November 17, 2021
The Akron Civic Theatre
Check out the TOUR page for all venue and ticket information for upcoming dates.
The distinct and serene company of old friends is difficult, if not impossible, to replace. Friends who love you for who you are and accept you for who you're not. Friends who have seen you at your best and your worst and are still there to laugh and cry with you when you need them. I am extraordinarily blessed to have had more than my share of friends like that. I know how rare that is. That is one big reason I am looking forward to this evening's show in Akron, Ohio, at The Akron Civic Theatre. The other is well; we are performing at The Akron Civic Theatre.
Like many venues on this tour, we have played here before. And even if I did not have special friends attending our show this evening, it would still be the one show of the tour that I have been looking most forward to. The reason is that it is one of the most beautiful theaters I have seen in my life.
I am from Atlanta, Georgia, and my first memory of a theater is attending a movie, "Micky Mouse Goes To Mars," to be exact, at The Fabulous Fox Theater with my parents when I was five years old. Oh, and yes, Virginia, this was before Florida had Walt Disney World. I was a veteran of The Fox Theater long before I graduated high school, and with all thanks to The Fox, theaters are in my DNA. I can't explain it, but they all seem to be a part of me. I have never performed on The Fox mainstage, but it is definitely the #1 thing I long to do before I leave this earth. But I will tell you that performing at The Akron Civic Theater (and The State Theater in Easton, Pennsylvania) runs a close second. When I am onstage at The Civic Theater and look out over the audience, it looks like I imagine it might look if I were playing The Fox. For a moment, my emotions whirl, my eyes get misty, and I am lost in time. Having the opportunity to perform for old friends in this theater tonight is very special, and it means a lot to me.
My guests this evening were Anne and John Toptsidis, Stephanie Eller, and Dennis King, and his lovely wife, Karen. It was also great to see my two good friends, Cynthia Haskins and her husband, David. Cynthia and I met a couple of years ago through our love for the music of Gino Vannelli. Her knowledge, allegiance, and history of Gino Vannelli and his music equaled if not rivaled mine, so I knew we were destined to be good friends. She and her husband David are retired and they like to drive all over the country vacationing in their RV. This past spring, they made one of my shows in Atlanta, and they drove a long way to be here tonight. It was so great to see them!
I have known Anne and Stephanie for at least 30 years and Dennis for at least 25. I have known John a little less longer and only since he married Anne. Anne, Stephanie and Dennis all knew me back when I used to 'run hard,' as they say, way back in the early days of A1A. Anne and Stephanie especially...boy howdy, the stories we could tell. I met Dennis through touring with A1A back in the '90s also. 'DK the DJ,' as he is affectionately called, is a prominent legend in the Trop Rock World and has been running a weekly Trop Rock Radio Show out of Berea, Ohio, for over 30 years. Whenever A1A were nearby, Dennis would always kindly have us on his show. He was a big fan and became a good friend instantly. They just don't come any nicer than Dennis King. When I joined ABBA MANIA back in 2014, we always made regular stops in Akron. As luck would have it, we usually had a day off when Dennis was on the air, so John, Anne, Stephanie, and I would spend several late hours in the studio with Dennis, and I would be the primary interview of the evening.
I always love talking to Dennis. It has always been easy and pleasant, just like you are talking to your brother. What I am about to tell you may sound a little strange, but you are just going to have to deal with it. :-) Dennis and I both believe the bond between us that makes us blood brothers is not our love for Jimmy Buffett and Trop Rock music, but our love for the music of David Cassidy and The Partridge Family and Pablo Cruise. Yes, you heard that right. Anyone who even vaguely knows me is aware of how much the music of David and The Partridge Family played in my formative years and why they hold a large part of why I am a performer today. I won't go into any more of that here because there is more than ample evidence on our Facebook Pages to keep you busy for days. Check it out. Come on get happy.
As for Anne, Stephanie and John, I had not seen them in a long time, so it was a real treat to have dinner before the show and hang out for pizza (yes, I did say pizza. Please forgive me, Tiffany) after the show. Unfortunately, I could only spend a short amount of time with Dennis, Karen and Cynthia and David down front after the show, but I cherish the time we did get to spend together. Good friends are hard to find.
As blessed as I was with the company of good friends today, I was equally blessed this evening with a great show and a fantastic audience. As I said goodbye, battling the cold as I lumbered back onto the bus, I realized how fortunate I was. Not everything is as I would like it in my life - not by a long shot, but looking back over the decades, I have made many people happy and built some beautiful friendships along the way.
I laid in my bunk tonight going over the past 40 years or so. I wouldn't say I like to do that. It hurts a lot, but I usually find myself being forced there by my sleepless brain. It is mind-blowing that it went so fast and that countless people have come and gone with it. Family, friends, and fans have told me for decades that I should write a book. Perhaps, this blog is my subconscious telling me that it may be time to do just that. I don't know. I can't explain it, but time does feel to me like it is getting short. I would love to write a book sharing stories to thank all the people who have moved in and out of my life - to let them know how much they all meant to me. That would be a lot of people and a great number of stories. But you know, in the end, although people do seem to enjoy the way I write, I am a singer at heart. So there has to be a song or two—some songs for me to sing at the book release party, a big book release party. A book party and a concert - and there is only one place I know where I would want it to be held. Who knows? I suppose anything is possible. Mickey Mouse made it to Mars; why not me? I can dream....can't I?