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26-May-11
Moody Blues: Another Day of Future Passed

MercuryNews.com

The Moody Blues are on tour again. And for John Lodge, founding member, bassist, singer and songwriter with the legendary British band, the Bay Area was his most anticipated destination.

On Tuesday, in Sausalito, the connoisseur unveiled his own wine prior to a concert in Marin. A blend of cabernet, merlot and shiraz, it's called Krisemma, after Lodge's son Kristian and daughter Emily.

"I've enjoyed wine all my life. Not just the drinking of it, though that I quite like, as well," Lodge said, with a laugh. "The countryside where wine is made is always fascinating to me. I've been all over the world. I've seen wine being grown in India, Australia, New Zealand, all across the United States, across Africa. And, of course, all across France, Spain and Portugal. And it's always the same. If they're growing vines for wine, the countryside is immaculate. There's always a great vibe. And, if you ever get the opportunity to get to Napa Valley or Sonoma, that is probably the best vibe there is, in the U.S.A.

"I was very fortunate, about 10 years ago, to meet a company called Behrens & Hitchcock, in Napa Valley (St. Helena). We discussed making a particular high-end wine, like the great blends from Bordeaux in France. They made this one, and it's a vintage 2002, and it's just come to fruition. It's aged beautifully. I'm very excited."

Moody Blues fans will be excited to greet the band at Saratoga's Mountain Winery on Friday night. 

The band's timeless appeal was proven once again when their classic song "Nights in White Satin" soared up the U.K. charts recently, reaching No. 2. It had been showcased on TV's "Pop Idol" (the original version of "American Idol").

"One of the most gratifying things about it being No. 2 was that someone else from the television show performed it," Lodge explained, "and you'd have expected that one to go flying up the charts. But everybody downloaded our version, which was a really nice thing for us, because it's out of the blue."

The Moody Blues first huge chart success was the bluesy 1965 tune, "Go Now." They didn't lock themselves into a formula, instead, veering off in a different direction, writing complex, classically influenced rock pieces, such as "Tuesday Afternoon," "Question" and the album "Days of Future Passed." Lodge penned such enduring songs as "Ride My See Saw" and "I'm Just A Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)."

"In my childhood, at school, there would be a quiet period and they would have classical records. So I have this influence of classical music, which I never thought was going into my psyche, to be honest. I thought I was just falling asleep.

"I'm from Birmingham, which has one of the great symphony orchestras in the world. It's also a motor town with heavy steel industries. So you've got the yin and yang, really. You've got heavy metal bands like Ozzy Osbourne out of Birmingham, and then you've got the orchestral-leaning bands, like Moody Blues and Electric Light Orchestra."

Lodge enjoyed the trappings of rock stardom. "For 'Future,' we chartered a plane, which even had a dance floor with an organist playing," he said, chuckling. "I don't smoke and neither do a couple of the other guys. When you're chartering small planes and people are smoking, it really is awful. We got to the point of having smoking and no-smoking jets, which is just ludicrous, really. But I didn't want to be full of smoke. Of course, eventually, the whole world comes around to thinking that you shouldn't smoke on a plane. So now we only have one plane."

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