Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Beautiful Little Concert

(The Woodlands, TX) - A five hour drive through heavy rain, thunderstorms and a little bit of hail to hear one of your favorite singers can lead to some pretty high expectations. Claire and I hurtled undaunted through a turbulent Texas afternoon for an opportunity to spend a little quality time with our good friend Karla Bonoff, whom we had never actually seen in person, let alone met. Happily, both of those circumstances changed Friday night.

Let's go back to 1985. I had started dating a young nurse named Claire Cooper. Things were progressing nicely and inevitably we began "dating" less and less and were simply spending time together. This meant visiting one another's apartments, of course. On her first visit to mine, she was casually looking through by albums (1985, remember?) and saw "Restless Nights" by Karla Bonoff.
She got a little wide-eyed because, as it turns out, she had fallen in love with Bonoff's music while she was a student at Vanderbilt. I would find out much later that she already kind of liked me, and this happy little coincidence sort of sealed the deal for her. Shortly thereafter, we began seeing one another exclusively; and in a little more than a year, we were married. It stuck. We will celebrate our 25th anniversary next month. Countless nights, we would lie in the dark listening to music and Karla Bonoff invariably was prominent on the playlist. For a quarter century, we've kept her music in our lives on vinyl, cassette, CD and now on our iPods. So, as I was thinking ahead for ways to celebrate our silver anniversary, I randomly thought, "I wonder if Karla Bonoff is playing any live dates at all?" I checked, and six weeks before our anniversary she was scheduled to appear at a great little Texas venue called Dosey Doe. I couldn't buy tickets fast enough.
Claire was joking around as the date approached, saying "I hope she can still sing." Well, rest assured, she's still got it. Her voice was pure and perfect and she sounded just like she does on her albums (er, tapes, um, CD's...downloads...whatever!)
She's a Grammy-award winning songwriter who had some minor hits as a performer, as well as one Really Big Hit Song. She joked about that during the show, saying she stumbled upon a program on VH-1 called "One Hit Wonders" and said "Yep. There I was." She lamented that the ONE song everybody seems to remember her for, titled "Personally," is one she didn't write. She said several radio DJ's thought it was a novelty song. She dutifully performed it, anyway somewhere near the end of her set. Mostly, though, she delighted those in attendance with the songs and style we have all come to love over the years. There were 130 people in the audience. Yep, 130. (It was an expensive ticket). We enjoyed every second of it, though. We agree it was worth the cost and the treacherous drive.
Because the setting was so intimate, she just kind of hung around after the show. We got to talk to her and tell her how she impacted our relationship. That got a smile out of her. I said "Yeah, you've kind of had a mystical place in our marriage, so it's really special for us to meet you." She took it well. There were 128 other people who wanted a moment of her time, so we moved on...but not before she graciously agreed to have her photo made with Claire.
The run-up to our 25th anniversary will continue, but I promise you this...on the actual anniversary day, I know whose music we'll be listening to.
Cheers, Karla Bonoff. Thanks for all the great years.

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