Special Convention Volume, sent December 23, 1998:
2. Dawn S.
5. Dawn W.
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
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
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
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 .
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
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
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!
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,,
From: Stephen Smith
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?
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
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,
Winwood Fans Meet - Police are Asked to Assist
(There is a *kernel* of truth to this tabloid-style headline - read
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
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
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!
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
the floor. (We couldn't have made THAT big of a fuss - the security guy
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
sorry!), and went bar hopping. At one point, we all turned, pointed and
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
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
see how different our answers were! Eventually, our little band broke up,
with many promises to keep in touch, or go visit those who live closest
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. ;-)
Dawn (the other one)
End of Smiling Phases, "Convention" volume