Friday, April 8, 2016

Tony Comes To Town

My dear friend was on tour and his tour included Orlando.

Tony Bennett.

His publicist got tickets for me, my wife, and her mother and did I mention the back stage passes? Three of them. We were more than set.

Have you ever been a hero in your own house? It's pretty sweet I have to tell ya. The evening of the show we were dressed up and buzzing and off we went.

On our way to the concert, in the car, my wife asked her mother, "Between Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Tony Bennett, who was your favorite?" I knew the answer but I'd never heard the question put quite like that.

"Oh, Tony!" she gushed and there you have it.

Remember that exchange, it comes up again.

We got there early and saw that people were out in their finery, dressed to the nines. Because they hadn't opened the doors to the venue yet we found ourselves in the line for drinks. We get to the front and my wife very sweetly asked the bartender, "What kind of vodka do you have?" The bartender smiled and said, "Well I guess no red or white for you!"

When we got to our seats the curtain was up and you could see four instruments. A piano, drum set, a stand up bass and an electric guitar. And, oh yes, a microphone on a stand.

The first to come out was Tony's daughter, Antonia. Even though she was very pregnant she sang beautifully. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

And then, here came Tony.

For the next hour and a half we were transported to another world. The world of class, of elegance, of style. Through the whole concert he never sat down, never used a teleprompter to help him with lyrics. I mention that because Tony is eighty nine. 

He also sounded great.

That night, as I've seen him do many times, Tony sang a song without the mic. Very impressive and very good. One last thing, he just finished a tour with Lady Gaga. He also did an album with her. Tony said from the stage, "I just did an album with Lady Gaga. When you leave tonight I beg you to buy the record." With a twinkle he added, "She needs the money." Laughter exploded from the audience.

And then he was gone.

Okay, back stage passes. The three of us went to a side door of the theater and were let inside. I was a bit verklempt because I hadn't seen my friend in awhile. We  had talked but not face to face. There were about twenty people back stage and then it happened. I heard my name being called, it was his tour manager. He pulled us to the side.

And there he was.

Great doesn't begin to describe it. Hugs and smiles and smiles and hugs. Tony's wife, Susan, was there and we go way back as well. More hugs.

And then that exchange I told you to remember.
Tony Bennett and Peggy Hall

 Denise told Tony what had happened in the car and that he was her mother's favorite. And then she added, "Would you mind taking a picture with her?" Always the gentleman he said, "I'd be happy to."

And did.

You better believe that picture is in a Special Place.

A hero in your own house.

And that's my Tony Bennett story.

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