Anne Gets a New Job…..

One of My Many Tasks on Stage: Making Jim Laugh!

Don’t panic!  I am still singing harmony and playing backup in Jim Curry’s John Denver Tribute Show!

What I meant to say is that I have taken on a new responsibility in our shows,

Here’s why:

Many of you already know that our wonderful flautist and business partner, Diane Ireland, just retired and is managing her arthritis more comfortably at home rather than in a bouncy van.  What many of you DON’T know is that Diane, in addition to playing the flute during our shows, also pushed the button that started the videos we show during each song.

This button-pushing job sounds easy…heck…what could be hard about pushing a button? 

Let me tell you that what Diane did flawlessly for so many years comes off a little less polished when I’m in charge!  I must REMEMBER to push the button at the beginning of the song or I will mess up the timing of the images.  For instance, when we are singing about eagles, we want to see eagles!  When the dolphin jumps out of the water and spins, it should be at the exact moment the music swells……if he’s late, it’s MY fault.

The button must be pushed when the song begins, not two seconds before or after.  IF I FORGET…….. I can’t skip ahead or fast-forward.  If I forget to push the button at the beginning of a song, the video will lag behind.  The eagles will be late, the horses will be late and the dolphin…….well, he will be jumping out of the water and giving me a dirty look!

This is a LOT of pressure!  Let me tell you that in the history of doing our shows for the past 25 years, I have learned how to perform every single song in every single show by NOT PUSHING A BUTTON AT THE BEGINNING OF EVERY SONG!!  Let me also tell you that I have other things to think about and other buttons to push (mute button, tuner button, etc), not to mention remembering lyrics and chords and smiling and not falling down and all the other important stuff!

As old dogs go, I’m pretty much out of tricks.  I think the saying goes that old dogs CAN learn new tricks, but it takes them longer to learn. 

Soooooo….. Here’s to learning, and here’s to my new button-pushing future!

Thanks Chevrolet!

Just in case you haven’t already seen this commercial – I am featuring it in my blog this Holiday season.

Underneath the heartfelt, tear-jerking message, is the joy we felt hearing the music they used to bring their message home.

Thanks Chevrolet! We already knew that John Denver wrote the sound track of our lives…’s about time this is recognized by big media advertisers and the rest of the world.

Watch. Listen. Enjoy.

Happy Holidays!

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

I took the opportunity to fly home during a break in our schedule.  I was flying solo – something I’ve only done twice in my lifetime, but I’ve flown numerous times with friends, bandmates and family, no big deal, I know the ropes.

When we booked my flight, Jim and I took the opportunity to upgrade to the aisle seat in the emergency exit row. Those seats cost more but Jim thought I would enjoy the extra leg room (lol, totally wasted on me and my short little legs!) I should note that the airline I was flying on charges extra for everything. I think they even installed pay toilets on the plane (not sure though, short flight). 

As we were all being seated, I heard at least one gentleman look at the two empty seats beside me and tell the flight attendant that he would be happy to sit in the emergency exit row if needed – the attendant quickly told him that the plane was full and directed him to his seat. 

As I waited for the rest of the passengers to board, I read the pamphlet to re-familiarize myself with how to remove the door to the plane. The door weighed 30 pounds – no problem – my guitar and case weighs 25 pounds, so 30 pounds should be easy peasy for me…but the scenario I have always had in my mind the few times I’ve sat in an emergency exit row was that my job was not to remove the door, my job at the aisle seat was hold back the stampede of terrified passengers while the person sitting next to the door removed the door. You see, the door has to come inside the plane sideways before you throw it out…impossible to do if people are pressed up against it, right?

I waited to see who would be sitting in the seats next to me, who would share in the life and death duty that we promise (audibly) to fulfill and who would share my responsibility of saving the lives of the people on the plane.   But the plane was not full. The doors closed and I still had 2 empty seats next to me (and LOTS of legroom) so as the flight attendant went through the pre-flight rules, and told everyone to locate their nearest emergency exit, several people turned around and looked to ME as their savior.  I was picturing a whole new scenario now as I imagined myself opening the emergency exit (a two –handed operation by the way) and holding back passengers with my leg extended behind me.  Can I lift a 30 pound door standing on one short leg and holding back passengers with my other short leg? (Take a moment to visualize this, it’s worth it).  Every scenario I imagined ended up with me smooshed up against the unopened emergency exit door with a pile of passengers pressed up against me.

Seems that if the airlines are going to take this emergency exit thing seriously they would put a minimum of 2 people in each exit row, and give those folks a discount (or maybe a drink coupon – or a toilet pass) to thank them for taking on this vitally important responsibility.

I am happy to report that everyone lived under my watch. The question I have for you: “Is it a good idea for airlines to charge extra for an emergency exit row?”   Let me know what you think by writing in the comment box below. 

The captcha is case sensitive, but do not put any spaces in between the characters.

What We’ve Learned from Ricky Nelson (Click for More…..)

Jim and Anne – We Look Pleased with Ourselves

Here is a letter we recently received from a disappointed concert attendee:

“The popular songs that your group performed were done very well however half of the songs were unknown to most and while I’m sure they were performed well, that is not what I paid to see/hear. I can appreciate that you know so much trivia about John Denver but the show was not advertised as a documentary. We see two or three shows there each summer and drive over an hour to get there. I, as well as the others in my group left the (venue) disappointed for the first time ever.”

I probably don’t have to tell you, THAT kind of letter really grabs our attention!  As entertainers, we are essentially people-pleasers, and when we became entertainers we opened ourselves up to praise AND criticism.  Praise is easy (we ALL want that!) –  but with the praise, sometimes there is criticism  – and in these days of social platforms, both are given freely whether asked for or not.

The first thing we do is check back at the set list, There were 4 unknown songs in the entire 2 hour playlist of hit songs.….one because it was specifically written about the very place we were standing.  We explained that during the show. We thought it was cool, but apparently the complainer thought of this as part of our “documentary.”

The next thing we do is reply to the complainer.  This is hard.  We want to defend ourselves, we want to prove them wrong, make them feel bad for criticizing and we want them to understand the agony we go through trying to decide what everyone wants to hear out of a very large repertoire of excellent music. We want to send them copies of all the letters we received from people that LOVED the show – but in the end, all we could say to this person was “We are sorry you were disappointed” and in spite of all the praise we received from OTHER people who went to the exact same concert, this person’s comments will be a nagging reminder that, hard as we try, we can’t please everyone.  

In 1971, singer/songwriter Ricky Nelson performed at Madison Square Garden in what should have been the highlight of his career.  Instead, he was nearly booo’d off the stage by an audience that preferred to hear Ricky’s hit songs instead of the new songs he and his band wanted to present. Ricky was unnerved and cut his set short.  From this bad experience, Ricky wrote the song “Garden Party” which became his first US top 10 hit since 1963. 

Remember…. in this day and age, criticism is easy and it is encouraged by greedy retailers who’ve convinced us that the customer is always right.  It is also encouraged by social platforms that allow everyone to share their opinions freely (PS they also make a lot of money doing this).   Moving forward, we will always read, listen and reply to every comment we receive, and we will do our best to reply in a professional manner.  In the end though, for our own sanity, we remember these helpful quotes:

  • “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”  –  John Lydgate
  •  “The only taste of success some people will get is when they have a bite of you.”  –  Zig Ziglar
  •  “Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.” — Lao Tzu
  •  “You can’t please everyone, so you gotta please yourself.” – Ricky Nelson