back in the mists of time, Xero was on his way to France for a sojourn with The Left Bank Poseurs. Everyone else was already over
there and here he was stuck in bloody Dover, a few quid short of the
ferry ticket to Calais. The weather was atrocious - wet and freezing
cold - and he really did not feel like busking.
downpours, he set up shop in the town centre and ran through a few
tunes before he noticed a couple of blokes in snappy suits checking
Oh" he thought, " they're either Jehovas Witnesses or
performing what he thought was a particularly impressive
version of "Out of The In Door" and receiving mere shillings
for his troubles, he could feel the rain starting again so he resolved
to have a breather and a fag. The two men in suits meandered over and told
him they were agent and tour manager respectively for a young up and coming jazz
musician from America called Tom Waits. They said that they really
liked what Xero did and they wanted to introduce him to Mr Waits
when he arrived on the next ferry - the very one that Xero hoped to
catch to France.
instinctively recoiled at an American accent (as did a whole generation
of his colonised compatriots on aircraft carrier England). Besides, he hadn't heard of anyone called "Tom Waits".
Unfortunately, he explained politely to them, he had some money to make
and a boat to catch to go on Tour himself in France. The two men
watched a while longer as he launched into "Dearly Beloved"
and then they sauntered off, presumably to meet their man Waits.
A few minutes later, as he finished the tune, Xero noticed that one of them had put a twenty
quid note in his sax case.
"Bloody Hell!" He exclaimed, to noone in particular. There was a moment's
hesitation when he wondered about these guys and pondered on what
might have been. But now at least he had enough for his ticket and
he was on his way to Paris to meet up with Alphonse Material and
the rest of the Left Bank Poseurs.
years down the track, when "Shove It!" had been recorded
and released and The Incident had taken place, I found myself at
a loose end in Amsterdam en route to my own Hoek van Holland ferry home to England.
I saw that Tom Waits was in town to promote his latest album "Rain
Dogs". Unable to buy a ticket to the sold out show I hung around
the stage door in the hope of meeting Mr Waits and presenting him
with a freshly pressed vinyl copy of Xero's debut album.
After all, with
a track named after their almost-but-not-quite encounter
all those years before, I figured Tom should at the very least have
a copy. He turned out to be the perfect gentleman, inviting my companion
and I to the gig as his guests and receiving our gift with what appeared to be genuine interest.
The performance that night in the sumptuous Dutch theatre was stunning,
but I never did find out what he thought of the LP.