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The Rippingtons at My Father’s Place March 23, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Comedy, Internet, Jazz, Music, Personal, Photography, Travel, Weather.
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Thursday night marked four firsts. It was my first time at My Father’s Place at the Roslyn Hotel:

It was the first time I’d seen the Rippingtons perform in nearly eight years. And the first time I saw Brandon Fields play saxophone for the band.

My Father’s Place was the first stop on the Ripps’ latest tour, coinciding with the release of their 23rd album, Open Road. Copies were available in the lobby and I gladly purchased one. This was another case of buying an album at a concert the day before its release. The last time I did that was three years ago when I bought Cohearence at Yellowjackets’ Birdland show. (An earlier version had the wrong album title, Altered State.)

The tour’s second stop was at Blue Note last night. I could have opted for the early show there, but I wanted to try somewhere new. My Father’s Place was in Roslyn, in my home county of Nassau, a short drive west of my alma mater LIU Post. Rippingtons keyboardist Bill Heller lives a little further up NY 25A (Northern Boulevard in Nassau and Queens) in Huntington.

My Father’s Place is nice and spacious. I arrived around 6:15 and was able to get a one-person table facing the right side of the stage. To use a rhyming word, the staff was gracious. Thank you, Billy, Mike, and my server Maggie. I ate two bowls of mac and cheese, or more accurately, cavatappi and cheese. It was delicious. The two bowls were equal to one bowl of Ronzoni ziti rigati that I make at home.

Getting back to Thursday’s performers, I’ve kept in touch over the years with Bill Heller and his wife Dawn on Facebook and Instagram. Dawn loves the photos I post to Instagram and cheers my running progress on Facebook. In the last two months, I’ve routinely run 70+ minutes on the treadmill, sometimes without stopping for breaks. I was looking forward to see Bill and meet him after the set, and I was glad to learn that Dawn would be there, as well. She arrived 45 minutes after I did. As it turns out, I was sitting next to her friends Pete and Sally. Not only were they longtime fans of the Rippingtons, but Pete was Bill and Dawn’s contractor. It was great to share my love of the band, and contemporary jazz, with them. It was equally great to speak with Dawn for a little while at her table. Saxophonist Brandon Fields walked by and I briefly introduced myself after he spoke with Dawn. Rippingtons manager Andi Howard also passed by Dawn’s table, but I didn’t think to say anything until she left.

Before long, it was 8:00, and the fourth first occurred: the first time I saw a comedian open for a band. The comic with that task was Paul Anthony:

Paul’s 15-minute set covered such topics as growing up in the 1970s, Dancing with the Stars, scratch-off lottery tickets, and even The Weather Channel‘s Local on the 8s. The Rippingtons were among the contemporary jazz and new age artists whose song excerpts were heard during the Local Forecasts from the ’80s into the 2000s. (Check out TWC Classics for examples.) So, I was glad Paul worked that into his set.

A short time later came the main attraction: The Rippingtons!


Through his vocoder, keyboardist Bill Heller welcomed the audience:

Hello, Roslyn. Welcome to My Father’s Place. We are the Rippingtons. Relax, enjoy the open road!

Bandleader Russ Freeman played guitar:

Bill Heller was on his Kurzweil synthesizer:

Brandon Fields on alto saxophone:

…and flute:

Rico Belled on bass:

…and Dave Karasony on drums, as seen during his “Tangerine Skyline” clinic:

“Dave Karasony on drums!”:

Counting the four-song encore!, the Rippingtons’ set ran over an hour and a half. Here’s what they played:
1. Open Road
Originally heard on: Open Road (2019)
Bill Heller, vocoder

2. Destiny
Originally heard on: Tourist in Paradise (1989)

3. Follow the Stars
Originally heard on: Open Road (2019)

4. Curves Ahead
Originally heard on: Curves Ahead (1991)

5. Morocco
Originally heard on: Kilimanjaro (1988)

6. Lost Highway
Originally heard on: Open Road (2019)
Brandon Fields, flute

7. I Watched Her Walk Away
Originally heard on: Welcome to the St. James’ Club (1990)

8. Road Warriors
Originally heard on: Live Across America (2002)

9. Silver Arrows
Originally heard on: Open Road (2019)
Brandon Fields, flute

10. Caribbean Breeze
Originally heard on: Life in the Tropics (2000)

11. Carnival!
Originally heard on: Weekend in Monaco (1992)

12. Tangerine Skyline
Originally heard on: Open Road (2019)
Dave Karasony, drum solo to backing track

13. Luca
Originally heard on: Open Road (2019)

14. Gran Via
Originally heard on: Open Road (2019)

15. Welcome to the St. James’ Club
Originally heard on: Welcome to the St. James’ Club (1990)

16. Body Art
Originally heard on: Modern Art (2009)
Bill Heller, vocoder

17 (Encore 1). Aspen
Originally heard on: Curves Ahead (1991)

18 (Encore 2). Tourist in Paradise
Originally heard on: Tourist in Paradise (1989)

19 (Encore 3). Purple Haze (The Jimi Hendrix Experience cover)
Originally heard on: Live Across America (2002)
Rico Belled, vocals

20 (Encore 4). Fire (The Jimi Hendrix Experience cover)
Originally heard on: Live Across America (2002)
Rico Belled, Brandon Fields, Bill Heller (vocoder), vocals

Here are pictures from the “last” song of the set: “Body Art”:

Encore song #1: “Aspen”:

Encore song #2: “Tourist in Paradise”:

Encore song #3: “Purple Haze”:

‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky!“:

Encore song #4, truly the last song of the set: “Fire”:

Let me stand next to your fire!“:

The set was complete.

I caught up with Bill Heller, my friend of 14 years, in the lobby after the show. He signed my new copy of Open Road and we posed for a picture:

What a show: 15 songs and a four-song encore! That’s how you open a tour! Thanks to Russ, Bill, Brandon, Rico, and Dave for an hour and a half of great music. Best of luck with the rest of the tour. And thanks to Paul Anthony for 15 minutes of laughs.


Road signs in South Florida March 7, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Personal, Photography, Travel.
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I recently spent six days in South Florida for my cousin David’s wedding to Talia in Key Biscayne. There was plenty of travel involved, which meant I saw road signs I hadn’t seen in a decade or ever.

I photographed along Interstate 95, 195, and 595, the Sawgrass Expressway (FL 869), A1A, and other state roads, and up and down South Miami Avenue and SW 1st Avenue in Miami’s Brickell neighborhood. Friends and relatives stayed at the Atton Brickell Miami hotel ahead of the wedding.

I also photographed the skyline, clouds, aircraft, landmarks, a Bass Pro Shops location, and of course, the aforementioned friends and relatives. However, with this one exception… (2/9/22 UPDATE: Embedding Instagram posts is no longer possible. Here is the photo from the wedding.)

…this post is limited to road sign pictures, provided the cars’ license plates aren’t visible. Let’s begin.

I-95 north:

I-95 south:


I-195 east:

I-595 west:

I-595 east:

Sawgrass Expressway (FL 869) north:

Sawgrass Expressway (FL 869) South:

Florida’s Turnpike south:

A1A north:

Walking through Brickell:

Other signs:

That concludes this photographic journey through the traveling portion of my Florida trip. Congratulations to David and Talia.