MANIA - The ABBA Tribute (Formerly ABBA MANIA)
November 17, 2022
The Ovens Theatre
Charlotte, North Carolina
I was very excited to be traveling to Charlotte, North Carolina, for I was going to see an old and dear friend I had not seen in many years until last year at an A1A concert! Her name is Vikki Earnhardt, and we go back 33 years. Damn, that looks wild just reading it. How and why does time have to go so fast? I met Vikki when I had just started performing solo again in the late 1980's. When we met, Vikki was working at a club in Norcross, Georgia, called Pufferbelly's, which would play a big part in the story of my career. (A story for another time) We shared many drinks, laughs, and crazy times together, and I was really looking forward to seeing her.
I had been thinking so much about our reunion I had neglected to look into the auditorium where we would perform that night. Once I did, I was now doubly glad we came to Charlotte! The historic Ovens Auditorium has held the spotlight for performers at the pinnacle of their careers and rising stars who would go on to be music and comedy legends. The historic Ovens Theatre set the stage for soulful vocal icons like Louis Armstrong, Diana Ross, and Ray Charles; played backdrop to rock and pop superstars like Elvis, Bruce Springsteen, Smashing Pumpkins, Bob Dylan, The Beach Boys, and John Legend; and filled the room with laughs for comedians Jay Leno, Carol Burnett, Steve Martin, Jerry Seinfeld, Aziz Ansari, and Jeff Foxworthy.
I slept in a little late this morning and was the last to leave the bus again. It was frigid and freezing outside, there was no catering today, and I was starving. I was pondering the situation when I noticed a big sack of breakfast biscuits from Bojangles on the table. Shawn, our very cool bus driver, had taken it upon himself to buy a lot of biscuits for the band so we would have something to eat. Extra rock and roll points for Shawn. I had two biscuits, corralled my wardrobe and suitcase, and set off to find my dressing room.
The building is 67 years old, and the long hallway of dressing rooms did a great job letting the cold air in. Luckily, there were a lot of dressing rooms, and I was able to locate a small cozy one with a shower that stayed nice and warm.
I was hoping that Vikki and I would be able to spend some time together before the show, but that was not to be. However, she arrived early enough to let me know where she was sitting so I could spot her easily from the stage. I like searching for and finding friends and people I know in the audience. Vikki and her husband were up close and well-lit, so it was a fun evening. Unfortunately, they both had to leave directly after the show, so we only got about 30 minutes to hang out before it was time to head on down the highway for all of us. I have said it many times, and I will repeat it. Quite possibly, the best thing about this gig is that I get to travel the country and see old friends and fans I have not seen in years and may have never seen again had it not been for the opportunity to play with MANIA. I do feel very blessed. Oh, I am also tired...and cold...and sore....and grateful and ready to go. Heat up the bus!