A Word from Cheryl:

Thank you for visiting my Concert Review Blog. I have enjoyed attending, photographing and writing about a variety of concerts over the past several years. I hope that my reviews and photos have made you feel like you were right there with me.

At this time in my life I've taken a step back, looked at what’s truly important and have begun to prioritize my time, energy and resources.

I retired from nursing in 2012 and was then able to be with my aging father, who later passed away in June, 2013.

My family is growing dramatically! We now have eight grandchildren and I take every opportunity to be available to help when needed. I also make sure I carve out plenty of time for my husband so that he knows how important he is to me.

Because of this I don't attend many concerts anymore. I try to be selective in choosing a show and do my best to relax and enjoy the experience. I no longer stress about getting the perfect photo or remembering some occurrence so I can write about it.

If you want to view a collection of some of my favorite photos from the past several years you may find them here:
Cheryl's Pearls Photos - Concerts

Thanks again for visiting my site.

May God Bless,

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Neil Diamond - for the Young at Heart

I was in the car on my way to Northern Virginia with my 94 year old Dad and his girlfriend. My Mom passed away in 2005 and Dad’s been dating Rosemary for 2 years now. “Did you know Neil Diamond is going to be in Charlottesville December 8th? “ Rosemary asked. I replied that I had already purchased tickets to go with one of my co-workers. “Oh I wish I’d known, I would love to go!” Rosemary sighed. I told her I thought there were still tickets available if she wanted me to check then turned to look at Dad, “Would you like to go see Neil Diamond?” I asked. “Sure, I’ve always wanted to go to a big concert,” he replied with a wink and the game was afoot.

Mirna and I arrived early to collect Dad and Rosemary for our big outing. Dad was a little concerned about being able to hear as he confessed his hearing aid had been sent out for repairs. “Oh, I think the concert will be loud enough for you, Dad.” I said

After eating at Panera Bread and almost losing Dad and Rosemary in Barnes and Noble we finally drove to John Paul Jones Arena an hour before show time. I got a good parking spot so we didn’t have far to walk. Rosemary came prepared to crochet during the long wait before the show started. I gave everyone their tickets and we went through the check points. Mirna and I went first. Purses were thoroughly searched since no cameras were allowed. I thought Dad and Rosemary were right behind us but when I turned around I didn’t see them. I looked back at security and heard Rosemary say, “Weapon? That’s not a weapon! It’s a crochet hook! It’s not even sharp on the end!!” To which the security guy replied in his kindest tone, “I’m sorry ma’am but you’re going to have to leave it behind.” “But what must I do with it??!” Rosemary asked as I drew closer. I couldn’t hear what the gentleman told her as I offered to take the offensive little hook back to the car. She wasn’t having any of it. She continued to plead her case with security and I noticed Dad standing off to the side with a big grin on his face. Rosemary was finally allowed to stow her crochet hook under a table outside the main entrance.

Unfortunately we didn’t purchase our tickets at the same time so we weren’t seated together. Mirna and I escorted Dad and Rosemary to their seats and determined to meet back at the “crochet hook table” after the concert. The ushers offered the elevator but Dad said there was no need, he could manage steps just fine, thank you very much, after all he square dances once a week. Then he pulled me aside and asked “There aren’t that many steps are there?” I assured him he would be fine. We left them at their seats and headed across the arena to where our seats were located.

I noticed there were people of all ages attending Neil Diamond’s concert that night from college kids to folks my Dad’s age. Everyone was singing along to the classics like “Cherry, Cherry,” “I Am I Said,” “I’m A Believer,” “Holly, Holy.” Neil even got a standing ovation for “Sweet Caroline,” and repeated the chorus. I overheard some college girls appreciate this because that was the only song they knew.

Neil told announced that proceeds from the merchandise sold at his concerts would go to benefit the people of Galveston and Houston, Texas devastated by Hurricane Ike. After hearing him sing “Man of God,” “America,” and “Brother Love’s Travellin’ Salvation Show” I felt like I’d been at a big tent revival. It was great!


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Kevin Costner in Alexandria, VA - December 2, 2008

Kevin Costner: Following His Dreams

Kevin Costner appeared at The Birchmere in Alexandria on December 2nd with his band Modern West. That’s right, Kevin Costner sings and plays guitar. My friend, Pat, recently interviewed Kevin for an upcoming issue of Country Weekly magazine and she invited me to accompany her to the show.

When we arrived the place was packed and I was concerned about getting a good seat. I needn’t have worried. We were on the guest list and our seats had been reserved right up front. How awesome was that? Pat had even been given backstage passes and we were both pretty excited about meeting Kevin Costner before the show. The first thing I noticed when we walked backstage was how tall Kevin was, and then as we chatted I was impressed by his casual charm, humor, and sincerity. Pat and I practically floated back to our seats.

As Kevin explained from the stage, many of his friends told him he was crazy to pursue a career in singing. He had achieved so much in life as a successful actor and director – why mess things up? But his wife encouraged him to follow his dreams, especially after seeing him come alive performing with his band.

Costner humbly took the stage with his band Modern West at The Birchmere and said he hoped we would enjoy their brand of rock and roll. He then looked out at the crowd and said with a smile, “Wow, you guys are a lot taller in person.” The audience laughed because he just said what we were all thinking about him and he knew it.

He said they would be playing some new songs during the evening then said, “Who am I kidding? They’re probably all new songs to you guys.” Since Costner co-wrote several of the songs on his album Untold Truths, he introduced each selection with a story or explanation.

The idea for the song “5 Minutes from America” was conceived on a trip to the gulf coast after the devastation of hurricane Katrina during the filming of The Guardian. The song “Don’t Lock Him Away” was written as a word of advice to the young girl featured in the movie Swing Vote. “Find That Girl” is based on his real life experience of seeing that special someone in a crowded room and being unable to meet her because of the crowd. Kevin shyly confessed after the song that he did indeed find that girl and make her his wife.

Before singing “Every Intention” Kevin asked the ladies in the room to give men a break because they all make mistakes. As he finished the song he placed his hand over his heart and faced left, right and center saying “Sorry” to every woman in the room, apologizing on behalf of all men. This probably didn’t earn any points with the guys but certainly won the hearts of the ladies.

The most endearing story Costner told was about learning to ride a Sting-Ray bicycle as a young boy. He had complained to his mom that he couldn’t keep pace with the other boys. She took an ace of spades and clipped it on the rear spokes with a clothes pin and told him that he’d be the leader of the pack. Kevin figured if one would make him fast, the whole deck would make him faster but unfortunately the tire wouldn’t budge with all those cards. That’s when he learned that less is more. However, he still couldn’t keep up with the boys so his mom took a bath towel, pinned it to his shirt and told him he would fly on that bike. Thus the song “Superman 14” was born.

Throughout the evening I was thoroughly entertained by Kevin’s stories and songs. He may not have a polished voice but he can hold his own. His band mates are extremely talented and complement him greatly. He truly does come alive on that stage, having fun making music with his band.

Published in the Start Exponent: