Chris Botti at Ruth Eckerd Hall Clearwater

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  The place is a little old and outdated in looks, which is a common thing in Florida, especially for nice places near/on the beach.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.

It’s Boney James Ya’all!

I love music.  I especially love live music.  I recently went and saw the jazz saxophone player Boney James for the 4thish time.  I love Boney James.  His music is, as my girl Ni likes to say, “baby making music.”  His concerts are a mix of jazz and soul and R&B and he is just amazing.  He blends so many genres it is great for everyone with such a smooth soulful sound you want to groove along.  Did I say I love Boney?

I bought the tickets for my friend Kathy and I to go to for her Birthday.  I much prefer gifts that are trips or experiences.  Because of car problems and a Thursday night show, we could not have dinner together before the show.  So I used my Cheesecake Factory gift certificate I won at my work Christmas party and bought us avocado egg rolls, crab and shrimp dip, and stuffed mushrooms for dinner and a piña colada cake cheesecake for desert.  And the best part?  We ate it off of the trunk of my car.  As I was setting it up waiting for Kathy to arrive, people were slowing down as they drove by.  For a few minutes I wondered if I should go someplace else to set up our picnic, until I realized I had done stranger things and will do even stranger things, so why worry.

After a nice sugar high, we went in to see the concert where there were several empty rows.  The venue was Plaza Live Theater in Orlando.  It is a stage theater converted from an old movie theater.  There are two stages.  There is a bar and food vendors inside but decoration and finish inside is minimalist. Its no frills but smaller, more intimate and has good sound.

Finally a good concert photo!

Before the show started we finally got a good picture of us together at a concert.  Opening act was a guy who pretty much played every sound you would want on his guitar and recorded them into the background and played and sang vocals over the recording.  He recorded it on the stage.  His name is Chris Burns.

Chris Burns February 2012

Right before I the end of intermission is when I found out the Japan results were up but I could not find my application number before the show.  I tried to forget about it, but like that was going to happen.  So here Kathy and I were using my phone to view my ap and hers to record the number in the middle of this concert. I apologize to the concert Gods and Boney and the people around me.  But when I found out I thoroughly enjoyed the concert, even though I did not get in.

Except for the crazy guy.  There was a guy who was telling his wife not to yell out.  it was funny since he went frickin crazy.  CRAZY.  “Boneeeeeyyyyyyy!  OHHHHHH!!!  Ohhh, yeah!!”  We wondered if he wanted a room.

But Boney was hot as ever.  The entire crowd was grooving.  Women were dancing in the aisles and next to the stage.  Boney did his dancing as usual and passed right behind us through the crowd.

It is a great way of spending one of my last weekends in the Central Florida area.  Next up?  March 2 in Clearwater to see Chris Botti!

The pictures kind of suck, but here they are!

Can someone explain to me how to wrap the photos so I can align two photos next to each other?