Thursday, December 8, 2011

Aaron Neville Tells It Like It Is


It's official! A News Cafe readers are the luckiest readers in these here parts. This week, once again, A News Cafe, Jefferson Public Radio and yours truly, the Mistress of the Mix, are teaming up to give away a pair of front row tickets to another spectacular performer at the Cascade Theatre. So read on, give the Nevillecentric playlist a listen, and comment below to enter to win.


I've had the rare opportunity to meet, even if only for a few brief moments, some of the most amazing and talented performers in the world since JPR restored the Cascade Theatre. Sometimes I'm lucky enough for that meeting to be a 15 minute conversation about buying funeral plots, as was the case with Chris Isaak, sharing an entire meal together (the Manhattan Transfer), or sharing the stage for an entire song (when Pink Martini invited me up for their encore). But mostly my moments are nothing more than a quick handshake (if that) just before I run out on stage to get you excited about upcoming shows (you do know Peter Frampton is coming next Spring, right? And Foreigner? And Kenny Rogers?)  and thank our sponsors.
That was pretty much the case the last time Aaron Neville brought his amazing voice to Redding a couple of years ago. He came up the stairs, said hello to me, and then I turned around and ran out for my 2 minutes alone with ya'all.
I'm really looking forward to Aaron Neville's next appearance on the Cascade Theatre stage on December 21st. Not just because of the distinctive quality of Neville's voice, but because I'd really like the opportunity to thank him for being so willing to go on the road during the holidays. I  have to really respect someone who's willing to venture out to entertain the demanding masses (that would be us) just a few days before Christmas.
Being on the road ain't easy. You've probably seen those big buses that hug the alley behind the theatre during a show. That's not just a means of getting around for most of the performers who grace the stage of the Cascade. That's home. Sometimes for months at a time. Living on a bus is just part of the necessary evil of being a star performer on tour.
I've lived on a small island before. It was just me and a few thousand other people who tended to get pretty grumpy in the winter when the weather was bad and there was nothing to do but sit inside, and we just saw the same faces day after day. Even though my island was 30 miles long and a few miles wide, it felt so small in the winter, that being stuck there was a slow suffocation.
Now take that small island claustrophia and put it on a 40 foot bus with one bathroom, and send it out on the road in the middle of December, from Oklahoma through Texas, to Arizona, and then up I-5, for 4 shows in one week. That's Aaron Neville's life right now. Taking the same path as Santa Claus, pretty much, just a few days before Christmas. Maybe he's breaking trail for the big guy in red.
It must take a very strong backbone, a lot of patience and a real love of what you do if you're going to do it like this, and you're doing it at this time of the year. Well, I'd like to thank him for gracing us in that way, and maybe I'll get the opportunity to do that when he takes to the stage on the 21st.
Check out today's playlist on Grooveshark if you want a taste of what Aaron Neville will be singing during that show.
Hopefully you, sweet reader, will be able to grace the Cascade Theatre with your presence as well. One lucky reader will get a pair of front & center seats to enjoy the show just by commenting below. I'll draw the winner in the traditional scientific manner....by tossing all the entries into an old green fruitcake tin I keep next to my desk and drawing a name a few days before the show.
A final note: I'd like to toss out a holiday gift idea for those who want to keep it local: A Cascade Theatre gift certificate or membership.(Click here to purchase a gift certificate, or here to become a member.)  The theatre is offering memberships early for the next season (which doesn't start until late Spring or early Summer 2012). If you join now, you'll have early ticket purchasing privileges for the entire 2012-13 JPR season (which hasn't even been released yet) plus any new JPR shows added for the rest of this season. You'll also have the ability to exchange seats within a show or exchange tickets from one JPR show to another if something comes up months after you've purchased tickets that keeps you from attending. It's a great feel-good thing to do, because you'll be supporting a local non-profit dedicated to making your life more rewarding by bringing high quality entertainment and culture to our town.

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