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The Life and Music of Johnny Cash

Published July 21, 2016 by Maryanne

SAM_0748Keith Beck

Pear Tree Enterprises (https://peartreeenterprises.wordpress.com/) was thrilled to present “The Life and Music of Johnny Cash” featuring Keith Beck (http://www.zigmanbird.com/) at the Caldwell Library, Caldwell, New Jersey, on Wednesday, July 21, 2016.

Once again we had a full house!

This was the third of a four-part series. Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta presents a half-hour bio on a famous musician, followed by a half hour of live music. Other artists include: Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, and Elvis Presley.

SAM_0749Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta and Caldwell Librarian Fran Larkey

SAM_0742Keith Beck and Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta

For booking information contact Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com 

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is the author of “On the Guest List: Adventures of a Music Journalist” available on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Guest-List-Adventures-Music-Journalist/dp/162903908X

Gentle on Our Minds

Published June 29, 2015 by Maryanne

Glen-Campbell-Feature1-1Glen Campbell (from his website)

The trending musical topic of today is the heartfelt documentary, “Glen Campbell, I’ll Be Me” that aired on CNN last night.

It was an insight on the performer’s struggle with Alzheimer’s Disease and what it is like for his loved ones. It was very sad to watch. I agree with Glen’s wife that this is probably the worst way to die.

I was one of the fortunate ones who saw Glen’s last tour in 2012. Please visit my blog: https://maryannemistretta.wordpress.com/2012/05/27/getting-cards-and-letters-and-blogs-from-people-i-dont-even-know/

Noted below are some of the highlights from the show I mentioned in the blog, but to get the full gist of the show, I highly recommend clicking the link above.

2012 Farewell Tour Highlights

Glen hit the stage and began with “Gentle on My Mind.” He was forgetting lyrics from the get-go and had to restart the song.

The best things about the show were: #1, Glen Campbell, at age 78, is still a wonderful showman. This was the first time I ever saw him and he really commands the stage and has a great presence. He still looks good and healthy, in spite of having Alzheimer’s.  God bless his soul.

#2, Glen can still play the guitar. And unless you’re a musician or have a really good ear, you may not even realize he was playing the wrong key. (Most of the time I didn’t, but one song it was very obvious and his daughter, Ashley, kept helping him out and mouthing the right key to him).

#3, To hear so many songs that I love and have loved since I was a little girl, performed right before me by a legend gave me thrills throughout the night. I screamed like a teenager throughout the show. Even though he did many hits, including “Rhinestone Cowboy” and “Southern Nights” I have to say my all time favorite Glen Campbell song is — and always will be — “Galveston.”

My love and prayers to his family during this trying time.

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is the author of “On the Guest List: Adventures of a Music Journalist” and “Love Cats” — both available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/162903908X

Just One Word of Thanks From Mama Teddy Bear

Published December 9, 2012 by Maryanne

Teddy Bear Truck“May God Ride With You, 10-4 and Good-Bye”

Yesterday I was driving out to meet some of my clients for my annual holiday party for my home-based business, Pear Tree Enterprises. I had the 1970s country station on Sirius radio and heard one of the saddest heartfelt songs ever: “Teddy Bear” by Red Sovine.

I’m driving along, alone, tears streaming down my eyes, thinking about the kindness illustrated in this old song about truckers, a crippled boy and a CB radio.

And for those who don’t have time to listen to the song, here are the lyrics:

Teddy Bear

By Red Sovine

I was on the outskirts of a little southern town,
Trying to reach my destination before the sun went down.
The old CB was blaring away on channel one-nine
When there came a little boy's voice on the radio line.
And he said, "Breaker, one-nine, is anyone there?
Come on back, truckers, and talk to Teddy Bear."
Well, I keyed the mike and I said, "Well, you got it,Teddy Bear."
And the little boy's voice came back on the air.
"'Preciate the break.  Who we got on that end?"
I told him my handle, and then he began:

"Now, I'm not supposed to bother you fellas out there,
Mom says you're busy and for me to stay off the air.
But, you see, I get lonely and it helps to talk
'Cause that's about all I can do.  I'm crippled and I can't walk."

I came back and told him to fire up that mike
And I'd talk to him as long as he'd like.
"This was my dad's radio," the little boy said,
"But I guess it's mine and Mom's now 'cause my daddy's dead.
Dad had a wreck about a month ago.
He was trying to get home in a blinding snow.
Mom has to work now to make ends meet
And I'm not much help with my two crippled feet.
She says not to worry, that we'll make it all right,
But I hear her crying sometimes late at night.
You know, there's one thing I want more than anything else to see.
Aw, I know you guys are too busy to bother with me,
But, you see, my dad used to take me for rides when he was home
But I guess that's all over now since my daddy's gone."

Not one breaker came on the old CB
As that little crippled boy talked with me.
I tried hard to swallow, the lump just wouldn't stay down
As I thought about my boy back in Greenville town.

"Dad was gonna take Mom and me with him later on this year.
Why, I remember him saying, 'Someday this old truck'll be yours, Teddy Bear.'
But I know I'll never get to ride an 18-wheeler again,
But this old base will keep me in touch with all my trucker friends.
Teddy Bear's gonna back on out now and leave you alone
'Cause it's about time for Mom to come home.
But you give me a shout when you're passing through
And I'll sure be happy to come back to you."

Well, I came back and I said, "Before you go ten-ten,
What's your home-twenty, little CB friend?"
Well, he gave me his address and I didn't once hesitate
'Cause this hot load of freight was just gonna have to wait.
I turned that truck around on a dime
And headed straight for Jackson Street, 229.

And as I rounded the corner, boy, I got one heck of a shock--
Eighteen-wheelers were lined up for three city blocks!
Why, I guess every driver for miles around had caught Teddy Bear's call
And that little crippled boy was having a ball.
For as fast as one driver would carry him in,
Another would carry him to his truck and take off again.
Well, you better believe I took my turn at riding Teddy Bear
And then I carried him back in and put him down in his chair.
And, buddy, if I never live to see happiness again
I want you to know I saw it that day, in the face of that little man.

We took up a collection for him before his mama got home
And each driver said goodbye and then they were all gone.
He shook my hand with a mile-long grin
And said, "So long, trucker, I'll catch you again!"
I hit that interstate with tears in my eyes
And I turned on the radio and I got another surprise.
"Breaker, one-nine," came a voice on the air,
"Just one word of thanks from Mama Teddy Bear.
We wish each and every one a special prayer for you
'Cause you just made my little boy's dream come true.
I'll sign off now before I start to cry.
May God ride with you.  Ten-four, and goodbye."

‘Getting Cards and Letters (and Blogs) From People I Don’t Even Know’

Published May 27, 2012 by Maryanne

Legendary Glen Campbell and daughter, Ashley

Last night my husband and I got to see Glen Campbell perform his “Goodbye Tour” at Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, New Jersey. We didn’t know what to expect because a year ago Glen Campbell was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease and has been suffering memory loss.

His warm-up act was Instant People, an indie rock/country band which included three of his eight children. They did a wonderful short set (and I really enjoyed them, they had a style similar to one of my favorite new(er) artists, Ben Kweller).

I would definitely love to see them again — performing a longer set!

After a short break, Instant People returned to the stage to assist the legendary Glen Campbell perform. Members of Instant People and others who make up Glen’s band are: Ashley Campbell (banjo, keyboard & vocals); Cal Campbell (drums); Shannon Webb Campbell (guitar); TJ Kuenster (keyboards) who has performed with Glen over 35 years; Ryan Andre Jarred (guitar); and Siggy Sjursen (bass).

Glen hit the stage and began with “Gentle on My Mind.” He was forgetting lyrics from the get-go and had to restart the song.

The best things about the show were: #1, Glen Campbell, at age 78, is still a wonderful showman. This was the first time I ever saw him and he really commands the stage and has a great presence. He still looks good and healthy, in spite of having Alzheimer’s.  God bless his soul.

#2, Glen can still play the guitar. And unless you’re a musician or have a really good ear, you may not even realize he was playing the wrong key. (Most of the time I didn’t, but one song it was very obvious and his daughter, Ashley, kept helping him out and mouthing the right key to him).

#3, To hear so many songs that I love and have loved since I was a little girl, performed right before me by a legend gave me thrills throughout the night. I screamed like a teenager throughout the show. Even though he did many hits, including “Rhinestone Cowboy” and “Southern Nights” I have to say my all time favorite Glen Campbell song is — and always will be — “Galveston.”

We ran into a bunch of friends at the show, and one mentioned how sad it was to hear the line in “Galveston,” that says, “I’m so afraid of dying” as that line now takes on a whole new poignant meaning, as he called this his “Good-Bye” tour. And thinking about this, will now and forever bring tears to my eyes.

Yes, Glen struggled a lot with his set. Aside from forgetting words and chords, it seemed something was going wrong with the bassist, Siggy Sjursen and Glen didn’t want him to play. That was sad to see and I felt so bad for the kid, as I thought he was doing a great job (and so did my husband, who is also a professional bassist). Siggy sat out a few songs, then eventually left the stage.

We were guessing that maybe because of the Alzheimers something he heard from the bass was throwing him off. Maybe we’ll find out soon enough when some of the professional reviews come out.

But aside from the struggles, his fans were extremely supportive and cheered him on throughout the night with several standing ovations.

His daughter, Ashley, was  a doll. She watched over him during the entire set, coaching and encouraging him, and taking flowers from fans and putting them aside for him. The father/daughter love between the two is so evident and moving. Ashley is a beautiful girl, no doubt, a cross between Christina Applegate and Lisa Marie Presley. But her beauty also comes from within. Such a young girl (I just read she is only 24 or 25), and seemingly wise for her years, looking out for her daddy is heart-rendering.

Glen and Ashley did a killer dueling banjo and guitar duet that was off the hook fantastic.

One of my favorite Glen Campbell songs, “Country Boy” wasn’t performed. But he has so many hits, that it was expected he would omit a few. What I am grateful for was that he did the ENTIRE songs! I always hate going to see an artist and they chop up songs and make them into “medleys.” It’s like painting a mustache on a Mona Lisa and simply should not be done.

It was nice to hear a few tunes from his new album, “Ghost on the Canvas.” It’s a great album and on it are collaborations with Paul Westerberg, Jakob Dylan, Chris Issak, Rick Nielson and Billy Corgan.

Prior to the show we met a nice bunch of ladies who called themselves the “biggest Glen Campbell fans from New Jersey.” They told us they saw him perform in the 1970s! (I am so jealous!) and gave him flowers.

After the show, my husband and I walked past the tour bus. I said, “It’s a gorgeous night, let’s hang out a bit.”

The first thing we witnessed was bassist Siggy Sjursen asking where the nearest bar was.

When Siggy returned, I whispered to my husband to tell him that he was great in spite of what happened. My husband yelled out to him, “You were great, man!”

After we saw some fans taking pictures with Siggy, we asked if we could take a picture. He was generous enough to do so and even patted me on the back when I said “Thank you” and he said, “Thank YOU” back.

Soon afterwards Ashley came out of the tour bus and met with fans and took photos. I straight out told her, “You’re beautiful, talented and you take such good care of your father.” She was really appreciative that I said the part about taking care of her father.

The love between those two reminds me of how much I love (and miss) my late grandmother.

I wish Mr. Campbell lots of luck as he continues his tour. This is a show that will be etched in my mind for a very long time!