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Thanksgiving and "A Joyful Christmas" on the road 12/3/2018
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On the first day of November, my husband and I picked up my sister on our way to the airport. We met up with several friends at Cleveland Hopkins: our group was flying to San Francisco for a wedding in Sonoma. Our dear friends, Kristy and Ron, were giving away their daughter, Liz. We have watched Liz grow into a beautiful and talented artist since she was a little girl. She is a dancer, choreographer, actress and singer, but most importantly, a lovely human being. It was going to be a fun couple of days!

That very evening, we were among the 200 friends and family members gathered at the welcome party for all the wedding guests. Set at the fabulous home of Ron’s brother, in the middle of a vineyard, it was simply wonderful.

The magic continued the next day with a bridal party of 11 (!) attendants at the ceremony held at a charming church. It was followed by a beautiful reception at a winery, with tables dressed in white linens, set in the vineyards. There was music and dancing inside the nearby barn. It was lovely—and the speeches, the food, the friends and the music couldn’t have been more perfect. Requested by the bride, and as a surprise to her mother, I sang Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” for the father/daughter dance. Talk about emotion!

The following morning, Ed and I were off to Los Angeles to attend the Bar Mitzvah of my high school friend’s youngest son, Simon. Our son and his fiancée picked us up at the airport and we were able to tuck in a quick lunch with them at Farmer’s Market. We were travelling during the actual ceremony, but were able to enjoy the evening’s Scottish-themed party, inspired by the family’s year there several years ago. Bud, his partner and both sons were dressed in kilts and entertained us with a choreographed opening song and dance number!! The dinner was fabulous and the speeches and video montage were very moving. I was very touched that they included “Sing Out”, a song from my “Close To Me” CD, as part of the audio accompanying the photos. A bagpiper, a step dancer and dance leaders rallied everyone to get on their feet and join in! It was quite a night and so much fun!

The next morning, we relived the events of the night before, over a wonderful brunch at the family’s home, this time with Sean and Cait in tow. We got to meet new friends and renew ties with others we hadn’t seen in a while.

That evening, the four of us officially celebrated Sean and Cait’s wedding engagement and welcomed our daughter-to-be into our family, although we’ve thought of her as a daughter for many years now. Another very special evening!

Our son dropped us at the airport the next morning and we flew home, amazed at all we fit into our whirlwind five-day weekend. And we could look forward to seeing the kids again at Christmas.

Over the next few weeks, I rehearsed intensively with Abe for our New Year’s Eve shows at Nighttown, and with Jim for his “Joyful Christmas” tour beginning Saturday, November 24th. I also took part in Jim’s Facebook Live Video event on his birthday, November 20th. We sang some of our favorites, talked about the 30-city tour, gave away tickets and prizes, and I sang a heartfelt Happy Birthday to my dear friend.

Later that week,the day before Thanksgiving, my brother, his wife and three children arrived from North Carolina and Florida to stay with us for three days. That evening, I hosted a lentil soup dinner for 13, which also included my sister, and her son, his wife and their two adorable little ones, in town for the holiday.

On Thanksgiving Day we were 14, with the precious addition of my 93-year-old mom. My sister, our sister-in-law and I prepared the dinner, which included a 22-pound turkey and homemade-only delights, such as mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, chestnut stuffing, brussel sprouts, cranberry sauce, pumpkin penne pasta and for dessert, my sister’s pecan pie, apple cheesecake and pumpkin pie!
Everything was DELICIOUS and it was a most enjoyable day. Of course, we were grateful to have our beautiful family in our midst, but so missed our dear brother, Geoff, and brother-in-law, Wendy’s husband Mike. We remembered my dad and Ed’s parents too, and we wished that my eldest son and our French relatives could have been there with us.

The following day, Friday, I flew out to Springfield, Mass. Though our first show wasn’t until Saturday, Jim, vocalist John Trones, violinist Tracy Silverman and I wanted to rehearse for our opening night. All went well and so did the show!

We performed for an appreciative audience at Springfield’s Symphony Hall. After the show, we were delighted to see the faithful friends and fans who come to see us every year. And new fans who assured us we would see them again! A fun first night!

Soon it was time to board our tour bus for the six-hour trip to Richmond, VA, where we had a 3 pm matinee the following day. I was tired the next morning and started warming up my voice at around 10:00 am. But the show went well and the audience was great!

After our post-show meet & greet, we caught dinner nearby, before hunkering down for Part 1 of the long bus drive to Naples, FL.

We left at 9:30 pm and arrived at our halfway point in Savannah, GA, at 6:30 am. We checked into our hotel and I slept a few hours, made some calls, hit the treadmill for a few miles, drank my protein shake and met my road family at the bus, at around 2 pm. We made good time: with an estimated arrival time of 10:30 pm in Naples, we checked into our rooms there by 11.

Since we hadn’t had a real meal all day, we walked to nearby Pelican Larry’s. We had mussels that were the best I’ve ever had! Oh, and I also had the grouper, which was fantastic! It was fun, but it was late, and our merchandise gal, Megan, and I left the rest of the group behind and walked back to the hotel. I was in bed by 1 am.

The next morning, the driver from the venue picked me up and drove me to The Artis - Naples where we rehearsed with the fabulous Naples Philharmonic Orchestra. Rehearsal went well, and after dinner, Jim and I walked across the parking lot to Nordstrom’s, to find him a belt. Unfortunately, there was no time for any shopping for me at my favorite department store, hmph!
Showtime was at 8:00 and the magic could begin! It’s such a thrill to sing Jim’s music with a symphony orchestra and especially with one of this caliber. I had a good friend in the audience, and Jim’s mom was there too, and they loved the concert. The rest of the audience was wonderful too!

After the meet & greet in the lobby, we retired to our rooms for the night. The following morning, Jim picked me up at noon and we went to his mom’s for a little visit, before taking off for our two-hour drive to Sarasota. Jim’s mom, Sally, had made us egg salad sandwiches, which we enjoyed on our ride to The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.

Upon arrival, we sound checked, had dinner in The Green Room and were surprised by old friends, Rachel and Peter. It was fun visiting for a bit before getting ready for the show. I had an old Cleveland friend, Toby, (now living in Sarasota) in the audience and friends Bonnie and Andy, surprised me after the show. Florida snow birds nowadays, they were glad to catch the concert before heading back to Cleveland for the holidays. Seeing friends on the road always makes being away from home a little sweeter.

The following morning, we were up early, but barely made our flight to San Francisco, yikes! I rested a bit on the plane but that six-hour flight is tiring, and the jet lag only adds to the toll. Jim and I checked into our hotel rooms, grabbed a quick lunch and then I was able to take an hour-long nap. But I was still dragging…I think Thanksgiving week was catching up with me.

Jim and I drove about an hour to our sound check at Cowell Theatre in Fort Mason, for the first of our two shows there. We ran into heavy rush-hour traffic and it took us longer than expected to get there. But San Francisco is such a cool city, all was forgiven!

The venue was an intimate space seating about 400, and situated on the water. It was windy and rainy outdoors, but cozy inside. Here, too, I had friends in the audience. My Shaker High School friends, Lisa and Gary, came to the show, as well another old friend, Annette, who worked for a music publication when I first started touring with Jim. And my dear friend, Olympic Silver Medalist figure skater, Rosalynn Sumners, whom I met when she skated to my live “After All These Years” in her final year with “Stars On Ice”.

Roz surprised her mom with the tickets and brought along another friend. They drove an hour from Napa. They loved the show and it was so nice visiting with everyone, if only briefly.

After our reunion, Jim and I drove back to the hotel. I had a good night’s sleep, followed by a nice breakfast with Jim the next morning. I was even able to go back to my room to work on my computer and rest some more. The second show went much more smoothly (with no travel time). We felt refreshed after a good day’s rest, and the audience was great!

You will have to wait to read about the rest of the tour next month. I’ll have lots to tell, since I have roughly 25 more shows throughout December! I look forward to see many of you on the road!

In the meantime, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!