When the weather permits and the spirit is willing my son and I will take a “night-night” drive through Torrington while listing to WAPJ community radio and on one random Sunday night in June I heard my friend KJ Johansen announce on air that her comedy program would be on hiatus as she was going to Nashville the week of July 12th. This surprised me because I too was scheduled to be in Nashville that Monday and Tuesday with no specific plans. Going as far back as February of that year, my sister had generously invited me to go with her to Nashville because she was attending a July conference and though we wouldn’t be exploring the city together, I’d at least have the opportunity to check out a new city on my own. I had gratefully accepted.
If the Universe wanted to send me a message, it probably would have said, “Eat More Salads” but it was serendipitous circumstance nonetheless
And as far back as May, KJ and I were in talks to create a travel/interview cable-show together called Black Tie Lunchbox, so this fortuitous circumstance was a perfect opportunity to hit the ground running and film our new show on location in a different state. This was an amazing coincidence and some might call it the Universe sending me a message that we should go ahead with the program. I don’t subscribe to that particular theory. If the Universe wanted to send me a message, it probably would have said, “Eat More Salads” but it was serendipitous circumstance nonetheless and we took advantage of the timing.
And so it was that on a balmy Nashville summer afternoon I sat outside the historic Ryman auditorium waiting to meet national recording artists Lucinda Rowe and Michael Connolly. It was slightly overcast but the clouds gave no discernible respite to the heat. I was wearing my black bowtie and I held a small black notebook so my entire ensemble made me look like I was going to proselytize a religion and I was generally avoided by the most of Music City population.
Lucinda and Michael arrived and we looked for a perfect location for the shoot. The east side of the Ryman boasts the tourist entrance and ticket booths but it’s the west side that faces 5th Ave/Opry Place that provides the iconic view of the proclaimed “birthplace of bluegrass” so we stood near those steps as onlookers surrounded us and interviewed the award winning songwriters with the spire of Nashville’s visitor center in the background.
Lucinda is a towering beauty with a powerful voice reminiscent of “The Carpenters” (The NY Times wrote “Lucinda is this generation’s Karen Carpenter”) and Michael is a rocker of exceptional skill and versatility. We completed our short interview in one take and filmed a back-up take from a different angle. Gracious and generous with their time, Lucinda and Michael invited me to visit with them the following day and later enjoy a live set they were performing with keyboardist Peter Gallinari at a venue called “The Building”.
That night I took a cab across the river to the Five Points district. “The Building” is along a stretch of bars and night club venues that were off the beaten path and I walked up the hill to find it. There were a number of Lucinda and Michael supporters already there including Doreen Filgate of Insight Marketing so we had a great chat before I stepped outside to interview Peter Gallinari about his work. Later I set up a camera to shoot a song or two from the show. Rocking the house to an appreciative crowd, Lucinda and Michael provided me with a deeper understanding of the road traveled by dedicated, professional musicians.
Months later I had the opportunity to see Lucinda and Michael perform again, this time in my own hometown as they were the opening act for Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Ricky Byrd and his inaugural “Clean Getaway Allstars” concert at the Warner Theatre’s Nancy Marine studio. The stage had been set for a production of the musical “Assassins” and something about the hardwood rustic backdrop added an additional ambience to the benefit show.
With our Black Tie Lunchbox program in full swing and thanks to Lucinda and Michael, KJ and I were granted access to the VIP meet and greet where we interviewed Ricky Byrd himself along with Christine Ohlman, Bonnie Bramlett and all of the musical all stars. Then we enjoyed the concert where Lucinda and Michael took their performance to another level. Lucinda and Michael received a standing ovation when they closed their set.
Every opportunity is an opportunity for another opportunity.
Or put it another way, anything multiplied by zero equals zero, including opportunities. It’s easy to look back and see that if I believed I “can’t get away” and I didn’t make the trip to Nashville, if I didn’t take the drive on that Sunday night then I wouldn’t hear the announcement about KJ’s Nashville trip which means we wouldn’t have make plans to meet up and then interview Lucinda and Michael which would’ve meant Black Tie Lunchbox would be delayed and maybe I would’ve missed the Clean Getaway opportunity.
In 2016 there will be other opportunities for travel, adventure and experience. It is important to seize opportunities if one is able, for even beyond the initial experience may lie larger and grander possibilities just beyond the horizon.
This Saturday, before my nightshift for the night job, I’ll be going to Lucinda and Michael’s album release party at the Warner-Nancy Marine Studio. It will be an opportunity to experience their quality performance, to get their latest album “No Boundaries” and it will represent the first concert I see in 2016. And what opportunities may extend beyond this experience? One never knows but I’ve learned that when opportunity knocks, go to the door.
Categories: Torrington Stories