Dusseldorf, Germany – 2015

Dusseldorf, Germany – 2015

This venue and type of venue was a first for me and I’m glad that the “Unique Moniques” were there to pay witness. They’ve seen me inside, outside, in concert halls with 15,000 people at North Sea, etc., etc. But never at a planetarium! Well, converted planetarium that still has the dome ceiling against which the Milky Way would be projected with all its stars and planets. I’m not sure when the conversion took place but it was well done. A domed ceiling like that could easily have been just a monstrous reflection of uncontrollable sound that bounces everywhere like being in an oil drum. Not so here. It was great! It made for a quite sizable performance space. From front to back it was about 50 yards and its diameter from side-to-side was about 75 yards. It had a balcony that was almost wrap around and the dome ceiling was painted and lit in such a way that you almost had a sky-like effect left over its planetarium use.

I was so aware of the uniqueness of this venue and the fact that the “Unique Moniques” were here to see me and this band knock it out of the park—Grand Slam! These old friends know about the new “me” and my challenges new challenges. And so, to have a hot night like we had that was so satisfying for me and the band, it was great to share with folks who know.

Before we played the first note, the audience was giving me and the band a standing ovation. WOW! It just gets better from there. They even allowed me to play with the name of their town, saying silly things like “three-seldorf”, “four-seldorf”, “whos-eldorf”, and “what-seldorf”. And then in the next moment we would be totally serious about the music.

Bam! Amazing! Right there in the front row were two sisters who’ve been coming since they were teenagers from Berlin. I almost jumped off the stage and hugged them. They brought me another stuffed teddy bear (the mascot of Berlin). I’m sure I have 8 or 10 bears like that—usually smaller—about 3 inches tall at home in my office.

The whole night followed this pattern of give and take and we-ism­ that is ideal and dreamlike for performing. The mood and the feeling mounts and multiplies on itself, and by the end of the night, everyone’s feeling as though they have been abducted and transported and really seeing the Milky Way and the stars like this old planetarium was meant to do. Along the way we played lots of standards from my book and seasoned that collection with several new pieces that brought grins and nodding heads.

Mark Simmons has caught fire these days and found yet a new level of drumming that’s bringing people to their feet mid performance. Just generally speaking, there’s nothing like several weeks on tour to get everybody sharper and in tune and connected with each other. We nod our head about that.

We’ve taken a couple seasons off from regular performances of “Spain” but it was so obvious, even in sound check today, that John’s acoustic guitar would ring so beautifully in this room and be heard like it seldom gets to be heard. And so when he plucks the first notes that suggest the Spanish mode of “Spain” there is immediate applause, without us even playing the signature melodies and lines. When we do, they clap four to the measure—almost Flamenco-like—and then Larry solos his butt off.

Everything is wonderful! We end up doing four encores…and they would have stayed for more. We know that backstage there’s a room full of guests so we beg off and they let us exit.

Backstage, we’re all almost jumping up and down like little kids with a popsicle. And there’s Carol and Garol! When I asked about their kids, they say, “Oh yea, wonderful! 19 and 21 now and doing great.” Blows my mind, but it fits right with what I so often mention directly to audiences these days that I’m looking at people who first saw me when they were teens and pre-teens and now their kids are coming with kids. What a gift from God. What a blessing! I’m the luckiest guy in the world. What an occupation!

Just as we were leaving, downstairs at the exit door, a husband and wife—both in wheelchairs—just took my breath away. They had come to see me play and waited around for at least an hour. They were determined to not leave until they said hello and I signed an autograph for them. He was paraplegic with good upper body control, but she had much less mobility. It hit me like a lighting bolt. Wow! He’s taking care of her. He’s her caregiver…full time. I hugged them as hard as I could and did autographs and knew even then it was too little. And then we did autographs for 15 other people who were waiting outside the backstage entrance.

Ok, enough for now. I got to hurry to Mainz. We’re on stage in 18 hours. On a boat J.



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