I was extremely excited when I heard that the Musical Instrument Museum was opening in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area. It seemed like such a great idea, plus, there was a small theater that I thought would be perfect for a solo concert for Peter White or Marcus Miller, and maybe they might finally come to town for a solo gig.
I had visited the Museum one time before, for a Regent Seven Seas Cruises, after work presentation, with hors d’oeuvres and open bar. After the presentation we could tour the Museum on our own. I heard that there was an interactive room, which they call the “Experience Gallery”, where you can play a guitar, a harp, finger piano, bang a gong, bongos, well, you get the point. While everyone else went in groups in an orderly direction, I hightailed it over to the Experience Gallery.
There was a female guard there, so it was just she and I, and I was trying out everything. I think my penchant was marimbas…or at least I wanted them to be. I really excelled in bongos. Once I banged the Gong, and engaged the player piano, I went out and caught up with the others. I saw guitars from George Benson, Eric Clapton and a John Lennon exhibit. There was one of Elvis’ guitars, and I even saw a ukulele belonging to Jake Shimabukuro on display. You know what I was thinking…where is Marcus Miller’s Bass? Peter White’s Guitar? The nerve!
When I found out that there was a benefit in early March at this very Museum, and the performers were Euge Groove, Eric Darius, Marion Meadows and Peter White (!), I was thrilled! Finally, PW on the stage that I envisioned him on. It was a benefit for Music Foundation AZ (http://www.musicfoundationaz.org/).
While I was on The Smooth Jazz Cruise, Muse was kind enough to buy 2 tickets for us to go. What a fantastic gift, as I knew I would also get to hang with her again. What I didn’t know was that my Mom would enter the Hospital Wednesday night before the concert! All of my plans for intensive cleaning of my apartment were thrown out the window, and luckily Muse survived it!
Saturday morning, I woke up at 7:30 a.m., and ran out the door at 8:00 a.m. I wanted to visit my Mom early in the hospital, so that I could have ample time to get ready for the evening. After the visit, I brought Starbucks home for Muse and I, then climbed back into my bed. Just as I decide to nap a bit, the phone rings. It’s the hospital, and they hand the phone to my Mom. She had been moved to a different room while she was sleeping, and she was upset. I was not happy. I then get up, and run back to the Hospital. Once she is calmed, I start freaking out, because my time for beautification is slowly diminishing. I come back home, and immediately tell Muse to start before me, so I can lay down one more time!
The function is to start at 6:30 p.m. Peter White gives me a call around 4:30 and tells me that they are hosting a Masterclass for the kids, and did I want to come over. Unfortunately for me, that was not gonna happen. I tell him that I’m nowhere near ready, but thank him for the invite. (Darn!) Muse and I leave for the benefit at 5:45 p.m. which gets us there exactly at 6:00 p.m. We saw a few people seated outside, so we presumed that the doors were locked, and take a seat. It took one woman to go up to the door and walk in for us to feel goofy, so we followed her in, and got our tickets from Will Call.
There were people exiting the theatre and mulling behind the ticket desk, so we wondered if we could enter for a glass of wine. A couple of people walked through, so we started to walk through. We were stopped. We were not V.I.P. ticket holders. We continued to wait, and bumped into Eric Darius’ girlfriend, Lynne. I gave her a hug and introduced her to Muse. Then Ross Bolton and Darryl Williams came past us, they were obviously going for a break. Marion Meadows and his girlfriend Valerie also passed us, as if they were going home for a while. I’m thinking, when is this concert gonna start?!
I was happy to reconnect with Victoria, Vincent and Monica, as well as Coco. While Muse and I enjoyed some wine at a table, we had a woman join us in conversation about shoes. I was trying to remember the label other than Jimmy Choo that the women on Sex and the City wore (Manolo Blahnik). The woman said that she cannot wear closed shoes anymore, (we didn’t ask why), then proceeded to tell us that she turned down an opportunity to tour the museum with Peter White, and she was now regretting it. I sympathize, not letting on that I am a fan, and she starts telling me how much she adores him, has all of this CD’s, goes to his concerts when he is in the state, and more and more. She is all excited about it. I am looking for Peter, ’cause I so wanted him to walk up to us and see her freak out in glee. Finally I spot him; he’s having Monica take a photo with his painting.
I leave Muse and the woman, run over to beg him to come to our table, and I’m so excited, surely he thought I was nuts. He appeases me “Okay, Lory, Okay…”, and I rush back to the table. Of course, he is stopped at every step he takes, and then the woman excuses herself. Darn! I love to see other fans who dig him as much as I do get excited in his presence. I later look over, and she is talking with him! So much for the surprise.
Peter stops over afterward, and we are able to get a few photos with him before the show.
We started mingling about, and had a nice conversation with Michael Brotten and his wife, Jennifer. I was telling them how much I want to go to Mallorca for the Jazz Festival, and we were discussing the state of air fares these days. I excused myself to review the silent auction items that were up for sale. Many signed posters, guitars and festival packages up for grabs. They seemed to have a good response from the other guests. We were halfway finished with our wine when they began to open the doors. As we headed towards the entrance, we were told drinks were not allowed. Muse looked at her half-full glass and said something like “well, what are we supposed to do?” Since it was first come, first served seating, I knew what I was gonna do…down it. It’s a talent that only works with white wine. So I did. I was able to secure the closest seat a non-VIP could have-second row, center. I put my purse in the chair next to me to save Muse a seat. I looked around at the theatre. It was really lovely, with beautiful wood and stone, and know for its acoustics.
Oh, it was on now! But I forgot that being in front can be as much of a curse as it is a blessing! More on that later. Brad Laughlin, the organizer, introduced the show with the Artist who created the paintings, Lalo Cota. Lalo explained his inspiration for the paintings–to envision that the Artist’s music lives on, even after their demise. That made it much less morbid to me, I must say. I think that there was a collective and appreciative “Oh…” from the audience.
The show started out with each performer coming out on their own, then they all played together. It was a lovely sight to behold, as this is not usually a combination that you see together.
Of course, their were other guitars, with Ross Bolton playing, along with Darryl Williams on Bass guitar. Rodney Lee was on keyboards and Eric (Mr. Chocolate) Valentine completed the group on Drums. They were tight. And, as we were told, mostly unrehearsed. It speaks to their musicianship that they can all play each others tunes so adeptly.
Highlights for me: Euge played two of my favorite songs, “Sneak A Peek” and “Get ’em Goin”
Peter White opened with “Promenade”, my total “feel good” song
Marion Meadows showed us his classic cool:
And whoever said Eric Darius should follow Marion Meadows should be whipped–the “King of Bling” gave us his signature high energy performance, with his spectacular version of Alicia Key’s “If I Can’t Have You”.
There was a small intermission, where they auctioned off a pearl necklace and men’s watch. All towards a good cause. After the bidding war, it was back to the music! Euge Groove came back out, announcing that George Benson had joined the audience, and how they were honored to have him there. George maintains a home in the Scottsdale area, so it is not uncommon to see him at an event. We all gave him a round of applause, as he waved.
Euge then started in with his song “Mr. Groove”, where he offered his interactive DVD “Groove To This” as a prize to the person who best shaked their “Badonkadonk” (or Behind). He then says something that puts me into total shock: “And here to show you how it’s done is Lory!” Say WHAT??! My eyes bugged out, slack-jawed, as he continued, ‘Cmon Lory, show them how its done, or I’ll tell Joy!” Joy is my girlfriend who has always been called on when a demonstration of the “Badonkadonk” dance was needed, but Joy was not in town this time! I reluctantly stood up, and did a mini booty shake, then a small gyration, then sat down quickly. Euge asks me from the stage “Did I embarrass you?” “Uh, YEAH!” It stands to reason that a girlfriend of mine and Joy’s, Monica, won the contest and DVD, despite the strange gyrations of the woman next to her!
Peter played the always charming Isley Brothers Classic ‘Who’s That Lady”, and I swooned, of course.
Marion and Eric came back out as well, and Eric was all over the place with that horn!
Eric was up and down that theatre, playing the sax, waving, high-fiving people while playing, sitting on laps, he had the crowd (many who had never seen him before) mesmerized! I was convinced that a lot of Eric’s CD’s were going to be sold that night!
All was forgiven with Euge, once he started playing “From The TOP” to end the show. We were all on our feet dancing. Then I decided to catch Peter off-guard, and pulled up a photo Len Seward had taken that I had on my phone. When Peter looked over at us, I pulled the photo up, and pointed it at him.
He started laughing onstage once he saw it–I got him!
Then they announced the show was over. As is always true in Phoenix, the crowd starts to get up to leave. Not Muse and I. Then Brad Laughlin comes back out to ask if we want to hear one more. Hell yeah, I say! What is that finale? Why “Bueno Funk”, of course! We get funky, (those of us still there…) and Peter does his thing.
And I had to get this photo:
Now the show was really over, and Muse and I waited until everyone filed out (okay, an usher kicked us out!) We wanted to say hi to Eric Valentine, who we had not yet talked to. We went to the Lobby, and had a seat, as a long line was at the signing table. We found that these were the winners of the silent auction, as well as those wishing to buy CD’s and have them signed. The filed out one-by-one, and we got a chance to have a few words with them. I told Euge that the “Year of Euge Groove” was totally over since he called me out. He replied “but the year has just begun!” Okay, I rescinded my ban.
I asked him to sign my Phone case, as well as Eric Darius and PW. I stopped to tell Marion that he had deserted us in Phoenix for Hawaii (who wouldn’t), and that we were sad! He told me that he spends a lot of time in his home which was right down the street from the Museum, because it’s easier to make it to his gigs from here. I forgave him, too…haha!
We still waited for “Mr. Chocolate” to come out, but no dice. Michael B was nice enough to take me backstage, where everyone was waiting to leave. I first gave a big hug to the very cool Darryl Williams, then hugged Mr. Chocolate. He asked me where Muse was, and I knew with her stilettos, she was not running over. Eric, instead, ran out to see Muse and give her a quick hug. We talked to him a few minutes then off they went. Peter White was walking past toward the backstage, and I looked away, but grabbed him over as he walked by, as if on instinct, and gave him a goodbye hug.
Later, I would notice Peter post a photo of George Benson and himself on his Facebook page. Sounds like it was a great night for everyone!
Until the next adventure….