Jose’s been on hiatus this summer following his triumphant return to Puerto Rico in May, and for the first time in, maybe forever, he’s stayed close to home for a whole season. “It just got too crazy out there for a while. Last year I was in Great Britain for 3 months straight. It was a wonderful experience, working with Jools Holland throughout the British Isles — we even played the Royal Albert Hall, but I didn’t get back home until the day before Christmas Eve. Then it was back to Europe in January. Towards the end of February, I was working in Florida for several days and then in March, I had a tour of Australia. I got to come home for a couple of minutes then headed off to Chile and then again, back to Europe.”
Following his Puerto Rican concert at Bellas Artes in San Juan, Jose decided to stay closer to home and relax a bit while working on some projects in celebration of his Golden Anniversary. He hosted his daughter, Melissa’s, storybook wedding and participated in the Naturalization and Donation ceremonies at the Smithsonian Institute of American History in Washington, D.C. where he delivered comments as their keynote address speaker and donated to the museum his iconic “Light My Fire”/“National Anthem” Candelas Guitar — along with other objects important to him and his career during these past fifty years in the spotlight.
Jose also had the pleasure of inaugurating a brand new concert stage in Willimantic, Connecticut, a lovely state-of-the-art facility which he hopes will become another Tanglewood for concert-goers during the summertime in New England. The following weekend he got to ‘play in the park’ — Central Park — where he and a host of other artists celebrated Greenwich Village and the music revolution it created back in the ’60’s. It was there, in Greenwich Village where Jose found his own sound and subsequently, was discovered by RCA Records. “Playing again with some of my buddies from back in the Village days like John Sebastion and even Maria Muldaur was a real trip for me. Gosh, it was great. I met up with some old friends, and made some new ones like with the organizer of the event, the utterly dynamic Richard Barone; it was a wonderful evening!”
A few days later, Jose got the chance to visit Memphis again during “Elvis Week” to commemorate the life and legacy of the King of Rock’n’Roll. “I hung out with those dedicated Elvis Fans in and around Graceland, gave some interviews and even a pop-up performance at a local night spot. That was really hot…those people had no idea what was happening and then, couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it either…very cool!
“It’s been great to spend some time near home, wake up in my own bed, enjoy the summertime with baseball games, friends, family and to be in basically one time-zone for a while. I’m working on a couple of projects and ready to hit it hard again, but for the past couple of months, I felt I was that guy in the old Nat King Cole song that I enjoyed as a teenager:
‘Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer — Those days of soda and pretzels and beer
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer — You’ll wish that summer could always be here!'”
Central Park photo credit: Jim Metzger