San Ramon and Campbell, CA

San Ramon

A good way to get to San Ramon is to fly into the San Jose, CA airport. Wow, I’ve been in San Jose and around San Jose since the early 60s, and I just realized that I had never been to that airport. It’s beautiful. Modern and comfortable, progressive state of the art architecture, and UN-crowded! We spent the night at a nearby airport hotel, and traveled to San Ramon and to Campbell, CA by car.

It was about an hour and a half drive to San Ramon, directly opposite and inland of San Francisco in the East Bay. It’s so important to remember that there is an audience of people who individually decided years ago that the big city is too much for them, and they live in small communities outside the city. And so, as artists and performers, it’s a good thing to make a reach for them by going to them. And they appreciate that effort so very very much…. You can feel it in their response.

It turns out that the San Ramon city council has a heart that beats just like mine. And I told Mayor Abram Wilson from the stage to take credit for it, even if it didn’t happen on his watch, because it’s brilliant. The Windemere community and Dougherty Valley built a brand new performing arts facility into the local high school, so that it’s near the kids. The high school has music and arts and dance.

We did an intermission evening and I said, “I sure am glad because I have to go to the bathroom right now.” It was a wonderful first half, and they really got the report on the State of the Rainbow Address… All that music from the early We Got By and Look to the Rainbow period of my life.

In the second half, a married couple on my left very freely chimed in, “Al, we got married in 1981, and you couldn’t come to the wedding, but our first dance was to one of your songs.” They had seen me many times at the Greek in Berkeley. I’ve been especially touched here recently with Larry William’s unexpected excursion into some solo piano work, which reminds everybody that I’m not doing this alone. (“Al Jarreau Got People!”) And in moments, Larry begins playing the very recognizable opening bars to We Got By.

All in all, it was a great night, a great first meeting for me and the people of San Ramon/Dougherty Valley.

I met with the mayor and friends afterward, and they gave me a gift bag with a note from the city council, and a medal, and some goodies.

Thank you, San Ramon!
Love, Al


I said “Campbell! MM, MM GOOD!”…. All night long. They got it. That was fun. San Ramon and Campbell are models for the country in how the city has made new facilities in high schools and used old facilities in high schools for performing arts. This has the effect of focusing attention on the local high school and the kids who attend.

I sang Fire and Rain from the far right side of the stage during soundcheck, as I normally never do. And then during the performance, I spotted a young girl 13 years old who sat in the front row on that same far right hand side of the stage, and I walked right back over there and sang to her 9 feet away. I sang a little three-note melody asking “What’s your name?” She replied right in tune—“Madison”—- I told her how happy I was to see her. Moments later I sang Fire and Rain directly to her. For me, this set the tone for the whole evening, warm and personal with the audience relaxed and responsive. They sang!

Joe played masterfully the Soprano sax. He sent Coltrane home early. It was really wonderful and again, John Calderon in his moments just sparkled like sunshine off the water, and even when we were powering along, unlike the really quiet moments, John really sparkled great.

Midge from The Blah Blah Café (1972-3) sent a note and came backstage with Michaela. We didn’t, but it felt like we were holding hands and jumping up and down with laughter.

What a great weekend in the East Bay area. Thank you, Louis, our promoter, and everyone who came that night.

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