Temecula, California – 2015

Temecula is a quite rural area, growing vegetables, fruits, nuts, and wine vineyards, located in between Los Angeles and San Diego. You’ll find Barstow, Riverside and other neighboring cities along the way. This audience is an audience that enjoys having a late afternoon, matinee concert experience where you can sample some good wines and buy some special picnic goodies from two or three concession stands.

We are, in fact, at the Thornton Winery concert venue that is actually on the grounds of the vineyards. It seats about 500 in a wonderfully improvised, intimate outdoor concert venue that’s quite different from a downtown hall or outdoor venues like the Greek Theater or the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles and places of that size and sort. And that’s the difference that makes the difference with this audience. Everyone here is within 40 yards of the stage, and the front row can reach out and shake hands with me.

And in the beautiful little improvised venue, instead of backstage wings on the left side of the stage, there is some really intimate audience seating (technically speaking, right on the stage). That area is about 20 yards deep, and I can walk over and touch the people at the first tables at will. 98% of the audience sits on portable folding white chairs.

What a treat to share the stage with Keiko Matsui, a premiere jazz pianist who now makes her home in America and performs all over the world. My dressing room was close enough to the stage to hear her band. It was my first time hearing them live, and they are kickin with hot acoustic piano licks punctuated and soaring inside jazzy Latin feels in one moment and then airy floating things that borrow from classical.

We had a great time!!!!! And boy was it hot! And so was the band. We bounded through our program of old favorites and sing-alongs then did some new stuff too. And this audience of “adult” listeners was singing and dancing along with their hands in their air like they just don’t care. I love that!! Roof Garden and Boogie Down continue to be big crowd pleasers. J And somehow, we continue to find new ways of performing these old dogs. And there were encores with hoots and hollers as we finished for the night.

Rhoda Mae Hulce, a girl I dated at the University of Iowa, showed up and surprised the stew out of me! I mean, my grin still hurts! All grey haired with appropriate glasses and that smile that peaked through and told me that she’s my old friend. She was a wonderful thing to behold. Her running buddy DeAnna had been working on making this reunion happen for a year. Good stuff, DeAnna! I talked to a good old buddy who was a regular at Humphries in San Diego who was a poet and lyricist. More than 15 years ago, I would read some of her work and go, “Wow! Don’t stop!” And so Susan Meyers keeps writing these days and can’t stop. Can’t stop… and that’s the best reason to keep doing anything that thrills and satisfies you and make you smile and be a pleasant dad and husband and neighbor. I said a quick hello to my new old friend Jim Darby. Who other than Jim can say percolating, syncopating, celebrating, elevating, getting up in the morning, getting busy, ‘fore the dawnin’, as well as I can?

As usual, thank you everybody, and thank you again Thornton Winery.



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