Ty Stephens Romantasy
In Monaco

July 28 - August 3

Well, we're out of the break, into the second half of the season (sorry, I can't stop making baseball references) and the Sporting Club staff
is a little more relaxed as all but one of its MAJOR acts (Eric Clapton appearing on closing day) have been presented.
As they now might be less apprehensive of the boss breathing down their collective neck, perhaps WE might be attended to
with a little more love and care. We've bent over backwards catering to the whims of production and the Production Manager
is most pleased with both our acquiescent and our professional demeanors. (To us that means A HIGHER PRICE NEXT YEAR!)
Our group is as tight as we're likely to be for the remainder of the run, both on and off-stage and that's a blessing.
Now we have to be careful not to unravel by confidence and carelessness, that most dastardly demonic duo of the Performing Arts.


Chicago - 
OK, I'm old. Chicago made me dance. Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? Jezus, I looked like Carlton from The Fresh Prince Of BelAir!
How many of you crypt keepers remember when they were called, The Chicago Transit Authority? C'mon now, exhale all of that old 1969 reefer!
Well, our whole band stayed after our own set to watch them weave their old-school magic; the trio of horns blaring their choreographed cacophony,
their richly aging voices still full of the disparate timbres that made them so distinct - Man! Don't you miss when the bands were all different? 
We were so amped that when we returned to the hotel, we spent the next two hours in the lobby drinking wine and playing dominoes. 

Peter Cincotti - 
Barely a 30 year-old youngster from NYC, this self-accompanying pianist/vocalist has made something of a mark in multiple art genres.
Basically, a pop-rocker with a jazz background, Cincotti has stuck his foot in the door of stage, studio and cinema, now touring with his own band
and catching a respectable following to boot. A good voice, a nice repertoire and matinée looks combine with a performance ethic which respects
the lyric, the melody and the classics - a breath of fresh air in my book. Additionally, one of our own comrades, Keith Robinson, funked up the band
with both electric and acoustic guitar and backing vocals. Hey, we're all ships passing in the night! 

Richie Havens - 
Among the last of the straight-up acoustic guitar - stand up and sing protest songs - 60s throwbacks, Richie Havens highlighted an evening
which paid respect to Woodstock legends. With nary a hippie in the house, Havens, Alvin Lee (leader of the English 60s band, Jaybird)  and Dana Fuchs
(a 30 year old Janis Joplin clone - sans the Southern Comfort - whose voice is wonderfully colored with Blues and Gospel) played to the black tie
audience, who received them both well and surprisingly, memorably. I was hoping that by evening's end, the Sporting Club main floor would revert to
some semblance of that free love nakedness that became iconic in the later depictions of the Woodstock era but alas, neither tie nor halter was loosed.
I spent a good half hour after the spectacle kibitzing backstage with Richie Havens, who is looking quite healthy at age 67.

Fete De La Croix Rouge - 
This was the Royal Command Performance of the Sporting Club season. With Prince Albert and his sister, Princess Caroline in attendance, 
security was the order of the day and we could see it building for two days prior to our actual involvement. What, however, was most amazing to me,
was the transformation of the outdoor, surrounding grounds of the Sporting Club into an open air palace. A parquet carpet was built over more than
one hundred square meters of lawn, replete with ornate lamps, hanging from golden posts, a fine cotton canvas, beige, dance floor and a private, 
three room, guarded gazebo for the Royal Family. Yes dammit, the band had to enter the stage through the parking lot and up the rock-pile staircase.
(some things never change) Twenty-four hours after the sophisticated shindig, the whole shebang was dismantled! 

Macy Gray - 
Here is a woman who personifies the axiom, Never Give Up. Sparsely popular in the USA but with much more of a following in Britain and Europe,
Macy overcame too many failures, both personal and professional, to list in this blog. From being hissed offstage after butchering the Star Spangled Banner
at the 2001 NFL Hall Of Fame Game to being ousted from Barbados for using gross profanity onstage last year, she has survived to make many commendable
appearances on the concert stages of the world and even on screen in a few movies. Her band certainly served up the serious Cali-Funk to the Sporting Club crowd,
eventually inducing the petrified audience to get up, loosen up and dance and even as they relievedly melted into a genuine acceptance of her showmanship,
Macy remained true to her inescapable, raunchy past by wiping her crotch with a stage towel. Lord! Save us from ourselves!

Caetano Veloso -
Along with Antonio Carlos Jobim and Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso completes what most historians and musicians consider the triumvirate of Brazilian composers.
Appearing at the Sporting Club with a chair, a microphone and a guitar, he proceeded to rend every heart within earshot. With a voice under spiritual control, he
displayed a range that challenged both whale and eagle. His simple guitar voicings wove an atmosphere to contain the most translucent wisps of his lyrics yet
he, without warning, would erupt into rhythmic, percussive waves which left the audience stumbling over his angry musical crags. Still, all of his cadences were
full of forgiveness and many a teary eye was wiped only to be reddened again with the salt water of his music's mist. Begged incessantly for encores, Caetano provided five,
ending the evening with an a cappella rendition of a Brazilian folk song. No applause for his finale, the exhausted and possessed audience serenaded HIM off of the stage.

Jusqu'a la prochaine fois!

Fino alla prossima volta!