Where the music is... by Helen DePrima and Liz Flaherty


by Liz Flaherty

There has always been music in our house. My husband is a musician and all of our kids were in choir and swing choir. Our living room and hallway are decorated with guitar cases and stands. Sound equipment fills a corner of my office. You’d think we’d have been to a ton of concerts, but we actually haven’t.

          Even so, when Helen and I decided we’d write about a few of our favorite
performances, I had a little trouble deciding. The first concert I ever attended was Kenny Rogers, where my sister, aunt, and I sat in the rain on the top row of bleachers at the Elkhart County Fair in Goshen, Indiana. I sang “The Gambler” for days afterward.

          We saw Peter, Paul, and Mary twice, singing along with songs we’d grown up
with. Laughing because they didn’t even sing “Puff, the Magic Dragon,” just turned it over to the crowd. I can’t get through “Puff” anymore, both because Mary Travers is no longer with us and because it invariably makes me cry over my kids’ childhoods that, like Jackie Paper’s, went too fast.

          My favorite—and I told him I wouldn’t do this—was a few months ago when my husband did a solo performance at
a local library. It was standing room only and although I’ve lived with his voice for 47 years, I am still his biggest fan. It was, in a lifetime of memories, a very special one.

          Music usually works its way into my stories, mostly as scenery, but Luke, the hero of my August Heartwarming, Nice to Come Home To, sits on a stool in the corner of the heroine’s coffee shop and sings his way into her heart. I am so excited about the story—I hope you’re looking forward to it, too. Here's a little teaser from when Luke and Cass are walking through the orchard one day.

“Wait!” Luke drew them to a halt, standing still in the crunchy autumn grass. “Do you hear it?"

“Hear what?”

“The music. Somewhere, someone’s playing an apple orchard waltz.” He swung her into his arms. “Come on, let’s dance.”

She tried to pull away, both laughing and embarrassed. “Don’t tell me you’ve missed Royce calling me Sister Two Left Feet. She’s not kidding.”

“Don’t worry about your feet.” He held her closer and smiled into her eyes. “Dance from your heart—that’s where the music is.”

by Helen DePrima

I can’t dance or sing, and I blew my lines in the senior play, fortunately in a minor role. Maybe that’s why I take such joy in the talents of others. I’ve attended so many wonderful concerts and plays and dance programs over the years, it’s hard to say which were my favorites, which touched or inspired me most, but three top the list.

Newly married, my husband and I scraped our pennies together for an evening in Denver to hear one of our favorite up-and-coming singers, John Denver. The performance was his first concert at a real theater, a giant step up from bars and coffee houses. We went backstage afterwards to congratulate him; he was over the moon over his big success, grinning from ear-to-ear and chanting, “Far out!” like a broken record. I’ll always bless his memory for the wonderful music he gave the world.

I’ve had the privilege of seeing Mikhail Baryshnikov perform not once but twice, at the peak of his career. My daughter, a young teen, was also a huge fan, so we treated her to the VIP experience before the performance, billed as “creative black tie.” I don’t recall what I wore, but we found Jennifer a modest but elegant cocktail dress from the ‘30’s, with marcelled waves in her hair. Even the great man himself took note of her. We floated on the experience while we marveled at his gravity-defying leaps. We saw him again a few years later with his own White Oak Dance Project, freed from all the restraints of traditional ballet, carrying us to new heights with his creative genius.


Very recently, we attended a dance event featuring three of the premium professionals from Dancing with The Stars. We took advantage of the pre-show meet-and-greet, worth every penny. I loved the opportunity to tell Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy and Maks’s wife Peta how much their dancing has entertained and moved us, and their warmth and enthusiasm made us feel valued as fans, almost friends. And then show, dramatic and funny, bawdy and personal and heart-wrenching, far beyond my expectations.


We’ve been so lucky to enjoy the talent over the years of performers from Itzak Perlman to Springsteen to Roy Orbison, Broadway and the Met to superb local theater. I try whenever possible to thank the performers, with John Denver’s “far out!” echoing in my mind.

Comments

  1. I loved your posts, Liz and Helen, as it reminded me of all the wonderful concerts, theatre and ballet performances I’ve been fortunate to enjoy over the years. I have zero ability in music and dance, but the magic of theatre always carries me onstage regardless - in my imagination. I loved the excerpt of your upcoming book, Liz....more magic to come!

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    1. I feel the same way about theatre, Janice. My one trip to NYC (including several Broadway shows) is one of my keep-forever life highlights.

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    2. The performance theme was Liz's idea, and kudos for suggesting it. My husband is a huge fan of the performance arts, and I realized as I searched back through the years how many wonderful events we experienced together. I'm now working on a fourth book in my Cameron's Pride series, this time focusing on Lucy Cameron's career as an actress and drawing on insider information from a local professional theater company.

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  2. I loved these posts as well. Brought back memories of live performances. As teenagers about 8 of us went to a Peter, Paul, & Mary concert at Orchestra Hall in Chicago. A few months later, my boyfriend and I went to see Judy Collins sing in the gym on the U of IL campus in the city. She was alone, just her and her guitar. I got hooked on live music! I still am. Thanks for reminding me of those experiences. They were life changing in their way.

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    1. Oh, that's my favorite thing--just a singer with a guitar. We went to an open mic last night where a singer brought me to tears with a John Denver song.

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    2. Ah, Peter, Paul, and Mary! We saw them several times, most memorably at Red Rocks Amphitheater just west of Denver -- a summer evening with the sunset fading over the Front Range, and those marvelous voices.

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    3. I can imagine how beautiful that must have been. I love open air venues--we used to take the train to Ravinia Park north of Chicago--kind of like Red Rocks or Wolf Trap. The same summer we saw Yo Yo Ma, Gordon Lightfoot, and Pete Seeger with Arlo G. It wasn't quite long enough ago to be a flight into nostalgia--not quite!

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  3. My favorite was a family trip to NYC to see Phantom of the Opera. We still talk about how great it was.

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    1. Kari--my daughter--and I saw Mary Poppins. I never would have chosen it on my own--it's for kids, right?--but it was possibly the most exciting three hours of entertainment I've ever seen.

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    2. That first Broadway show is always memorable. My dad took me to NYC when I was about 14, one of those rare spells of summer weather more like September, with bright sunshine and cool breezes off the Atlantic. We had tickets for Camelot with the original cast and backstage access. I still have my souvenir program signed by Richard Burton, Julie Andrews, and Robert Goulet. I'll never forget Richard Burton's blue eyes and charming smile which made a rather homely man handsome.

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  4. I grew up with music all around me. My dad, a tenor, sang in a barbershop quartet so the family often went to rehearsals, which became a real social event. The best concert I ever attended was the Eagles on their tour for Hell Freezes Over. What performers! They must have done twenty encores. And more recently, I can’t forget seeing my granddaughter’s dance recital. She’s good! So many memories, ladies. Thanks. Great post.

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    1. I STILL want to see the Eagles, although I'm thinking I might not make it, and all grandkid performances are great! I'm happy for your granddaughter--and that you got to see her.

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    2. Growing up with that much music must have been wonderful, Leigh. Not so much in my grandparents' home, although an old Philco radio was always tuned to a country-and-western station in the tack room. And I grew up with the old gospel songs our cook Mattie sang while she worked. My father loved classical music; two of his brothers were professional violinists. I took violin and viola lessons right up through high school but lacked the ambition to pursue classical music as a career.

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  5. Yes, a great post! Kenny Roger's 'The Gambler' comes to mind every time I arrive at one of life's turning points. And out gardening, there's always John Denver, reminding me that 'inch by inch, row by row' I'll make this garden grow. Oh, oh, yes, I just remembered him singing it on the Muppet Show. My mom remarked he looked just like one of the muppets with his jaunty, carefree aspect.

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    1. Your mom was right, wasn't she? I guess if I could only choose one performer to be my absolute favorite (aside from the one I'm married to) John Denver would be it. I've already waxed envy to Helen because she got to see him.

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    2. I would love to see Kenny Rogers perform, although I'd probably crack up at his appearance now -- some people have trouble aging gracefully. Here's a bit of musical trivia: Islands in the Stream was written for him and Dolly Parton by the Bee Gee's! Another favorite performer I've seen several times is Reba Macintire; her song Is There Life Out There? gave me the idea for my indie novel.

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  6. My first concert, as a child trailing behind my parents at a sports/auto show, was Ricky Nelson. He was long past his "peak" and I didn't want to listen to him. I wanted to go meet Millie who worked at the bakery in the Andy Griffith show. My first chosen concert was the Bay City Rollers LOL. My favorite concert of all time was Kansas. sooooo fun.

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    1. Ricky Nelson had some wonderful harmonies -- so sad for him to die as he did. Of course, I'm still angry with John Denver for his needless death, but at least he went doing what he loved.

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    2. Oh, Ricky Nelson--sigh. Duane sings a few of his songs, and it always makes me think of him singing on his parents' TV show. I didn't know the Bay City Rollers did concerts. I thought they were strictly a studio band. And now I had to go You-tube "Saturday Night." Thanks, Pam!

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  7. Love these stories, and the excerpt. I can't pick a favorite concert, but I realize it's been too long. I'll have to make a point of finding music very soon.

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    1. I probably should have included hearing Itzak Perlman play as among my favorite concerts. Such an inspiring story, a little boy crippled by polio who became a world-famous violinist -- he graciously signed my album cover of Vivaldi's Four Seasons.

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    2. You have some amazing memories, Helen.

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  8. Do not listen to cynical reviews it is from people who are so egotistical that they can't watch a movie and just live in the fantasy and story that your watching. Happy death day

    Shade aside this film was absolutely fantastic my girlfriend loves horror films and 9 out 10 times I refuse to watch it because it looks so terrible or I do watch it and it is indeed terrible but on the odd occasion I'll see a trailer for something that looks like it could be a pretty cool story line, this was so much more than that! Way better than I had expected. It had me on the edge of my seat the whole time with my jaw hanging from the suspense. rampage 2018

    Reminded me of 'hush' from Netflix but it has si-fi monsters which usually puts me off but it's not super wacky so you can kind of go along with it. Deserves 10/10 because the actors were great it was cool to watch and a bit different with the lack of dialogue made the room feel empty and so easy to imerse in there suspense, I left the cinema feeling totally satisfied. If your into thrillers I would definitely recommend! watch the devil's candy online


    Movie premises can run the gamut from the clever, "don't let the bus fall below 50 mph or a bomb will explode," to the wacky, "don't feed the cuddly Gremlins after midnight or they turn into vicious little murder beasts," to the downright "ok, who the hell greenlit this mess," snakes on a plane anyone? watch Avengers: Infinity War free online

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  9. Oh my goodness, I love this line Liz Flaherty...
    “Don’t worry about your feet.” He held her closer and smiled into her eyes. “Dance from your heart—that’s where the music is.” How sweet!! Your upcoming book’s cover is gorgeous.
    Nice post ladies. ( :

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