Trenton, MI 2014

There’s a whole bunch of people who will read this and shout, “Amen! Wonderful! That’s great! In Detroit? Fantastic!”

We played a big, free festival of music in Trenton, MI, just outside of Detroit in front of 22,000 happy friends of my music and the LIKE. We were on with 4 local groups, all of them various forms of Jazz expression. This turns out to be the 19th year of this outing and my being here represents a big step for the brilliant local promoter, Alexander Zonjic, in hiring international people. Zonjic represents that innovative, new breed of local promoters who are doing it for the love of this special Jazz based music…not to retire young on huge profits. Excuse me, that’s right out of the first chapter of my biography and life philosophy up to this very moment. Alexander comes out of 15 years of radio and DJing in Detroit and presenting this music on the airwaves and has been one of Detroit’s mainstay pillars of this form. He happily lets me thank Rosetta Hines (another radio mentor since the “We’ve Got By” days) every time.

You would love Elizabeth Park Marina, the longtime home of this festival, with the back of the stage right on the Detroit river and the audience on a gently sloping hill going away from the stage. There was an amazing sea of people on both sides of the stage that was most impressive when seen from where I was singing.

This audience and I were so glad to see each other because we have been old friends for many years but have lost touch with each other. I miss Pine Knob, the Fox Theater, and other local venues where we used to meet. So this certainly was ole homecoming week with Al J, one of their “hometown boys”, to go out into the world and do his thing. They bought records and called the radio station and tonight we celebrated all of that history and a new record project celebrating George Duke. As I think about it and say it now, that made for quite a wonderful occasion. And you should have seen them dance and cheer at the end when we broke into our recorded version of “Roof Garden/Reach for It”.

There were so many hugs for the band and me during that period that I just described that I kept saying over and over how my grin hurt. And I was personally tickled inside that my niece, Karla, and her family, Cliff, Danielle, and Stephen, were there for this wonderful outdoor party. It is so different than any other concert I have seen in a theater or auditorium. Alexander Zonjic and I kept patting each other on the back and shaking hands and babbling about how this hugely successful event and its series represents the new millennium promoter approach. Alexander said he calls himself an artistic director with the goal being to keep this music happening and not let it disappear for these thousands of people who are hungry and thirsty for it. He says he almost backed into all of this by developing a venue for him to continue to play flute with his local band along with other local musicians.

I’m going to bring this entry to a close, now, and turn this last paragraph into a “Post It” note for my mirror. I don’t want to forget this. My dearest Detroit friends and family, I can’t thank you enough! You are still here for me.

God Bless You! See you soon!



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