In the fall of 1983 I was aboard the United States Navy’s USS Guam (LPH-9, “Swift and Bold”) sitting 300 yards off the coast of Beirut supporting Marines and getting shot at.*
There was one beacon of fun, however, serving as home base for Bob Hope’s taping of his “Christmas in Beirut” special . That bouncing 80-year-old had enough energy to run the whole dang ship and it was a blast to have him around. I was lucky enough to be involved with the nuts and bolts of much of the the (massive) show they did and, as Bob was finishing up with “Thanks for the Memories” I was reminded of the all the good things that had been interspersed with the bad. He had that way of bringing out that sort of thing.
Fast forward more years than I care to count and we’re about to park ourselves in our chairs to work on our 10th Christmas show. Yeah, 10. Good Lord…
Just like seeing Bob Hope’s smiling face, the thought of our journey brings to mind all the good things that we’ve enjoyed together. Here are a few that come to mind, feel free to add your own:
Remember the time when…
…we got to hear what John McCreary could do when he sat at an organ and just let loose? Holy cow…at one point he had three intricate melodies going on three different sets of keys (yup, the third was his feet).
…we first saw Ka’anohi dance to “‘O ‘Oe ‘Io”. Magic. Every time.
…we sang in a parking garage. It was awesome and I KNOW we’ll do it again.
…all the mics quit as Susie was trying to introduce a piece during a Black History Month concert and then there was the deep “Hellooooo” when somebody found one that worked?
…we did a show during a monsoon in Kaneohe? We didn’t fill the place but MAN, that was one dedicated crowd.
…we did a Christmas concert in the ballroom up at Ko’olau and they set up 600 chairs? And they were all full? And there was another 100+ people standing in the back? Wow.
…we first met Bryan Sherlock and had the honor to have the Marine Forces Band, Pacific join us? They’re the best and Bryan’s answer was always the same: “How can we help?”
…we took over the veggie section at Whole Foods? In Swahili?
…we got to pay the Marines back in a small way a few times by singing at the Christmas tree lighting ceremony at Marine Corps Base Hawaii? The combination of the joy on the faces of the children and the wistful faces of the moms whose husbands weren’t there was moving and we really, really sang our hearts out those nights. Semper Fi.
…we all thought that silly rendition of “Fa La La” was…well…silly? The audience went berserk as they give it a standing ovation. Who knew?
…we first met Patti Amelotte and her sneaky little smile and her badass dulcimer?
…we learned that a Charango was made from the shell of a dead armadillo? And that our player’s instrument wasn’t? And that referred to it as “an organic one”?
…a huge pack of us went to UH and set up a feedbag and party for Grant Mack’s end-of-semester-final-exam recital? Sure made ol’ Mr. Grumpypants smile (after he got over the shock of walking out to his piano to see us all there!).
Feel free to add more in the comments section, there’s quite a list!
(* A friend who regularly reads the blog said to me, “You sure have had an interesting life”. I suppose that’s one word for it…)