|Thanks to friends, family and fans, my February birthday was quite an event this year. I was overwhelmed with cards, flowers and phone calls from around the world.
The first call was from my LA son, followed by one sister’s loving call from France, and another from my other sister, who sang a rousing “Happy Birthday” to me. My good buddy in LA sent exquisite flowers to my door, followed by a phone call. My brother in Charlotte, NC, also phoned. Beautiful roses arrived from Jim B., and a wonderful voicemail from my sister-in-law in California. Then my dearest galfriend from high school dropped by with a lovely bouquet (yes, that makes three!) and luscious chocolates. Thoughtful texts streamed in throughout the day, along with many wonderful birthday postings on Facebook. Wow!!
But the true highlight of the day was singing with my friend, Abe LaMarca, at “Mikey’s Miracle Celebration” that evening. Today a high school sophomore, Michael, born with Down Syndrome, was diagnosed with leukemia in June 2018. After months of in-patient treatments and the support and prayers of family, friends, classmates and strangers, his prognosis is looking good. The aim of this Awakening Angels event was to celebrate Mikey’s victory, build awareness of the increasing frequency of leukemia in those with Down Syndrome, and raise funds for critical research and community resources. I was honored to be a part of it, and proud to celebrate Mikey’s successful battle. My husband’s presence made the event (and my day) extra special to me.
The following evening it was our friend Marian’s turn to host our monthly Bunko game. She surprised me at the end of the evening with a magnificent chocolate cheesecake, lit candles and “Happy Birthday”, sung by all the Bunko gals. That was fun!
Two days later, Jim and I flew to bitter-cold Chicago, where we met John Trones. From there, our threesome drove to Batavia, IL for a show at Batavia Fine Arts Centre. Thoughtful John gave me a darling birthday card and melt-in-your-mouth, dark chocolate hearts before the show. The audience was fantastic and we enjoyed meeting fans and friends after our performance.
Once packed up, Jim, John and I drove to our hotel about an hour away. We awoke early the next morning for our three-hour drive to Kalamazoo, MI.
Upon our arrival at The State Theatre, we went straight to sound check. I did my warm-up vocals in the car outside, so as not to drive Jim crazy in his dressing room next door! Close to show time, we enjoyed a catered dinner incognito in a room below the theatre.
We had been in Kalamazoo for Christmas a couple of years ago; it was nice to be there close to Valentine’s Day for a change. We certainly felt the warmth from the full house!
The following day, Jim and I drove back to Cleveland in about four hours. Our next meeting would be on Valentines Day in Pittsburgh, PA, four days later.
In the meantime, Ed and I enjoyed a wonderful dinner at his brother and sister-in-law’s home, followed by a basketball game at the brothers’ alma mater, Streetsboro High School. We had never seen the beautiful, newly- constructed building before. It includes a music room, recording studio, video department...quite a change from the former building! Unfortunately, Streetsboro lost their game, in spite of our noisy efforts to cheer them on! Boo.
We do love basketball--the next evening we sampled a Cleveland Cavs game with our friends, Chip and Dolly. Unfortunately, after three overtimes and plenty of suspense, they lost to the New Jersey Nets 139 -148. It was a very fun and exciting night, but we were sad to leave with a second loss (different teams, but two losses in a row!).
At 1:30 pm on Valentine’s Day, I was picked up by our Tour Manager, Wendy, her partner, Mark, and Jenny from the office. We made it to Pittsburgh in two hours, while catching up on everyone’s news. Once there, we refueled at Starbucks with some much-needed coffee.
By the time we got to The Byham Theatre, Jim and John had arrived. Much to our surprise, there were two gorgeous cakes backstage, made by a new friend who was going to experience her first Jim Brickman Concert that night! She had baked an amazing Oreo cookie cake and an almond torte for us. They were beautifully made: but we were able to confirm that they tasted as good as they looked only after sound check and dinner. A true lesson in self-restraint for this greedy crew!
Before we knew it, it was curtain time for our Valentine Concert. The audience was lovely and energy ran high. We were greeted by so many wonderful people after the show. I enjoyed meeting my son’s college friend and her parents, who had never been to one of our concerts before. They were so lovely and complimentary. And most importantly, they brought yummy chocolates for all to share! I was also thrilled to see an old friend’s son and his gal and her sister, who all loved the show too. As you know by now, the best part of touring, in my opinion, is to see old friends and meet new ones on the road.
After the show, we checked into our hotel for a good night’s sleep before hitting the road for York, PA, and The Pullo Center, where we have played many times. We were welcomed by radio personality, Michael C Anthony backstage. He is Program and Music Director at The All-New Fun 101.3. It’s always good to see Michael--this time we were also able to visit with him after the show. Did I mention that the crowd was all love? We had a really fun time on stage!
From there we drove to our hotel, home base for a school hockey team that night! Yes, there were kids running all over the place when we got there, but by the time I checked into my room, all was quiet for my four-hour sleep. I rose at 5:30 am for my pick-up for the airport and flew out on time, connecting through Philadelphia. The good news was that I was home by 2:00 pm!
Late the following afternoon, Ed and I took part in a fun surprise birthday for our friends Scott and Sandi. Planned weeks before, dinner with another favorite duo, Mike and Denise, was scheduled that same night. The timing of the two events enabled us to do both!
On Wednesday, the 20th, my sister and I attended a concert at House of Blues by the talented soul/blues band, St. Paul and the Broken Bones. Boy, what a set of pipes on the lead singer! I would love to “duet” with him some time!
The next night, Ed and I attended the Grand Opening of Saucy Brew Works, voted “Best Brew Pub in Northeastern Ohio”, at The Quicken Loans Arena. The party was followed by another Cavs Game. But this time, they beat The Phoenix Suns 111-98—yeahhh!
On the last Sunday of the month, my sister and I were invited to an Oscar Party, imagined by our good friend, Barb. As instructed, we arrived in our pajamas. Upon entering her home, we walked the red carpet, lined with luminaria lanterns, and ascended to the third floor with VIP tape wrapped around the stairway railings. We then entered her screening room with theatre seating and a wall-size screen, ideal for Academy Awards night.
Barb served an award-winning dinner with various salads, meats, cheeses, fruit, sandwiches, Oscar cookies, snacks and drinks. There was even a game of Oscar “Bingo”, and I won a gift card to a movie theatre.
But, getting back to the ceremony… Like the Screen Guild, we had completed our ballots ahead of time. Once all the real Oscars were awarded, the ballot with the most correct answers earned its participant her own gold statue and a gift card. We had a blast...and Barb won the prize for the Best Oscar Party ever!
I also enjoyed a Moxi lunch, a Sarah’s Place dinner with friends and yoga, this month! All in all, a fabulous February!