Special Convention Volume, sent December 23, 1998:
1. Eddie
2. Dawn S.
3. Berkin
4. Steve
5. Dawn W.

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From: "Eddie"

I really enjoyed meeting up with fellow fans at the convention in NYC. I was going to be in NYC anyway and to attend the convention and meet some of the people that I've got to know beforehand, plus hopefully to make some new like minded acquaintances was too good to miss.

The venue, The Heartland Brewery in Union Square, was absolutely the right place for this first event to be held. Well done Steve and Dawn in selecting it! As we gathered and got to know each other it was nice for me to be recognised and complimented for the contributions that I've made to SP and elsewhere such as the Traffic Magic article, that I wrote about the trip to the Traffic sites in the Cotswolds.

Everyone was so nice and it seemed to me that we all shared a common bond, not only in our appreciation of the music, but also in spirit. That being so, it was just like being with old friends, although we were meeting pretty much for the first time ever. I'd been fortunate in being able to bring over one of the lithographs designed by Soren with Bobbie and had, with Soren having visited me from Denmark, been able to courier the lithographs to Steve's Management Company for eventual signature and numbering by him. The added purpose of bringing the lithograph along to the convention was to get the first conventioneers to sign it and to be able to present it to Steve as a gift from the individuals present. It was also pleasing that everyone liked the lithograph too and I hope everyone who can afford to will buy one too. Remember guys, this is for a charitable cause and you get a unique limited edition work in return!

It was great also talking to all of the guys both collectively and individually. We had a nice spread of people who'd either been introduced to Steve's music during the 80's, to those old stagers such as myself (Hey, I'm not that old!) who'd been there pretty much from the start of his career. But amongst everybody there was such enthusiasm and joy in discussing the music had brought to us all together at this event.

The food and drink was good too! When I came in I was looking to recognise if there were any beers that I was familiar with. I saw a pump marked IPA and thought, Ha! India Pale Ale as we can buy in England. But I hadn't seen that there were some other letters attached to India. In fact it was Indiana Pale Ale - I should have guessed! But it wasn't bad. Good food too in that I enjoyed a well done Steak. Most enjoyable.

And so on to next years event which is due to be held I believe sometime in September. I'll be there. I'm vacationing in the US next year so I hope that those who came to the first plus others who were not able to come this time, can come to the second next year. I'd love to see you all again and hopefully to make more new acquaintances.

Finally a special thanks to Bobbie and Dawn who had much to do with putting this event together and for sharing a very enjoyable first time in NYC with me. The 3rd convention is scheduled to be held here in England in 2000 and I expect to play a major part in organising it. The Millennium Dome has been suggested, or The Royal AIbert Hall. It's more likely to be The Royal Albert Pub LOL, but wherever it is we'll do our best to make it a very enjoyable event for all who come especially my good friends within the American contingent who I know are planning to be here then .

Eddie


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From: Dawn Shaw

My name is Dawn Shaw, or Dawn S. to you SPers. My husband and I traveled from PA to Manhattan on the 27th. I must admit we felt a little weird meeting total strangers for dinner in NYC, but I like an adventure. I was pleasantly surprised to find such a lovely group of people. It felt like old friends. The Heartland Brewery was a good choice, as they gave us a separate area. I had the India(?) Pale Ale and the marinated steak sandwich. Bill had the grilled chicken. Everything was great. It was fun to get to know all the people and trade questions and information. Dawn from New Jersey and I hit it off, and found that when she's not sharing a brain with BobbieG, she and I can speak telepathically. (insert Twilight Zone theme here.) We had a great time perusing the "Back in the High Life" book, which is the evil twin to "Roll With It." I must say it was cathartic to interact with people who know as much or more trivia about Steve Winwood as I do. Now I don't feel so alone in my disease. Long live the Freaks!

I was especially glad to meet John from NYC, as I was afraid I would be the only one who grew up on Winwood in the eighties. We discussed the fact that Steve had not had much push from the record company (Virgin) since Roll With It. It seems on one hand it will be great for Steve to have the artistic freedom to do whatever he wants with his own label, but, with no suits pressuring him for product, it's feared that he will tweak the hell out of his songs for years! So now I do hereby proclaim that we have dubbed our beloved SW "Tweaky." It is, of course, a term of endearment, but we all know how time runs in "Winwood years."

I would like to thank Eddie from England for sharing his photo album with us. It was really cool to see the Roll Right Stones and the cottage. Also, he brought along a copy of the litho so we could see it for real. It is even better than it looks on-line! We all got a chance to autograph it, and it will be going back to SW as a gift from us. After dinner, we were lucky to get the manager to put on a CD I brought. I brought "Chronicles" because it has a good picture on the front. I set it on the table as a centerpiece, but they ended up putting it in the jukebox! So, of course, Kat from Boston and I danced! You cannot sit still during "Higher Love." I believe it is a rule! Look it up! :-P Thanks to Steve from Delaware for SSS. (Standing Sharing Stories) or is it Stoning Story Sharers?? I believe I will have some of Berkin's dessert now. Oh, too late! Incredibly, my husband, Bill, even had a good time with everyone, and he only tagged along as my travel buddy!

After we left the Brewery and spilled out into the balmy evening, the general cry was "Where's the ATM?!" Sadly, John had to depart to attend a concert, and Kat had to start out for home. We pushed on, only to molest a traffic cop and get him to pose for pictures. Then it was on to pillage the Virgin records store! We happily dug through the cd racks for Winwood/Traffic, and playfully turned all the Clapton cds around backwards! Remember, Clapton is Dog! or something like that. HA! Oh well, on we went back into the night, spreading our essence of Freakdom as we hoofed towards Greenwich Village. We walked and walked, waiting for our fearless leader (Bobbie) to hail us a cab, but, alas, it was not to be! She had a broken arm, and we didn't even know! Maybe she could write a public service pamphlet and title it "How to hail a New York cab with a Broken Arm, in Ten Easy Steps." So sorry my dear, we should have hoisted you on our shoulders and carried you, after all you do for us!

Once we reached Bleecker, we searched around for a place to go. The Wreck Room offered 2 for 1 beers so we went on down. After a while, the volume and smoke was too much, so we headed back out. I got a chance to chat with my dear Berkin, who, by the way, was wearing a lovely sweater with a picture of Space Invaders on it. Or was it Pac- Man? Oh, well it was still a nice sweater. We discussed how the record company hasn't given any push to Steve's work in a long time. J7 seemed to come and go like that.(snap fingers here.) It seemed that since the new material wasn't broadcast to the people, then who is it that continually turns up at the shows? Why, it's the die-hard fans! The ones who go to see Steve, a piano, and a guitar. So, if the all-important, powers-that-be are listening, HEAR OUR PLEA! Give the fans what they want! You teased us by playing guitar on "While you see a Chance" in 1997. Why not bring out some more treasures!? I would LOVE to see "Midland Maniac" done live.(Right, Berkin?!) Or how about Dust? And I Go? Vacant Chair? Walking in the Wind? I know "Low Spark" is a staple, and "Higher Love" is joyous, but there is a lot of other material that is worthwhile and VALID. I know that seems to be a buzz-word in this particular universe. Bottom-line: We don't need the flash and gloss and dancing girls. We already LOVE you and appreciate your body of work as a whole. How about throwing us a treat now and again? I've always said that Steve could record "Happy Birthday to You" and I would buy a copy and listen to it before forming an opinion or judgement. So, I don't really think it's a matter of what's cool or accepted. If it comes from the heart and soul, then by its very nature, it is valid. I think the entire group connected on the fact that we think SW has never received the recognition he is due, but maybe that's a good thing in some way. It's kind of like our little secret, and maybe it allows the Winwoods to hold on to a rather normal life.

We had to cut our evening short to catch our train, but it was worth the effort to be there. There were hugs all around, and a sense of new found friends. In today's sterile society of keeping to our own little corner, it was refreshing to connect with people from different backgrounds/cultures/etc. I look forward to connecting with you all again. Do you think Steve realizes what his gift for music has accomplished, through the years, all over the world? Maybe he does now.

All my Love!
Keep Shining!
Dawn S.


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From: Berkin Altinok

It was a great night, everybody was so nice, good exchange of information, and the Chronicles CD of Dawn.

There was another Dawn, who made our day a better one, Dawn you are phenomenal.. I think i wrote that right, you are great,, Steve Smith little to say, great guy, great knowledge, by the way, Steve i saw a new SDG CD "best of" and it has a song that is not in "Eight Gigs a week" , i am sure,, i can not remember the name right now, but, i will write about it later,,check it out..

Bobbie, you are very sweet lady, thanx so much for organizing the evening, and putting up with me, everything was great,

I am definitely in LA, next year.

Ohh, Dawn, my favorite colour is Green..

and Eddie you were the Brit that night, and that makes you the legend in my book,,

Berkin


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From: Stephen Smith

Community.

Nine people came together to celebrate a common passion. Most were isolated in their passion for many years, until very recently finding Bobbie's Smiling Phases on the Internet. Most had met before only through the abstract realm of Smiling Phases, if at all.

Nine people came together to celebrate the differences, as only those with a common passion can. We learned about each other and our outside lives, as only those meeting in person can. We talked, laughed, and cried.

With no prior guarantee of enjoyment, the evening proved to be a spectacular success. Why?

Community.

The Smiling Phases community descended on New York City on November 27, 1998, for the first international convention. A bit of stream of consciousness from that evening:

Circle, wait, circle, wait, backtrack, circle, wait, circle, wait, backtrack... park - YYYESSSS!!! Walk, walk, ah, here's Heartland. Hmmm, already lots of people and music going. "Hi Bobbie! Where's the party?" "Good to see ya - upstairs" "Wow - great view!" "Should we eat?" "Hey, let's pull this table up" "Excuse me, we need those tables" Eddie's photos "Who else is coming?" "How come these speakers aren't on?" "Should we eat?" "Let's take some pictures" "Don't lean back too far over that railing!" The tear in Bobbie's eye - Was it the joy of warmth and camaraderie, or was it the broken bone? "More beer" "I wonder if they'd play this Chronicles CD" "Should we eat?" The lithograph "Excuse me, we need those tables" "Are you ready to order?" "Hey, I think they're playing the CD!" The secret handshake "How do you turn these speakers on?" "OK, let's order" "And more beer" The lame trivia question "Hey - these speakers are on!" "Higher Love" "Are you recording?" Death by dessert "Let's see, you had iced tea, you had two beers, ..." "Where do we go from here?" The flying CD leap to the Virgin store "Anyone get the new Traffic yet?" "How do we get to the Village?" "Where did Bobbie and Dawn go?" McDonald's "Just a little farther" Bleecker Street "Hey look - it's The Elbow Room!!!" "Two for one beer? We're there" The blues bar "What?" Berkin presses against the window at the Turkish bakery The coffee bar "Coffee, coffee, coffee, beer" "What's your name?" "Danielle Gasparro" Dawn's Traffic craftwork The reluctant goodbyes The long ride home

I had a great time at the convention and feel that it succeeded with flying colors. Truly, an auspicious precedent for the conventions planned for the next two years!

Looking forward to LA,
Steve


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From: Dawn

Winwood Fans Meet - Police are Asked to Assist

(There is a *kernel* of truth to this tabloid-style headline - read on!)

The Background

Here's my version of how this whole thing started... Eddie planned to come to New York from England. Bobbie and I had been planning my visit to see her in Arizona sometime in 1999. Well, we wondered, how about Bobbie coming to see me in New Jersey at the same time Eddie will be in New York, and we can all meet up for a drink? Maybe see some tourist things together? A word from Bobbie to another SPer (maybe Berkin? or was it Steve Smith?) turned into the small group of us going to meet in New York, and then I jokingly said to Bobbie, "Hey, why don't we just invite ALL the SPers to meet us, and call it a convention! Ha ha." And Bobbie, Enthusiasm Queen that she is (ya gotta love her), said, "Hey, now *that's* a great idea!" Before I knew it, Steve Smith and I were the "search committee" to find the convention site, and Bobbie was receiving e-mail inquiries about the time and site, and planning follow-up "conventions"!

Oh dear, me and my big mouth, I thought.

Well, through e-mails and phone calls, Steve and I settled on the Heartland Brewery as the meeting place, after separately spending many grueling hours testing the food and drink of possible meeting places.

Hard work, wasn't it, Steve? ;-) We were only disappointed that we couldn't find the Manhattan Brewery, and I'm guessing that it is no longer in existence. Pity.

The Actual Day

On Friday, I drove Bobbie and Eddie to Union Square just before our chosen meeting time of 4 p.m. They went in to get things sorted out with the manager, as I parked the car (in a FIRE ZONE, unbeknownst to me! When they write these parking signs in English that normal people can understand, I will truly know that Hell has frozen over.)

So, we three stood around with our beers for a short while, wondering if the joke was on us, and that no one else was really coming. Then Dawn S. and her husband came up, noticed Bobbie, conspicuously (and cleverly) dressed in the same outfit she was wearing in the photo on the website. My first impression was that they were so nice and friendly and normal, and that this was a really good start! (No, actually my FIRST impression was that Bill bore a striking resemblance to Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead, and I later found out that they are his favorite band!) Then John ambled over, became our designated "new guy", since he hadn't even posted to SP yet, and, miraculously, also seemed friendly and normal. Who'd have thought that you could bring complete strangers together from an internet newsletter, have them meet in person in New York City, and not have a psycho killer show up? Wait for the other shoe to drop, I told myself. The night is young. One of them just has to be a psycho.

Well, we were led to our table, upstairs, tucked in the corner and right in the window, where we could look down on Union Square West and scare the tourists. The staff must've been expecting our psycho killer, too. Bobbie stayed downstairs to meet any late-comers, being the most recognizable of us by far. Soon Kat came in, nice, normal, friendly, and Steve Smith, and Berkin.... but no psychos! All lovely, intelligent, fun people! The weirdest thing, was that it felt like meeting in-person was just a formality. We kept remarking to each other how it felt like we already knew each other.

So, after we all settled down to the table, Steve Smith handed me a copy of the infamous, mythical, much-hated-by-Winwood unauthorized biography written by Alan Clayson. (Boo, hiss - egotistical, nasty, insinuating bastard... but I digress.) The book had been making the rounds, and it was my turn to read it, so I put it on the table. It is out of print (in the U.S., anyway), and has a large photo of Steve on it. This comes into play later in the story - when the police got involved. <---shameless carrot dangling

So, we got our drinks, and started talking all at once! Like we'd just seen each other a month ago, and were just catching up. Where are you from? When did you first start listening to Steve? Have you seen him in concert? What is your favorite album? Why? What do you think he'll do now? What did you think of J7? Etc. Etc. And it was so amazing, how much fun it was to be able to talk in shorthand, and have everyone nod and understand immediately! To be in a group of people and be able to say "The cottage", and not get blank stares! To be able to ask people what they think a certain lyric is about, and get an intelligent, thoughtful answer! To not have to start the conversation with, "Well, there's this guy, Steve Winwood, and he was in this band...." Bliss! Oh, here are my people, finally! LOL! It was great.

Individual impressions: Bobbie, our fearless leader, is funny and smart and sassy, and a hell of a good sport, considering she was in a lot of pain from a broken elbow, and we never even knew it! Kat is full of energy, and wickedly funny. Dawn S. is *not* afraid to say what is on her mind, and I am SCARED by how often I agreed with her very funny observations. (Is it a Dawn thing?) Her husband, Mr. Weir (heehee), I mean Bill, was also a Traffic fan, and was such a good sport about our babblings. John, "the new guy", is quietly intelligent, wry sense of humor, and very polite. Eddie was our "token English guy", and as such seemed positively shy in comparison to us loud ones! But when he got a word in edgewise, he is another very funny one! Steve is our statistics guru, silly, and yet a take- charge kinda guy: "Excuse me everyone, ARE WE GETTING APPETIZERS?? Helloooo!" If it wasn't for Steve, that poor dazed waitress would still be waiting for our order, bunch of magpies we turned out to be! And, last but not least, Berkin, dear Berkin, enthusiastic does not describe him. He lives life as an exclamation point, but if you've seen his posts, you already know that. ;-)

It was such fun to talk about all the music, the videos, tours, etc. Berkin nearly launched over the table to get a look at the Clayson book next to me, "I thought that was a MYTH, that book!", and we shared our views on the break with Virgin. (Dawn S. is not pleased with them, to put it mildly. LOL) We got updates from Bobbie on things like the litho project, and from Steve on the many albums by other people Steve Winwood's played on. And we just generally carried on. Dawn S. whipped out a "Chronicles" CD (good girl, she came prepared), and Berkin talked the restaurant people into playing it! Also, at one point when talk turned to the videos, Berkin held his hand over one eye, and moved it away and back, and we ALL knew he was imitating the "Freedom Overspill" video! I think we decided on that little movement as our "secret handshake". (That eye-covering thing is not the weirdest moment of Steve's collected videos, that honor would *have* to go to the mimes tumbling around at his feet,you know which one I mean, but it certainly ranks up there. :-) )

Eventually (nearly 5 hours later), we had to settle up and leave, and most of us still wanted to hang out together. So, after we lost John to the Blues Traveler tickets he had, and Kat to her long drive home, the rest of us hit the ATM, and started off on our adventure. HERE'S WHERE THE POLICE COME INTO IT. Almost immediately,who did we bump into but two of New York's finest, wearing big reflective vests that said "TRAFFIC" on them! Too funny to pass up that photo opportunity! I went over to one and explained that we were Winwood fans, showed him the photo on the biography I was still holding, mentioned Traffic, and asked if we could have a photo with him in his vest. Turns out he was a FAN, and very graciously stood there for a photo! Too funny!

Then it was off to the Virgin record store right across the square, following Steve Smith's gleeful battle cry of "CD's!" as he actually *lept* in the direction of the store. We briefly shopped, and then embarrassed ourselves leaving the store, by pretending to scuff up the Virgin emblem in the middle of the floor. (We couldn't have made THAT big of a fuss - the security guy didn't even bother to roll his eyes at us from his post not five feet away. But it felt like an effective protest on Steve's behalf. Ok,ok, but give us a break, we'd just finished drinking for 5 hours.)

We all trooped down to Greenwich Village (okay, it was further than I thought, sorry!), and went bar hopping. At one point, we all turned, pointed and laughed when we realised that the bar across the street from us was called "The Elbow Room", like another bar famous in Traffic lore. We chose the "Wreck Room" instead, a very dark cave with loud R&B. Between the music and smoke,I lost my voice for several days afterwards!

After losing Dawn S. and Bill to their train, we went to a coffee shop, where Berkin presided as quizmaster: "Ok everyone, what is your favorite album cover? Ok, which solo album do you like best? Why?" It was actually funny to see how different our answers were! Eventually, our little band broke up, and with many promises to keep in touch, or go visit those who live closest by, we said goodbye. Well, at least until the next "convention" (or whatever we will call them), or with luck, tour!

It was great fun, and I'm sorry that more of you couldn't make it to N.Y. I'm already looking forward to L.A. one. Oh, and by the way, by default, I'm pretty sure that *I* was the only psycho present. ;-)

Merry Christmas!
Dawn (the other one)

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End of Smiling Phases, "Convention" volume