MANIA - The ABBA Tribute (Formerly ABBA MANIA)
November 13, 2022
St. Louis, Missouri
I was looking forward to playing in St. Louis, mainly because I hoped I would have enough time for sightseeing and walking. It has been a while since I was in this lovely city, and I have always looked forward to returning. Unfortunately, it was freezing, and by the time it came around, I was not feeling very well and knew I needed some rest before showtime, so I opted to stay in.
On a positive note, I was very excited to be playing at The Sheldon. The Sheldon is a very old, high class beautiful intimate concert hall. The stage is small, and the audience feels almost right on top of you. Upon first walking into the theatre, I wondered why we were booked there, and it seemed to me that the theatre would work best for smaller, intimate acoustic ensembles. But once I looked at the star-studded roster of classic artists who have performed on this stage, all those feelings disappeared, and I simply felt honored to be there.
Like the Rococo Theater in Lincoln, Nebraska, and the Suffolk Theatre in Riverhead, New York, the stage was too small for me to use my large, white 'Benny' piano shell, so once again, I would be putting my NORD Stage 2 HA88 on a keyboard stand, and that would be that. Many people think I am playing an old, white Yamaha CP70 like Benny used to play, but in reality, it is just a piano shell where I place my electronic piano/synthesizer. I need access to several different sounds while performing the MANIA show, and simply having a piano would not work. Ahh, modern technology saves the day again.
We all wondered how we would be received once we started our high-energy show, for, as I mentioned, the ambiance seemed to call for a quieter, more intimate performance. Since he was from St. Louis, I contacted my old friend Peter Mayer who has been playing with Jimmy Buffett for the past 30 years. As many may know, Peter is also a highly gifted and successful solo recording artist. He told me that The Sheldon is one of his favorite places to perform and that we would have a wonderful time. So with my mind put at ease, I took a short nap after soundcheck and looked forward to the show.
Since we are used to performing at much larger venues, it did feel a bit strange waiting to walk on as our intro music was playing, but once I ventured out to center stage to open the show, all my feelings changed almost immediately. The venue was not sold out, and the audience was older than I had expected, but they were lively and genuinely thrilled with our performance. Although, I did feel odd about performing 'naked' with no piano shell so close to my audience. But then again, I have performed countless shows over the decades in small venues, and I have always enjoyed it. So, I would love to return to The Sheldon and do my own thing one day. Preferably with just me and my acoustic guitar, like Willie Nelson. But in the meantime, it was time to put up our disco ball and get 'on the road again.' Farewell, St. Louis, until we meet again.