Monday, September 21, 2009

Meeting Chris Botti, Part 2

The Fox Theatre is a virtual palace. I’ve been there many times for many things. There really isn’t a bad seat in the place. But, I have to say the seats I got for Friday night were hands down the best seats I’ve ever had to any concert anywhere, anytime.

Usher: Are you in Row A?
NV: No, ma’am. I believe we’re beyond Row A.
(Orchestra Pit, right, corner of the second to last section, 4th row, aisle seats.) Yeah. So close I could see them blink. I could hear every word of the off-mike repartee that is constant with this group.

Forgive the blur, but this was the view from my seat. (People were taking photos all night, even though you’re not supposed to. I was trying to be neither conspicuous nor disruptive and not using a flash, hence the blur.)
Botti is a show in and of himself but he had his regular recording band along with him including Guggenheim winner Billy Childs on piano, the comic duo that is guitarist Mark Whitfield and drummer Billy Kilson, and bassist Robert Hurst (Botti’s college roommate). Too much talent to be crammed on one stage, that’s for sure. In fact, if you added all the Grammys, Emmys, and other hardware this group has collected over the years, you’d be hard-pressed to fit it all on stage.

He also had a few guests. At one point, when he was telling a story about performing at a wedding in Tuscany last summer, I thought, just for a fleeting second, that maybe my wish had come true: that Sting would actually show up at one of his gigs. “No, Sting is not here,” he finally said. D*mn! Way to get my hopes up, Chris.

Apparently the bride had said that Sting was her favorite artist with Botti as her second favorite. “Guess which one she could afford?” he quipped. Apparently, the couple wasn’t aware that Sting lives in Tuscany. Botti ran into Sting while he was there and Sting inevitably asked if he could “crash” Botti’s gig. (A wedding in Tuscany – with Botti and Sting performing? Sh*t. That might even be worth getting married for!)

Instead, Susie Park of the Grammy-nominated Eroica Trio came on stage and gave a spine-tingling violin performance during Emmanuel. (If you click on no other link in this post, though I recommend them all, make it this one.) In some ways, it reminds me a bit of Itzhak Perlman on the Schindler’s List soundtrack. I’m a HUGE classical music fan and this piece is very moving. (This video link shows the original performer, Lucia Micarelli. Botti had hoped that Lucia would rejoin him in St. Louis after recovering from her hand injury, but it was not to be.) What made Park’s performance all the more amazing was that she had only met the band 90 MINUTES BEFORE THE SHOW. Yes, you read that right. And I thought Micarelli rocked the house when I saw her on the PBS special – the taping of which was why our show was canceled last year, BTW. For this song alone, I’ll forgive that.) Well, Ms. Park was certainly her equal, made all the better by seeing it live.

Another guest, whom we saw with Chris last time, was vocalist Sy Smith. (She is guitarist Whitfield’s cousin and he couldn’t help but hassle her while she performed.) Her dress was stunning this time (compared to some brash seafoam number last time), outshined only by her voice.

Botti couldn’t stay on stage the whole night and I couldn’t help myself when he parked himself at the end of our aisle as the evening came to a close. (The camera was right there after all.) And I managed to capture these.

All in all, I’d say it was well worth the wait. If Botti is headed your direction, go see him. You’re in for a real treat.


karen said...

Sounds wonderful. You had great seats. You go girl.

Kris said...

OMG!! I am so jealous!! And when you said Botti and Sting were at a Tuscan wedding - well, come on, who could imagine and how cool would that have been?

Sounds like you had a perfect weekend - Botti, the others, time with your mom, scrapbooking and a me day. Can't beat that can you?

And now back to reality. I'm going to take my Botti CD with me tomorrow to listen to on the way to work.

Debbie said...

I'm so very glad you had a wonderful weekend! The concert sounds amazing. Great seats!

Anonymous said...

Awesome pictures! I get all star struck at concerts too. ;-)

NV said...

Karen -- And it was. We sure did. Thanks!

Kris -- Yeah, it was a pretty badass weekend. :-)

Debbie -- After those seats, nothing else will ever seem right!

Kspin -- Thanks! I wish a few others had turned out but I felt like I had to keep trying because when might I get a chance like that again?

bettyl said...

What a wonderful time you had! Good on ya, mate!