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David Benoit at My Father’s Place June 17, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Comedy, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Travel, TV, Weather.
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Friday night marked my second time in My Father’s Place at The Roslyn Hotel. The first time in March was to see The Rippingtons. This time, I saw one of the musicians from their first album: David Benoit. I saw David as part of Dave Koz’s 20th Anniversary Christmas Tour in December 2017 and at Smooth Jazz for Scholars in April 2018, but hadn’t seen him solo since October 2012, five days before Hurricane Sandy, at The Iridium. Furthermore, it was the first time I’d seen David on Long Island since his Christmas show at IMAC in December 2008, my last time there before it closed the following June.

I arrived at My Father’s Place at 6:30, entering from The Roslyn Hotel lobby and taking the elevator down to the lower level where it and 1221 at MFP are situated. The hostess recommended a table in the center. Considering the way the piano, bass, and drums were arranged, I opted for that table. I ate a cheeseburger and french fries, then waited for 8:00 to come.

Once again, there was an opening comedy act: Sherry Davey:

I was familiar with Sherry’s work, having seen her on an episode of NickMom Night Out, a signature show when Nick Jr. aired a late night programming block for adults. Sherry lives in nearby Port Washington and she incorporated many local references into her set. She also talked about getting remarried, online dating, millennials, her daughters, her nephew, her parents, and living with heart disease. I noticed in her website bio that one of her daughters is autistic. I’m on the spectrum myself, diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome 20 years ago. That could be why I’m so passionate about the music of David Benoit and other artists that I’m into.

After 20 minutes, Sherry’s set was over and it was time for the David Benoit Trio.

David led the trio on piano…:

…with Roberto Vally on bass:

…and Merrick native Dan Schnelle on drums:

Including the encore, the set ran 73 minutes. Here’s what they played:
1. Every Step of the Way
Originally heard on: Every Step of the Way (1988), The Steinway Sessions (2017)

2. Só Danço Samba
Originally heard on: So Nice! (with Marc Antoine) (2017)

3. Siena Strut
Originally heard on: David Benoit & Friends (coming later in 2019)

4. Vernazza
Originally heard on: David Benoit & Friends (coming later in 2019)

5. Kei’s Song
Originally heard on: Freedom at Midnight (1987), Conversation (2012) (as “Kei’s Song Redux”), The Steinway Sessions (2017)

6. Waiting for Spring
Originally heard on: Waiting for Spring (1989)

7. Dad’s Room
Originally heard on: Professional Dreamer (1999), The Steinway Sessions (2017)

8. If I Were a Bell
Originally heard on: Heroes (2008) (bonus track on Japan release; not worth importing unless you don’t have the U.S. release)

9. Cast Your Fate to the Wind
Originally heard on: Waiting for Spring (1989)

10. Beat Street
Originally heard on: Full Circle (2006)

11. Strange Meadowlark/Blue Rondo a La Turk (Dave Brubeck medley)
Originally heard on: Digits (1983), The Steinway Sessions (2017); Heroes (2008)

12. Freedom at Midnight
Originally heard on: Freedom at Midnight (1987), Earthglow (2010) (subtitled “The Schroeder Variations”)

13 (Encore). Linus and Lucy
Originally heard on: This Side Up (1985), Happy Anniversary, Charlie Brown! (1989), Here’s to You, Charlie Brown: 50 Great Years! (2000), The Steinway Sessions (2017)

I can’t wait to hear how “Siena Strut” and “Vernazza” sound on the new album when it comes out, likely by September. I will definitely play something from it on my Homecoming Weekend show in October. In the meantime, I’m falling in love with The Steinway Sessions.

Now, for groups of pictures of each band member, starting with David Benoit:

Roberto Vally:

…and Dan Schnelle:

The end of the encore:

I hung out in the lobby for about 15 minutes, mingling with David, Roberto, and Dan. Dan introduced David to his mother and grandparents. That was when I learned he was originally from Merrick. I perked up, telling them I grew up and live nearby in Wantagh.

Roberto asked me to send him the pictures I took of him, which I did on Saturday, including this one:

Two guys from the South Shore:

Lastly, me and David:

On the subject of his song “Dad’s Room,” I told him how much I enjoyed “Secret Love” on Waiting for Spring, which was a duet with his father Bob on rhythm electric guitar. He appreciated that, picking up on the story he told during the set of how that album was recorded in one day for budgetary reasons.

I had a great watching David, Roberto, and Dan perform. Thanks to all of you. Thanks also to Sherry Davey for relatable jokes and hilarious impressions.

I’m in an episode of The Gaming Historian! May 31, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Audio, History, Internet, Media, Personal, Video, Video Games.
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Last Tuesday, Norman Caruso, a.k.a. The Gaming Historian (website), put out a call on his Discord chat server, which I belong to, for people to read a newspaper review blurb for an episode on The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, a Game Boy game released in 1993.

I recorded two takes to one WAVE file and e-mailed it to him. For posterity, here is that file.

Two days later, he announced that he chose my submission and posted a rough cut to his Patreon supporters, of which I’m one, as well as on Discord. Yesterday, the final cut went public. Watch below:

My part, the first take of my submission, can be heard about nine minutes in. Here’s the audio from that part.

I’m also in the credits:

As a result of this video, though not necessarily because of me, The Gaming Historian YouTube channel surpassed 600,000 subscribers!

Thank you very much, Norm, for the opportunity. I greatly appreciate it.

7:53 PM UPDATE: About 90 minutes ago, Norm tweeted the following:

As I type, the video has over 236,000 views! That will surely continue to grow. I’m glad to have been part of a record-setting video.

Witnessing the final round of the 2019 PGA Championship May 21, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Golf, Internet, Interviews, Jazz, Media, Music, News, Personal, Photography, Sports, Travel, TV, Video, Weather.
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For the fourth year in a row, I attended at least one PGA Tour event; and for the third time in the last four years, I attended a round of a major golf tournament. Three years ago, it was the second round of the PGA Championship at Baltusrol. Last year, the third round of the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills. Sunday, I attended the final round of the PGA Championship (final leaderboard) at Bethpage State Park’s Black Golf Course, Bethpage Black for short. The Black previously hosted the 2002 and 2009 U.S. Open.

The 101st PGA Championship was the first to be played in May, after decades in which it was held in August and served as the last major of the season. Now, it’s the second. That means CBS holds the broadcast rights to the first two majors of the year, with Fox carrying the U.S. Open and NBC televising the Open Championship.

Bethpage State Park and its courses are only 15 minutes away from my Wantagh home, but going there for the PGA Championship by car required driving south to Jones Beach State Park parking field 3 or 4 for general parking:

My dad and I were directed to field 4:

From there, a shuttle bus took us east on Ocean Parkway, north on Wantagh Parkway to Exit W6, east on Merrick Road, north on the Seaford-Oyster Bay Expressway (NY 135), east on Merritts Road (after exiting at a special ramp), and finally to the terminal outside Bethpage Black. We arrived at 12:30, two hours and five minutes before Brooks Koepka (“KEP-ka”), the 54-hole leader by seven shots, was to tee off:

The sun broke through the clouds for the first few hours, but the clouds eventually won out.

The USGA calls their shop the Merchandise Pavilion; the PGA calls it The PGA Shops:

Having already purchased a cap and short-sleeve shirt, the latter of which I wore on the second night of Smooth Jazz for Scholars, and not wanted to lug a bag of merchandise all day, I waited until we left in the evening to get anything.

The defending champion, and, I hoped, the repeat champion:

The range:

Among those practicing were Lucas Bjerregaard, Erik Van Rooyen, and Rickie Fowler.

The obligatory photo op:

The practice green and media center:

The bridge to the range:

The bridge from the 18th green:

Another practice green:

Phil Mickelson walking up the bridge after his final round:

He shot 76 for the second consecutive round, finishing at +12.

The 1:05 group: Lucas Glover, the 2009 U.S. Open Champion…:

…and Lucas Bjerregaard:

The Lucases both shot 73 and finished at +3.

The electronic leaderboard/TV monitor:

The 1st fairway:

The 1st green:

I stood by the 2nd tee to watch three groups come by:

First, another group where the pair share a first name: Danny Lee:

…and Danny Willett, 2016 Masters Champion:

The Dannys both shot 77, with Lee finishing at +6 and Willett +7.

The Goodyear Blimp provided aerial coverage early on:

But cloud cover forced it to ground.

The second group I saw at 2 was Rickie Fowler:

…and Sung Kang, who won the AT&T Byron Nelson tournament the week before:

Fowler shot 77 to finish at +6, while Kang fared a little better: 72 to finish even-par.

The third was Jordan Spieth, who won the Masters and U.S. Open in 2015 and Open Championship in 2017:

…and Erik Van Rooyen:

Van Rooyen’s tee shot was way left:

Here’s where it ended up:

The 2nd fairway:

The 2nd green:

Spieth was one stroke better than yesterday, 71, ending up at -2. Van Rooyen shot 73 and finished at +1.

The 3rd tee:

The 3rd green and 4th tee:

The 4th fairway:

After that, I started to get hot – that’ll teach me to wear a jacket – and didn’t feel like walking the entire course. So, I headed for the 18th green. Along the way, I saw the 13th green:

14th tee:

14th green:

Back across Round Swamp Road, the 16th green grandstand:

15th tee:

16th green:

Somewhere in the distance is the 17th tee:

The 17th green and its grandstands:

The 18th tee:

18th fairway, which didn’t see many balls this round:

The 18th green and grandstands:

The TNT/CBS broadcast tower, overlooking the 18th fairway and green:

Jim Nantz and Nick Faldo called the action from 2:00 to 7:00. Spoiler alert: the championship ended on time, meaning 60 Minutes started on time.

The 18th fairway, seen from the greenside bunker:

Matt Kuchar after shooting 69:

He was one of a handful players under par for the round. He finished +1 for the championship.

After stopping at the adjacent concession stand for lunch/dinner, Dad and I returned to our spot by the greenside bunker:

We stayed there to the end. The stiff breezes cooled me off to the point where I put my jacket back on.

Between groups, the leaderboard would switch to the CBS feed (no audio). We watched as Brooks Koepka’s seven-shot lead almost evaporated, mainly due to four straight bogeys from 11 to 14, and Dustin Johnson, two groups ahead, drew closer, with five birdies and only one bogey through 15 holes. Even though I’ve rooted against players myself, I was startled that the fans around me, behind me by the ropes and up in the stands, were cheering Koepka’s demise. I like D.J., I even saw him triumph over Jordan Spieth in The Northern Trust two years ago, but I wanted Koepka to finish what he started. I’ve seen collapses in other sports, and the 2012 Ryder Cup, and I don’t like them. When Dustin Johnson faltered himself with bogeys at 16 and 17, I shook my head in affirmation and pumped my fist, not that anyone noticed. “Take that, fans,” I thought. But the fans cheered again when D.J. saved par at 18, chanting “D.J.! D.J.!” They cheered more as Brooks Koepka missed a short par putt at 17.

We’ll get to Koepka’s 18th hole in a bit. But first, here are some of the players that came before him, starting with Rory McIlroy, the 2012 and 2014 PGA Champion, as well as the 2011 U.S. Open Champion and 2014 Champion Golfer of the Year (winner of the Open Championship):

Like Matt Kuchar, McIlroy shot under par 69 and finished at +1.

When I went back to the concession stand for a chocolate chip cookie, I noticed there was another course map, smaller than the one by the entrance:

Back at the green, the Lucases, Glover and Bjerregaard:

One hole earlier, at 17, Bjerregaard made a hole in one while Glover chipped in for birdie from the bunker! I heard the roar, but didn’t know what it was until I saw on the leaderboard/monitor. It turns out my friend, guitarist and vocalist Matt Marshak, was there and saw both shots! How exciting!

Back at 18, Danny Lee in the bunker:

Rickie Fowler:

Jordan Spieth:

Dustin Johnson:

“D.J.! D.J.!”:

He finished with a 69, -6 for the championship. Spoiler again, Koepka survived 18 to win by two.

Luke List:

List had a rough day after three rounds under par. He shot 74 to finish at -1.

And that brings us to Brooks Koepka. His tee shot landed in the fescue left of the fairway:

His second shot landed back in the fairway.

After checking the distance…:

…he laid up and landed on the green, 12 feet from the hole:

The fans changed their allegiance to Koepka as he walked up to his ball:

After playing partner Harold Varner III putted out, an unfortunate 81 for him and +6 finish, Koepka putt from 12 feet:

…and made it:

As Jim Nantz said on TV, “It’s a Koepka coronation!” “Coronation” was the word I had hoped for after Saturday. Despite shooting a 74, his only round over par, he was crowned repeat PGA Champion.

Here’s how it looked on CBS:

I couldn’t see the trophy presentation from where I was:

Unfortunately, no one could hear it, either. Whoever was in charge of the speakers didn’t feed into the CBS audio. Only the TV audience heard Bill Macatee as he announced Rob Labritz was the low-scoring club professional, heard PGA of America President Suzy Whaley introduce Brooks Koepka as he returned to the green to receive the Wanamaker Trophy, and heard Koepka fielding Macatee’s questions. Fans in the grandstands cried “we can’t hear you!” and words to that effect. They cheered when it seemed like they were supposed to: when Labritz waved and Koepka raised the trophy. This could be why I’m unable to find video of the presentation online. This video has excerpts at the beginning, but that’s all we get. Otherwise, I have to consult my DVR, as I did yesterday morning.

5/26 UPDATE: One week later, the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship was played upstate, at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, televised on Golf Channel and NBC. Ken Tanigawa won by one shot. This time, the crowd at 18 was able to hear the trophy presentation hosted by Steve Sands. Oak Hill will host the regular PGA in 2023, as it did in 2013, 2003, and 1980. It first hosted the Senior PGA in 2008.

With no sign that the presentation would be redone for the fans, Dad and I headed for the exit:

Future PGA Championship sites:

Along the way, we went into The PGA Shops:

I had to get a commemorative 18th hole flag, as I had done for the two U.S. Opens. Yesterday morning, I unwrapped it and put it on my bedroom wall:

It replaced the flag from the 2009 U.S. Open:

…which replaced the one from 2002:

That one developed creases from being folded up for ten years.

Back at the Black, it was time to go:

With my iPhone’s battery at 10%, I turned it off for the shuttle bus ride back to Jones Beach. I charged it in the car on the way home and back in my room once I got home.

Bethpage Black’s next big event will be the 2024 Ryder Cup. The last thing I’d like to hear that Sunday, whether in person or on TV, is the “Olé” song, indicating Europe won again.

I’m so glad that Brooks Koepka held on to win the 101st PGA Championship. It’s his fourth major victory in the last eight he’s played. The win returned him to #1 in the Official World Golf Ranking. And he’s undefeated on Long Island, having won his second U.S. Open last year at Shinnecock Hills in Southampton. Congratulations, Brooksie!

Will Koepka get the three-peat at Pebble Beach next month? Will Dustin Johnson redeem himself after losing the lead in the final round the last time the U.S. Open was at Pebble? We’ll see.

6/16 UPDATE: Neither happened. Gary Woodland won by three shots over Koepka to win his first major.

Until then, I’ll leave you with videos…:

Todd Lewis’s interview with Brooks Koepka for Golf Channel

…and articles:
Mike Lopresti, PGA.com: Big-Game Brooks Koepka Goes Wire to Wire for First Repeat PGA Championship Since Tiger Woods
Ryan Lavner, Golf Channel: Little brother no more: Koepka sends message staring down DJ at the PGA
ESPN: Koepka struggles, holds off Johnson for PGA win
Kyle Porter, CBS Sports: Brooks Koepka finds his edge, exuding toughness in fourth major win
Greg Logan, Newsday: Brooks Koepka holds on to win at Bethpage Black despite struggling in final round
Hank Gola, New York Daily News: Brooks Koepka wins PGA Championship overcoming difficult course, hostile crowd
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: How Brooks Koepka avoided epic PGA Championship choke job

Perfect Bid: The documentary that set me straight May 16, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Game Shows, Internet, Interviews, Media, Personal, TV.
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About a decade ago, when I regularly watched The Price is Right, I would post about major accomplishments that I saw. One of those involved Terry Kneiss (“nees”), who went on a run that ended with him winning both showcases with a perfect bid. Host Drew Carey deadpanned in response, not at all excited by the achievement. Unaware of the circumstances, and considering how I reacted in a recording I made after bowling a 221 in 2002, I defended his reaction.

Two years later, Terry released a book called Cause and Effects, which defended his actions.

Three years after that, I heard Drew’s side of the story on a podcast: the tape clearly showed Terry got his exact prices from an audience member with a grudge. I updated my original post about Terry’s book with Drew’s remarks. I considered it closure to my years of watching The Price is Right. George Gray’s announcing delivery didn’t sit right with me and I no longer liked watch contestants lose on any game show. So, I stopped watching.

5/30 UPDATE: Watching old episodes of TPiR on YouTube last weekend led me to DVR Monday’s episode for comparison. Whatever distaste I had in the show when I stopped watching went away. I’m back on the bandwagon. I’m also watching Jeopardy! again to see how long James Holzhauer can last as champion. I’m in awe and wish I had watched sooner.

6/6 UPDATE: Never mind. Holzhauer was unseated after 32 wins and contestants lose too much on TPiR. I’m back off both bandwagons because tonight’s new champion, knocking off the woman that knocked off Holzhauer, says “please” nearly every time he makes a selection. I like assertiveness in contestants. Shorthanding category names and dollar amounts is also a plus. Picky, aren’t I? It’s the curse of having Asperger Syndrome: nonsense like this bothers you. Anyway…

This week on Netflix, while searching for Still Laugh-In: The Stars Celebrate, I noticed an entry in one of the queues called Perfect Bid: The Contestant Who Knew Too Much. So, that’s why the Cause and Effects post was getting hits on my blog. Yesterday, I watched it.

Perfect Bid profiles a “loyal friend and true,” Theodore Slauson. Ted became a fan of TPiR early in its CBS run and noticed that the same items were up for bids with the same prices on several shows. So, he kept track of those items through spreadsheets, word processing documents, and original computer software. Starting in the early ’80s, he regularly attended tapings, giving contestants in contestants’ row and on stage the prices of prizes. There were plenty of $100 bonuses awarded for perfect One Bids and Bob Barker gave him his due during the tapings. He even came on down once in 1992, winning One Bid and Punch-a-Bunch.

After his day as a contestant, he stopped attending tapings to focus on other things. He returned in 2002 and helped a fellow audience member win over $39,000 in cash and prizes.

When Drew Carey took over for Bob Barker in 2007, the rule that contestants could only appear once was rescinded. That opened the door for Ted to return. At the start of season 37, Ted went to a taping in the hopes of coming on down again. He didn’t, but Terry Kneiss did. The two met in line before the taping.

Perfect Bid notes that Ted was edited out of several camera shots during the show which aired in September 2008. The note came as an excerpt began from host Drew Carey’s appearance on Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show. The impression given to Drew by producer Kathy Greco, who Bob dubbed “Fingers” when he was the host, was that Ted was sent by Roger Dobkowitz, fired as producer the season before, to sabotage the show. Giving Terry exact prices was revenge exacted by a fan group. Drew later found out Ted was innocent, but didn’t know that as the show was taped.

Kathy stopped production after Terry and his fellow showcase contestant gave their bids, trying to make sense of what had happened. When taping resumed, Drew deadpanned the results, assuming the show would never air because of Ted’s involvement, shook Terry’s hand, and wrapped up the show. But it did air. In the aftermath, TPiR staff never used the same item more than once. The price one day will not be the price another day.

In the final moments of the documentary, Ted remarked:

You know, I’ve been called a lot of ugly names on the Internet, and in podcasts and things like that, and it’s just sad that people don’t know the whole story. So, I appreciate being able to tell it.

And I appreciate having seen Perfect Bid. It cleared the air about what happened on that September morning a decade ago. Thank you, CJ Wallis, for setting me straight. Thank you for interviewing Theodore “Ted” Slauson, Bob Barker, and Roger Dobkowitz. I highly recommend you watch it. This post only scratches the surface.

Sincerely, Mike Chimeri, a loyal friend and true starting with summer 1992 reruns.

2019 WCWP Hall of Fame Ceremony May 14, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Audio, Football, Internet, Interviews, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Radio, Sports, Travel, TV, Video, Weather.
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Other Hall of Fame ceremony recaps: 20122013201420152017, 2018

Video of the ceremony can be found at the end of this post.

The eighth annual WCWP Hall of Fame Ceremony was held Saturday afternoon in the Goldsmith Atrium at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of LIU Post. As you can see above, this year’s inductees were Lew Scharfberg, Fred Gaudelli, and Pete Bellotti.

The ceremony began at 1:10 with an introduction by WCWP Director of Broadcasting Dan Cox…:

…and a video narrated by Bernie Bernard, who was inducted in 2013:

This picture taken during a dissolve was a happy accident because it looks like Lew and Jeff Kroll, the Master of Ceremonies, are pointing at Pete:

Jeff at the mic as M.C.:

Dan had the honor of introducing two of the three inductees. First, was Pete Bellotti, currently of CBS Sports Radio:

Before Jeff’s interview and remembrances from the audience, Pete gave a speech:

Jay Mirabile had an interesting story:

Joe Manfredi, Director of Operations while Pete was a student, was complimentary:

Pete even acknowledged me when referencing the music I provided and hours of co-hosting for WCWP’s live broadcast from Bar Beach Park (now North Hempstead Beach Park) in 2006:

I was about 90 pounds heavier at the time, as I co-hosted with Eli W. Sen:

“It was a fun experience”:

Lew Scharfberg was next, following Jeff’s introduction:

Among Lew’s stories in his speech were the teletype bell ringing frantically on August 16, 1977, as news broke that Elvis Presley had died, and learning of the Dome Auditorium roof collapse during the Blizzard of 1978.

Bill Mozer misremembered one anecdote…:

…and had to be corrected by Dan:

He accurately recalled another:

Neil Marks ribbed Lew, leading to an impassioned defense…:

…but was also complimentary:

Dan Cox chimed in:

The obligatory camcorder shot to use as a cover photo for my YouTube channel:

…and the obligatory alternate perspective:

Lew’s son Dan gave a moving speech:

I told him afterward, “you’re a good son.”

Last up was Fred Gaudelli, who is the executive producer of Sunday Night Football for NBC Sports:

Fred had plenty of stories from his days at C.W. Post, working his way up through ESPN, introducing what became the 1st and 10 line, producing Monday Night Football and Sunday Night Football.

At one point, Dan played a clip of Fred calling a furious comeback by the Post Pioneers against James Madison in 1981:

They rallied from 21 points down with two minutes to play, winning 37-36.

Jeff’s closing remarks:

I want to thank everyone for being here today. That’ll do it. That’s it for the 2019 WCWP Hall of Fame induction. Thank you, folks.

Photo ops, starting with the three inductees:

The three inductees with Dan Cox, Bill Mozer (2013), and Jeff Kroll (2015):

Pete and his wife Bridget:

Pete with Dan Cox and Joe Manfredi:

…and me:

The early-to-mid-2000s era of WCWP:

The Scharfbergs:

Dan quickly introduced me to Fred before he left, and took a picture of us:

I posed with him 16 years earlier after he and fellow alum Dan Reagan (“Reegan”) spoke to the broadcasting class I was in:

My parting shot was of Pat and Jeff Kroll:

Pat was inducted last year along with Muffet Provost and John Commins.

Jeff was kind enough to drive me home. We had an interesting conversation along the way, and he recognized my driveway from all the times I’d photographed it after shoveling snow. (Here’s one example.)

Congratulations to Pete Bellotti, Lew Scharfberg, and Fred Gaudelli, the 2019 class of the WCWP Hall of Fame.

Here is the video:

Thanks to Dan Cox for providing the introductory video and highlights of Fred’s play-by-play. My video was shot on a Panasonic HC-V770 camcorder with a Takstar SGC-598 shotgun mic. I periodically switched to my Tascam DR-03 recording from the platform to fill gaps between raw video files and compensate for panning to the audience.

SJFS 2019 Night 2 recap April 29, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Food, Golf, Internet, Jazz, Music, Personal, Photography, Sports, Travel, Weather.
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Other SJFS recaps: 20082008 meet-and-greet20092010201120122013 Night 12013 Night 22014 Night 12014 Night 22015 Night 12016 Night 12016 Night 22017 Night 12017 Night 2, 2018 Night 1, 2018 Night 2, 2019 Night 1

The 17th annual Smooth Jazz for Scholars run by keyboardist Jay Rowe resumed on Saturday night with the second of two concerts. The headliners were Brian Simpson, Eric Darius, Jessy J, back for the second year in a row, and Steve Oliver, back for the second time in three years.

I could only manage about four hours of sleep early Saturday morning, but it felt like more than that. I got out of bed at 5:45 AM and began my exercises and pre-run stretches. Then, I headed down to the West Haven Best Western‘s fitness center to run 42 minutes on the treadmill. I had to enter my weight in kilograms and speed in kilometers per hour. It’s a good thing I had a converter on my phone. As has been the case semi-regularly since January, I did not take any breaks. It was 42 minutes in a row. That was all I needed to reach my monthly mileage goal of 150 miles.

After free weight exercises, I showered and changed into a second t-shirt and pair of shorts. Then, I brought my laptop and portable hard drive down to the lobby. While guests came in for breakfast, I was fine with a cup of tea. I’d have preferred hot chocolate, but it’s only served in the winter. Two hours later, I went back to my room and finished editing. My parents texted me from across the hall to ask if I’d like to eat a late breakfast at the nearby Denny’s. I agreed. We also ate at Denny’s the morning after SJFS in 2009 when we stayed at the adjacent Hampton Inn.

As with Sally’s yesterday, I took a few pictures at Denny’s:

The weather was better on Saturday: partly to mostly cloudy, but dry. I was underdressed, though. A t-shirt and shorts were the wrong things to wear. It’s a good thing I had my spring jacket.

The menu had an option to make your own Grand Slam breakfast. I chose two buttermilk pancakes, a buttermilk biscuit, hash browns, and two sausage links.

I grabbed a picture when I was down to the pancakes:

Back at the hotel, I showered again and worked on the rough drafts for this post and the one before it.

Eventually, the time came to drive to Veterans Memorial Auditorium at the Parsons Government Complex in Milford.

Jay Rowe’s mother Mia DiStasi was the last person I saw Friday night and the first I saw Saturday.

Kevin McCabe welcomed the audience one minute before 8:00:

Then, the Foran High School Jazz Ensemble, led by Jessica Turner, came on stage:

They performed two songs. First, a Gordon Goodwin composition, which I haven’t heard on any Big Phat Band album, called “Tweet Fatigue”:

…and Doc Severinsen’s arrangement of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust” for The Tonight Show Band:

Five minutes later, musical director Jay Rowe and his band took the stage.

As usual, Jay played keyboards:

He was backed up by Trever Somerville on drums:

Unfortunately, that was only one of two pictures I got of Trever, but you can see him in other pics.

On his birthday, Steve Scales on percussion:

Dave Anderson on bass:

…and on 11 of the 15 songs, Rohn Lawrence on guitar:

The headliners were Steve Oliver on guitar and vocals:

Jessy J on tenor saxophone:

Brian Simpson on keyboard:

…and keytar:

…and Eric Darius on alto sax and occasional vocals:

SET LIST
1. There She Goes (Jay Rowe)
Originally heard on: Upcoming album
Featured musicians: Jay Rowe (keyboards), Steve Oliver (guitar, vocals)

2. High Noon (Steve Oliver)
Originally heard on: Positive Energy (2002)
Featured musician: Steve Oliver (guitar, vocals)

3. Illuminate (Steve Oliver)
Originally heard on: Illuminate (2018)
Featured musician: Steve Oliver (guitar, vocals)

4. Tequila Moon (Jessy J)
Originally heard on: Tequila Moon (2008), Live at Yoshi’s 10 Year Anniversary Special (2018)
Featured musicians: Jessy J (tenor sax), Steve Oliver (guitar)

5. All I Want (Jessy J)
Originally heard on: Live at Yoshi’s 10 Year Anniversary Special (2018)
Featured musician: Jessy J (tenor sax)

6. Just What You Need (Brian Simpson)
Originally heard on: Just What You Need (2013)
Featured musician: Brian Simpson (keyboard)

7. Persuasion (Brian Simpson)
Originally heard on: Persuasion (2016)
Featured musicians: Brian Simpson (keyboard), Eric Darius (alto sax)

8. Breakin’ Thru (Eric Darius)
Originally heard on: Breakin’ Thru (2018)
Featured musician: Eric Darius (alto sax)

9. L.O.V.E. (Eric Darius)
Originally heard on: Breakin’ Thru (2018)
Featured musician: Eric Darius (alto sax)
L.O.V.E. is Eric’s marital acronym for “living our vows every day.”

10. The Tango Boy (Jessy J)
Originally heard on: My One and Only One (2015), Live at Yoshi’s 10 Year Anniversary Special (2018)
Featured musicians: Jessy J (tenor sax), Brian Simpson (keytar), Jay Rowe (keyboards)

11. Chips and Salsa (Steve Oliver)
Originally heard on3D (2004)
Featured musicians: Steve Oliver (guitar, vocals), Brian Simpson (keyboard), Jay Rowe (keyboards)

12. Saturday Cool (Brian Simpson)
Originally heard on: It’s All Good (2005)
Featured musician: Brian Simpson (keyboard, keytar)

13. Love is the Answer (Todd Rundgren composition for his band Utopia)
Featured musicians: Foran High School Advanced Ensemble Chorus (directed by Theresa Voss), Eric Darius (alto sax), Jay Rowe (keyboards)

14. Night on the Town (Eric Darius)
Originally heard on: Night on the Town (2004)
Featured musician: Eric Darius (alto sax, vocals)

15 (Finale). Happy (Eric Darius) (Pharrell Williams cover)
Originally heard on: Retro Forward (2014)
Featured musicians: Everyone

Jay did not play on Brian’s three songs.

The first group of pictures by artist is for Steve Oliver:

Guitar symphony orchestra:

Vocals:

Audience sing-a-long:

Steve started “Chips and Salsa” in the audience:

Along the way, he prompted them to shout “¡Olé!”

Back on stage…:

“Where’s the party?”:

“Ohhhhh-oh! Sing!”:

They did:

There was more to echo after that:

Including complicated vocalise:

Their effort passed muster: “Aw, you’re hired. You’re comin’ on the road with us.”

Jessy J:

Brian Simpson on keyboard:

…and keytar:

Eric Darius:

Eric prompted the audience to wave their phones’ flashlights at the start of “L.O.V.E.”:

… What this light represents tonight is unity ’cause we are all united, and most importantly, this light represents love, L.O.V.E.

In the middle of the song, after sitting on the end of the stage:

…he walked down to them, high-fiving some along the way:

Back on stage:

Big finish:

“Love you, Milford!”:

During “Night on the Town,” more audience participation: “Ooh-ooh!”:

“Now, somebody scream!”:

He returned to the audience for “Night on the Town”:

As Eric made his way to the other side, I smiled for my camcorder, then panned right when I got back in position:

Back on stage:

Jay Rowe:

The end-of-solo glide:

The second Trever Somerville pic:

Steve Scales:

Dave Anderson during his “Saturday Cool” duet:

Rohn Lawrence’s “Breakin’ Thru” solo:

Jessy and Jay:

Jessy and Steve:

Rohn and Jessy (and Trever):

I just missed his wolf whistle riff.

Eric and Brian:

Rohn and Eric:

Jessy and Brian:

Brian and Jay’s Jessy J-sanctioned keyboard competition:

I call it a draw.

“Brian Simpson! Jay Rowe!”:

Brian and Dave:

“Love is the Answer,” with the Foran High School Advanced Vocal Ensemble, directed by Theresa Voss:

The finale: “Happy”:

“Oh!” “Yeah!”:

Eric named all performers…:

“I’m Eric Darius! We love you! God bless! Thank you!”:

Air Darius:

That’s it!

A selfie for Brian’s Facebook page:

Here’s how it looked:

Jay brought up the rest of the band for a group bow:

That marked the end of the 17th year of Smooth Jazz for Scholars.

What a fantastic night! And what a workout! The health app on my iPhone says I took thousands of steps both nights. I was cold in my short-sleeve shirt when I arrived both nights, but I was hot when the house lights came up and the stage was struck. That’s a workout.

During the show I once again caught up with my photography colleagues Ron Hancox, Keith McDonald, and Bill. Before and after, I spoke to Jay Dobbins and John and Barbara again. Afterward, I saw my friends Kelly and Jen.

Kelly was nice enough to take pictures during the meet-and-greet. First, Brian Simpson:

Next, Jessy J:

Jessy asked what I’d been up to since last year. I gave her the highlights, including my cousin David’s wedding down in Miami. Jessy’s 8-month-old son is also named David.

Then, Steve Oliver:

Seconds before Kelly took the above picture, she said she loved “Chips and Salsa” and Steve proceeded to vocalize. That cracked me up. Before that, he noticed the 2019 PGA Championship shirt I was wearing. I told him I’d be going to the final round at Bethpage Black golf course in a few weeks. I added that I wore the 2018 U.S. Open shirt that I got ahead of that tournament, held at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton. I said I arrived at the course for the third round at about the time Phil Mickelson moved his ball on the 13th green while it was still rolling. Getting back to music, after Kelly took our picture, I told Steve I was glad he played “Illuminate” because it made me think of the late Chuck Loeb, who played SJFS five years ago. We both miss him, and I know anyone else that followed his music misses him, too.

5/6 UPDATE: My friend John Caramagna took a candid shot of the above moment from another angle:

Finally, I met Eric Darius:

I told him I liked his energy, bouncing around the stage so fast. I didn’t realize he was pointing at me when we posed, just as I didn’t know Matt Marshak’s expression last year. I would have pointed back. Eric said it was because “you’re the man.” I told him he was the man and thanked him for a great night of music.

Kelly and Jen were waiting outside to take me back to West Haven, but I had to say hi to Dolly Moye before I left. I saw her dancing in the right aisle both nights, but didn’t get to talk to her on Friday.

On the ride back to Best Western, Kelly and Jen shared stories from their union’s strike against Stop & Shop earlier in the month. I was glad to be with them.

I went right to sleep after returning to my room. Once again, I could only manage a few hours of sleep. I woke up around 4:45 AM and started going through photos from the night before. I weeded out the poor quality shots, pausing periodically to do push-ups and jumping jacks. I noticed the dawn sky outside my 7th floor window, which had a southeast exposure, and broke out my camera:

20 minutes later, the sun was in view:

Another 10 minutes passed and I took my last sunrise pic:

I could also see Long Island Sound and the north shore of either Miller Place, Rocky Point, Shoreham, or Wading River, based on Google Maps:

I put my camera away and went down to the fitness center to lift weights. Then, I went back to my room to start editing Saturday’s pictures, shower, and pack up.

Checkout was at 11:00, so with everything else packed, I packed up my laptop and proceeded to the lobby. My parents and I left the hotel at 11:10. As we pulled out of the parking lot, the England Dan and John Ford Coley version of “Love is the Answer” was playing on SiriusXM 70s on 7, which was running the April 28, 1979, episode of Casey Kasem’s American Top 40.

Just like last year, an hour and 40 minutes later, even with a heavy pocket of traffic in Stamford, we were home. Traffic is always lighter getting home late Sunday morning than it is going to New Haven County on Friday afternoon. I finished editing half a mile from my house.

I put the finishing touches on the two recaps today. Thank you for reading and viewing along with me, and thank you to everyone I encountered while in Milford and West Haven. Until next year, so long.

SJFS 2019 Night 1 recap April 29, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Food, Internet, Jazz, Music, Personal, Photography, Travel, Weather.
1 comment so far

Other SJFS recaps: 20082008 meet-and-greet200920102011, 20122013 Night 12013 Night 22014 Night 12014 Night 22015 Night 12016 Night 12016 Night 22017 Night 12017 Night 2, 2018 Night 1, 2018 Night 2, 2019 Night 2

The 17th annual Smooth Jazz for Scholars, the brainchild of keyboardist Jay Rowe, began Friday night at the usual place: Veterans Memorial Auditorium at the Parsons Government Center in Milford, Connecticut, Jay’s hometown. Friday’s headliners were Chieli Minucci, Marion Meadows, and Nick Colionne.

While the venue remained the same, the official hotel changed: Best Western Executive Hotel in West Haven. It’s adjacent to the Hampton Inn I stayed at ten years ago. That year, SJFS was still only one night and was held at Foran High School.

Since this year’s SJFS took place during spring break, I left for West Haven with my parents just after 11AM. Unfortunately, for the third year in a row, rain followed us most of the way to the hotel. It persisted throughout the day, except for a two-hour lull in the late afternoon. It was during that lull that the three of us ate dinner at the legendary Sally’s Apizza (pronounced “a BEATS”) in New Haven. It was the furthest north and east I had been in Connecticut since returning from a few days in New Hampshire in August 1996. (We took a ferry from New London to Orient Point on Long Island’s North Fork.)

Sally’s is located on Wooster Street in New Haven’s Little Italy:

For privacy reasons, I only photographed the walls:

We shared a coal-fired, thin-crust meatball pizza pie:

It was delicious!

I learned afterward that this pizza style is exclusive to New Haven.

We were back at Best Western by 6:00. An hour later, I was driven to Veterans Memorial Auditorium. By this point, it was raining again. If Smooth Jazz for Scholars were an outdoor baseball series, Friday’s show would have been made up the next day as part of a day-night doubleheader. Luckily, the rain had tapered off as I walked into the auditorium.

Inside, I got to speak to my friend John. We spoke wistfully about saxophonist Paul “Shilts” Weimar’s heyday, and how we missed his music. He even told me about one time Shilts played a joke on me early in his 2012 show at Houndstooth Pub. Shilts said he would note that photography wasn’t allowed, then wait a few seconds and admit he was messing with me. I had a nice laugh as he cordially asked what camera I was using.

As showtime approached, after I’d set up my equipment in the orchestra pit, I spoke to Billy and Sandy Okumu (it was Billy’s birthday), Mark and Phyllis Abrams, Jay Dobbins, another John, John Caramagna, and his wife Barbara Grocki. I met the two of them at Hampton Inn last year. John told me Saturday night that they stayed there again this year and wondered where I was in the morning.

Kevin McCabe welcomed the still-arriving crowd a few minutes after 8:00:

Like last year, the opening act was the Jonathan Law High School Jazz Band, directed by Phil Giampietro, who addressed the audience beforehand:

They performed “Jeannine,” a Cannonball Adderley tune:

Our feature presentation started at 8:20. Musical director Jay Rowe led the house band on keyboards:

Trever Somerville on drums:

Steve Scales on percussion:

Dave Anderson on bass:

…and for eight of the 14 songs, Rohn (“Ron”) Lawrence on electric guitar:

The headliners were Chieli Minucci (“key-L-e min-OO-chee”) on acoustic guitar:

…and electric guitar:

Marion Meadows on soprano saxophone:

…and Nick Colionne on electric guitar and vocals:

SET LIST
1. Smooth Ride (Jay Rowe)
Originally heard onSmooth Ride (2016)
Featured musician: Jay Rowe (keyboards)

2. Daybreak (Chieli Minucci)
Originally heard onGlobal Village (Special EFX) (1992)
Featured musician: Chieli Minucci (acoustic/electric guitar)

3. Crazy Eights (Chieli Minucci)
Originally heard onGenesis (Chieli Minucci & Special EFX) (2013)
Featured musician: Chieli Minucci (electric guitar)

4. Celebration Road (Marion Meadows)
Originally heard onSoul Traveler (2015)
Featured musicians: Marion Meadows (soprano sax), Chieli Minucci (acoustic guitar)

5. No Rhyme, No Reason (Marion Meadows) (George Duke cover)
Originally heard onNext to You (2000)
Featured musician: Marion Meadows (soprano sax)

6. The Reunion (Jay Rowe)
Originally heard onSmooth Ride (2016)
Featured musicians: Jay Rowe (keyboards), Marion Meadows (soprano sax)

7. Be Urself (Nick Colionne)
Originally heard onJust Being Me (2018)
Featured musician: Nick Colionne (electric guitar)

8. Rainy Night in Georgia (Nick Colionne) (Brook Benton cover)
Originally heard on: It’s My Turn (1994), Keepin’ It Cool (2006)
Featured musician: Nick Colionne (vocals, electric guitar)

9. Uptown East (Chieli Minucci)
Originally heard onSlice of Life (Special EFX) (1986)
Featured musician: Chieli Minucci (electric guitar)

10. Dance on the Delta (Chieli Minucci)
Originally heard on: Deep as the Night (Special EFX) (2017)
Featured musician: Chieli Minucci (acoustic/electric guitar)

11. How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You) (Nick Colionne) (Marvin Gaye cover)
Originally heard on: Just Being Me (2018)
Featured musician: Nick Colionne (electric guitar, vocals)

12. Is This Love I’m Feeling? (Nick Colionne)
Originally heard on: Just Being Me (2018)
Featured musician: Nick Colionne (electric guitar, vocals)

13. Sweet Grapes (Marion Meadows)
Originally heard on: Player’s Club (2004)
Featured musician: Marion Meadows (soprano sax)

14 (Finale). Diggable (Marion Meadows
Originally heard on: Player’s Club (2004)
Featured musicians: Everyone

Now, on to groups of pictures by artist, starting with Chieli Minucci on electric guitar:

…and acoustic guitar:

Marion Meadows:

Nick Colionne on guitar:

Vocals on “Rainy Night in Georgia”:

The song ended with an “America the Beautiful” motif. Nick had the audience sing the last line, “from sea to shining sea,” but had them hold the “ing” in “shining”:

He cut the second “sea” and wrapped up the song:

More audience participation on “How Sweet It Is”:

…and “Is This Love I’m Feeling?”:

Jay Rowe:

Trever Somerville:

Steve Scales:

Dave Anderson:

Rohn Lawrence’s intense “No Rhyme, No Reason” solo:

Marion and Chieli’s “Celebration Road” call and response:

Nick and Jay:

Before “Dance on the Delta,” Jay announced the winner of the 50/50 raffle:

It was Barbara Grocki, who generously donated her winnings: