October kicked off with great news: Radio 107.3 The Wave’s Mark Ribbins was adding “Who’s Gonna Baby You”, a single from my new CD, “Deeper”, to their playlist! Program Director Mark Ribbins and Radio Personality Bobby Thomas have been so supportive of both Abe and me in our musical ventures…I was thrilled to have them in my corner once more.
I stopped off at the station the next morning to deliver a few extra copies of “Deeper” and Mark had me sit in with him on air to promote my back-to-back release concerts slotted for the end of the month. Such a cool guy! As we chatted, enter keyboardist Jeff Lorber and electric bassist Jimmy Haslip, who were playing Nighttown that evening. The revolving door of musicians was in motion! I missed seeing Bobby Thomas, but having him in the audience at my concert was even better!
But back to my month. Dinners out with friends, a couple of movies, yoga practice, family matters, and the everyday things we all do made it resemble any other. Except that this month I was also preparing for two concerts! What better way than to rehearse (intensively) with the fantastic musicians who would accompany me at brand-new On Air Studio in Cleveland's riverside Flats?
Abe, who was to be my special guest--and band leader extraordinaire both evenings-- scheduled a full rehearsal for Monday, October 19th, at 5:30 pm. Perfect! Until, that is, Greg, who books me for singing our National Anthem at pro sports games, called to ask if I could sing for the Cleveland Cavalier’s Game in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness, on the same day at 7pm! How could I refuse? Fortunately, we were able to move rehearsal to 6:30. I went straight to the game and sang the anthem at 7 pm--which proved tricky due to major traffic--arriving at rehearsal only an hour late. Whew, whe
n it rains it pours!
As the weeks went by, we continued to squeeze in vocal and band rehearsals, right up to the 26th. That same night I met up with another duet partner and old friend, former NFL Superbowl Champ, Ben Utecht, who was in town to speak to The Cleveland Clinic about brain injury, memory loss... Ben had to retire from the NFL several years ago due to several concussions incurred during games. It was great catching up with him and hearing about his four daughters and all that he was up to, including his speaking engagements and his singing career.
Meanwhile, Producer Margaret Daykin of “Fox 8 In the Morning” invited me to guest star the day before opening night. Abe, keyboardist and sound engineer Pete Tokar, and saxophonist Jim Witherspoon were on board with me to give viewers a little taste of the show. I am so grateful to these guys for rising at five am to warm up and arrive by seven at the studio… on the rainiest and windiest day ever. “In the Morning” personalities Stephanie, Wayne and Christie were wonderful. A really lovely and professional group of people, they did a top-notch job of promoting my shows, while larger-than-life graphics flashed my name on every television screen and backdrop.
It was way too early for all of us, but the show went well and we had fun. Abe, Pete and Jim are real troopers. We went on with our first number at 7:45 am and were out by 9:00, performing five songs from “Deeper” in that time frame--what a whirl !!
At least we were able to wolf down some breakfast before arriving at WKYC. This time I was to be interviewed on “Live On Lakeside” by Hollie Giangreco, and perform a title from the new album, accompanied by my faithful “5 am players”. Hollie and the gang couldn’t have been more supportive--I love Hollie!
The big day arrived, as expected, and emotions were running high. My show was also to be the first main event at newly-opened On Air Studio!
On the east bank of The Flats, the venue seats about 200, with a large concert stage backed up by windows offering stunning views of the Cuyahoga River. There has been a huge renovation of this area in the past few years and On Air Studio is very much a part of that adventure. It’s a beautiful venue, with a state-of-the-art sound system and HD video system that streams live, through BoxCast, to anywhere in the world. The quality is fantastic!
After arriving at 2:00 for sound check, we worked through sound issues and tried to relax until show time at 7:30. For a first concert in a brand-new place, there were only a few glitches, meaning we hit the stage a bit late at 8:15. But we were on our way--the sound felt fabulous, and the audience (including my mom, sister and brother-in-law, my youngest son, my husband and many of our friends) was terrific! We were being streamed live all around the world and opening night was a success!
Day 2 I tried to rest my voice for my closing night performance. These songs are rangy and I have to use a lot of control, switching from “belters” to ballads. I drank lots of tea, rested and tried not to talk too much (a real challenge, ha ha!). Ed and I drove down at around 5:30, and I warmed up with my vocal exercises backstage and got ready for my final show.
There were several celebrities in the audience that evening: Beverly Warren, friend and President of Kent State University, Congressman Jim Renacci and his wife and WNWV’s Bobby Thomas and his wife. I was also so very thankful to my dear friend, Cooper, for flying in from Atlanta, but also to Karen and Randy from Michigan, Linda from Indianapolis, Sue and Don, as well as to Nancy and Kristin, from Columbus, OH, and Justin, who flew all the way from Albuquerque, NM for both shows. I am so blessed to have such loyal and supportive friends and fans! And have I mentioned our loyal Cleveland area friends who came to both shows? You are the best!! The second show rocked too! I had so much fun with Abe and the band, and the audience was fabulous. The energy was high and love was in the air.
The last day of October, I came back down to earth. I attended a special mass with my sister and brother-in-law. My brother’s name and those of all the deceased in the parish in the past year were chanted. It was very moving and a sad reminder of Geoff’s absence. How we miss him. I would have given anything to have seen his smile the night before…