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From Bunko to The Box...and Benihana 10/2/2014
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September, among other things, rhymes with Bunko for me. It is my month of choice for hosting our revolving dice game, a veritable institution since the late 80’s!
Our little group meets to play on the first Wednesday of the month. As hostess, it was my duty to provide appetizers, beverages and snacks, organize the prize envelopes, and set up and arrange three tables of four to accommodate the rotating game. I was also in charge of contacting the 12 regulars. Since some had to call upon subs to replace them this time, I was very much looking forward to welcoming one sub in particular, my dear friend Barb, who had just moved back to Cleveland after a ten-year absence. It had been quite a while since we last saw each other and I was thrilled. She has not changed a bit and fit in as if she had never left town! The evening was a success and I even won second prize for last Bunko rolled ((three 6’s)!

Two days later, my son, and his gal, whom I cherish like a daughter, flew in from Los Angeles for the weekend wedding of an old school friend. We were able to spend a little time together on Friday when they rose from their nap--a necessity after a redeye flight! While my son went for a run, I treated his love to a pedicure at a favorite salon. Upon our return, she and her man dressed for the rehearsal, as he was to be an usher in the wedding. I dropped them off at the church attached to the school both of our boys attended from Kindergarten through Grade 8. The rehearsal dinner that followed was set at a fabulous restaurant I mentioned a while back (the one that has reclaimed the premises of a former bank with stunning style) called Crop, in Cleveland’s historic Ohio City neighborhood. And of course they had a ball.

The wedding took place the next day and we all attended the beautiful ceremony. Our little couple added to the beauty of the occasion and they had a wonderful time!

The following day we all went casual as we watched the Browns lose to their rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers, 27-30, before heading to the airport to drop off our young visitors. I miss them so much.

The following week I resumed rehearsals with Abe LaMarca and band for his CD Release Show at The Music Box, slotted for the 18th. Abe would be singing every title of his wonderful new “Stand and Deliver” CD—including our “Rise and Shine” and some R&B duets with me—and a sampling of greats that have influenced his Northern Soul sound. I was also excited at the prospect of performing a couple of solos: Smokey Robinson’s "Ooh Baby, Baby", and Johnny Lang’s “Lie To Me.”

It felt good to fit in a couple of more rehearsals with our drummer, Craig Pearson, who played with me at Cain Park a few years back, percussionist, Bill Ransom, who joined me at another Cain Park show, and musician/sound engineer/producer extraordinaire, Pete Tokar, on keyboards (Pete is an old friend of ours who produced several of my past CDs and is engineering my latest project). Our bass player, Walter Barnes, Jr, had just come off tour with Toni Braxton, and oh-so-brilliant blues guitarist Alan Green, sax master Jim Witherspoon, talented Tim Keehn on trombone, skilled trumpeter Mike Fisher and sweet and lovely Lisa Sommer on background vocals, completed the band. And what a band!

Our show was the first sold-out concert at The Music Box since it opened in August, which raised our own expectations by several notches! We were introduced by friend Bobby Thomas from 107.3 The Wave, who is so supportive of Abe’s music and mine, and hit the stage. The energy was high and we coasted on the love in the room that night! Fans traveled in from Columbus and PA, and friends we hadn’t seen in years were there for us. It was a great success and such a fun night, both on and off stage! Abe truly Stands and Delivers. There is nobody like him.

I continue to write and record for my upcoming CD, which is being produced by the same Abe. He knows exactly what he wants and boy, he’s tough on me! I feel very fortunate to have him as my producer: under his direction, I am tapping into the more soulful side of my voice, a new level I am excited about exploring more deeply. I can’t wait for you to hear the result, to be released in 2015!

The last weekend of September, my brother Chris drove in solo from Charlotte for a weekend with seven of his high school buddies. They took in an Indians Game and bonded over beer and fun at one of his friend’s house for the weekend. It was a quick visit, since he only spent one night, but fortunately I had seen him six weeks earlier, when he was in town with his entire family for our reunion.

To cap off the month, my sister, Wendy, friend, Kristy (in town that week) and I took our close friend, Maureene, out for a scrumptious birthday dinner at Benihana’s. It is always fun catching up with each other—I only wish that it could happen more often.

I know I announced summer’s end last month, only to be contradicted by a golden Indian summer in my neck of the woods. But now that it’s officially here, and nights are drawing in earlier, may I wish a crisp and happy fall to all?