Caserta, Italy – 2015

Caserta, Italy – 2015

We took a 22-hour bus ride through the beautiful French and Italian countryside, including the Mont Blanc tunnel (Alps). This was our first long bus ride and I loved it. Hanging out on the bus with the band is totally fun and uproariously entertaining. John and Chris and Mark do some details about their music studies in Houston as high school kids and young college students. Wow, they had some great teachers and intense study routines! My mouth and eyes are wide open in envy. That’s the sh**! Texas??? Of course lots of know about the great music program at North Texas State where they do great work in jazz studies. But when these guys talk about how broad the arts programs are in Texas to include across the board arts I find myself in shock. Conservative Texas?? And it’s still happening today. That’s wonderful!

At a truck stop, I buy some comfort goodies: potato chips, cookies, and a big ole cheese and bologna sandwich—all the stuff my doctor would be horrified to know about. And my response to him that the whole band can here is, “cool it doc, I’m on tour. This one’s for me.” Of course the highlight of things is everyone’s satisfaction with the night before in Paris. Smiles all around.

Italy’s been a friend of my music since the early days. And we very often find ourselves playing city-sponsored free concerts in the square. This has drawn a noticeably youthful audience that came with their own curiosity and went home to talk about this Jarreau guy and then went off to find my music. They are characteristically Italian in their enthusiasm and joyfulness almost bouncing up and down.

And so in the last few years we’ve decidedly played in some giant shopping malls throughout Italy and found ourselves with a brand new kind of listener. There’s a husband, wife, and kids shopping for clothes or a toaster and stopping at the food court for gelato and a sandwich. Now that’s a new kind of friend. There’s a fun casualness that I love and adore and often talk about. It’s called, “put up a stage with scaffolding and sound and invite people to come and party”. That’s different than the pristine concert hall with built in tension. We play in the center of the food court with browsing and shopping all around. It’s almost like a city square carnival but all the snacks are different.  And the place is packed like a nightclub…it’s fantastic.

It’s about eight steps up to the stage level and I struggle a bit in plain view of the audience with my team helping me. I sense and feel a bit of a hush and maybe it’s in my mind because I’m so self-conscious, but once I’m on stage and sing my opening lines, it’s run baby run! The band and I are set up really close to each other and we know it and feel it internally. Once again I’m seeing people sing the words right along with me and there are a lot of people who came to hear the music, not to go shopping. And that’s way cool!

I am happy… Let’s go eat some dinner…Long drive tomorrow again!

See you in Venice!



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