“Some people want material things. Me, I just want peace, happy times, and people who love me.”
Marlon Hurst is one of the coolest people I know. You’ve met him before. He’s the music director at First Presbyterian in Lexington, and he spearheads the Music for Mission series that helps raise funds for various charitable organizations like Glean KY that benefited from last night’s Leonard Cohen tribute. Marlon is an exceptional musician, and last night I learned that he’s played trumpet since he was knee-high to a grasshopper. He did an awesome solo with his brother David and sister-in-law Melissa’s band. You see, Marlon isn’t alone in his musical capabilities. His brother David is an excellent bassist (with a seriously cool Rickenbacher bass), and Melissa taught herself to play drums especially for the Cohen gig, which was approximately two months ago. She’s my shero: fearless and cool. She did a great job, too. These Hurst boys and their wives and kids are just the sweetest people ever, and I’m so lucky to call them friends.
Stacy took part in the exquisite Leonard Cohen Tribute this evening at Good Shepherd. She read lyrics to – oh gosh, I don’t remember now – but she read them as the musicians reassembled to sing what is unquestionably his most famous song Hallelujah. As expected, she was a pro. A total pro reading lyrics like the poetry they are. I’ve never seen anything more natural than Stacy in headphones behind a mic the way God intended. I’m so proud of her. What an excellent night of music.
“The most crucial use of knowledge and education is to understand the importance of developing a good heart.” ~ Dalai Lama
I’ve been pretty sick with a cold for the last three days. It’s been hard to keep my eyes open, so I’ve listened to a lot of TV. Today, however, I was finally able to watch something, so I chose the painfully long documentary on Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Runnin’ Down A Dream. Long though it was – two minutes shy of four hours – it’s fantastic because Tom is (was) fantastic. The Heartbreakers is the kind of band I always wanted to be in. Rockin’, smooth, and totally tight as a family. Just last week I’d discovered I had a first pressing on vinyl of Southern Accents. It’s not my favorite Petty album though. That would be a toss up between the 1976 self-titled album with my all-time favorite Breakdown, and his third album Damn the Torpedoes. It doesn’t matter. Anything Tom Petty did was great, and I’m so very thankful he made the music he was meant to make.
“You can have it all. Just not all at once.” ~ Oprah Winfrey
I had the great pleasure of meeting Catherine Brereton’s parents and youngest brother, Joe, tonight. They’re here from Britain for the Bluegrass experience. There was a large group assembled at Lynagh’s Irish Pub hoping a fiddle would appear so that Catherine’s mom, Fliss, could make her American debut with Liam’s Fancy. Alas, it was not meant to be, but that didn’t stop our intrepid visitor from joining the band. She was the life of the party, and just as kind as she could be (no surprise given how kind Catherine is). I hope this isn’t the only time I get to see them because I really enjoyed our all-too-brief visit. And you never know; maybe I’ll get to hear Fliss play a reel before she flies back across the pond. I’m holding out hope.
“Every human has four endowments – self awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom… The power to choose, to respond, to change.” ~ Stephen Covey
Last week was insanely busy and I nearly missed seeing Kiya as a result. But Stacy and I managed to find fifteen minutes, give or take, to drop in on her and violinist Sarah Stollak at Common Grounds. I’m so glad I did. Sarah is a wonderful addition to the sound, and she’s hilarious: a personal favorite trait. It was my first time seeing Kiya in person with her new do, too. She continues to look much younger than she is, and I continue trying not to hate her for it (kidding, of course – I could never hate her). She played several new songs, and as usual, they are sublimely beautiful. It did my heart so good to spend a few minutes with her. I sure needed it. Hopefully, it did her some good, too. Better living through music.
“Take some time to hear the heartbeats around you. Ground. Be happy.
Enjoy yourselves and be kind to each other.” ~ Bree Chapman
The last time I was at Equus Run I saw Mary Chapin Carpenter. That was many years ago. The next time I was at Equus Run, guess what? I saw Mary Chapin Carpenter! And this time, she saw me, too. She looked right at me and gave me a very sincere smile (as you can see). Stacy, Crystal, and I went to see her tonight. It was perfect weather. She had a full band, and as a bonus, Don Dixon was on bass. He’s a solo artist, but I know him best as a producer for the likes of R.E.M. and the Smithereens. Not only did we get Dixon, but John Paul White of the Civil Wars opened the show. I’ve not heard a voice like his since Dan Fogelberg. I really, really loved his set. MCC was in great form as well; looking great, sounding great, and having an obvious blast with her band. Stacy, Crystal, and I had a wonderful night, and it was pretty dang funny when Crystal and I rushed the stage with our twin Canons. That might be why MCC was smiling so big. Something tickled her that’s for sure. I snapped the shots then mouthed the words, ‘Thank you.’ She replied, ‘You’re welcome,’ with a nod and another smile. Life is so much better with good music and kind musicians in it.
“Be kind, don’t judge, and have respect for others. If we can all do this, the world would be a better place. The point is to teach this to the next generation.” ~ Jasmine Guinness
The second this beautiful soul asked to see me my day improved 100%. This is my friend Sara Holroyd. She was in the studio doing an oral history with Reneé Collins (below and who is just the sweetest woman ever to walk through my office door). Sara and I hadn’t seen each other in a long time, and though our visit was brief, we wasted no time catching up. She is one of the most giving spirits I have ever known. She is brilliant. She is gifted. She is opinionated (I love that about her). She is compassionate and truthful. She is who I want to be when I grow up (she’s very Betty White-esque). Can you believe she’s 92? I wish I looked that good now! Sara was a beloved choral professor at UK for several decades. Reneé, whom I believe was one of Sara’s students, is doing a fantastic oral history project around Sara. They’re talking to an array of students inspired by her, fellow faculty that worked with her, and with Sara herself. She is deserving of all the accolades and more. I met Sara at First Presbyterian Church many, many years ago. In fact, she was one of the first people I met, and she made me feel very welcomed. I loved her immediately. Frankly, you’d have to be an ogre not to like her, and I’m pretty sure even ogres like her. Just being in her presence makes me feel better. I am eternally grateful for her friendship. She made my day.
“Worrying won’t stop the bad stuff from happening it just stops you from enjoying the good.”
~ Danny Penman
I’m still on cloud nine about seeing Sir Paul. I was trolling about on the interwebs today and came across his setlist from Tuesday’s show. It confirmed the plethora of Beatles tunes as well as that unknown song being his cut with Kanya and Rihanna.
Remember I said I’d go see Sir Paul again just for Live and Let Die? I found a video of his performance posted by someone sitting very near us. In fact, I found the entire show on YouTube, but that’s a bit much. I’ll just leave you with Live and Let Die. Happy Saturday!
“Almost everything will work again if you just unplug it for a few minutes… including you.”
~ Anne Lamott
Like I said, Sir Paul played for three hours last night. By the time I got back to the hotel and looked through the pictures, I was exhausted; too exhausted to say much more than I did. Today, I had a six hour drive to reflect on last night’s performance. It was great while it was happening, and it’s even better the next day.
When Paul McCartney walked onto that stage it was/is hard to believe he’s 75 years old. The monitor would sometimes zero in on his hands, particularly as he played his acoustic, and there was something striking about them. He has the hands of a 30 year old. I’m not exaggerating. In fact, everything about him is as brilliant as if he was still that young man in the Beatles. His voice and droop of the jowls are the only evidence that he has aged at all. That he can sing at all at 75 is pretty remarkable, but he sang really well. The missed high notes here and there (what do you expect at 75?) were greatly overshadowed by the incredible dexterity, range, and command that remains. Between his flawless band, and an audience that knew all the words, those little misfires were hardly noticeable. His musicianship is nothing short of astonishing, and unless he has a stroke or something horrible like that, I guarantee he’ll still play as good as he did last night for another 20 years. Again, I’m not exaggerating. It’s going to be hard for him to sing, but his playing won’t be stopped. He’s that good.
He played many more Beatles tunes than I expected; a brilliant surprise. Each song a stellar performance, from solid rockers Back in the USSR and Hard Day’s Night to the stirring Hey Jude and Blackbird, there was something for everyone. He played plenty of Wings tunes, and of course his solo material. He paid tribute to both John and George in song. He played the first recording by The Quarrymen (In Spite of All the Danger) then skipped to his most recent song, which based on the images projected I can only assume was the song he cut with Kanye West and Rhihanna. It was the only song he played that I didn’t recognize.
Sir Paul missed the intro to Hard Day’s Night, the opener, because, after he counted it off, he turned to the mic to sing, but found himself 3-5 feet away from it. If you know the song at all, then you know immediately after the booming strong opening chord you have to hit the vocals or it won’t work. So he stopped the song, had a laugh, and they started again. At that moment I knew it was going to be an extraordinary night, but it exceeded my expectations even still. Three or four songs later, as the drummer and keyboardist were out of sync starting Temporary Secretary, Paul stopped them again. He said,”At least you know we’re really live. No tapes here!” He is a brilliant showman in addition to everything else.
Sir Paul’s band loves him. You can see it on their faces from the second they step onto the stage until the last bow. They’re all gifted players with a wide range of talents. He moved them closer to the stage’s edge during the middle of the show for a more intimate feel, and it did feel more intimate because we weren’t in a stadium, but in a nice outdoor amphitheater with the most incredible sound I have ever heard at a live show. EVER! There wasn’t any instrument you couldn’t distinguish from the others. We were close enough to feel the kick drum in our bellys, but it didn’t thump our ears. The screaming guitars didn’t hurt. And the pyrotechnics during Live and Let Die? It was one of the most righteous things I’ve ever seen, and rather than photograph it, I just stood in awe and screamed my head off (yes, I’m hoarse today). It was already a favorite, but this spectacle put it over the top. I’ll just say that we were close enough to feel the intense heat from the blasts, and it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced. I would go see Sir Paul again for that song alone.
You can tell Sir Paul is a gentleman. He introduced the song Valentine that he wrote for his current wife Nancy, who was in the audience, then he introduced Maybe I’m Amazed that he wrote for Linda. Between those cuts, Yesterday, and Let it Be, I’m pretty sure everybody had a good cry, even the men (maybe especially the men). He picked out a few people from the audience who had been holding up signs and brought them onstage. They included two young boys that wanted to play with him. He didn’t let them play instruments, but he did have them (and their parents) help sing Get Back. Their mom stole the show, so I’m thinking the boys are headed back to the woodshed for a few more hours of practice. But here’s this legend giving these boys a chance of a lifetime that ended with, “wait, let’s have a group hug,” before they left the stage. He’s a stand-up guy just as I expected.
Thank you, Sir Paul. Thank you for being my first musical inspiration. Thank you for playing your heart out. Thank you for being kind. Thank you for your brilliance.