Monday, February 08, 2010

Harry Connick Jr. and the Best Blissdom Yet

Harry Connick Jr. at Blissdom 2010Friday night I was one of five hundred women crazy with excitement to see Harry Connick Jr. for a personal concert at the Blissdom conference in Nashville. Go ahead and read that sentence again if you need to, and make sure you're sitting down.

In the Fuse nightclub at the Opryland Hotel we crowded around the eye-level stage with only a velvet rope between me and the man my college roommate used to swoon over nineteen years ago (she's the one who first introduced me to the tunes of Mr. Harry-Met-Sally). We stood in front of the stage area, waiting for about forty minutes with colored spot lights blinding us intermittently, eating too many bacon-wrapped scallops from the h'ors d'oeuvre table and smelling the acrid yet thrilling odor of the fog machines--and I would have waited all night if I'd had too.

Mr. Connick followed his four band members onto the tiny wooden stage where they performed four, count them FOUR, songs in the most glorious, rich and tasty jazz I've ever heard. Now I've loved jazz ever since I became an adult and discovered its power and technicality but this was something I'd never heard. If you want details I'd say it was Dixie but that's like trying to describe the performance by saying he sang in English.

Harry Connick Jr. at Blissdom 2010I'd never heard jazz live before and I can tell you I'd have stood there as long as they were willing to play--each note was like the perfect lemonade, balanced and sweet and full of energy and I'd defy you to have listened and not moved with the beat. We're so proud of our digital accomplishments, of the clarity of MP3, of the ability to share and spread music until we can't get away from it but there has be a distinction between our normal, plastic music and the notes they were creating. While the songs were well known and the tunes familiar, plucking those vibrations myself straight from the strings and reeds that produced them was the difference between eating canned, processed corn and harvesting a summer cob straight from the field. Yes it was sweet!

I was in awe and I'd love to have a recording of the performance but it wouldn't be the same. A copy wouldn't convey that connection to the band, the joy of the sound or the energy of their movements. It might give you an idea of what they played but not what they created.

Anyway . . . before the performance Mr. Connick spoke about how he appreciates things like community and people who get things done. How he admires the women in his life and how important it is to do whatever you can to help others within your own sphere. He's been active in rebuilding his hometown of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and he and Branford Marsallis have created what they call the Musicians' Village which is a complex for aspiring performers including housing and support for their education and success. So far they've been able to build eighty homes and do their little part to rebuild and make the world better and you have to admire not only the results of their efforts but the desire to help others that got them there.

So the message that accompanied these glorious melodies? Don't be discouraged in trying to do good things and look around to see what you too can do to make a difference whether it's on a small scale in your own home or in eighty homes--it's not so much the size or amount as it is the fact that something good gets done, which is a hopeful and appropriate message in a time when it's often easy to get discouraged and hopeless for the future. I appreciated that these five men took the time to share a little something with us, something I'll never forget and that made my life just a tiny bit better.

I was impressed but you can see it for yourselves--thanks to Cooking with Caitlin and SouthernPlate.com here are clips of both the speech and the final number. Wish you could have been there. Both clips were filmed from the opposite side of the room from me--I was in front of the saxophonist and loving every minute.

After the performance he stayed to shake hands and take photos--I hadn't intended on saying hello but I was feeling particularly brave after the performance and when I walked up to him I was a little shocked to realize I was a good inch taller than him in my towering heels. They spun me around to get in the photo and I nearly toppled over on those shaky shoes when he put his arm around me on my shoulder. I guess they expected me to smile for the camera but I think I gave them a good deer-in-the-headlights face (or moose if you prefer) so who knows how the shot turned out. I'll have to figure out who has it . . .




P.S. The photos were taken by Dawn at My Home Sweet Home whose Flickr stream you can see here, some rights reserved. Her pictures of the conference are wonderful, she's a talented photographer!

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26 comments:

Stephanie said...

What a fun trip.

Suzi Dow said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Suzi Dow said...

I have a friend who considers Jazz "beneath her." Poor thing. I think life without Jazz would be like life without warm puppies, sweet smelling babies, and my husband's little neck nibbles =) And to hear Jazz played by Connick! What heavenly earthy experience. You did realize you must enjoy it enough for all of us!?!?

branda50 said...

What can I say?...Other than yes I wish I could have been there...I am fan of Harry Connick Jr...
By the way I did read the first sentence twice...

Shelly @ Life on the Wild Side said...

Awesome! I'm so glad you got to go and that you got to meet Harry. Sounds like a great weekend!

Ann On and On... said...

I hope I can attend a blog conference some day!!! It looks like you had a lot of fun.

Melissa said...

I am in awe ... and jealous!!!

JanMary said...

Very jealous!

We NEED to see that photo :)

Glad you had a wonderful trip - been reading so many great things about the conference already!

Dawn @ My Home Sweet Home said...

This is such a great review of the concert. I've got a 10 minute video I recorded on my phone. I managed to get it to my computer last night, but it will probably take forever to upload online!

Lora Lynn @ Vitafamiliae said...

I'm with you, I could have listened all night. He's been a fave for years and he was just even better in person! Loved meeting you!

Liz@thisfullhouse said...

Sounds like you had a great time. I love jazz and have yet to listen to it, live. Of course, I'd have to go by myself. My husband does not like jazz music. Can't wait to see the pic of you and Harry -- deer in headlights look and all ;)

Headless Mom said...

So, so, so glad you had fun! You deserve it!

Annie said...

Sounds like pure bliss.

Carinne said...

You're so cool Michelle......

BlondeMomBlog (Jamie) said...

OMG! I am loving the video!!!!!

I saw him years ago here in Nashville at the Peforming Arts Center downtown and he is amazing. He's also so incredibly down to earth and gracious!

Loved finally meeting you in person. :)

Camille said...

Nooo!! I am so jealous! Huge fan of HCJ and that sweet n'oleans jazz! What a fun treat for you! Thanks for sharing :) I'll just live vicariously in the moment...

Janet said...

Wow. And I missed that too. Sheesh.

Daisy said...

Oh, my, I am SO JEALOUS!!!

Terresa said...

Sweet! So jealous and happy for you at the same time!!! :)

I found out about Blissdom too late. Would've gone just to catch a glimpse of Harry in person. WoW!!

Next time he's does a concert in my town, I'm there! (I live in Vegas, you'd think I would've seen him by now!!)

AlaneM said...

Luckeeeee!!

He's been a fave of mine for years & got to see him live when I was in my early 20's - way too long ago!
I agree there is nothing compared to live jazz - recordings are great but they miss the flavor of the creative exchange between musicians. Kinda like eating a chocolate chip cookie that was made without vanilla.

BONNIE K said...

What an amazing experience!

Lori said...

That's so awesome! Nothing beats a small performance venue--it's so intimate. Though, I've never been to one with the likes of Harry Connick Jr. (though I still find him a tad creepy since the first thing I can remember of him was Copycat).

Tim Appleton (Applehead) said...

You could not have described jazz better. I am happy that you were able to experience jazz live. I am still jealous.

Staci said...

If you were in front of the sax, then we were practically right next to each other. I was in front of the piano. Your post captured every moment perfectly. I really appreciated his sincerity and genuine graciousness. And it doesn't hurt that he's a hottie!!

sassypriscilla said...

What a great review and cool trip you took. I saw Harry a LONG time ago (15+ years) and his concert was outstanding. I am envious of your whole trip!

Stephanie said...

You told that story so well, Michelle. So many vivid details. Thank you for painting that picture for us.

Maybe...just maybe...I'll be able to join you next year in Nashville.

stephanie@metropolitanmama.net