life pretty much shifted from planet Earth to the cosmos and I didn’t look back.
So when I heard Taj was going to be at Jazz Alley last December (2015), I had to go see him and bring him a copy of the Joe Cocker Mad Dogs & Englishmen Memory Book I’d just self-published. I waited until the show was over and Eric and I went backstage to see him. I handed him the book, told him about meeting him the first time, and watched him just get lost looking at the pictures. He was blown away, I could see – to be reminded of a treasured past. He knew these people really well, all of the alumni in the book. And that’s when he invited Eric and me to his Thanksgiving dinner in Seattle.
In January, my friends Philip and Cilla with Cross Cultural Journeys asked me if I’d like to lead a trip to Cuba with them. Philip said, “Oh, also, why don’t you ask one of your musician friends to come along?” Well, long story short Cocker Tour alumni Claudia Lennear (who knew Taj very well from the 70s) mentioned to me she really wanted to get in touch with Taj and I knew another Cocker alumni friend, Pamela Polland, was in touch with him. So, I asked Pamela to get Taj’s phone number for us. She got back to me with the number and one morning I decided I’d call him just to see if he had any suggestions of people to connect to in Cuba. When he answered I thought maybe I should invite Taj to come… so I said, “Taj, would you like a free trip to Cuba?” And he said, “Yeah, sure.” Then he told me I’d found him in a Cuban restaurant in Miami at that very moment. The rest is detail history of getting Philip and Cilla in touch with Taj to make all the arrangements. And long story short — here we are — going on a trip to Cuba together with Cross Cultural Journeys.
The exciting thing for me, besides the obvious, is being part of something that will make an indelible impression on all of us going, as well as, the Cuban people. We are bringing the blues to Cuba — but we are also bringing the intangibles that come from those early days, that Taj and I remember so well — the 60s & 70s when rock & roll and the blues merged in this organic, crazy, wild, free, creative human experience and produced some of the most important music of our times. We’re bringing a vibe of a great period of time along with the present time of art, soul, and music nurtured and developed from those roots.
I’m so turned on! Can. Not. Wait. I’m blown away to be doing this and will undoubtedly have so many photos, films, and interviews to share when we get back. So, if you are so moved, jump on board. It is going to be a great ride. Check out Cross Cultural Journeys for more info.
December 2, 2015 § 2 Comments
So very deeply excited to announce that the documentary movie about the JCMD&E Tribute / Reunion Concert with the Tedeschi Trucks Band is going to be released in 2016!!! So very deeply gratified to not only be in it photographing away on stage during the concert, but also to have been singing in the Space Choir.
If you have not yet heard, I created a labor of love — an historic, memory book about the original Tour in 1970. I made it specifically to gift to my alumni friends, who had not been reunited in 45 years. We met up at the Lockn’ Festival September 8th for the rehearsals and gave our performance concert to over 30,000 people on September 11th, 2015. What a great experience. The documentary film crew led by Jojo Pennebaker (son of DL Pennebaker — “Don’t Look Back”, and “Monterrey Pop”) and Jesse Lauter did a great job capturing the reunion, rehearsals, private moments and concert.
The book is available for purchase now – and makes a great holiday gift for anyone who loves the history of rock n’ roll from one of the top 10 R&R Tours of all time. Check it out here: For the next short minute it is on sale and can be shipped to you for the holidays. JCMD&E Memory Book
Best Wishes and many hugs – love linda
August 6, 2015 § Leave a comment
And we go to the printer today! Just in time for the Lockn’ Festival Joe Cocker Mad Dogs and Englishmen Tribute/reunion concert on September 11th in Arrington, yes Arrington, Virginia! This book is a labor of love that has been 45 years coming. In 1970, I was one of two official photographers to travel with the band and do photography. I am beyond excited to announce that the book is having advanced sales from my website. It’s grown to 62 pages, replete with anecdotes from interviews I’ve done with Tour members Rita Coolidge, Bobby Torres, Pamela Polland, Jim Price, Bobby Jones, Claudia Lennear and many others. Making a book is always a great effort. They say the last 10% is the hardest. I can attest to that.
The Joe Cocker Mad Dogs and Englishmen Tour was two months long. Leon Russell put the whole thing together in less than a month after Joe was told he had to fulfill a contract in the USA or he’d be deported. It was a wild and free wheeling adventure held together by a brilliant producer, Denny Cordell, the absolutely stellar band and “Space Choir” and the intense conducting of Leon. We were 43 people, 3 kids and a dog (with the 5 person film crew filling the whole thing for an eventual MGM produced movie of the same name, and an album from A&M Records).
Please go to my website to purchase an advance copy. I’m so delighted to have it available in the next couple weeks for delivery. With love, linda “Linda Wolf looks in places the rest of us miss. Her work is like the spaces between the letters, between the words, that give a sentence its meaning. The photos she took of this historic tour in 1970 makes me long for a rawness and spontaneity that seems missing from the overly commoditized music industry of today. ”
— Peter Himmelman, Big Muse
Mama gets her 2nd 15! I’m the official photographer for the Tribute / Reunion to Joe Cocker Mad Dogs and Englishmen.
July 15, 2015 § 7 Comments
45 years ago, 43 people, 3 kids and a dog boarded a tour bus from the A&M Studios on La Brea heading for the airport, for an off the charts, 2 month outer-space extravaganza called Joe Cocker Mad Dogs and Englishmen. We flew high on a private plane with Cocker Power written on the side and traveled throughout the US blowing people’s minds everywhere we went! And now, we are doing it again – only this time in Arrington, VA. September 11, 2015 – we, original members, including Leon Russell, Rita Coolidge, Chris Stainton, Bobby Jones, Chuck Blackwell, Bobby Torres, Pamela Polland, Claudia Lennear, Donna Washburn, Matthew and Daniel Moore —plus Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, plus Dave Mason, Doyle Bramhall II, Chris Robinson, Alecia Chakour, Shannon McNally, Anders Osborn, and the amazing Tedeschi Trucks band members. It is going to be one hell of a show with massive talent and soaring passion in honor of huge hearted, beautiful soul Joe Cocker… for more of the story, check out the feature on rollingstone.com
All gratitude goes to Susan and Derek and the Tedeschi Trucks Band plus Lockn’ Festival’s, Dave Frey and Peter Shapiro (producers) and their staff (Mary Beth Aungier, Stacie Griffin, Bonnie Wood, Ken Weinstein (PR), Abel Okugawa, John Warner & Jason King, for dreaming up and putting so much energy and good will into this. They have been and are all amazing to work with. This will be a show which will need to be seen to be understood!~
Big LOVE. linda
December 30, 2014 § 4 Comments
After the Cocker Tour, I went back to live (mostly) at Fanny Hill, the mansion up on Marmont Lane in Hollywood that Warner Brothers/Reprise rented for the band. One night we all went to see Patti perform. I’d met her on the Cocker Tour at the Chelsea one night in New York. Or at least she remembered me when I met her again a couple years ago. I barely remember that a group of us, including Joe, Leon, and well, a whole bunch of us spent the night into the early hours of the morning there hanging out in various rooms in that great hotel. I wish I could go back in time and replay those times, but I refuse to spend too much time pining or regretting the past or fearing the future – now is the best time to be alive!
I met Patti again a couple years ago. She had just completed her album, Banga, which accompanies us on long journeys, every summer in the car, as we sing at the top of our lungs along with her. That afternoon, she honored me by remembering me from the 70s. I gave her copies of my two books. I’d just read “Just Kids” twice in Yelapa, where I had days of lazing about reading. I told her I’d shown my work in Arles at the Photographer’s Festival in the 80s with Robert, and we’d had a photo taken of us together. He was so shy, always sitting alone – I’m sure I was asking him if he wanted company. I recall him being very friendly. I’m always looking to help loners feel connected. I saw Robert again in LA, when we were both part of a book of 100 photographers called “24 Hours in LA”
Patti inspires me deeply. So does her daughter, Jesse Paris Smith, who I have plans to interview soon. Both are, well, beautiful and authentic, and both make music that fills my soul and drives me to want more of it. I don’t know many women my age who are as comfortable or natural aging, or seemingly so, as Patti. And I identify with the two of them as mother and daughter working together. I have worked with my daughters, Heather and Genevieve, for years – it is one of the greatest blessings of my life to be able to work together with the people I love the most in the world.
When I saw Patti in NYC a couple years ago, I simply wanted to hold on to her. She came over to my table and we talked. I love her. I guess I resonate with her. I am glad she is so human. Listening to her speak on a radio broadcast once, I heard her say “I’m not Mother Teresa” and talk about not feeling she deserves some of the accolades she gets because she is certainly not a saint – she’s said she isn’t always as nice as she would want to be. So, she’s human! Aren’t we all. That makes me like her all the more. It reminded me of Maya Angelou, who told me, “I make mistakes, daily.” I love people who reveal who they really are, warts and all. People who give it all they’ve got, who don’t take on the projections we put upon them. I remember my friend, Lindsay Wagner saying to me once, “Hey, I’m not even Lindsay Wagner.” Joe Cocker was like that, too. A person of the people. That is what Patti feels like. A person of the people. It inspires me to do the same. 100% – give it all I’ve got!
I wanted to hold onto Patti that day I saw her in NYC, so I did what documentary photographers do, I photographed her. I wanted to gaze into her eyes; to ask her questions; to be her friend. Yes, that is what I wanted most of all, to be her friend. Like a teenager in school, wanting to be friends with someone, someone I longed to know how to be like more. If I’d known her in high school, I would have asked her to come sleep over at my house and we would have snuck out at night and gone to Hollywood to hang around the music scene.
I’m so glad Patti Smith was born, and that she lives, and that she is so accessible and that she has raised two beautiful children who are making beautiful art, fantastic music, awesome waves in the world. Here’s to Patti Smith. May she have a long, healthy, muse inspired and love-filled life.
December 23, 2014 § 7 Comments
JOE COCKER (20 May 1944 – 22 December 2014)
I met Joe Cocker a week before we took off — all 45 people, 3 kids and a dog named Cannina, plus a 5 man film crew, on a mad, fabulous crazy two month tour of the US, hopping from stage to plane to bus, to hotel, to bus to plane to another stage. Joe was loving and funny and soft and broken-hearted. He was a ball of energy, often in his own world but always willing to connect. I had a crush on him, which he knew but never took advantage of. I was the youngest member of the tour, besides the children, and I had never been on a rock and roll tour before.
Denny Cordell, who produced the Tour, said I could go after I showed him I could take pictures. So, I packed and a week later was on the bus. I loved Joe. I will always be grateful I got to be part of the show as well as one of the two women photographers (Andee Nathanson was the other), in the rambling circus, which was Joe Cocker, Mad Dogs and Englishmen.
Joe modeled for us all a freedom of spirit and abandon that has become for me a bar to aspire to in any given moment. He was lost and in pain during that tour – he did everything to excess – drugs, alcohol, and I imagine women, but who knows. I was not privy to that, other than the rumors of the Butter Queen and her daring court, and the doctor who came onto the tour to give rounds of shots to any of those young musicians who strayed off the path of the straight and narrow!
Joe stayed alive through all those years of public drunkenness, eventually finding his grace in his wife, Pam, who he says saved his life.
Joe is a legend. He should have been inducted into the R&R Hall of Fame – a huge mistake, but maybe not — maybe that omission will cause people to speak up and honor his talent and his life even more than if he had been.
To me, Joe is the kind of person my father was, true blue. 100% loyal and 100% in. When, after 30 years of not seeing each other, and having hundreds of thousands of people come through his life, he remembered to bring me a tape Bobby Torres gave him the night before in Portland, when he played in Seattle a few years ago. When his concert was over and he was brought to greet friends, he pulled it out of his pocket and handed it to me. He’d been carrying it in his pocket for me.
Stay tuned for a rocking slideshow of the Joe Cocker, Mad Dogs and Englishmen Tour
June 17, 2012 § 3 Comments