Friday, June 6, 2014

I Am Seeing Stars

I have never had much money. I do not need much but there have been times I wished there had been just a bit more.

For instance I could not afford to go to many of the concerts that occasionally came to the moderately sized city I lived in while I was in high school. The very biggest stars did not come because the market was much too small but there were well-known names.

My friend's grandfather was a janitor at the auditorium where such things were held. Sometimes he could get free tickets for us. It was there that there was a country/western revue. It was called country/western at the time instead of country music as it is now.

The headliner was Skeeter Davis. She had a marvelous stage presence. No wonder she was so loved by her fans. This was before she had her big hit of "End Of The World" so she was not known throughout the country as she became later.

Then there were Gary Lewis and the Playboys. He was the son of comedian Jerry Lewis. They had a huge hit with "This Diamond Ring". They seemed a bit bored and I believed they performed only in order to boost sales of their record. It showed me that not all performers care much about the audience.

At school Dear Abby and Ann Landers visited and gave talks to the assembly. They were twins who had attended the school so they were warmly welcomed. Their talks were always based on advice for teenagers who as we all know are tempted to all forms of evil. I have to say though that the talks were not as dry as one might think. I rather enjoyed them.

After I married I moved to a large city. There were concerts all the time with a lot of famous artists. My husband was not interested and we could not have afforded to go even so. But as my children began to get older I allowed them to go with my younger brothers and sisters. For them I could find the money.

After my husband left I felt like I could do more of the things I enjoyed. So I did.

KISS was a favorite of my brothers and sisters and my kids. That was probably the first concert any of my children went to. I like KISS well enough but not enough to pay for a ticket.

My oldest son was out of school and working. There was to be a KISS concert in a smaller city nearby. The kids wanted to go. As they usually did they asked if I would like to go. I said no. They bought me a ticket anyway.

As usual we had a niece and a nephew who went too. So here I am driving a small car with me and six young people filling it. It was not a fun trip.

We stopped for dinner at a small restaurant. With all the boys (four of the stinkers) a food fight was inevitable. Of course the girls joined in. Did I mention that I am a girl? I left a very generous tip.

It is customary for ticket holders in that part of the country to be searched before entering the concert area. They were looking for cameras and liquor mostly. Unfortunately now they also look for weapons. Anyway I decided to be cute when I got to the check point.

I pulled my coat open and told the guards (a male and a female) to be careful. All those big boys behind me were mine and very protective. One wrong move and there would be trouble. The boys obliged by leaning forward and looking fierce. The guards were unimpressed. After my search they passed me through.

I truly enjoyed that concert. KISS puts on a show for and with the audience. I recommend them for anyone who likes their music.

Grease is one of my favorite music. So many of the things that happen in the movie remind me of my high school days. And the music is great.

When the movie first came out I wanted to take my children. But I had heard that it was not always suitable for children so I went with my sister and her friend to see it first.

There is a scene in the movie at the drive-in theater. Danny and Sandy are in their car. Danny finally manages to jerk his class ring from his finger to give to Sandy. In the process his elbow hits her in the chest. I flinched because I know how that can hurt.

After she accepts it and gushes about how she knows that he really respects her, he treis to make his move. She shrinks from under his grasp and jumps out of the car. She slams the door in anger and hits Danny in the groin.

I jumped up, right there in the theater and groaned. Loudly. My sister and her friend both slid down in their seats, embarrassed to be seen with me. You would think my sister would be used to me by this time.

I decided that my children could handle whatever they saw in the movie. I saw it as often as I could. I watch it when it comes on television. I have several DVD's all gifts from my grandchildren. If they replay it at the theater I make an evening of it with my granddaughters. I have even seen Grease On Ice.

Grease began as a play. It was so popular that a movie was made. In the meantime the play is constantly being redone. It tours the country periodically. Each time the cast is different.

I have seen (to name a few) Mackenzie Phillips (daughter of John Phillips and Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and Papas), Sally Strothers, the winners of a reality show that chose the Danny and Sandy for the tour, and FRANKIE AVALON! After the play Frankie Avalon came out and sang most of his big hits. My granddaughters got to see this.

Christmas and a ballet just seem to go together. My friend got tickets to The Nutcracker and invited me to be her guest. I quickly accepted. It was the final year that Mikhail Baryshnikov was touring. It was a fairy tale come to life.

One of my granddaughters has the nerve to have another grandmother. (Of course they all do) Her grandmother was taking her and her cousin to see The Nutcracker. She graciously invited me. We all had a marvelous time. It is a good piece to introduce little ones to ballet. The tradition has continued without me in attendance. The girls even had backstage passes one year. They were able to meet the stars of the show.

I love the magic of a song like The Unicorn. And it is the best lullaby I know. It is the first song I sang to all my children and grandchildren.

I had wanted to go see The Irish Rovers who sang it for a long time. I even looked into taking a trip with a group from one of the community colleges one year. Then I discovered that my daughter was due to give birth during that time. Plans cancelled. My granddaughter was born the day of the concert.

None of my children wanted to see something as corny as the Irish Rovers. Then my grandchildren turned up their noses.

I noticed one evening that they were coming to town again. My daughter's son and daughter were spending the weekend with me. I was lamenting to my son that I wanted to go. He told me to go ahead and go. But I lamented that it would be no fun to go alone and even my friends did not want to go with me. (Some friends!)

My granddaughter said, "I will go with you, Grandma." I was shocked. I asked if she was sure. She was. I checked the date, got permission from her parents, and bought the tickets.

We made an evening of it. We dressed up and went out to dinner. Then we went to the concert. Because we got the tickets late we had seats in the balcony but they were good ones. We could see very well and the acoustics were good.

My granddaughter was mesmerized. She loved the music and the sing-alongs. She laughed heartily at the jokes. She was in love.

She gave off such a glow. The man who sat on the other side of her was having as much fun as I was watching her enjoy the show.

Before the intermission the band announced that they would be staying after for a "meet-and-greet". My granddaughter asked if we could stay. Of course we could.

Besides a fun show that appeals to everybody, these are truly nice guys. As they sign autographs they speak to the person they are signing for. They especially take time with children.

We made a yearly trip to see the Irish Rovers. Each time it was dinner first. Each time the band members spoke to her and made her feel special. After a couple of years they recognized her and made little gifts to her, like a shamrock from the table where they sat. Little touches like that have made her a fan for life.

As you can see I still did not attend many concerts. I do not like the crowds. I do not like waiting in line to get in. I really hate the rush of people who are in such a hurry to leave.

But my oldest son is a huge fan of Queen. He was too young to see them when they toured the United States years ago. He regretted not being able to see Freddie Mercury perform.

When Queen + Paul Rogers announced their tour my son received a pre-order offer that he could not refuse. He asked if I would like to go and I accepted. He could get four tickets for an extraordinarily low price so he asked if my son and his wife would be interested. She was not but my granddaughter was so my son and his daughter were with us.

My oldest son was warning me when we left our house that my youngest son seemed to be a violence magnet at concerts. Usually all he would have to do is tell the offender to "sit down and shut the *^#* up!" Then he said, "Do you know what happens then?" I said, "They sit down and shut up." *^#* is not a word I say. And he said, "Yep." with a certain amount of pride in his voice.

My granddaughter was 14 or 15 at the time. She is tiny and asked if she could sit on the aisle seat so she could see. Of course. I sat next to her, then my oldest son, then her father.

In came "Mr Super Cool". He sauntered and surveyed as he walked. His seat was right in front of mine. He removed his leather jacket with a great deal of ceremony and placed it over the back of his seat. He then sashayed ( I know. Men are not sashay-ers but he wanted to be noticed) away until the concert began.

When he came back he noticed my pretty granddaughter. He noticeably noticed her. My antennae went up. I felt my son's blood pressure go up.

The concert was fantastic. It was exceptional in every way. It has to be at the top of any concert list.

At about the middle of the concert the man in front was turning often to look at my granddaughter. She did not seem to notice so I said nothing. My son came over and said he wanted to sit behind my granddaughter. I told my other son to be ready just in case. He already was.

Suddenly my youngest son reached between me and my granddaughter to point that family finger about half an inch from the guy's face. He ranted for a couple of minutes about perverts after little girls and then told the guy what would happen if he did not leave his daughter alone.

"Mr Super Cool" quickly and nervously apologized. He meant nothing according to him. The show went on. Then I saw him eying a little girl of about twelve across the aisle. Worse than that her mother seemed pleased. Ick.

When this indescribably wonderful concert was over the lights went up. The man was gone like a thief in the night. He was probably lucky. By the way the little girl and her mother were still there so she was also safe.

My granddaughter held her father's hand all the way to the car. He told me that she always did. That way he could protect her. It was so sweet.

So this is my concert experience. I missed seeing Ricky Nelson not long before he died. My boss would not let me have the night off. Since he was my all-time favorite I was more than disappointed.


  1. You have certainky seen a variety of live performances, Emma. I have been to a few concerts over the years and heard Paul Anka, a personal favorite, Celtic Woman (Pat's favorite)' James Taylor, Garrison Keillor, and a handful of strictly musical concerts and even a couple of operas. My favorite activity years ago when I lived in NJ was to take a bus on weekends and attend a Broadway matinee after waiting in the discount TKTS line in Times Square. i saw a number of famous actors incouding Henry Fonda, Jane Seymour, Claudette Colvert, Rex Harrison, Frank Langella, Michael Crawford, Danny Aiello, Smothers Brothers...and so many more. I was in my 20s and thought nothing of going off on these solo adventures. I even have a collection of autographed playbills and wonder if any of the signatures would be worth anything as some of these performers have since died.

    1. It must have been wonderful to be able to see so many of your favorites. I have not had the opportunity to see the Smothers Brothers and I would love to. Most of the others you mentioned are dead so I know there is no chance there.