December 6th 2015 11PM Kennedy Center


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Aretha Franklin, Performing in the Kennedy Center Opera House December 6, 2015

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The John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is a massive building on the Potomac River containing nine theaters.

By Gavin Edwards\ New York Times

 

In her final decade, Aretha Franklin’s two best-loved performances both took place in Washington. In 2009, she graced Barack Obama’s inauguration with a gorgeous “My Country, ’Tis of Thee” while wearing a hat so remarkable it ended up on display in the Smithsonian on Dec. 6, 2015, she sang an unforgettable rendition of her own anthem of rebirth, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” in tribute to the song’s co-writer, Carole King, who was receiving the Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime achievement alongside Rita Moreno, Cicely Tyson and other luminaries.

The 1967 single is sensual and spiritual; after 48 years, Ms. Franklin felt it more deeply than ever. It was a showstopper at the Kennedy Center — and on internet browsers everywhere. Soon after, Elton John told The Times that he had been watching the “Natural Woman” clip over and over. “I will definitely, when I’m 75, be having a fur coat like that, and coming in with a clutch bag, too,” Mr. John promised. “And throwing my coat off. And in a fishtail dress.”

We spoke with performers, guests and others who were at the Kennedy Center that night about their memories of Ms. Franklin’s soaring performance. These are edited excerpts from the conversations.

 

RICKEY MINOR, musical director of the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony The producers were interested in Aretha — her doing “Natural Woman” was kind of a no-brainer — and I knew that she attended the Kennedy Center Honors every year, sitting in the audience to celebrate the honorees.

 

DEBORAH F. RUTTER, president of the Kennedy Center Aretha received her Kennedy Center Honor in 1994, at a time when most Honors recipients were at or nearing the end of their careers. That she continued performing and producing new work for the next two decades is a testament to a talent that transcends age and time.

GLENN WEISS, executive producer and director of the Honors ceremony There was a big back and forth before Aretha agreed to perform, but the song was such a huge iconic thing in her life. I think it was important for her to be there.

CHILINA KENNEDY, who has played Carole King in the Broadway musical “Beautiful” and appeared in the Kennedy Center Honors tribute I’d heard the story of how Carole and Gerry [Goffin] had written the song for Aretha: they were walking down Broadway and [producer] Jerry Wexler pulled up in his limo and rolled down the window and said, “Hey, I want you guys to write a song called ‘Natural Woman.’”

MINOR With Aretha, you need to be bendable and not breakable. It was going to be just her with the orchestra, but she made a call and said, “Hey, I have a way that I do this song with my background singers.” Everyone needs what they need to be comfortable.

WEISS She always walks onstage with her purse. When we were in rehearsals, she walks out and puts it on the piano. When she walks downstage, she picks it up and puts it on the floor. The show ends with everyone in the tribute downstage singing “I Feel the Earth Move.” In rehearsal, there’s a line of people in street clothes — her, James Taylor, Sara Bareilles, Janelle Monáe — and this one bag sitting in the middle of the stage. When we finished the song, James Taylor leaned over to pick up the bag and hand it to her, being a gentleman, and reflexively she almost pushed him away.

WEISS Traditionally the honorees go to the White House for a reception, and then they go back to the Kennedy Center, the president comes, and the show starts. Unfortunately, that weekend the San Bernardino shooting happened. We were told by the White House that the president is addressing the nation at 8 o’clock, and we’re scheduled to start at 7:30. The night was a bit of a roller coaster and maybe a little emotional, but the president came to us at intermission.

MINOR I always welcome everybody before the show and thank them for coming, because I probably won’t see them after the show. I knocked on Aretha’s door — she’ll make you wait, you won’t just walk in there. There were a lot of people in there — hair and makeup, she was getting ready — but she was in a great mood.

KENNEDY For the 11 o’clock number of the Carole King section, I introduced her, said, “Aretha Franklin!” and people freaked out.

MINOR The honorees don’t know who’s performing for them.

KENNEDY Carole was losing her mind, Obama was losing his mind, everyone was going wild. I was standing in the wings with James Taylor, who was just as excited to see what was going to happen.

JAMES TAYLOR To me, Aretha is the ultimate — not that it’s a competition. She didn’t open her mouth unless what came out was brilliant.

KENNEDY Out she walks with her fur coat and her purse; she whacks the purse on the piano and sits down. They cut this part out of the segment that went to air, but she did a few scales, taking her time getting ready, and then all of a sudden she hits that first note, “Looking out on the morning,” and it was the most unbelievable performance I had ever seen.

MINOR Carole just kept saying, “Oh my God, oh my God,” and holding her head. She had never seen Aretha play piano and sing her song. Lots of people don’t know that Aretha plays piano, but if you want to get her true sound, you need her playing. Vocally she knows where she’s going, so she can lead herself into that on piano. She’s got more movement in certain places than most pianists would. That teaches her rhythm section to get out of the way, to support her and not dictate how the song goes.

WEISS It’s a roomful of people who have seen a lot of artists over the years, but not a lot of people have seen Aretha sitting down at a piano.

KENNEDY I couldn’t believe what was coming out of her mouth. She got up from the piano, walked downstage, and dropped her fur coat in the middle of the stage.

RITA MORENO, Kennedy Center honoree: The moment she “casually” dropped her massive mink coat onto the stage was one for the ages.

MINOR I was playing bass right behind her. When she dropped that jacket, I almost dropped my bass. It was so in the moment — I don’t think she planned it.

 

ARETHA FRANKLIN (speaking with vogue.com in 2016) I wasn’t sure about the air factor onstage, and air can mess with the voice from time to time. And I didn’t want to have that problem that evening. It’s been a long time since I’ve done Kennedy Center, and I wanted to have a peerless performance. Once I determined that the air was all right while I was singing, I said, “Let’s get out of this coat! I’m feeling it. Let’s go!”

WEISS Of all the television I’ve done, and there’s been a lot, this was one of the most viral clips. I was in the TV truck, in the loading dock behind the stage, watching the monitors for the 14 cameras. Not only was I seeing what was going on, but I’m seeing reactions in the crowd, and I’m making choices of what’s going to go on the air. There was such electricity in the room — part of it might be because of how moved Carole King was. During that show, a lot of the audience will look to see how the honoree responds. When something like this happens, all your plans go out the window and you’re capturing the live moments: the audience gets up on their feet and the president is wiping a tear from his eye.

TAYLOR She was in excellent form and in excellent voice. She was also funny and wry and with it — I thought she would be with us another 10 years.

MORENO She brought a prodigious talent, musicality, and down stompin’ woman’s sass to all she does.

CICELY TYSON, Kennedy Center honoree She had the most beautiful face. You could see her emotions in her face as well as hear them in her voice. It was no surprise when the audience stood up — you can’t sit and listen to her and not be moved. After she finished, she came off the stage and she had a huge bouquet of flowers. She walked up the aisle and an audience member joked, “Are those for me?” She said, “I’m sorry, they’re for my lady,” and she brought them right to me and put them in my arms.

KENNEDY She was up in the stratosphere with those riffs, but every cell of her being seemed to be in the music. There was nothing else, just her and the song. That’s what we try to do as artists — we try to get to where she was that night.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page C4 of the New York edition with the headline: When ‘A Natural Woman’ Blew the Roof Off.
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The Bump


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“Ask The Rodfather”

The best friendships/relationships hit a bump now and then. In short time that bump get larger and instead of looking for a solution or a cure we pick at the bump, it which builds anger and resentment.
Silence is the enemy
Left on its own, the bump becomes infected. No one wants to be the first to reach out. No one wants to talk about the bump which is front and center in their lives. Over time silence overwhelms the relationship and the infected bump has left a scar.
We can prevent this from happening
Putting ego aside, break the silence. Leave a message that says I miss your voice. You can always talk about the bump later. The most important thing is to re-establish contact. As long term silence can destroy the strongest long term relationships. Can we meet or go for……….
Bumps happens over time. They often occur when one or both parties are uncomfortable telling their truth. They sometimes fear they will be misunderstood or rejected. So they hold on to it until a bump appears.
Remember the things you love and cherish about the your friend or partner. Make an effort to spend time together. Just the two of You. Over time some people forget about the bump. However, if the bump is still present. Write about the bump. Give a copy to your friend and realize everything won’t be resolved today. It will take time. Today you have your friend or partner.
Ask The Rodfather is an Common Sense Advisor  he can be found on facebook

Remember the Malt Shop


By CityFella

Remember  the Malt Shop?  It was the place where the cool kids met.   A place where you could meet the boy or girl of your dreams.   At least on TV,  at least in the 40’s 50’s and possibly 60’s.

I’ve never seen a Malt Shop. I been to a Baskin and Robbins Ice Creme Store and sampled their many flavors on a teeny tiny pink spoon.

When I was coming up, you met people at parties, then later the Mall.

Today a lot of people meet  via  some form of social media.  The difference is, at the Malt Shop, and at parties and the Mall,you knew what you were getting.  Today, Marsha, Marsha, Marsha, could be Michael, Michael, Micheal or Mildred the cougar who believes with a lot of foundation and a little Jean Nate behind her ears could look 37 in the right light.

Today’s world is more stressful.  Will he or she resemble the picture on my phone?   Are they who they say they are?  NO Worries about being Catfished.  No… gimmie the Malt Shop.

 

Stop….. I’m too weak


 

By: CityFella,

I’ve decided the real money isn’t at General Motors or Toyota.  Its at Samsung and Apple.   Last weekend, 10 million Apple phones were sold.   1o million phones, not including the pre-sales. My daughter had her I6 before the weekend.  Her year old,  I phone 5 was woefully inadequate.

My phone is the Samsung Sidekick G4 (pictured above)  it is 3 years old or 20 years old, if your under 30.  It works for my extra large fingers.  Many people bought those phones, but they have all moved on.   So its me and my Sidekick G4, alone.

When ever I’m standing in a long line someone will invariably say.    Oh my sister used to have one of those.    Its as if I am using a cup and a string .

I recently stopped into a phone store to see if there was an adequate replacement for my G4 with my beloved keyboard,  perhaps an G5 or G6.

No such luck……

My sales person knew phones, he could recite pixel’s, hertz’s,  and screen sizes. He knew the different processors, the advantages one had over the other. Unlike other sales people I’ve encountered , he didn’t need a silly guide, it was all stored in his head.

I wanted to try to texting on a phone with my ginormous fingers ,but you cant on a display phone.  Not a problem for my salesman.  He owned two of the popular phones, they were in his pocket and before I could say how….  I was texitng.    He reminded me of those old hair club commercials, not only was he a salesman, he owned several of the new phones!

Looking at the prices of these phones $600, I asked if he was married.  After a brief blush, he said yes.   He says he has bought three phones this year, which lead me to ask, what does your wife think about your obsession?  He said, she doesn’t mind , the bills are paid and there is money in the bank.

His passion was contagious, he unlocked my inner Geek.  A room I thought was welded shut.   I was once 24, my passion was stereos and the latest in electronics. I spent nearly a thousand dollars on the first Beta Hi Fi (yes I SAID, it BETA!). I owned LaserDisk players. If Stereo Review said it was golden, I had to have it.

This man, unlocked my Geek, however, I’m not 24.

SIX HUNDRED BUCKS, to say HOWDY, or text howdy, really?   My sidekick will do nearly every thing the current phones will do. but slower.   After my un huh,  to you can upgrade your phone in two years, he knew I wasn’t buying today.  My reaction did not slow his enthusiasm.

On his wrist was the latest phone watch.   I asked a dozen questions, he had five dozen answers and scenarios.  He left me weak, if I had cash I would  have been his phone bitch and bought anything he told me to.

I cursed him!  Damm you Khan!!!!!

I am now surfing the net, in a few days I will know every thing phone watch, in a few weeks I will own one.

I have to stop now, my eyes are twitching again.

 

An old joke and Downtown Sacramento


By CityFella

Man walks by pet store and decides to come in.

Once inside, he falls in love with a Parakeet who is singing in a large elaborate cage.

The salesman says, he can talk too.    “Polly want a cracker? and the bird says cracker?

This brings a big smile from the man and he  buys the parakeet and a small cage and takes them home.

Once home, the parakeet sits quietly in the cage.

The man is a little disappointed but figures the parakeet is adjusting to its new surroundings.

Next morning, the man find the bird listless so he returns to the pet store and buys the same cage  the bird lived in the store.

He places the bird in the cage and the bird  is unresponsive, so he goes back to the store and buys all the furnishings that was in the cage. a bird bath , a bell, a large elaborate perch, an indoor light and a mirror.

The bird is still unresponsive.

Frustrated, the man, yells at the bird.  I have done EVERYTHING for you .  Why wont you sing!  Why wont you speak.

The bird steady’s himself and say’s food!

Downtown where all the lights are bright

There was a time in America, downtown was the hub, the center, a place when everyone went.   In  Sacramento,the majority of the jobs and the majority of city’s population lived in and around downtown.  Its where everyone shopped or watched a movie.  The Railyards was the city’s largest employer. Migrant farm workers lived and worked a few of miles from the city’s elite.

Then families began leaving downtown for the suburbs where they could purchase a larger home for considerably less…  They were followed by retail,and business .  The exodus to the suburbs wasn’t just a Sacramento phenomenon it was happening all over the country.

In 1974, Sears Roebucks moved into the(then) tallest building in the world, in Chicago.  20 years later, the company sold the building and moved to the suburbs (Hoffman Estates, Illinois)  JC  Penney, moved from  New York to Plano Texas. Ford Motor Company moved form Detroit to Dearborn Michigan.

Professional Sports moved to the suburbs, near the freeways.  The Detroit Pistons, play in Auburn Hills for years the LA Lakers played in Inglewood.    The New York Giants and Jet’s play in New Jersey and beginning next year the San Francisco 49ers’ will play in Santa Clara, nearly on hour away from San Francisco.

In the 50’s and 60.s downtown Sacramento was the employment center of county.  Today, more people work in suburb of Rancho Cordova than downtown.   In the 50.’s nearly half of the city’s population lived downtown.  Today the population in the downtown district is the smallest in the city.

There is a disconnect at City Hall.   Leaders aren’t willing or unable to correct the cities business climate.  For more than 10 years Sacramento has ranked at or near the bottom of every national business index.   Business prefers Sacramento’s suburbs to the city.

Subsidy’s on the east end of K Street has brought some excitement on the weekends. However during the weekdays it is a ghost town.  Retail and business continue to leave downtown. After 7pm its possible to walk two or three blocks without seeing a single business open.  The city has changed the lighting on K Street,  Removed cars, added cars, removed the music system.  It is rumored,the city has spent nearly a half a billion dollars to restore downtown.   Most most of the tax dollars have been ineffective, from the Convention Center to upgrades on K Street.

A Lesson from Oakland  

For decades, Downtown Oakland was a ghost town.   By the 1990’s over 80% of Oakland retail outlets where closed.  There were few restaurants and the unsavory’s ruled the streets.   The population of the city was shrinking.

Oakland mayor Jerry Brown and his predecessor Elihu Harris’s public policy of supporting downtown housing development in the area defined as the Central Business District. Mayor Brown successfully attracted over a billion dollars in investment to downtown.  He wanted to bring additional 10,000 residents downtown.

Today, the city has added thousands of jobs downtown.There are more than 10,000 new residence downtown. Downtown Oakland is midst of a  renaissance there is new housing  on either side of the city. The 2800 seat Fox Theater closed in 1966, was renovated and re-opened in 2009.   It is the center of rapidly growing entertainment district with restaurants,opening monthly.

Somewhere on K Street

The downtown core needs business to expand.  Business attracts people with a disposable income.   Retail will follow that  population (FOOD)

Some leaders in Sacramento are believe a new arena will jump start development downtown.    They believe the Arena will  not only attract  new business downtown, it will bring more people downtown.   Arenas are typically dark most days and in most cities do not generate business when they are dark .(closed)

“Downtown”

(Petula Clark)

When you’re alone and life is making you lonely
You can always go downtown
When you’ve got worries, all the noise and the hurry
Seems to help, I know, downtownJust listen to the music of the traffic in the city
Linger on the sidewalk where the neon signs are pretty
How can you lose?
The lights are much brighter there
You can forget all your troubles, forget all your caresSo go downtown
Things will be great when you’re downtown
No finer place for sure, downtown
Everything’s waiting for youDon’t hang around and let your problems surround you
There are movie shows downtown
Maybe you know some little places to go to
Where they never close downtownJust listen to the rhythm of a gentle bossa nova
You’ll be dancing with ’em too before the night is over
Happy again
The lights are much brighter there
You can forget all your troubles, forget all your caresSo go downtown
Where all the lights are bright, downtown
Waiting for you tonight, downtown
You’re gonna be alright now, downtownDowntown
DowntownAnd you may find somebody kind to help and understand you
Someone who is just like you and needs a gentle hand to
Guide them along
So maybe I’ll see you there
We can forget all our troubles, forget all our cares

So go downtown
Things will be great when you’re downtown
Don’t wait a minute more, downtown
Everything is waiting for you, downtown

Downtown (downtown)
Downtown (downtown)
Downtown (downtown)
Downtown (downtown)

 

Baby Boomer ZONE (Stone Soul Concert)


Q: What is a Baby Boomer?

A: Persons born between 1946 and 1964

Baby Boomers (BB’s) control of 80%  personal financial assets (hate us) and more than half of all consumer spending.  We buy 77% of all prescription drugs  61% of over the counter meds and travel the most.

The BB’s were in full effect Sunday at Concord’s Sleep Train Pavillion at the 16th annual Soul Stone Concert.  The 8+hour sold out concert starred  BB’s  Mint Condition,Charlie Wilson,Con Funk Shun, Keith Sweat, Midnight Star, and the magnificent Stephanie Mills.    BB’s do not Lip sync, what you heard is what it is!

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The lawn was the place to be, blankets, food, and  carefully disguised alcohol was enjoyed by concert attendees.   The weather was perfect mid seventies .  Grey hair was encouraged, a mild breeze sent waves of MJ through the air.  The BB’s were a mellow crowd.

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Between sets thousands of  BB’s danced to the tunes of  70’s and 80’s soul (many will need pain relievers to get through the night).

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There were quite a few women in men restrooms due to a shortage of stalls in the ladies room’s.   One very surprised and angry man said.. “This is a place for dicks and not for chicks!!”.  

The only drama at the concert took place during the Keith Sweat set.    The was a brief  fight ,A few Millennials-Generation-Y”s (of course) the Baby Boomers quickly ended the altercation, no police or security were needed and the concert didn’t skip a beat.

My Kodak Instamatic 124’s Flash Cube malfunctioned, the pictures were taken with a Samsung Smartphone.

CityFella