Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Night to Remember: My Date with The Monkees

My rock concert experiences have been few and far between.  Although as a kid I was more into the Jackson Five (the animal lover in me listened to Michael Jackson’s Ben over and over) then the Osmonds, I saved up my allowance money to take my favorite aunt to see them in Buffalo for her birthday.  My next concert was another teeny-bopper affair: David Cassidy had me joining in with all the other screaming girls.  As I matured my music tastes didn’t get any more sophisticated than Elton John, whom I have seen a couple of times and have never tired of the way his music touches me.
I am a loyalist when it comes to musicians and bands that take me back to my childhood; my iPod is filled with the sounds of music that makes me feel good.  So when the opportunity came recently to see The Monkees in Las Vegas, I felt like a preteen again, hopping about in anticipation before, during and after the event.  The experience was everything and more for me and I wish, like every other fan there that I could express to the group how much they mean to me. 

I attended with my Las Vegas BFF Linda, whose enthusiasm nearly surpassed my own.  She and I are the same age and come from the same region in New York, so our childhood experiences with Monkee Love are the same.  I told my husband it was a good thing he wasn’t going with us because we were sure to make fools of ourselves.  Thank goodness we were in good company; the other concert-goers took no notice of us as they were screaming and dancing in their seats the same as us. 
Davy Jones was, of course, missed.  Mike, Peter, and Mickey (he and Davy were my crushes) did a beautiful tribute to their lost band mate when they said that “Daydream Believer” belonged to the fans so they brought a guy from the audience up to lead us all in singing we watched a montage of Davy scenes from the television show. 

During the entire concert I wondered how I would put into words the feelings I was having so I could write a blog post.  Although I have conveyed here a little bit of the experience, I really am at a loss for words to share everything I was feeling.  My emotions were mixed with nostalgia and joy, but there was so much more that I don’t know how to express.  To have been able, in my fifties, to see and hear live a group that I only dreamed of being in the presence of as a kid is, well – I have no words to express.  That is perhaps why music sometimes says it better and while I swayed, sang, jiggled, and screamed during the concert, I let me emotions do the talking for me. 
It was a magical night. 

Check out the video:

Monday, August 12, 2013

Taking a Trip Takes Its Toll, But I'd Do It All Again

Summer is winding to a close and before it does I wanted to finish my chronicle of the summer trip I took with my eleven-year-old grandson, Aiden. 

My last post had me picking Aiden up from a sleepover with his "cousins."  It was Saturday and his next stop was to the home of his mother's friend to spend the day with more kids.  After a goodbye, I headed down the road to the reason I had come to New York at that particular time - the Batavia Ramble Music Festival

My friend Mike Murray, a guy I knew ages ago in high school and thanks to Social Media we have stayed in touch, is one of the organizers of this annual event.  He's been pushing me for years to come to the Festival and I finally made it.  The Batavia Ramble is a chance for several bands to play on stages in Batavia's Jackson Square and for old friends to reconnect. 

Mike Murray jamming with pals at
O'Lacey's Irish Pub

I was really looking forward to seeing friends I'd long left behind. 

It was a typical NY summer: hot and muggy.  I just don't look my best when I'm mopping sweat from my face and trying to keep my hair from turning into a frizzled mess.  But it was all worth it because I did get to see many old friends and catch up on the years since we'd last seen each other.  All of this catching up, however, had a detrimental effect on me.

I'd woken up that morning with a dry and scratchy throat, a result I was sure of my previous late night out and talking too loud.  Personally I didn't feel that I'd done an inordinate amount of talking, after all it's what I do (see Call Me Chatty Cathy).  In any case, by late afternoon my voice was weakening.  I felt fine, just tired.  I said my goodbyes to old friends, picked up Aiden and headed to see more people.

Before I headed to one of my favorite places, the large farmstead of one of my dearest friends, I took Aiden to meet yet more cousins and see my brother and his wife.

I wasn't much good company, however; the heat was draining me and my voice was little more than a whisper.  A good night's sleep and I'd be alright I told myself.  Once I'd arrived at Kathy and Danny's in the town of Medina, I was ready for some shut eye. 

The next morning my voice was completely absent.  We went to breakfast at this great place that was serving a Sunday Pancake Brunch made from the berries they picked on site.  Danny's aging mom was there, a really nice woman whom I hadn't seen since 1997 and I couldn't talk to her at all!  The rest of the day was a blur of activity, which probably didn't help me try to recover my strength.  In these small towns of NY going to visit isn't just a "hop, skip, and a jump."  You have to travel many long miles to get from one place to another. 

I had agreed to take Aiden to see his paternal grandfather.  He lived 60 miles from Medina.  But it was worth it because he was so happy to see his little grandson.

From there I invited us back to my brother, Mike's house.  While I rested my brother took Aiden to a local treasure: Vidler's 5 & 10 Store

To say that Aiden was like a kid in a candy store is an understatement; Vidler's IS a candy store and much more.  It was even highlighted on Martha Stewart's now defunct television show. 

After a great meal made by my big brother, Aiden and I slept.  I woke up no better.  We had just one more full day in NY and I was hoping to make the best of it.  It included one of my favorite activities:
a hike in the woods

where we found an abandoned cabin to explore

and more visits
Aiden walks with Kathy around her Water Lilly-filled pond

Nothing like a tractor ride!
the eating of more great food, and then to bed early so we could catch an early flight home.

It took another week for my voice to return to normal.  I developed an accompanying cough and eventually had to go on antibiotics, which worked to finally get rid of whatever bug I must have caught.  Was it worth it?  You bet.  I can't wait to take another memorable trip with Aiden.  Next stop: Orlando, Florida to go to Sea World, where another old school (college) friend works with marine mammals and he wants to give Aiden the chance to pet a walrus and then to Disney World to experience the World of Harry Potter. 

Nana and Aiden.  Picture taken under the famed Erie Canal