Sax Appeal

Saturday February 18th, 2012 – Schaumburg, IL

I almost never like to not be performing on any given Saturday night, but this week will  go down as a rare exception. I had the most fortunate opportunity to see Bobby Keys play his famous saxophone live in Schaumburg, IL with ‘Hot Rocks’, a Rolling Stones tribute.

Any time I have a chance to check out a legend of any kind – especially live, I try to do it. I usually end up learning a lot, and also being thoroughly entertained during the entire process. Legends don’t get to be legends by accident. Success always leaves a few clues.

I really enjoyed being able to meet him with Mike Preston and Jim McHugh earlier this week. Standing behind the camera and hearing his fascinating show business stories was absolutely surreal. This guy walked the walk, and worked with rock’s biggest acts ever.

I greatly respect the fact he’s still out there playing live, and from what I saw and heard tonight he isn’t just going through the motions. He lit that joint up like a cheap cigar, and had everyone in the audience mesmerized from the first note. He can still bring the heat.

That’s what performers do. Musicians, comedians, actors, athletes – it doesn’t make any difference. Those who have ‘it’ in their blood, have it for life. The body might not always cooperate, but it’s in the soul and always will be. Live performing is a perpetual pursuit.

A delightful and spectacular benefit of standup comedy is, it can be done right up to and throughout the aging process. There aren’t many athletes over 40, but comedians can keep it going as long as they can stand and speak for 45 minutes. Our desire never goes away.

It doesn’t go away for athletes either, but the body can’t keep up after a while. All most comedians have to do physically is hold a one pound microphone. It’s not that stressful in a physical way, even though sometimes mentally it can fry an ostrich egg on one’s skull.

If Bobby Keys was stressed in any way, he sure didn’t show it. He walked in there with his ax ready to go and a look of calm confidence on his face, and when it was his turn, he stepped up and showed everyone why they were there. He commanded that stage from the start, and it was a joy to watch. I heard every year he’s spent on the road in his first song.

Of course, the song was ‘Brown Sugar’. I’m sure he’s played it at least a time or twelve before. Still, he leaned into it and blew sweet noises through that horn that few if anybody else within six states could have matched with an entire army of musicians. What a talent. If nobody else appreciated how much ability that guy has, I sure did. It was worth the trip.

Mike and Jim got the footage they needed for Mike’s ‘Psychobabble’ show, and I didn’t have to do anything but sit back and enjoy the night – which I did. Music is not something I claim to know anything about, but I do know entertainment and I’m glad I got to see one of the best ever practice his craft in person. He’s been doing it longer than I’ve been alive, and I’m rapidly approaching full blown geezer-hood. This was a lesson in showmanship.

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