About Last Night . . .

A night the Babe and I were waiting for since early December 2020 finally happened. To hear TOGETHER, Billy McGuigan’s live performance of his COVID album released a few months ago. The music is reviewed here. The live performance? It was fabulous. Although I’d listened a hundred or more times (yes, I do that with music I love), seeing Billy McGuigan live is always a top-notch experience. Kevin Klimowski, a fan from Des Moines, and I sat near each other and and commented on how good they sound recorded and in person as well. Boys and girls, that’s the sign of a group of REAL musicians. Billy doesn’t mess around. They will never let the music die.

Although I’ve been a Billy and brothers’ fan for a long time, we are still seeing new and exciting things at any function these guys play. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Carly Frolio’s beautiful voice. She sings like an angel and accompanies Billy well. Unfortunately, we missed the Parking Lot Concerts last summer at the Omaha Community Playhouse. If Carly sang there, we missed it. Sorry! Much like her fellow band mates, she has many creative skills, including photography.

In addition to the band, something else new was students from McGuigan Arts Academy as ushers, a wealth of information, and front row fans. Our little girl usher informed us we “could take all the pictures we wanted of Billy McGuigan.” Thank you, honey. She told Kimberly Faith Hickman, “Now, I’m an usher,” before this bespectacled, braided, confident little girl bounced down the aisle, intent on mission completion.” She found our seats with the precision of a soldier on a mission. She waved us over, pointed, and said, “Enjoy the show.” Mission completed, young lady!

All of the children sat in the first row after helping introduce Billy. They all looked thrilled to death. Much like the adults who frequent his shows, they jumped to their feet and danced their hearts out. A new generation of McGuigan’s Minions. Who knew? The Arts Academy is doing great things. Some kids were backstage hands. What a great thing! Hands on learning. Lucky, lucky kids.

Billy’s son, Ciaran McGuigan keeps coming more into his own more and more as a guitar player. Max Meyer, is a lead guitar player, and Ciaran’s teacher. Max does great things with a guitar you have only heard about with the likes of Eddie Van Halen, Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Clapton. Love listening to you, Max! We even heard him singing, “Surfin’ U.S.A.” I loved the Beach Boys when I was a kid! You evoked some great memories!

Matthew McGuigan is a favorite, too. He is always consistent, steady, and a great vocal back up. He was mentioned as turning 40 yesterday, and with his second COVID vaccine, he took it all in stride. Go Matthew! This is a banner year for you, too! He and brother Ryan McGuigan stayed pretty much in the background Saturday night. It was Billy’s night. And he rocked it. The love of family really stands out with this group. They are their own family! And the fans, we complete that family. Kate Whitecotton organizes the whole lot, and it comes off without a hitch every time. She’s magical!

I keep wondering what else these guys can do that’s not been done before? A whole bunch, all the talents considered. We will be there, Billy, Ryan, and Matthew. We have heard the life story, and we’re glad you’ve used your experiences for good. Not just your good, but for ours, too. Billy started out playing Buddy Holly at the Omaha Community Playhouse. And the rest is history. He is nowhere near done. At 46, he has at least 30 more years of performing ahead of him. He already knows he can do a Sinatra-Buble-Connick, Jr., type of show. And he killed it! When you can’t jump anymore, when you may have trouble reaching for the strings on your guitar anymore, you can croon. Until then, though, feel free to share your life, thoughts and feelings with your family from Bellevue, Omaha, Gretna, Elkhorn, and the surrounding areas. You guys are home with us, and we couldn’t be prouder. You will tend the music and keep it alive as long as we need it. And you. The Best is Yet to Come!

9/18/2020

Today, September 18, is National POW/MIA Recognition Day. It is most associated with the Vietnam War. There are many missing POW’s, evidence exists of torturing our men who were prisoners as far away as Russia. This is very upsetting. There is a Forensic ID Lab at our nearby Offutt Air Base in Bellevue, NE where remains have been identified. One ID was of Hadley Heavin, lost for many years. Our old neighbor was named after him. Our Hadley Heavin was named for his uncle. The remains were recovered and identified, and finally laid to rest a few weeks ago in his hometown in Kansas.

Even though a family probably has a conclusion, it helps to finally be able to put an end to the waiting, the unknown. You know where to go from the cemetery. You don’t know where to go from being suspended in time with no answer. God bless them and all their families. We will never forget.

We Will Never Forget

I’m a bit beside myself today. Our local newspaper, the Omaha World Herald, has fired our hometown Editorial Cartoonist, as a cost-cutting measure. Jeff grew up not far from our neighborhood. In his book, Inklings, he described areas of his neighborhood, and I knew exactly where he was talking about. I am a fan of his from way back, and have followed his career. He is a multi-talented man who will land on his feet, I’m sure, once he recovers from the shock. Jeff, I’m so sorry.

As I’ve mentioned before, my dad worked there 37 years, retired and passing away in 1988. Jeff began his career one year later, and he may have known Dad from the Pressroom. For 50 years, I’ve been a subscriber, and had a fondness for the paper just since Dad worked there. It fed and clothed us as kids. It was my older brother’s long term career, too. I never thought I’d do this, but I’m going to cancel my subscription totally. I cut back to online only, but in protest, it’s all gone from my life.

I understand corporate takeovers and politics. I worked for ConAgra during their largest growth period, the 1980’s. You eliminate duplicity. You can’t tell me there wasn’t a middle manager somewhere who could have been let go. You can’t exactly find award winning cartoonists on every corner. I know, it’s silly, he doesn’t need me to be indignant for him. But I am. I’m tired of so many things. Instead, I’ll do my little bit, then go on and make the day better.

We need Jeff to tell the stories in his drawings during this crazy time. Just like a Springsteen fans needed to have him tell the story musically of 9/11 in his album, “The Rising.” We feel better when our feelings are depicted in their craft. We feel belonging and relief all at once. We won’t have that anymore. Thank you, Jeff. Omaha loves you.

The Babe and I are going to the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony of Victory Veterans Apartments. Here’s a link to their website. It’s a beautiful program that helps a formerly homeless veteran have their own apartment, belongings, and learn to live a better way. Our Post has recently partnered with them to help provide items such as dishes, silverware, bedding, coffee, and many other things. We are honored to be involved, they do such great work.

Lastly, I did have a pleasant musical surprise today. I received Kevin Costner and Modern West’s CD, “From Where I Stand.” It’s phenomenal. I’d place it beside of Bruce Springsteen’s Western Stars for good songs. Not bad for an old guy, you know?

How did I not know he sings, too?

Not sure what else I’ll work on today, might just sit on the deck with a glass of wine later on today. There is a lot going on and sometimes you just have to take a timeout and be with your people. “Babe!! What are your plans for later?” He always helps. I’m so lucky.

I’m grateful for you reading today. The days are cooler, and the nights are much cooler. Tuesday is the first day of fall. I hope it’s all you would like it to be. Be kind, be courteous, be safe out there. The world can be harsh. I hope it’s gentle with all of you. See you tomorrow! I have a phone call to make.

Superb Sunday

Well, folks. It finally happened. Last evening the Babe and I drove to Glenwood, Iowa to see one of our favorite bands, Billy McGuigan and the Downliners. It was a breath from heaven into our COVID filled lives. They reminisced about October 2019, when they had their last scheduled gig. A cruise. They loved their cruise gigs. Audiences loved them, too. This appearance, at Davies Amphitheater, was the first already scheduled gig they were able to play. If you could imagine Billy McGuigan more exuberant than he normally is, that is who we saw last night. What finally happened? I have not one still picture of the guys during the concert. Not a one.

If you could imagine listening to some of the greatest musicians in the country play standards such as “Burnin’ Love,” “Wake Up Little Susie,” and “Down on the Corner,” and then, just for fun, play for the first time Billy’s own original country style music. A song about his guitar, “Me and Peggy Sue.” A love song for Kate, ” Windows of My Soul.” “Little Metal Shack,” and “Trailer Park Song,” reminiscing about other experiences in the life of the McGuigan brothers. Good stuff. Then the almost finale, original song, “Together.”

First time hearing the song, it’s a little hard to keep up with understanding the lyrics. It talks of how close the family is. Their dad taught them they would always get through life’s hard things together. The phrase “when cancer came to call,” jumped out at me, not once, but twice. I’m guessing it’s referring to losing their dad to leukemia at a young age. The other one, I believe is for brother Ryan’s wife who also passed away from cancer. A very hard blow for the family. And what a beautiful song. They truly band together, not just for music, but for living. Kudos, guys.

By going last night, I have a renewed hope for life. Music inspires me to get through things. I have always relied on it. So do my kids. Thanks the Davies Amphitheater for accommodating us safely. It was so good to get away for a while and not think of anything else. The Babe and I talked with Kathy Kersey, a volunteer, and met Kevin Klimowski. He recognized me from the blog yesterday. Billy fans stick together, too. Pretty cool to be recognized for what I’m just branching out and doing. Thank you, Kevin! It was a thrill!

Again, if you’d like to see a show that will rock you, go see Pop Rock Orchestra at the Omaha Playhouse in August. Check it out here. And p.s. Billy has a new look. It’s a little startling, but I’d say he’s gone to beast mode. Bearded and lots of hair, but looks great. Sounds even better.

I’m still on Cloud 9 from last night. It was even hard to wind down to go to sleep last night. I’m just going to revel in the love I experienced last night. It was stuff dreams are made of. Thanks for helping me pursue mine by reading every day. I appreciate it a lot. Be safe. See you tomorrow.

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