Monday, March 19, 2007

Swingtime in Alabama!

(Posted by Michael)

In order to fully explain the contents of this entry, we have to go back in time. In the spring of 1991, I was sitting in my psychology class at Samford when my friend, Andy Underwood, turned around and simply said, "Harry Connick Jr." I had heard this name several times in the previous month, but I was at a loss for who he was or what he did. I asked Andy, "Who is he?". The only response I received was "He is bad" (bad meaning good in this instance). So, I went home to Huntsville that weekend and while visiting my Grandmother, I notice that she has a little extra glint in her eye and some more spring to her step (she was a tap dancer in her younger days). She told me that she had just seen on television the "next" Frank Sinatra. I knew that this "next Sinatra" must be somebody special for her to make that kind of statement. She had seen Sinatra when he was at his peak-- from the bobbysoxer days to the the Rat Pack era. Naturally, I inquired the name of this person. Harry Connick Jr. The pieces of the puzzle started coming together.

I drove to the music store (Camelot for all the Huntsville readers) and purchased his new CD. The bonus was that he was touring and came to Birmingham that May. After that concert (which was fantastic), I proceeded to tell my friends to never miss the chance to see Harry Connick Jr. in person. With Harry, not only do you have the singer, but he is also the conductor and the piano player. Not just the piano player, but one of the best in the world. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to see Harry three more times over the years and was very excited to surprise Paula with a Valentine's present of tickets to see Harry in Birmingham. For those of you who read our blog on a routine basis, you already know that plan was thrown out the window when dates were added to the tour and Huntsville became a venue. Miss fancypants had to get her front row seats (which were actually the fourth row because SOMEbody did not take into account the orchestra pit area). Hindsight being 20/20, it all worked out in the end. Being so close almost felt like being onstage with the band.

Mardi Gras came to Huntsville that night. Harry brought New Orleans and the French Quarter to us. The people who attend concerts in Huntsville know and appreciate their music. You do not have to ask the crowd to get out of their seats. This kind of appreciation always brings out better performances from the artists. It was entertaining me to notice that most of the front row was occupied by women....ladies of all ages who came all dolled up, convinced that they had a chance to steal Harry from his lovely wife, Jill. Poor ladies. Harry is a family man.
The little extra for me this time was that I held onto those seats in Birmingham and actually saw Harry two nights in a row. Trust me, this man gets better every time you see him. At age 39, there is a lot of music left in his soul that has not been tapped. I look forward to enjoying his music with Paula for a very long time.

Wherever life takes you, have a happy heart and a little swing in your step.

With a Wink and a Smile,

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