By JESSICA A. BOTELHO
St. Patrick’s Day is next Saturday and so is Jon Anderson’s sold out show at the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River. As part of a solo tour of the U.S., the former front man for progressive rock icons, Yes, said he’ll be performing classic tunes, as well as a few songs from his 2010 studio album, Survival & Other Stories, which was made in collaboration with musicians from around the world that he discovered by placing an ad on his website.
“I’m doing old songs, new songs, all sorts of songs, telling stories and having a good time,” said Anderson.
He got the idea to create the album when he learned he had the ability to compose with others by sending and receiving MP3s of recorded music. Now, he has about 25 people he regularly works with.
“It was like opening a Pandora’s box because there are so many talented people out there with so many different kinds of music,” Anderson said.
Not only has he partnered with strangers, he also recently reunited with former Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman. The two joined forces for a month-long U.S. tour last year.
After spending time apart, Anderson said it felt as if they didn’t miss a beat-literally.
“It’s like riding a bicycle,” he said. “It’s just one of those things where we played new songs and classic songs we wrote together with Yes. He’s a fun guy to be around and we get on very well.”
In fact, they will be working together again in the near future, as they are planning a west coast, 20-show tour for early 2013. At the moment, Anderson is writing music with his son, Damion.
“We’ve been writing for the last couple of months and finishing up a new one,” said Anderson. “It sounds really cool. He’s a little like me because he tries everything.”
Speaking of family, Anderson’s wife of 18 years, Jane, accompanies him on the road. She also manages the entire tour.
“We love being together and have a great time,” he said. “We’re very blessed and we just want to enjoy life.”
For Anderson, doing a solo tour gives him the opportunity to relax more often. He feels it takes pressure off him.
“I’m nearly 70-years-old and I’m doing different things now,” he said. “I was in a band for 35 years and that was enough.”
But, performing solo isn’t the only way he decompresses. In his spare time, he likes to paint watercolors.
“I think it’s more of a meditative thing for me,” said Anderson.
However, don’t expect to see his artwork featured at his shows or sold online.
“I give them away,” he said. “I just sent one to a fan the other day. He has kidney problems, so I sent him a painting and a signed photograph to cheer him up.”
After this tour ends, Anderson will be gearing up for shows in Europe and Brazil this summer. He said he hopes to put out new music later this year.
“I haven’t decided exactly when but I have a lot going on and I’m very happy with what I’m doing,” said Anderson.
In a career that spans almost five decades, he said the best part of being a musician is “the next gig.”
“It’s my life and I love it,” Anderson said. “I don’t just do it for the money. Having fun is what it’s all about.”