Last night. What a soul healing experience for the Babe and me. We attended Billy McGuigan’s Pop Rock Orchestra concert at Sumter Ampitheater in Papillion, Nebraska. It was cancelled last Saturday due to impending bad weather (thank you, Kate Whitecotton!), and could redeem our tickets last night. Of course, that’s what we did.
The music, of course, was stellar. We’ve seen this show every summer since its inception. It has experienced some changes and probably attracts a larger audience being more pop and rock from the 50s through the 80s. Once again, my life flashed before my eyes! Many of these songs were recorded with full blown orchestras. They were meant to include brass (saxaphones are my favorite) and strings. I didn’t catch the names of these very talented musicians, but they were wonderful. The ladies on strings strutted on stage barefoot and took their places. It just spoke summer, outdoors under the stars!
Jesse White joined the ensemble and he is exceptional. We saw him in Hegwid and the Angry Inch earlier this year; he is one to be watched. With the musicians assembled last night, he will do very well. He did a Buddy Holly duet with Billy, and it was mind blowing. I’m so sorry we missed his debut as Buddy Holly in the Buddy Holly Story, produced by Billy and Kate. Next year, the Omaha Series must include it! (Please)!
Although Billy and the orchestra played some of his original music (not nearly enough, IMHO), the rock and roll of our youth really shone. Two of my favorite songs of all time were out of this world. “Good Lovin,'” by the Young Rascals (later the Rascals), was spot on. My heart felt as young as when I first heard in in 1966. I was just out of eighth grade, on my way to high school. It brought back the innocence of youth. After a hard week (another friend lost their husband), we needed this night. We needed the music to heal our hearts. And it did.
The other favorite? “Gimme Some Lovin’.” Steve Winwood with The Spencer Davis Group never disappoints. Neither does Billy. Ever. Whatever he does, you leave thinking, “That was so perfect, it just can’t get any better.” And somehow, with McGuigan Magic, it does. Every. Single. Time. I want to write that way. I want to be as good an author as he is with his music. It’s inspiring, besides healing.
The thing that struck me this time out? The intense sense of family. We saw Ryan and his lady friend as audience members. It was fun to watch his reaction to the performance. All he an Billy have to do is look at each other, and you see the love. It was good to see him having fun and living life. It has to be way different watching v participating. He mimiced some fancy footwork and percussion work while dancing in his seat. And Matthew, he keeps playing, whether guitar or keyboard, he keeps going. I love his playing. His beautiful rendition of “My Girl,” reflects his love for his wife. It’s another favorite and I love how he does it. You just can’t beat MOTOWN.
Young Ciaran, Billy’s son, is a rock star in the eighth grade! His guitar lessons from Max are worth millions. (Sorry, Billy). He’s not only getting the tunes down well, he’s developing his showmanship at the same time. What a kick for him, to perform live AND rock out his spotlight solos. He even turned around and played his guitar behind his back and up on his shoulders. I hope I’m around when he’s about 30 years old and he’s still in music, he’s just going to improve. The girls are going to swoon, (or do a Tik-Tok video). As his selection of a song last night he chose an Eric Clapton song. I told you he’s unbelievable! It was “After Midnight.” Enough said. Wow.
I had to laugh, Max’s Mom, Roxann Rodgers Meyer, posted the perfect rebuttal to all those folks crowded into Memorial Stadium to see Garth Brooks (Garth who?). She shared she was not at Memorial Stadium, but she was at SumTur Theater rocking out to Billy McGuigan and Max Meyer. With family. No better place for families to be, friends. I saw Cartney from afar with family members, too. Generations with appreciation for our local musicians. And none of us were disappointed. They’re worth far more than the price of admission, in my mind.
Although the McGuigan family hugs helped these men grow up through many bad things in life, they still do the hugs they thought corny. Bill, their dad, had them group and hug while telling them, “These people, these are the ones that love you and will always be there for you.” I’m going to do one of those hugs with my girlfriends who are now widows. And with our kids. And my brothers. And I’m going to thank God for this example. It’s a keeper for sure. Just like their music is. And them, too.
If you’re in the area, you can attend the last of this series at SumTur Ampitheater, at 118th and Hwy 370. Just past Papillion South High School. It’ll be another beautiful night. It was our first visit for a concert, and we’re sure to be back. Tickets still available. Your week will be better for it.