REHEARSAL DAY 2 – meeting the stars!

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009 by

I slept late Wednesday morning, just as a precaution, given my impending cold. I felt much better, and decided to take a trip to Steinway Hall, home to some beautiful concert grand pianos. Every time I visit New York, I make sure to stop by Steinway Hall. My friend Amy, also a pianist, joined me and we headed over to West 57th street. I had the chance to meet Betsy Hirsch,

a salesperson at Steinway Hall with an amazing story connecting her to Stevie Wonder. We all had a great time playing these fantastic pianos together. After leaving Steinway Hall, Amy, her brother and I had lunch at The Great American Health Bar, where I had the most delicious salad! I was expecting a typical, eat it in one session garden salad, but instead received a monstrously huge, and delicious, dish that I had to finish later in the day.

Salad for lunch…and later snack
At 3pm, we arrived at the rehearsal studio for a day of rehearsal with the celebrity guest musicians. First up: Jeff Beck! Jeff walked in, cool and confident, after his crew guys set up his rig, and Stevie immediately wanted to play the song “Looking For Another Pure Love”, on which Jeff had recorded the killer guitar solo. This was the first of many surreal moments to come: it was as if the recording had come to life before my eyes. After jamming on “Pure Love”, we then played “Superstition”. Apparently, “Superstition” was originally composed for Jeff, but Stevie’s management insisted that he record the song instead, and the rest is history. Eventually, Jeff recorded the song as well, but in a rock style.

Next on the agenda: Sting! Full disclosure: I’ve been a HUGE fan of Sting since I was a little kid. The Police was one of the first bands that made an impact on my budding musicianship. I bought all of the their records, knew all of the lyrics, made up choreography to their songs, etc. So, meeting and performing with Sting had been a dream of mine for many years. I had to work REALLY hard not to revert into a 12-year-old SuperFan in anticipation of his arrival. And then…he walked in! Outer self: calmly smiling at seeing this musical hero of mine, professional in my demeanor and performance. Inner self: OH MY GOD!!! THAT’S STING!! WOW!! I HAVE TO PINCH MYSELF!! SCREEEEEAAAAAMMMMM!!!

Sting took his position next to his bass rig directly in front of the horn players and myself. We rehearsed “Higher Ground” and “Roxanne” as a medley over the next 2 hours. At one point, during a short break, I began stretching. Usually during a tour, I exercise and do yoga everyday (for real), but sometimes it’s just not possible, so I stretch when I can. I was standing behind Sting, so his back was to me. However, seconds after I started stretching, Sting turned around, saw me and joined in! It’s well known that Sting is an avid practitioner of yoga, so I was doubly thrilled that he was doing yoga stretches with me, albeit across the room! Half Moon pose, anyone?

We rehearsed a while longer, and then, when satisfied that the medley was in shape, Sting prepared to leave, but first stopped to talk to Keith John, Stevie’s background singer of many years. The new singer, Lanesha Baca, and I looked at each other and tacitly acknowledged that this was our chance to meet this musical icon, so we dashed across the room and waited our turn to meet him. I reached out my hand to shake his, but instead, Sting took my hand, pulled me in for a big hug and kissed my face on both cheeks in the lovely way Europeans do. I was stunned, smiled, and immediately reverted to being that 12-year-old SuperFan: all giggles and verbal ineptitude. Sigh…

We then took a dinner break, and came back to rehearse with John Legend. We’ve performed with John before, and he remembered me, greeting me with a hug and kiss on the cheek. John had just returned from a tour in Brazil, so of course, I had to play the one song I know in Portugese “Águas de Março”. My geek side couldn’t resist! John sang the Marvin Gaye classic “Mercy Me”, and as the rehearsal went well, he left after only a few times through the song.

Finally, B. B. King entered the room, accompanied by his manager and assistants. What a gracious man! B. B. King exudes a warm-hearted kindness, similar to that which Stevie exudes, and kindly complimented the band, took photos with us, gave me a big hug, made jokes, allowed all of us to be at ease in his presence. We rehearsed “The Thrill is Gone” with him. Wow. What a day…

B. B. King and me

This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 28th, 2009 at 10:42 pm and is filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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