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Marvin's Report: New Year's Rockin' Eve


marvin

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The taxi came to pick me up at 5:00am Dec 31st. I kissed my wife goodbye and said, “It’s all for rock and roll.†A little bit corny perhaps, but you’d have to know me to understand. My wife rolled her eyes but I know she understood. My long day’s journey to Cleveland had begun. Exactly 12 hours later, at 5:30pm, I arrived at Hopkins Airport.

Two months ago, Cleveland was just another cold, grey town. Now, as I walked from Public Square to the House of Blues to pick up my ticket, it felt like home. At the club I met Gene Taylor and we walked together to the Holiday Inn Express. After too many hours of traveling, it was refreshing to see Larry, Ted, Jim, and to receive hugs from the EC.COM groupies: Annie (hey do you ever change out of those raspberry-colored clothes?!), Marlene, Kazumi, and Trindy. It almost felt like November 26th all over again. They were a welcome sight indeed – as was the pizza that was laid out on the table!

A couple of hours later, around 9:30, Larry and I headed back to the HoB, and I headed to my seat. Inside the lobby I heard a voice call out “Hey Marvin!†I turned to see Kay Bryson. I gave her a hug, and we went into the hall together. I touched base with Art, his brother and mom, Steve T and his wife, Debbie. It was thanks to Art’s generosity that I was even at this show, so once again Art “Thank you!â€

The show started precisely at 10:00, with the words on the video screen reading: “It’s the last day of 2004.†Even though many in the room had seen and heard the video before, it was still great re-live Bernie’s and Ken’s work of art. And then when the screen rose and we heard Jim’s “The Locomotion / I Wanna Be with You†drum fill, a little piece of heaven was ours again.

There were many memorable points (Dave talking about receiving a letter from a U.S. soldier in Iraq was one extremely poignant moment) similar to November 26th, with the added musical highlights being the “Drivin’ / Cruisin†medley, a top-of-the-world version of “Needles and Pinsâ€, and a song that will never get old for me, “Overnight Sensation.†Tell me, has there ever been a better song written about the same theme? I don’t think so.

The show had a nice flow to it and there was no doubt that the band’s playing was tighter while their mood was much more relaxed, the jokes flowed throughout the evening. I think it’s obvious that this band has its chops down pretty tight right now and as with each show they will improve on perfection.

A few minutes before midnight Eric said, “If we play this song really fast, we might get it in before midnight.†So what better way to close 2004 than with “Ecstasy†– one word that ties up in a nice neat package how we’ve all been feeling lately. At the stroke of midnight, a somewhat out-of-tune “Auld Lang Syne†was piped through the sound system. Wally remarked “Does that sound as great out there as it doesn’t up here?!†I called home on my cell to wish my wife and children (it was only 10:00 at home), and at the same moment, I received a “Happy New Year†text message from fellow EC.COM boarder Jeff Harris. Nice surprise. Thanks Jeff!

A couple of points on the vocals:

• I’ve got to say a big ‘thank you’ to Eric for resurrecting his ‘rock’ voice. There is a reason why he’s the lead voice of this band, but that voice has been in hibernation for way too long for this fan.

• Dave’s voice smooth and easy on the ears, is so incredibly easy-to-listen-to. When he sings a cut like “It Seemed So Easyâ€, it shines.

• Now as great a singer Eric is, for me the standout singer at both the shows has been Wally. Maybe I never listened closely before because it’s always been Wally’s guitar playing that has been front and center. My ears tell me that age has given Wally’s voice a dimension that it never had before. He has lost little if any of his high register, and to hear him sing a song like “Party’s Over†or to hear him put on his Lennon voice on “No Replyâ€, is to hear a singer who deserves much more recognition than he receives. When Wally and Eric sing together, there is a blend that you only among siblings. These two guys were born to sing together.

Behind the curtain with the Overdubs

After the show was done, my plan was to meet Ernie (Roadie #3). He had made arrangements for me to get a ride back to the airport where I planned to sleep for a few hours prior to my 0:630am flight. Larry and Ted accompanied me to the stage area but we could see no way of accessing the stage without one of those “All Access†passes. I tried to explain to a HoB security person my predicament, but I guess I didn’t sound too convincing. At that moment Barb Bonfanti came by, greeted me with a hug and said, “Marvin so good to see you. Are you coming backstage?†I replied, “Well they’re not letting me go through.†She replied, “Oh what nonsense! Come with me.†At the same time, Ernie peeked his way around the curtain and motioned for me to follow him. I asked if Larry and Ted could also come, but he said that he was only allowed one person.

Backstage I first met Billy Sullivan. I introduced myself (Billy and I have exchanged emails since the Nov 26th show, and he’s also contributed to ‘post-Reflections.â€) Billy was extremely cordial and it was certainly nice to shake hands with “The Encyclopedia of Beatles Music.†One day Billy, I’ll have to challenge you to an all-out Beatles trivia contest and in the meantime, ‘the cheque’s in the mail.’

Billy then called Jennifer over. She exclaimed “Marvin!†Let me tell you that as captivating as Jennifer is on stage, she is even more captivating in person. Jennifer and I had a wonderful chat about her own career, her work with Michael Stanley (I mentioned that I was a big fan of MS’s), and she introduced me to her husband Mark who took a picture of us together. By the way if you go to the photo section of www.raspberries.net, that’s Mark’s pictures you’ll see under the name “Mark Comai.†Jennifer was also kind enough to give me her set list which she autographed and dedicated. Jennifer, you’ve got a new fan and I can’t wait to hear that cd.

I then met Paul Sidoti, blue shirt and all. With Paul there is so much more than just the obvious musical talent. During the show Eric introduced Paul with the words “all around good vibes.†This is a trait that not many possess, but to speak one-on-one with Paul, you can see how deserving he is of Eric’s praise. A musician beyond his work with the ‘berries, Tequila Sunset and Kiss tribute band, Paul is working on his own cd that he hopes to release in 2005. I know many who eagerly anticipate this music.

I didn’t get much a chance to speak to Eric or Jim, although I did see them both. I’m beginning to believe that Jim must be a sports fan. Last time after the show he sported a Manchester United jersey, this time he was wearing a Pittsburg Penguins jersey. Wally and I shook hands, with Wally saying “Marv, thanks for making the trip again. Hope you enjoyed the show.†Yes Wally, I did.

I told Paul that I wanted to see Dave before I left for the airport, and he said, “Yeah sure, just go into his dressing room.†Thinking that this was not such a good idea, I politely asked if he could go get him instead. At that moment Dave’s lovely better-half Kim saw me and said, “Marvin come over here!†Another hug from another beautiful lady. I knew there was a good reason why I love this band! Then, Dave came out of his room. We greeted each other with hugs and began to chat. Among other things, he asked me my opinion about the show, and also said that he felt much less nervous and more relaxed than the show on the 26th. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’ve had the opportunity to meet many special people in my life, but I have yet to meet nicer, more-pleasant ‘stars’ than Dave and Wally. They are both self-effacing, gracious, and treat everyone with incredible respect. I love them as musicians and much more as a people.

As we parted, I told Dave, “This has been such a long time coming, I wish I could explain how happy I am for you. You deserve it.†Dave hugged me and asked, “See you in Chicago?â€

It was Ernie’s sister Adrienne (sp?) - “Baby Sister†- who drove me back to the airport. Along the way we spoke about all things Raspberries, and I was given some great insights not to mention I was told of her 30+ year crush on Dave. I arrived at the airport around 1:15. My flight was still a few hours away so I spent the time curled up on a chair re-living the past few hours.

Granted the anticipation for the show was not as great, and instead of a 31 year wait, it was just over 31 DAYS of waiting. Still there is nothing that can take away from another night of precious music, precious memories, and precious friends to share all of this with. When it was all said and done, I once again found myself feeling a bit sad just like I did on November 26th. Back then little did I know that I’d see the band a month later. This time around, I’ll keep my fingers crossed and hope that we’ll all meet again, somewhere down that road. For those of you going to Chicago who have not yet seen the band, your dreams are about to come true. Enjoy yourself and remember, “it’s all for rock and roll.â€

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Marv, I could read your stuff all day and all night. We can relive the experience through your vivid words. Thank you.

Clean it up a bit (the world doesn't care about Larry & Ted) then send it to Rolling Stone. Whatever they write won't have the emotion and warmth of your piece.

It was great to see you again. I wish I could make it to Chicago but I'm tapped out. Hope you are able to get onthe chat room soon. Have a great 2005.

Ted

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Marvin.... great review of the show, and it was wonderful to finally meet you! Although slightly embarassed that you revealed my secret to everyone, Dave has known all along and Kim even gave me a hug and remembered my name! I am going to try to make it to Chicago it all depends on the weather. When are you going to post that reflection that we talked about in the car on the way to the airport? i have a "special" intrest in that one ! Take care talk with you soon

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Marv!! Thanks much for that one. What a gifted, from-the-heart writer you are. Thanks for including Debbie and me in there. Deb enjoyed the show and liked "No Reply," "It's Cold Outside" and "Don't Want to Say Goodbye" the most, BTW. It was a gamble since I bought the tickets and asked later...whew!!

I trust you got some shuteye before writing that one. All I can add is...that I loved the show, again. Boy, were they relaxed and TIGHT.

Mannoman, it was great to see you, also. What a great bunch of friends.

Steve T.

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Marvin----thank you so very much for once again sharing your "Berrie-Experience" with all of us. Through reading your review, I too felt as if I were there!

A year or so ago I really gave you a hard time about your feelings about this music and posting on the site, and since that time, I have seen a "kinder and gentler" Marvin rise from the mist--or it may just be that my meds are now working------- spin At any rate, over this whole past year I have come to see a guy who really does know a lot about music and I have a whole new respect for you. (although, I know I am still going to disagree with you on certain songs.... <img border="0" alt="[blech!]" title="" src="graemlins/blech.gif" /> ) God's Blessings to you and yours in 2005!

--Julie

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Marv, What took you so long to discover that Eric and Wally are absolute vocal magic together???!!!

*Better* than siblings by far! I've heard some siblings who don't sing that well together. If you read my posts "way back when," I said from the very beginning that the nucleus of Eric & Wally were the very reason for that magic blend of vocal stardust known as Raspberries! Glad you had another great time!

smile --Darlene

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Thanks for the kind comments everyone. It's always fun spilling out my heart on these pages.

"Baby Sister" the "babe" that you and others are referring to was backstage speaking with Wally, among others. She seemed to know everyone, and certainly had the eye of more than one person. No idea who she was.

Marvin

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The girl that eveyone is talking about was very beautiful, wore jeans and a black lace shirt with a fringe at the waist and Dave was definitely playing up the "babelicious" aspect of her attention - she was very respectful but still, i was jealous!!!

marvin - on occasion, i do wear something other than raspberry colored attire - BUT where else am I going to wear a raspberry t-shirt that says "Raspberries Still Rock" on it, with a button down shirt that says "EC.COM, AnnieKNY" on it??????????? Hey - I wore it ALL THE WAY FROM LAGUARDIA AIRPORT IN NY - how proud am I of our boys, eh?

You recognized me real fast, didn't ya??????

Mission accomplished.

one question: why did you take off for the airport so early?? My guess is that that was when your ride was going your way......

I love the way you write, Marvin...even if you don't love "I can Remember"!!!!

annie

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Annie you hit the nail on the head: I left for the airport when "Baby Sister" was leaving. I suppose I could have stayed right until my flight time, but then I would have lost out on the opportunity to sleep in a fetal position on an airport chair. I can now say with pride: "I was at the airport when Starbucks opened at 4:00am on New Year's Day, and I was their first customer of 2005."

Marvin

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