Up until last weekend, I thought classical guitar was best received at restaurants and wineries. So when Kevin and I were invited to perform at the Red White and Blues (and all that Jazz) festival for veterans at Soper Reese, I was forced to change my view of classical guitar. I don’t know blues; at least not well enough to perform in front of people. All I had were my romantic classical guitar songs, which was what I played.
Playing classical guitar with blues and jazz artists is something I’ve never done before. There were many, wonderful acts, which I’ll post pictures of in just a moment. Each act was allowed to showcase two pieces. The Mendo Lake Singers are a fantastic four part harmony, barber shop style, a cappella group. Andy Rosoff is an incredible blue pianist and New Orleans singer. The Lake County Dance Team preformed “It’s Almost Like Being in Love”. There were many more amazing acts (whom I will talk about later). It was a pleasure preforming with these talented artists. They are so far outside of my genre, that I probably wouldn’t have met many of these performers, had it not been for this show.
During the process we were warmly received by the other performers, the director, Cindy Strong, and the director of the Lake County Arts Council, Shelby Posada.
Kevin and I dedicated our songs to the war vets, MIAs, and POWs. The audience and the vets loved it.
I guess we fit well outside of the restaurant/winery circuit. This whole experience broadened my expectation of classical guitar. Not everything fits into one category.
Here are the wonderful acts I performed with. Since this post has many images, I put the pictures behind a cut. Click the link to see them.
This is Tom Xavier (right) and Max Lehman (left) performing Tom’s original music. Tom has a phoneminal singing voice and writes superb lyrics. The two songs they performed were “When I Come Home” and “Red, White & Blue”.
Max Lehman is only in high school. He not only plays upright bass, but clarinet and guitar. He was performing country music in this set, but at the end of the night he came out and played What A Wonderful World on clarinet. He is talented in many many genres. He’s got a good start on his music career. I wonder who he’ll be ten years from now.
Here’s Antoinette’s Dancers performing “It’s Almost like Being in Love” by Frederick Loewe. Their dancing was beautiful.
This lovey trio had amazing harmonies. Surprisingly, all three of their names are Kathleen, Cathy and Cathy! The Cathy in the middle had only been singing for two years prior to this show, and I was in awe at how far her vocal talents had come in such a short amount of time. These girls sang “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” and “Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen”.
These delightful ladies are the sparkly, Mendo Lake Singers! They sang four part harmony, barber shop style tunes from “Yankee doodle Boy” to “Java Jive” to “You Made me Love You” and “God Bless America”. This group has been in existence for thirty years, and they are quite the performers. They stole the stage while they were there.
Last but not least, Kevin and I came after intermission. I performed two classical songs, and then we performed some rock songs together. This show was such a blast. We had a rocking time.
Some of you may know, I also play saxophone. This was at the end of the night when the whole cast came out to sing What a Wonderful World. And there’s Max playing clarinet.
Ahh, it felt so great to play on a stage. I enjoy playing the subdued-background-dinner-music, but it doesn’t give the adrenaline rush of being on a stage. The Soper Reese theater is a beautiful place to play.
I can’t wait for the next show!
Till next time,
(photos by Michael Stempe and Xian Yeagan)