Retirement is Exhausting – Part One

Leading up to my husband’s recent retirement, everyone asked me how it would be when he was around the house 24/7. Would he drive me crazy? Would he be uber-annoying?

No worries. I was certain things would be peachy.

First of all, Peter loves to cook. Now that he has time, he spends lots of time in the kitchen. In fact, since his retirement, he has cooked dinner almost every night. And, he pairs every meal with the perfect wine from our wine cellar.

I have a personal chef and sommelier all wrapped in one.

Also, Peter loves having a good time. Our kids have dubbed him the family C.F.O. Chief Fun Officer.

This week alone, we have attended two concerts, two dining events and are heading to Disney World.

Retirement in exhausting.

First up: Buddy Guy.

Every January, this Hall of Fame blues genius is in residence at his Buddy Guy’s Legends blues bar in Chicago.

Buddy Guy's Legends

We arrived at 5pm and were able to snag a couple of great seats at the bar. Although Buddy wasn’t scheduled to come on stage until 10:30pm, we were entertained by a steady stream of really good blues musicians, each grateful for the chance to perform at Buddy Guy’s.

We were also entertained by the adorable young couple sitting next to us at the bar. It was the husband’s birthday and they had come in from out of town to enjoy the show.

Apparently, they had come to Legends to celebrate last year but the wife had to leave the show early because she came down with the flu. Oddly enough, after drinking 2 beers and 3 margaritas in an hour, the wife developed “the flu” again and birthday boy husband had to take her back to the hotel. Such bad luck, two years in a row!

Our evening was much better than theirs.

Buddy Guy on stage

At almost 80 years of age, Buddy Guy is an amazing performer. His voice and his mad skills on the guitar have not faded with age. This fabulous bundle of blues playing energy performs about 150 shows per year all over the country.

Buddy Guy in crowd

At one point in his 2 hour show, Buddy came down off the stage and worked his way around the entire bar performing like a man half his age.

What a night!

A few nights later we attended the Bruce Springsteen concert – my 13th time seeing Bruce and Peter’s 15th.

We were a bit concerned that our seats, in the upper deck behind the stage, would not give us a good view of the show. We needn’t have worried.

Springsteen concert

Other than my very first Springsteen concert, in which I was in the front row, these were probably my favorite seats.

Funny story about that first concert.

It was my freshman year in college. Some of my pals and I camped out in front of the ticket office for two nights in order to be among the first to buy tickets. Our plan worked and we were rewarded with front row center seats.

On the night of the concert we were having a blast with our up close view until a bunch of guys came down from their balcony seats and crashed our front row party. There was a bit of a confrontation but we were able to shoo these cads away.

Fast forward a few years, Peter and I were talking about our Springsteen concert experiences and, the truth comes out, Peter and his friends were the ruffians who tried to move into our front row territory.

Fortunately, Peter’s concert going manners have improved since then.

James and Bruce

A concert by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band is a non-stop party.

The band played for over three hours, covering the entirety of The River album and lots and lots of other favorites.

Their playing of “Take It Easy” as an homage to the recently departed Glenn Frey was a crowd pleaser.

Springsteen playing Take It EasyAt one point, Bruce ventured out on the cat walk into the general admission floor seats then crowd surfed back to the stage.

Springsteen crowd surfingAnd the guy is 66 years old…

Apparently no retirement plans in his future.

Fans might remember that Courtney Cox had her first big break as the “girl in the crowd” who gets pulled up on stage to dance with Bruce in his 1984 “Dancing In The Dark” music video.

At our concert, this lucky gal got the gig.

Bruce dancingI’m not sure if it is Bruce’s age that has changed his choice of dance partners or the fact that his wife, Patti Scialfa, is on stage with him as a member of the E Street Band.

Probably a little from column A and a little from column B.

Eventually the house lights came up as the band played encore after encore.Springsteen concert house lights upAfter a 10 minute finale of “Shout”, it was time to say good night.

E Street Band leaves stageSo long, gang.

Hope to see you soon for Springsteen concert #14!

Have you ever seen either of these talented musicians in concert? Have any special memories to share?

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Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame

After over 5 hours at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, reluctantly we had to leave.

I would have stayed another 5 hours and would go back tomorrow.

It is that good.

Cleveland rocks.

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

The building is as gorgeous on the inside as it is on the outside.

Visitors are greeted with a wall full of quotes from “non-believers” railing about rock & roll and it’s evil influence, sure to cause the downfall of mankind.

My favorite, from the John Birch Society in 1966:

“The Beatles have loosed a veritable flood of musical trash on a generation of young Americans. Parents have been shocked to see their daughters charged in a state of hypnotic frenzy, clutching at the long-haired slobs who twang, screech and thump in a mixture of unrelated noise.”

Ouch! Imagine what they must have to say about Eminem.

The Hall takes visitors through the early influences with an exhibit called Roots of Rock & Roll: Blues, Gospel, Country/Folk/Bluegrass and R & B.

Of course, there is an entire room devoted to

Elvis

Actually, this room was the first spot in the museum in which I realized we might be staying a while. The giant video screen showing a constant loop of Elvis performances had me frozen in place for a long time.

Little did I know that was just the beginning.

Video may have killed the radio star but it made the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame SO.MUCH.FUN.

For instance,

The Beatles

featured 13 mini documentaries about each of the 13 Beatles albums.

Beatles albums

My feet got a little tired but fortunately, I outlasted a family from Omaha and grabbed a seat on the bench when they moved on to see Mick Jagger.

So many Beatles’ artifacts…

Beatles

and

Beatles outfis

and

Beatles drums

Next up were exhibits highlighting cities that were important in the evolution of rock & roll: Memphis, Detroit, London and more. One entire room was dedicated to “home grown bands” from Cleveland.

I loved seeing the displays of costumes throughout the years.

Diana Ross & The Supremes

DIana Ross & the Supremes

Beyonce!!!!

Beyonce

and more Beyonce!!!!

Beyonce

Michael Jackson’s iconic jacket

Michael Jackson

And even more iconic, glove.

Michael Jackson glove

A room dedicated to Paul Simon took visitors from his early days at music camp (including a letter from his friend Artie who was at a different camp) through the Simon & Garfunkel days (with the same Artie), the break-up and Simon’s long and successful solo career.

The Paul Simon exhibit had lots of video screens showing clips and interviews and, once again, had me frozen in place.

Paul Simon clips from Saturday Night Live? Paul Simon clips from concerts? Clips of interviews of Paul Simon exploring the angst of the demise of Simon & Garfunkel? Loved it all!

On the serious side, there were exhibits about the influence of the press like Rolling Stone Magazine and Alternative Press Magazine on rock reporting.

While not necessarily my taste, I recognize the importance of rap and hip hop in rock history.

Rappers' Delight

The special exhibit celebrated the brilliance of Herb Ritts. This wildly talented man, was responsible for many of the most memorable photos of rockers through the ages until his untimely death in 2002.

Check out this video about the exhibit

The Hall of Fame did not ignore more current artists including the one and only – surely a future Hall of Famer herself, Taylor Swift.

Taylor Swift

The video experience continued in one theater dedicated to Dick Clark’s American Bandstand, another showing The Hall of Fame Film (the story of inductees from 1986-2013) and another showing highlights from the Rock Hall’s 25th anniversary concert at Madison Square Garden.

I could have sat in that last theater for hours watching a series of performances by past inductees.

Stevie Wonder and Sting. Steven Still & Graham Nash with James Taylor. Paul Simon with Art Garfunkel. Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Bonnie Raitt, and on and on and on.

Seriously, I tried to leave the theater THREE times and got drawn back in each time.

All too soon, Peter and I had to head back to our hotel to get ready for dinner. We were meeting one of his childhood friends and his wife for dinner. Both are judges doing great work in the area. Truly wonderful people and lifelong friends.

Before heading off to dinner with our pals, we stopped for a snack at the hotel bar.

Five hours of rock & roll make one VERY hungry.

Peter and I decided to celebrate our trip to Cleveland by eating like locals.

Pierogies

Pierogies smothered in shredded Amish cheddar cheese, bacon bits and garnished with chive sour cream.

Truly a snack fit for a rock star.

And so ended our lovely weekend in Cleveland.

If you are a fan of music, I heartily recommend that you make a trip to this great city to see the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Absolutely worth the trip!

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My Eclectic Taste In Music

The theme of today’s September Sapphire Even Day Blog Challenge is Harmony – Five CDs that rock (or pop or folk) your world.

I’m not very good at these challenges. We are supposed to come up with five and I am only sharing three. It was either three or forty and I thought you might lose interest in my list by number 22.

Buckle up kids, this is going to be a short but eclectic list.

Number One – Bruce Springsteen’s “Born To Run”. It’s quite difficult for me to pick my favorite Springsteen album so I chose this one because it contains one of my very favorite songs of all time: “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out”.

In addition to the iconic start of the song, I love it’s homage to The Big Man, the late Clarence Clemmons, whose voice you can hear in this clip. We miss you Clarence.

Bruce Springsteen puts on, by a million miles, the best concerts I have ever seen. I’ve been lucky enough to attend about 15 of his concerts and every one has lasted well over three straight hours, often with at least three encores. Springsteen gives it his all for every minute of every show. The guy is amazing.

My very first Springsteen concert was during my freshman year in college. We camped out in the student union for two nights to buy tickets and were rewarded for our efforts with front row seats. THE most amazing concert experience of my life.

Funny story about that concert, my friends and I, rocking out in our front row seats got really, really annoyed by the obnoxious guys who left their seats way, way back in the arena to park themselves in front of us, blocking our view. Fortunately they were shooed away by security before I had to open a can of whoop-ass on them.

Hahaha! Turns out that one of those guys was my now husband of 33 years.  Crazy, right? And he is not at all obnoxious, just a huge Springsteen fan like myself so I forgave him for his rude behavior.

Another of my lifetime favorites is James Taylor. Again, it’s hard to choose a favorite album so I will decide by giving the nod to JT’s (James Taylor being the original JT) debut album.

I chose this video because it was recorded in 1972 and gives the feel of the era in which I listened to this album for endless hours.

This song and this album always make me think of my super fabulous sister because it was she that bought the album and introduced me to the melodic sounds of James Taylor. Every time I hear this song it makes me smile.

And the final spot on my top 3 list goes to the one, the only, recently reunited (for about a minute and a half) ‘N Sync.

Stop laughing, I’m serious.

I defy anyone to listen to “Bye, Bye, Bye” and keep your toes from tapping. I’m just sayin’.

Back in the day, these guys put on a great show. Completely different than the epic Springsteen concerts which are just raw energy and music, these guys were the quintessential singer/dancer showmen.

And I loved them.

I have every one of their CDs and have seen them in concert several times.

Clare and I went to a concert together which was notable for two things (not including the wonderful performance by my boys): we were the only adults there who were not accompanied by someone under the age of 15 and I took a tumble off of a step resulting in a partial tear of my meniscus which still gives me little “reminders” of that special night.

Another memorable NSYNC concert experience was the time that my dear daughter, Annie, who was actually in the band’s target age group at the time, refused to go to yet another ‘N Sync concert with her mother. Fear not! I convinced Clare’s daughter and another dear friend to fly to Virginia to visit me for the weekend and attend the concert as my cover guests.

It was awesome! Thanks, girls!

I really do have pretty eclectic taste in music. I don’t judge a performer for being too “bubblegum” or too “commercial” – obviously.  My other favorites include Mumford & Sons, Taylor Swift, Tom Petty, Josh Ritter, Carrie Underwood – really just anybody whose music makes me happy, makes me dance and/or makes me take notice.

What about you? Favorites?

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A Worldwide Virtual Choir

Imagine a choir, made up of singers from around the world, joined into one amazing virtual choir.

Eric Whitacre imagined such a thing – and made it happen.

Have you heard of this guy? He spoke at a conference that Peter recently attended. I think his story reflects the awesome power and potential of social media to bring people together no matter where they live.

His TED video gives some background.

Eric Whitacre, a Grammy Award winning musician, composer and conductor came up with the idea for a virtual choir after receiving the You-Tube video of a young fan, performing one of Whitacre’s compositions.  In 2009, he decided to try to put together a collection of voices singing his composition “Lux Aurumque”.

Whitacre put out a call for singers, making available to them a recording of “Lux Aurumque” and a video of himself conducting the piece so that all the singers would be on the same tempo.  He received 185 submissions from 12 different countries.  The individual entries were compiled and the resulting video went viral.

Virtual Choir 2 was a presentation of Whitacre’s “Sleep”. Singers numbering 2,051, from 58 contributed.

“Water’s Night”, the third in the series, featured almost 3,000 singers from 73 different countries. The compilation video was shown on the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic to honor those who lost their lives.

In 2012, Whitacre launched a kickstarter campaign and raised $100,000 to produce his most ambitious virtual choir: “Fly To Paradise”.  This production featured 5,905 singers from 101 different countries and was premiered at the Coronation Festival at Buckingham Palace on July 11, 2013.

The participants have created their own no-so-little virtual community, keeping in contact through other social media means like Facebook. Apparently there has even been a romantic collection between some of the contributors, including at least one engagement!  Singers who took part in the “Fly To Paradise” video reportedly reached out to their colleagues shown in the building windows next to theirs. (Hard to describe but will make sense to you if you watch the above video.)

I love hearing about ways people use technology and social media to make the world a better place. With music as the universal language, Eric Whitacre brought together thousands of people who might not see eye to eye about politics or religion or anything else but their voices joined in harmony in a breathtakingly beautiful way.

Just amazing!

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