November 6, 2021
The Capitol Theater Civic Center
Check out the TOUR page for all venue and ticket information for upcoming dates.
As I exited the bus this morning in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, I was struck once again by the bitter cold and deeply regretted not packing heavier winter clothes. But once I entered the backstage area, I felt better. Hearing and watching the stage being put together and the smell of the greasepaint and roar of the crowd, I suppose. Even for only a month or two at a time, touring affects me in many different ways. Sometimes I feel strong and totally at home, and other times, I feel fragile and like I am floating alone through space. My emotions, state of mind, and grasp of reality out here can change at any given moment rather quickly. I could expand on that, but I believe it may be a subject best suited for its own blog or most likely for a conversation with my therapist. I wasn’t sure if we had performed here before. But to be honest, as much as you hear from touring artists that every day, face and venue rolls into one when you are out on the road and that you lose track of space and time, well, if you trust me, then I am here to tell you that all of that is true, from my perspective at least.
The year 2021 marks the 100th Birthday of The Capitol Theater, now called The Capitol Civic Center. It has been beautifully restored. Again my mind immediately time travels to wonder about the performers who have graced this stage before me since 1921. I could spend all day thinking about those things and often have. But since free time for me is, even more, a rarity on this tour than usual, I put those thoughts aside for another time and descended the age-worn steps to the cold dressing rooms below. Like many ancient theaters, there were numerous dressing rooms to choose from, both large and small, so I was again able to commandeer a small, isolated, cozy dressing room at the end of the hall where I spent most of the day. The major coolness of my dressing room at The Capitol Civic Center was the personally autographed photos of Johnny Mathis and Harry Blackstone Jr., which hung directly to my left and right. Also, the convenience of my dressing room is less than a one-minute walk to the stage. The stage walk was cool and short, but I must be honest. I was very tempted to pack Johnny in my bag when I left, but of course, I didn’t.
As I have mentioned several times, we have had continuous technical gremlins that keep coming back to haunt our in-ear monitor mixes. With all of our patience wearing a little thin, be it nobody’s fault, we decided to again take as much time at sound-check as possible to fix this all too important problem. Personally, I was not having a good day and became very frustrated and almost angry, which rarely happens to me onstage. But I took my in-ears out, took a deep breath, counted to 20, and resumed to the task at hand. Technology can provide magical conveniences, but it can also bring with it problems and growing pains that make you question whether or not it is worth it. I was in that boat at the moment and did not like it. Like some of the previous sound-checks, most of the problems were resolved. But we all agreed once again to take as much time as needed the following night in Ironwood, Michigan, to make sure that everybody is completely happy with their in-ear mix and that all the gremlins are gone. An audience must understand that what they are hearing is generally NOT what the musicians onstage need to hear to bring about their best performance. And if a musician cannot hear what they need to hear on stage, or their mix is very unsatisfying, the performance suffers every time. So, making sure that everyone’s mix is perfect is highly critical to a good show.
So, on with the show, and what a show it was. Alison and Hana never cease to amaze and impress me. They have a command over their voices, performances, and an audience that never fails. They always deliver, and never is an audience left not wanting more of them. The view I have from behind my piano is one I cherish and respect greatly and look forward to experiencing each night. I must reiterate that I am blessed to be surrounded by such incredible, grounded, professional, and drama-free musicians. They really are a fantastic bunch.
I had an extra treat for me tonight, which lifted my mood substantially. I received a text and a photo during the intermission from a very dear and long-time friend who I have known for over 34 years. She and both of her daughters were in the audience! They drove 4 hours from Minnesota to see me perform, and I was quite surprised and elated. Ok, now here is an excellent example of how I get frazzled out here. She had told me 2 or 3 times previously that they would be here – and I forgot. Bad Benny. Very bad, Benny. Bad bamboozled Benny. Unfortunately, they had to drive back after the show, so we only got to spend about 30 minutes together. Still, it really made my evening. It always warms the heart to see old and dear friends. Now it was time to see if I could find some more of those friends in my dreams. So off to the bus and the bunk I went. Sleep tight, and don’t let the disco bed bugs bite.