A couple of months ago I was looking at trying to find things to do with my friends before I leave. I used to go to several Chris Boitti concerts a year with a group of friends. Chris Botti plays trumpet and I first saw him opening for Josh Groban in 2004. There were two good seats in Row G left. It was fate.
After worrying if Kathy and I were going to be able to make it on time, Kathy was able to move her schedule and have someone cover the end of her class. We were off for the normally 1.5 hour drive before 4:30. At 6:30, after a fun detour through Ybor City and a drive by Tropicana Field (where the Tampa Bay Rays play), we were still on the causeway over to Clearwater. Traffic was crawling and we were starved, starved enough to grab Checkers down the road and scarf it down in the parking lot.
First off, I really loved Ruth Eckerd Hall. I have been trying to go to a show there for years, it is just so hard to get to Clearwater since there are always tons of people going in the few ways there are to get in. The place is a little old and outdated in looks, which is a common thing in Florida, especially for nice places near/on the beach. The seats were velvet covered and cushy and most importantly, the sound was AMAZING. Definitely the best sound I have heard in Florida. The seats were great. Not the closest seats I have ever had, great for sound though and overall view. Pictures were not as good as at the Hard Rock though. The lighting was not as good either, which is my excuse :).
Best part was probably the fact there was no opening act. That is right, all Chris, no sitting through another painful opening act. Makes me happy that the entire time was to Chris. Only it was not just Chris. Chris has always had a top-notch band backing him up. Only this time it was all mixed up. His long time guitarist was out and the other members were a mash-up of new and old.
Robert Hurst was on bass. He went to Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp like I did, makes me like him even more, though it is not necessary. He is awesome and always gets a great groove moving. Geoffrey Keezer was on keys. I really loved he and Chris playing my Funny Valentine at the end, very smooth. On drums is the always there Billy Kilson. I only think he missed one show I have ever been at. Billy rocks. He is always chewing gum and is really a machine. I could not remember the name of the violinist and I believe Mark was replaced on guitar by Leonardo Amued, an amazing guitarist from Brazil.
The most amazing part of the band to me was Lisa Fischer by far (does she have an official page any where I can link to and get info from?). She might have been the highlight of the whole show. When she started the look of love she did this vocal playing at the front of the song that was just so amazing. I cannot explain it. This does not give it justice, but here is a You tube Video of a performance of her with Chris. I do believe Billy and Geoffrey are there too. She has sung with so many great people, Rolling Stones, Sting, Luther Vandross, etc. but she steals the show. Really, look her up and see her in person. It was amazing.
Kathy and I decided that this was the best sounding concert we have been to. It was truly amazing. Also, before we left her daughter was crying because she thought that was the last time she was going to be able to see me. However, it was just the last time she was going to be able to see Jack, my dog. So, I bought a ridiculously priced poster and after the show we had Chris sign it to Helen, don’t cry. It was cute.
So, since I cannot remember the set list and the funny details of our adventure since I did not write this fast enough, I will let pictures tell the rest of the story…
The many expressions of Mr. Billy Kilson:
And, Kathy, Chris and I after the show!
If there is an easier way to get photos in a slide show or presented neatly let me know please!
More photos here.