Columbus, OH

Columbus Ohio Theatre

Columbus Symphony

As we approached this Columbus show, I have often mentioned to Ohio audiences that I surely have played more cities and dates in Ohio, than any other state in the union, including California and New York. And in the past I have said, “I love you and thank you,” for that support throughout the years at Blossom, Cincinnati, Cleveland, etc. But never before have I played with the Columbus Symphony, home of the Buckeyes. “College town USA.”

Saturday afternoons are described and owned by red and gold autumn leaves, megaphones and scarlet and gray or red and white, screaming crowds, and saddle shoes. Look it up. I almost went to Miami of Ohio. Coach Cheeks from my Lincoln High School in Milwaukee were schooled at Miami of Ohio. They grew boys into men. THAT’S THE PLACE TO BE.

During our rehearsal I was delightfully surprised at how the orchestra played my program as though they had been rehearsing it over and over for days.

Just to review, as in an opera or Broadway musical, the evening begins with the orchestra playing a short snippet summary of all the important songs and pieces. This is called the overture. When I do this, it’s called the “Jarreauverture.” And so we play a little bit of “Boogie Down,” “We’re In This Love Together,” “Blue Rhondo A La Turk,” “Since I Fell For You,” “Moonlighting Theme,” and the ever endearing two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, onions, pickles on a sesame seed bun from my commercial from McDonalds, me and Vesta Williams… B.C. If you’re smiling, that’s perfect.

Conductor Larry Baird, and my rhythm section trio from the touring band are the anchor points. In one moment we’re doing the quite spiritual, “Alonzo,” and in the next moment we are romping and stomping through, “Boogie Down.” But the main thing is, and always the main thing is, and will be, that the audience cannot resist singing along. I promise you and confess that this is the deliberate design of so much of what I do. Please come and tell me, “this is my wedding song,” “my mom brought me to your concert in Bremin in 1974, and this is my granddaughter Gretchen and she likes your music too, and don’t stop Al.” I’ve got it since a long time ago. Not to worry.

When people gather in one place, under one roof or sky, and hold hands and sing, this is called fellowship or Church or community or togetherness, and it always leads to high morale and healing. Thank you Leonid, concertmaster. Thank you to the concert conductor. Thank you Jude. I turn to my left and locked eyes with 5 Bassists who were great on that night. And just next to them on the left, was a string section that surely mesmerized and fried everyone’s notions of strings when they played their solo in, “Alonzo.” And then after that, helped me sail into, “Bess” (George and Ira Gershwin).

And boys and girls there was a romping and stomping through, “Summertime,” that I know and am certain that was new for this audience. We emphasized what we could of the suggested lightness and unworried attitude that is suggested by, “Summertime.” But it had a romping and stomping air and aura about it.

Larry Baird, conductor of the Moody Blues, conducted every cue and clue for the orchestra and for me too. This was the most rock and roll-ish symphony crowd. They were almost grabbing my pant cuffs and demanding I do autographs at the last encore when we were trying to go home.

Thank you Buckeyes. And here’s to more red and golden Saturday afternoons, and Saturday nights of heartfelt music.

Love, Al

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