Good day, all. This will be an unusually long post. Please read if you have a couple of minutes to spend.
To state the obvious, I don’t spend much time here. If you have ever felt slighted for the failure of a reply to your posts, I sincerely apologize. Fact is, I’m a very private person and not a fan of social media. I have never even had a personal FB page.
On the other hand, I am a big fan of Orleans’ fans/friends, whom I hold in the highest regard. To that end, I will try to be more active here going forward.
I noticed recently that there is some concern/confusion about the current state of the band. Please allow me to clarify a few things …
A lot can happen over 50 years. Orleans started as a trio (John, Larry and Wells) and I (Lance) was fortunate enough to climb on board before the first album was made. Since then, the live band has seen about a dozen different iterations (depending on how you count them). Each had at least 2 and usually 3 of the original 4 members in it, as others came and went.
We’ve had 7 different long-term drummers (and a few more short-termers). The band has been put on “extended leave” at least 4 times, only to resurrect in one form or another. Each iteration has had its own strengths and shortcomings, all usually measured against that original quartet … especially by the longest term fans. At all times, we strove to do our best.
John holds the record for “most times leaving the band.” First, in ‘77 in pursuit of his solo career, the No Nukes concerts and the John Hall Band. Later on for his successful run for US Congress.
More recently, in the summer of ‘19, he was not feeling so well and, from August until February 2020, Chip Martin filled his spot on stage. John was to return in March 2020, but COVID hit and touring was not viable.
Instead, Orleans (including John) adapted to the stay-at-home world, producing 4 new video releases in 2020 and, in 2021, recording our Holidays album, New Star Shining, before returning to live gigs in June.
Unfortunately, in August, Fly Amero (part of the band for ~20 years) began not feeling so well himself and had to come off the road. After a mad scramble to fill Fly’s spot on stage, we were pleased to find the newest addition to the band, Tom Lane. And we carried on.
Most recently, John has experienced several life changes, having relocated to Nashville, marrying the lovely and talented Andrea Zonn. He also had a knee replacement in December. And yet, he persisted with gigs on the road … until March.
Anyone who travels for a living will agree when I say it’s really no fun anymore. Between the state of the airlines and extreme weather, it’s not a given that you’re actually going to get where you need to get to. Not to mention the soaring prices of airfares, hotel rooms, rental vehicles, gas …
So, whereas doing the shows is always “we’re still havin’ fun” time, the traveling is anything but.
All things considered, including the fact that none of us are getting any younger, John decided it was once again time to come off the road, in favor of focusing on the many avenues Nashville affords him as a songwriter and recording artist.
Fortunately for us, Fly’s rest did wonders and he is back with us on the road full-time. So …
Going forward, the live band is myself, Fly Amero, Lane Hoppen (member for 25 years), Brady Spencer (since May, 2018) and relative newcomer Tom Lane.
In addition, Orleans (including John) is tasked with completing our 50th Anniversary album package for release in the fall. Inertia notwithstanding, we’re about 80% done at this point.
Lastly, being “the last man standing” of the original 4 (for live) brings with it the responsibility of preserving the reputation and legacy of Orleans and all who came before … especially Wells and Larry (both RIP) as well as John (without whom there never would have been an Orleans). I take that charge very seriously. With your continued support, I intend to deliver Orleans music live with class and integrity for as long as there are people who wish to hear it.
Thanks for reading, Lance.