God Rest (6) Merry Gentlemen

Take 6 performing at a previous concert in Nashville.

After  an early lunch of Mr. Wu’s  Royal Panda Lo Mein, it was time to  load up the car covered wagon style and head westward to the Orpheum and prepare  for our joint concert with Take 6.

Somewhat to our surprise, we  have discovered that  vittles are a vital part of producing a concert.

When I hear that we are bringing in a group  like  Take 6 or Naturally 7, I  don’t think about how many Grammy nods they have received, I start adding up about how many hungry guys we will need to feed. After all, there are already twelve of us!

So today it was off to Schnuck’s to collect apples and oranges and crunchy snacks, tea and water, water, and more water just to have on hand for munching in the dressing rooms.  Sadly there were no ripe bananas, and that was surely a disappointment to my fellas who dearly love a bunch of bananas. I try not to ever show up at a gig without bananas and granola bars and hot tea.

Revo, the Orpheum’s Emperor of All Things Backstage, chose a spacious dressing room to set up the tables and chairs, and by the time I swathed the tables and the dressing room counters facing the mirrors with table cloths in shades of blue, it was ready for the order.

Jill,  at the Hampton, recommended the Majestic Grille  and it was a good call. We were all blown away by  how delicious everything was!

They have a very well thought-out, creative –and also mouthwatering menu. It’ s nice to see  imaginative offerings that are rationally priced. The Majestic menu offers something for everyone–which was crucial, since some of my hungry mouths were connected to vegetarian mindsets.

Because Take 6 had been traveling and would not go on until after our performance, after their sound check (and while we were doing ours)  they were able to indulge in  a full meal.  (Well, it was not quite full–the one thing that we could not order from the Majestic were desserts–they serve dessert shooters in the restaurant that do not travel well.) In addition to the entrees, the men  enjoyed a number of the vegetable side dishes and salads.

A photo of the Old Post Office Waldorf Salad that was a group favorite. (This photo is from The Majestic Grille's online menu.)

As for me and our group of  (12) merry men, we  had a variety of their  yummilicious flat bread pizzas, including the grilled artichoke; duck comfit; smoked salmon; and smoked chicken. There was also a good fresh tomato one, but I don’t recall its menu name. And also, we had some of their fine salads–they were splendid. We especially liked the “Old Post Office Waldorf” salad, but they were all good.

In addition to the food, which was great, the people at the Majestic Grille  could not have been nicer. Olivia, who took the order got it all right, and was so sweet and helpful, as was the manager, Lauren. They both went the extra mile– literally!

We have come to understand why  musicians who travel really do appreciate a nice, hot meal. It helps keep their body clocks set, and it is satisfying to see  these hungry troubadours  happy and well fed before a performance.

All of them  miss their  home and loved ones, more than you can imagine, and they are always in touch with their families. One of the Take 6 members is a new dad, and there was a lovely conversation in which everyone shared their own wisdom and experience regarding  how to get babies to sleep through the night.

Although there had been no desserts  available for take out from the Majestic, because of the good men and their good hearts, there was still plenty of sweetness at the table.

So, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen of Take 6, and also my fine fellas of DeltaCappella.

You are all true  gentlemen— kind, gracious, and good humored. May you soon rest with your families on Christmas Day.

Blue Christmas

I love this photo of Adrienne because she had just gotten out of bed that morning, and was excited about the snow. Actually, she wanted to see how her first car looked covered with snow.

My last entry ended with, “Maybe that’s why Christmas feels so good.”

And it does.

But sometimes it hurts. The pain does not negate the beauty. This is just life. There is simply agony to be endured, just as there is bliss and joy.

Tonight, I felt the intense grief that I do believe that only a mother can know. This I believe is because a child is truly of its mother’s body, and its little life becomes the focus of a mom’s life from conception. I miss my Adrienne.

Tonight, I trolled the aisles of Hobby Lobby, looking for inspiration for a table setting I want to do for Take 6 at tomorrow night’s concert at the Orpheum. I’ve settled upon a snowflake theme that will be various shades of blue–from turquoise to deep blue. Tomorrow I’ll snap some photos–I hope it will reflect Memphis and our blues heritage in a way that will make their Memphis concert with our group at the Orpheum a pleasant memory.

As I was browsing, I noticed a mom and her daughter who were studying some neat acrylic decorations that looked like crystal.  Some people might turn their noses up at acrylic because it is not crystal, but if you have children, you know plastic can be a beautiful thing! There is nothing worse than the tears of a child who has broken something that was precious to him or her—or to you!

Mom and daughter were examining the acrylic crystal blocklike  thing-ies with a manger scene carved inside, as well as the  pretty,  transparent dove with the silver olive branch, But what clearly held  the child’s attention was the icy little girl angel who knelt beside the crib of the Baby Jesus–it had an LED light within it that made the whole thing glow in an un-earthly blue. I could not imagine how exquisite it must appear to this child.

I watched and fidgeted. What I really  wanted to do was to give the little sculpture  to this little girl. But at the same time,  I was really really worried that her mom might think I was really really weird, or maybe, somewhat understandably, she might want to teach her little girl that it is not appropriate to accept gifts from strange ladies at Hobby Lobby.

Of course, nothing ever happens to me that doesn’t make me think that Woody Allen is not somewhere in the wings of Karma, so it follows that the same preternaturally red haired elderly lady who had been circling and darting  around while  carrying on a vivacious conversation with herself,  accosted me and in her alarm,  loudly  alerted another fellow shopper to the fact  that I should not leave money out on top of my shopping cart.  So I thanked her and snatched up the fifteen bucks that I had hoped to discreetly pull from my purse and  that was now laying on top of my coat, and wadding it up in my hand, I plunged on.

“Do you like this?”, I asked the child,  as I picked up  the small statue. She smiled at me, and nodded, pleased that I, too, shared her appreciation for its beauty. Kids are the greatest, aren’t they?  I asked her mom if it would be alright  if I gave it to her, explaining my excuse, that I had lost my own daughter, pleading with her that  it would make me happy if I could give something to her daughter.

And in such perfect grace, she said yes.

I asked the little girl her name, and it was so lovely. I can’t remember what it was, it was Spanish, and I don’t know the sounds and the language well enough to assign words a memory path, but it was a heavenly sounding name, very pretty, as I told her.

I told them both how happy it would make me if she could keep the little statue in her bedroom. Even now, as I think of her tonight, with the little angel girl peering blue-ly over the glowingly blue Baby Jesus, I am so happy. I am in tears, but I am so glad that child has that piece of plastic.

Her mother, and this is the most astounding part of this story, even told this precious child that it was alright to give  me a hug–and I got the warmest, strongest, best  hug I will get this Christmas. I feel so blessed because of this. What this teaches me is to do and be. To not hold back because something may seem to be odd or inappropriate.

At the same time, I feel somewhat guilty, because I asked something of her. I should not have done this, and should have given her the gift freely, but instead, I asked something in return. I asked her to always drive carefully. I just wanted to believe that maybe if she had the memory of that little blue Baby Jesus, safe in his manger crib, that she might think twice before doing something that would endanger her life. I think of how many times I looked at my baby Adrienne, so safe and peaceful in her little bed.

How can any mother imagine that her sleeping infant will someday die?

I hope that little girl will always be safe.

Life is not easy, but is is worth living, and it is the greatest gift of all.

I walked away, in tears, I am not proud of that, but that is how it was. Behind me,  I could hear the lady who conversed with herself jubilantly pronouncing to anyone within earshot,  like a balmy herald angel,  ” It’s a Merry Christmas!”