Audience of One

Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to sing for a full room and to feel the roar of applause. However, I must confess, some of the most rewarding – not to mention, appreciated audiences have been performing for one.

One of those enlightening experiences took place when I journeyed to New Jersey to see Mrs. Caldwell for the last time, who, at the time, suffered from an advanced case of dementia. Her son David – my childhood friend – led me into the bedroom where she lay half asleep. He attempted to get her to recognize and remember who I was – the little boy who lived downstairs who always seem to be available (just by coincidence, I might emphasize) whenever Mrs. Caldwell was baking a pie and the sweet aroma permeated the hallway. She didn’t seem to recognize me at first. Suddenly, a lightbulb moment: sing. Spontaneously, I began to sing You Don’t Know Me (Ray Charles) – a song I was reasonably sure she would know and recognize. Tears began to drop from her eyes. She gently reached out for my hand and put it up next to her face. How touching. David was visibly stunned as he gaped at the spectacle.

Fast forward to today. I was putting up shelves for neighbors and, true-to-form, I was singing to myself the whole time. Little Irma – about 11 or 12 months – couldn’t stay away from inspecting the progress of the work … or so I thought. Then her father said it was my singing that so pleased her. (Now I’m on a roll.) So, just before I was about to leave, I dropped a special performance of The Candy Man on her. Irma was thrilled – clapping and smiling – then went and grabbed a blue-covered book and gave it to her mother, who explained that it was Irma’s song book and how much she loved singing. What an honor – a privilege to bring the brightest smile and inspiration to a baby’s day … most assuredly the high point of my Saturday.

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Cannes

I don’t recall a song – at least not any popular one – entitled “I Love Cannes.” However, there is such a song about Paris. Yes, Paris is nice (not Nice), but Cannes is the shit. Come to think of it, I’d gladly swap 10 Parises for one Cannes. It was nothing like I expected. Yes, the marina is cluttered with massive yachts,  but that’s it. If one is expecting a city of spoiled generic snobs, well, to be sure, you can find it in Cannes, but that is but an itsy bitsy part of the life of Cannes. It’s relaxed … a laid-back enclave, peopled with Ordinary Jean and Jeanette. Cannesonians spoke to me … on the street, in the market, wherever … even though they don’t know me from Adam (or Jack and Jill). Very cool people, warm vibes and sand and sunshine aplenty.

Every day I bought the richest, most mouth-watering flan from the Patiserie. Pure decadence. The woman running it let out a gargantuan smile every time she saw me coming in for my daily fix. She knew she had one hooked flan addict. At one point, I asked Isabelle, “How come y’all are not fat?” I couldn’t imagine anyone with the mildest of sweet tooth not want to pig out on that flan … all day – everyday. I thought I’d bring some back just to show to the rest of the world how serious this flan was, but truth be told, there would be nothing left by the end of the plane trip back home to Stockholm.

 

How I wish I had more time – a lot more time – to photograph that city, but doing the Midem thing was what I was there for and that took up nearly all of the daytime and evening hours. Nevertheless, I managed to get a few shots.

 

Midemites

Midem: Palais des Festivals, Cannes, France

The week seemed unusually long for an endeavor in which you’re actually having fun … make that “thrilled” – working, networking, the mandatory schmoozing (of which my fuse usually burns out fast). Beautiful spirits from most parts of the world, congregating. Mingling with so many extremely talented artists was the easy part. Schmoozing and networking with the real power brokers was the uncomfortable, teeth-clenching, squeeze-your-asshole part, but even that got easier as the week wore on. Fuck it. I fake it. Just let the music play – I’ll do the rest. … and so it is – I participated in this year’s rendition of Midem and despite my initial jitters, I couldn’t have been happier I attended … so many seminars and private meetings overlapping each other. The backdrop was to die for – Cannes – a city on the lauded Cote d’Azur of southern France.

It was a week filled with the presence of extraordinary artists and the vibes were on high – instant camaraderie. You’d think we knew each other for a years. Wyclef Jean also showed up and put on an unforgetable performance. I and other artists performed at the Cotton Club on the closing night. Beautiful! Just beautiful. What a thrill!

Here’s some portraits of folks who were there.