Potawatomi, Wisconsin – 2015

Potawatomi is pronounced like oughta-wannabe with a ‘p’ in front of it (please smile). I’m just having fun here with the name of a wonderful casino in Milwaukee where I’ve been playing for the last 12 years. And they have been kind and generous and wonderfully welcome to me and my old friends in Milwaukee. This time was no exception.

It turned out that my keyboard player Larry Williams needed to be away for a special event, and his substitute keyboard player was a really special guy named Robi Botos. What a story this is in itself; he’s Hungarian born like Les Czimber, my mentor pianist from my earliest professional singing in Milwaukee, circa 1963. We needed a few hours of rehearsal, so Potawatomi opened their doors and stage to us a day before the show. They also allowed me to have a “short” meet and greet after rehearsal, but it sure wasn’t short!

By now, you’ve heard me talk about how going home is wonderful, beyond belief, BUT you wouldn’t believe how wild, crazy, and impossible it also is. I always need a vacation, and this was no exception. As per usual, there is no vacation forthcoming.

But the most important thing has to do with how wonderful it was. Sitting right in the first row and cheering me on were 3 guys who ran cross-country, played basketball, and played baseball with me in grade school. It was so emotional that all 4 us nearly choked up and broke down. Keep in mind that Potawatomi is a short 12 minutes and a car ride from my alma mater Lincoln High School. This aspect of things always bubbles just beneath the surface of these occasions.

The band caught the spark immediately and returned a powerhouse, electrified performance. All we need (I’m speaking for all artists here) is a genuine sign of appreciation, and you will get the best of our love. As I think back over the years, this was the most satisfying return performance in Milwaukee. It was a homecoming on steroids. We laughed about inside and outside stories right while I was on the stage in the middle of the performance. I mean, things like the mention of nicknames that the audience knew and were familiar with. Inside and personal!! Ya don’t get that stuff anywhere else.

Even with all of the above, I missed (again) the Walnut Street picnic and my brother’s 85th birthday celebration, which happened two weeks before my arrival (Happy birthday, Appie! You’re the man! And wife Diane, you are an angel).

Wow! Right now, I want to do something, but I don’t have the space or the time or the memory. J And that is, to mention all of the people that came to hang out with me. But you know who you are: people from the neighborhood, the a capella choir at Lincoln, and the Pfister Hotel. Just let me tell you I love you, and as always I’ll be taking you wherever I go. Ok, Milwaukee. God bless you and keep you!



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