Yesterday evening I had to drive my son someplace, but the major highway in Philadelphia had been diverted traffic wise. There were police lights “everywhere” and the entire highway on one side was “totally” cleared. No less than “3” police squad cars were blocking the way and detouring traffic away from the area. I originally thought that there had been a major accident, but then I remembered that President Obama was coming to town to show support for Tom Wolfe. When the President visits your city, security is “usually crazy” but I understand fully the need for it to be that way. I remember years ago when George Bush came to town. Just around the corner from me I was walking and saw “scores” of police vehicles driving at a moderate to high speed with flashing lights all over the place. There were so many cars that you couldn’t count them. Then in the middle of it all I saw a car that was “not” like a police car with extremely “tinted” windows. I knew automatically that the President was in that car. I have had experiences with Presidential security before. Years ago when I played for the Republican National Convention the security had to check “all of our instruments” and in some cases they even said that they may need to “open them up” to ensure that there was no danger. I told them that if they “break it” then they “own it” because they would have to pay me for a new one. Needless to say, they did “not” open up my guitar. Also, they had us arrive in their “own” white van (that they provided). We had to meet at a “remote” location that they chose and then be “driven” from there to the event by one of their guys. Once we got there, they used mirrors on long sticks to check under the van to make sure there were no bombs and they also brought out guard dogs to sniff the van out once we got out. Of course, when we were finished there was “no longer” any need for them to care about “our safety” then, so we got “none” of this “special treatment” when it came to heading back. Years ago I played for a Presidential function for Ronald Reagan and the head of the “Music Union” was there to make sure that we were “unionized players” playing in a “unionized establishment.” Back then the man asked me if I was a Union member and “not knowing who he was” I just told him “No.” He then told me that I would not be able to play at this event because it was a Union Building. I then turned to the CIA guys wearing the shades and told them what this man told me. They went up to him immediately and asked him who he was. He said that he was a very powerful man in the city and he was the head of the Union so they needed to respect him. They “threw him out.” I tried my best to hide the smile on my face but I just couldn’t do it. If your President comes to your city (most times they will never announce it for safety reasons) then you need to be prepared for major traffic snarls. Find an alternative route because if you don’t you might end up someplace that you really don’t want to be. I just wanted to share my experiences with you today, and as always I wish you the very best that life has to offer.
Jilly Scott and Brett Jolly in concert