Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Christmas Angel Named Harry

Some experiences you just know are going to be blog-worthy.

Last night Davie and I went to see Harry Connick, Jr. and his band at Milwaukee's Riverside Theater. People, a man this wonderful simply has to make an appearance on Erotic with Soul.

It's certainly not news to you that he is one of the great musical minds of his generation. His musical arranging and composing talents are staggering. And you'd have to have spent the last fifteen years living in a cave to not know how wonderfully Harry can sing and play piano. He's a fine actor as well...and the face, the face is divine. He ain't a bad dancer either, as we learned last night.

But as impressed as I am by all these things, I'm wild about Harry for another reason altogether: his heart. It's something of a miracle to be able to give a room of 2,500 people the feeling of being entertained in your living room, but this he managed from the very start of the show. The Riverside is one of the few venues Harry has played that has no curtain, he told us, so before the start, he looked out at the crowd. He said he found us beautiful, and his heart swelled to think that in spite of the economy we would spend our dollars to see him and his band. These words were spoken with such sincerity, you believed him--and marvelled that he would think for a minute the $40 ticket price (for the balcony anyway) wasn't worth what he was going to give us! But this is a guy who, despite his success and popularity, still treasures every member of his audience.

There was an older woman in the front row, "Fritzi Sue," whom Harry adopted as his pet for the show. She was beautifully dressed and obviously a doll...and in reward for her love of Harry, got to kiss him and come up on stage and dance with him a bit. He told her "You're beautiful," to which she responded, "If you like 'em old!" Harry's reply: "What about you is old, Fritzi Sue? You live life--it's wonderful, you live life."

The band returned for an encore, and as they retook their seats, Harry started to tell an anecdote about the second time he met Frank Sinatra. He was a minute or two into this story--and on top of everything else, Harry is an amazing storyteller--when he said, "Right after this we'll play some New Orleans music and then we'll be done, so do you have a minute?", seriously as if he wanted to be sure we could spare the time to listen to him.

It's amazing enough to meet a man this talented, charming and handsome, and not have him possess an ego the size of the bayou. But that this fellow should be one of the most tenderhearted, people-loving, genuine, generous-spirited guys you could meet...well, that's a Christmas miracle.

God love ya, Harry! Thanks for a glorious show, and for being such an inspiration.

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