Joe Bonamassa and Other Company

joe bonamassa

August 15, 2017 – I attended the Joe Bonamassa concert at Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, New York. The ticket cost was $166 and was worth every penny. It was a balcony seat. There was a fat man that would have been next to me, but I concentrated on having space around me, and I took my place one seat away. I didn’t have to sit next to the fat man. No one sat on my left or right. Rejoice, Sacred Space.

stevie-ray-vaughan-for-radio-bdc-1050x700  Reese Wynans was the keyboard player.  Wynans joined Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble in 1985, playing keyboards on Soul to Soul and In Step and played with the band until Stevie Ray Vaughn’s tragic death in 1990. Vaughn was my all time favorite guitar blues player and his voice was something. I still miss him. Back in 1993, a black bus driver introduced me to Vaughn’s music. One day I got on the local bus in Lusby, Maryland, and the bus driver handed me a CD saying, “He’s the only white boy that can play the blues.” He was right. I thought of the bus driver tonight even though I don’t remember his name. He wasn’t the only person I thought of.

According to Joe Bonamassa’s Website, Anton Fig is one of New York’s most in-demand session drummers and has spent the last 29 years as the drummer for David Letterman’s house band on the NBC and CBS networks. Fig is one of America’s most widely-heard musicians and has racked up an impressive session resume playing on albums by Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Rosanne Cash, Joe Cocker, and Ronnie Spector. During his Letterman years, Fig recorded or performed live with such legends as James Brown, Eric Clapton, Miles Davis, and B.B. King. As a freelance drummer, he has played with Paul Simon and also in the house band for Bob Dylan’s historic 30th Anniversary concert celebration.

I wish you could have heard him play tonight. I have never heard anyone play drums like him. Believe me; I have known the best such as Chico Hamilton. It was thrilling to hear Anton’s versatility and power. The rhythms were extraordinary and carried me away.

Michael Rhodes is a bassist. Some of the musicians he’s played with include Mark Knopfler, Johnny Cash, Garth Brooks, Willie Nelson, Elton John, Stevie Nicks, Emmylou Harris, Faith Hill, and even the hottest star in the entire music industry, Taylor Swift. Rhodes is a fantastic bassist and played like a jam session with Bonamassa.

Lee Thornburg is a trumpeter. You can hear Thornburg’s past work with Bonamassa on four of his #1 Billboard releases, including Live at the Royal Albert Hall, the Grammy-Nominated album Seesaw with Beth Hart, Muddy Wolf at Red Rocks, and Live at Radio City Music Hall.

Paulie Cerra is a versatile and dynamic Saxophone player. He has played with Stevie Wonder, Kirk Franklin, Lucky Peterson, Luther Allison, Little Milton, Bobby Bland, Billy Preston and Jimmy Johnson. Cerra joined Joe’s band earlier this year and you can hear him on the #1 Billboard Blues release Live at Radio City Music Hall.

These musicians are the world’s best. The music lifted me up and beyond an earthly experience. I felt like I ascended to the cosmos. I thought of old friends who had already walked on and those who I used to play with in my twenties, and the gay times we had when we were young and reckless.

I remembered Michael R., and it felt like I was dancing with him again at Michael’s. Back then, we were in our 20s. Michael was a system design engineer, and I was a clerical training instructor for Digital Equipment Corporation in Maynard, MA. Sadly, Michael, at 61 years old, died Friday, April 24, 2009, at MetroWest Medical Center in Framingham, Massachusetts.

I am so glad there is life beyond this planet, and we can still dance in the stars for time immortal. Energy never dies. It changes and that is OK. Our minds are a wonderful thing and if we hang on to great memories, we are blessed.

In this natural high state, I felt like I was among friends around a campfire and we danced. I remember having a shawl on. Mind you; I lost my shawl tonight. I must have got distracted when I came out of the Gideon Putnam and saw all the fire trucks. The door man, asked me if I was looking for a cab? I said yes, and he escorted me to the waiting cab. I must have lost my shawl in the confusion in front of the historical hotel.

The driver Fred was such a gentleman. He is a gambler and likes the horses and cards. I told him about my time with Henry who knew the horses because he worked with them for 30 years. In 2014, Henry and I bet on American Pharoah and we won the Triple Crown. After the race in Saratoga Springs, when American Pharoah lost, Henry passed away. I went down to the garden where the waterfall is and cried like a baby. I liked Henry and he gave me a thrill by teaching me about racing. Then I lost my thrill. I had to find something else that gave me a high so I started learning about the Stock Market with Jim Cramer. I study it daily with Mad Money. So far I am doing OK. I know it could change in a blink. That is why I study it daily.

At the concert, while I was in a natural high, In my imagination, I saw my friend Sandy S. She is precious to me, and it made me tear up realizing how much I miss her. I miss the ceremonies we used to perform. We used to dance around in a circle and chant the Water Ceremony song Nibi Wabo. These times were sacred and oh how I miss them. Time is moving so fast. I feel like a space traveler.

Listen to Joe at https://www.facebook.com/JoeBonamassa
You Better Watch Yourself. Love this blues. Blow me away! I am wild about the keyboarder Arlan Oscar Schierbaum, although he didn’t play tonight. This piece Dislocated Boy reminds me of Michael more than any other.

I miss my blazing fire pit at my former home in Minong, WI. How I loved those times. Seeing the lightning bugs and listening to the night critters and the tree frogs. The wolves used to yap and yell, and I loved it. I miss my wild country. You can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t make her a total city girl. My wild side still calls, and Joe called it up again tonight.

I normally don’t write about events like this, but this was such an alive moment for me. Just as a final note. I grieved for Michael for several days and felt his presence close, and He has walked on now.

Ode to Henry Robinson

Henry Robinson  In the fall of of 2014, I made a new friend. Henry Robinson had a beautiful smile and happy presence. Many times I would see him in his wheelchair outside taking in the last of the sun rays before the warmth of the sun set. He loved being outdoors. This may be one of the reasons I was drawn to him. I worship the sun also, the gift of life.

Henry would come over from Wesley Nursing Home and I would see him In the Embury Cafe having a cup of coffee. It wasn’t long before I gravetated towards him because he had a smile that drew you in. Henry loved horses and he enjoyed talking about them. I didn’t have any previous knowledgeable with horses, outside of my love affair with Secretariat. Slowly but surely, I started to learn and become excited about one horse in particular. His name is American Pharoah. One day Henry needed to see the post line ups because we were going to bet on the Kentucky Derby. I said, “Don’t worry. I will take the bus downtown and pickup the Racing Form at Stewarts.”  I brought the form back and gave it to my friend. Later that day or the next he told me how the race was going to line up. I was ready to place my bet. Trouble is, I didn’t know how.

My cousin Jimmy and his wife Stephanie were taking me to dinner that evening. I asked Jimmy if he could take me over to the Racino and Race Track to bet on the race. I was embarressed that I didn’t know how. Jimmy took me up to the window and told the attendant that this was my first time betting at 70 years old. Both of them got a kick out of that. Well, my horse naturally won. It was a thrill. How many of them do we get at this age?

Next there the the Preakness Race and Henry and I had some lively discussions on how to play this race. Once again we both won. I was so excited that I had to call him up and let him know how grateful I was. He literally found it fun to see my enthusiasm. Oh what a happy soul he was.

Then the Triple Crown was next. By this time Henry was in intensive care. I called the hospital to keep abreast of him. In awhile he rebounded and was given a room. Then I could talk to him on the phone. Before the Triple Crown I had to go to Massachsetts. I was cut-off from communicating with Henry because he was not well. I went ahead and placed a bet via the computer using Off Track Betting. Again I didn’t know what I was doing but, I was going to give it a shot and bet on American Pharoah because this was the horse that Henry had faith in. American Pharoah didn’t let us down. He won the Triple Crown.

American Pharoah1Then a call came in, a family member was seriously ill, I had to leave Massachusetts and get back home. As soon as I got back I went over to Wesley Nursing Home to visit Henry. He was in his room. I knew he was ill because he was still in bed. I thanked him for the thrill of a lifetime. He smiled and said, “Oh we have some big races coming up this summer with the Travis. American Pharoah will be racing. Bob Baffet is bringing some good horses to Saratoga Springs this summer.”

That was the last time I saw my friend. I went over to the Wesley Nursing Home this past week because Henry wasn’t answering the phone. This is when the nurse told me that Henry was gone. He had walked on. I was broken up about my friend and went out to the garden for a good cry. At least he knew that he gave me the gift of friendship and excitment in our shared love of a magnificant horse. I don’t plan on ever betting again. This was a gift that Henry gave me. I will cherish this memory as it stands.