Yesterday, I did the unthinkable.
I turned my mother into a good groupie.
This is the woman who I know loves me to no end but generally rolls her eyes or sighs disparagingly when I’m laying out my musical escapades for her. (Y’know, so when I don’t turn up in three days, she knows where to start looking.) She asks why I need to see Band So-and-so for the 12th time, and why can’t I just go to the show in-town and be done with it? Why traipse all over Texas – and the country – in pursuit of live music?
I’ve long since given up trying to explain my own personal insanity to her.
But when she turned the tables and asked if I would be interested in making a day trip to Fredericksburg to see a pianist, Emile Pandolfi, she’s been dying to see live for years, I leaped at the chance – because now I have something to point to and say “Well, remember that one time we drove to Fredericksburg? Yeah, that’s why I do this.”
That, and it held the promise of a free lunch – probably somewhere I could get a good cheeseburger. And I’ll do anything for a good cheeseburger.
Well…almost anything. I do have to retain the “good” in my name.
|All stacked up and ready to go!|
So yesterday morning at the all-too-early time of 7:30 a.m., my mother, father and I began our journey to the heart of the Texas hill country. In the days leading up to the trip, my mother asked me, “Do you think I can get my CDs signed? Will he sign all of them, or should I bring just one? Do you think they’ll let us have cameras? Are you bringing yours?”
Exasperated, I told her I didn’t know, bring it all to be safe and why do you keep asking me?
“I’m learning from the best.”
Touche, mother. Touche.
Upon arriving, we found a cute cafe called the Wheeler Bistro where I found an excellent cheeseburger and my dad found the largest slice of cornbread ever.
|No, really. It was the largest slice of cornbread EVER.|
As we waited for our food, my mother began her speculations.
“Do you think he’s practicing right now or maybe out walking around?” The last four words were punctuated with excitement.
I shrugged – because honestly, without a massive tour bus or white 15-passenger van plus trailer to clue me in, I’m at a loss.
We spent some time walking around downtown (no Emile to be spotted), wandered in a couple over-priced “antique” stores, chatted the locals about how popular these Fredericksburg Music Club performances tended to be (one woman said her sister arrived 30 minutes early to the last one and had to stand in the back), and eventually decided to make our way over to the church where the performance was being held and…the parking lot was nearly deserted.
So we made another round through downtown and returned about an hour before the show was scheduled to begin. Luckily, that meant we were there with many older music club fans and members who aren’t really in a position to stand around and wait for long periods of time, so we got the benefit of pretty much having our choice of seating. And after several minutes of debating the best vantage points and finally picking a spot, my mother declared:
“And I am NOT moving. They can go around me!”
They learn so quickly when they learn from the best…
The performance began right on time. Emile was absolutely wonderful, telling anecdotes and jokes between pieces that easily led into the next song. He got a bit “piano man,” setting the scene for some of the Christmas songs as the music painted the picture behind his words. Overall, I enjoyed going to a performance that got me out of my element, and honestly, the entire experience left me wishing I had continued on with my piano lessons at age 9/10. I always loved the puzzle of learning a new song, hearing every note hit perfectly. But in my head, I always wanted a fuller sound than my fingers were capable of producing.
I heard that fuller sound in every Emile arrangement yesterday afternoon.
Emile played well over an hour and a half. My mom was thrilled when he began “Winter Wonderland,” her favorite winter/Christmas song. We laughed. We had a sing-along at the end. We enjoyed the beauty of the music.
|Emile telling an anecdote between songs.|
And when it was over, we filed out with everyone else. I was slightly disappointed to see that behind the table of CDs, there was no Emile as I had anticipated. While I think my mom was satisfied with having seen him live, I was determined to walk out of that church with his signature on a CD insert and a photo on my camera.
We wasted a few minutes by ducking into the restroom before beginning our trip back home. I came out ahead of my mother, looked around the lobby and was disappointed to see still no Emile. I would go beyond those doors at the end of the hall marked “private” for the day if I had to.
But I didn’t have to because just as I finished that thought, the door opened and out strode Mr. Pandolfi. I glanced the other way to see if anyone else in the lobby had taken notice (they hadn’t) and turned back to him. He was now just a few feet away, caught my eyes and smiled warmly.
Slightly caught up in the excitement of knowing my mother was finally going to experience what I have experienced so many times over, the words got caught in my throat.
“It was a really grea-wonderful performance this afternoon!”
He smiled, shook my hand and thanked me, then continued on to the edge of the lobby. I now stood, impatiently waiting for my mother who seemed to be taking an exorbitantly long time in the restroom. When after three people emerged but not her, I went in after her.
She was drying her hands.
“Hey, you’re missing your opportunity out here…”
“OH! He’s out there?!”
We got in the small line that had formed. Emile chatted with people as he signed albums and snapped photos with them. (One woman exclaimed, “I’m from Facebook!” and I had a very hard time trying to hold my laughter in.) When finally Emile turned to my mom, he smiled and they began to chat as he signed her CDs.
|“To Tammy, with love!” – more than I’ve
ever gotten on written to me!
My dad took a photo of her and Emile together, then I ducked in for a photo with them as well.
And after it was taken, I turned to Emile and said, “I’m not sure if she told you, but she’s been trying to see you for years and kept missing you.”
“Oh, really?” he replied, and my mom jumped in.
“You played in Tulsa the night before she graduated from college, and then you were in Dallas the night my son graduated from college…”
Emile laughed. “Well…tell them to quit graduating!”
“We drove all the way from Houston today to see you,” I added. At this, he truly sounded impressed. (I don’t think a lot of people drive nearly 500 miles round-trip to see a pianist.)
We chatted a bit more, he thanked us for coming and we turned to leave. I couldn’t help feeling a little bit accomplished: we had come and done exactly what I intended – and yet unintended – to do: turn my mother into a good groupie, just like me.
|Emile & some good groupies…|
As we walked to the car, she asked my father and I if we had enjoyed the performance.
“Yeah, I did!” my dad said.
“You just liked that he played your favorite carol!” I laughed. (It’s “Good King Wenceslas,” for the record.)
“You seemed like you enjoyed it too,” my mom said.
“Yeah, well,” I replied. “If nothing else, it was something fun to blog about.”