Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Thanks for the Memories, Barry

This is the last week of shows at the Hilton. And while I can't claim to have been there "from the beginning", or had the privilege to be there when it ends, I have spent a good deal of time the last few years in Vegas. That time has been littered with memories, highs and lows, and some incredibly life-altering moments. It is all too common to hear in the Manilow world, that Barry brought people together. But it's the truth. I can honestly say that the friends I have met and made attending Manilow shows have come to be my closest confidants and those I now share my life with. It transcends trips to Vegas and nights spent together after the shows. We've traveled across oceans and across continents to be together, spent birthdays together, visited each others homes, and some have even attended my daughter's wedding. I'm always saying "it's ALL about the music", and it is. But it's so much more. It's about the relationships that have remained because of the love for his music.

It's true that Barry is moving on to Paris (which is by far my favorite hotel in Vegas), but it's with a tinge of sadness and a little bit of melancholy that we bid goodbye to the Hilton. It's not the glitziest hotel in Vegas, but for many of us it's where we first met him and first met our friends. It was at the Hilton that I met my very first Barry friend, Mandy and my adventure into fandom began. It's where I sat in Tempo with Karen Roach (who has since passed away) and talked about our escapades on the left stage with a drunk and the dance that Barry and Mandy had together. The Hilton is where "the three musketeers" first bonded, introduced the dance floor idea, and had some fabulous times in Tempo and Shimmer. It's there that I first heard Sandra and Talk to Me, I Am Your Child, Memory, Lay Me Down, I've Never Been So Low on Love, Open Arms, Islands in the Stream, and all the wonderful Mayflower songs. It's also there that I had an up close and personal encounter with Barry who in just a few moments was able to take away the grief I felt over my father's death with his hug.

I will always have a fondness for Fortuna and watching human theater while sipping a cappuccino. I'll even fondly remember "the screamers" at Shimmer and the Pizza Hut at the end of the hall (although I'm not a pizza fan). I will remember breakfasts at the buffet, and meals at the Paradise Cafe, the table at the steakhouse with Barry's picture above it, group dinners at Bennihanna's and sitting by the pool for hours at a time talking. I will have the fondest of memories about early morning coffee in the room and staying up all night after the shows.

My memory bank is full of moments like these at the Hilton. And if it were not for Barry, they would not be there. My life has changed drastically because of Barry Manilow and his music. And although I have no idea what the future holds for me and any trips to the Paris, I am blessed and grateful for the times I have had and the friendships I have been so fortunate to gain because of the common bond we all share, the music.

So Barry, if you ever read this, thanks for the memories and for the times of my life!
Texas Fan

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Here We Go Again--Another Manilow Cover Album

Ok Clive--enough is enough. Can we PLEASE have some original music? Pretty please with sugar on top? We promise we will promote the heck out of it, buy it, buy it for presents, buy it for non-fans, and sing its praises. Just give us a chance. We LOVE Barry's music and we will come out in droves to support any ORIGINAL album.

Pinky swear,
Texas Fan

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Half a Mil for Charity

The official announcement came out yesterday--Barry raised close to half a million at his concerts at the McCallum theater. Half a million big ones--all going toward those 25 charities. Charities that struggle to survive each year and got a much needed shot in the arm because of Barry and his music. Not only Barry, but all those that donated their time and expertise to make this all possible.

Barry has the ability to give "big" because of his talent and his ability to bring the right people together to get the job done. But we can all give, in our own way, to those that need our help every single day. It's not difficult, but it does require that we take that first step and make an offer of help. I read Brian Culbertson's Facebook post the other day that said to take $25 one dollar bills and give one to anyone you see while shopping that asks for help. I thought that was an excellent idea. It might be the Salvation Army bellringers, a homeless person sitting on the corner, or a box at the checkout for a local charity. It might seem small and insignificant but as YBA said, no contribution is too small and that dollar might inspire someone else to give as well.

Barry's charity has always inspired his fans--and this time it was five nights of shows. I think that was above and beyond. Not only that, but he incorporated the kids who benefited from the Manilow Music Project. Kudos to the guy with the giving heart!

May the joy of this season surround you,
Texas Fan

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It's a "Barry" Christmas

Reading all the reviews from the shows at the McCallum theater sure can put you in the Christmas spirit. Of course hanging my treasured "Barry Christmas" ornament the other night put the cherry on top of my Christmas mood.

I love Christmas. I love the decorations, wrapping presents, the Hallmark channel Christmas movies, baking, Christmas pageants and of course, the music. My all-time favorite Christmas album of Barry's is the most recent, "In the Swing of Christmas"; but, honestly, I love all three of his Christmas offerings. Just for fun, I thought I would list my choices for the BEST songs from each of them. See if you agree!

In the Swing of Christmas
Violets for Your Furs
Count Your Blessings
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
Gift of Love (Duet with Oliva Newton-John)

Christmas Gift of Love
Happy Holidays/White Christmas
I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm

Because It's Christmas
The Christmas Song
Baby It's Cold Outside
Joy to the World/Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

The jazziness of "In the Swing of Christmas", the festive holiday feel of "Christmas Gift of Love" and the classics on "Because It's Christmas" give any Manilow aficionado a variety of styles to choose from. The arrangements in each of these albums draw attention to the fact that Barry is first and foremost a musician that can take a song and make it his own with his genius arrangements.

Listening to the "sounds" of the season,
Texas Fan

P.S. I think "Christmas is Just Around the Corner" has become my FAVORITE "fun" Christmas tune--for this year and for many years to come. What can I say? It makes me smile EVERY time I hear it!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Manilow at the Paris Hotel--Ooo La La

It's official. Barry is moving to the Paris Hotel. I don't know about you, but I think it's a great move and time for a change. Not just for Barry, but for the fan base. It's time to shake things up a bit and venture out of the cocoon so many call "home" at the Hilton. And while we all rebel against change, it's change that often times brings growth and new adventures.

So...in the spirit of change, I'd like to give my own "review" of the Paris Hotel (since it's one of my favorite Vegas haunts). Yes...I'm one of those that actually leaves the Hilton and ventures out into the big bad world of the strip. It's amazing what you will find beyond those four walls.

If you've ever been to Paris (which I have) this hotel does an amazing job of bringing the feel of Paris to you. From the restaurants, to the Metro signs, to the Eiffel Tower and the french themed shopping. It's conveniently located smack dab in the center of the strip, right across from the beautiful fountains at the Bellagio.

My favorite haunts at the Paris are:
  1. Le Creperie-Paris is famous for its crepes. There are sidewalk vendors everywhere making fresh crepes 24 hours a day. You have to try their breakfast crepes and their desert crepes (Nutella is my favorite). You'll find this in the walkway across from the buffet.
  2. Le Village Buffet-this buffet puts the one at the Hilton to shame. The pastries are out of the world and freshly made every day. It's one of the most popular buffets in Vegas for a good reason.
  3. Mon Ami Gabi-a sidewalk cafe right next to the Eiffel Tower. The food is uniquely Parisian and the ambiance can't be beat. Sit outside during the day and watch the Bellagio fountains while you eat. Their lunch selection is fabulous!
  4. The Eiffel Tower-this is a replica of the original one in Paris (1/3 the size). From the top you can see the Vegas skyline. It's breathtaking at night.
  5. Napoleon's-There is a high class piano bar located in the walkway between the Paris hotel and Bally's. The music each night is tons of fun and it always draws a crowd.
  6. Le Cabaret-This is my favorite place to enjoy a drink, sit and talk, and a great spot for "human theater". It's like sitting outside at a Paris cafe under the trees and the street lights.
  7. Shopping-There are a few excellent dress shops and some unique Parisian themed gift shops.
  8. The Eiffel Tower restaurant-You have to try this restaurant just once. It's a bit pricey, but the service is impeccable and the food is out of this world.
  9. The Paris Theatre-I've seen a few different acts in this theater: Sinbad, Clint Black, and a musical impersonator. It's small and intimate just like the Hilton (minus a balcony). The first few rows are close to the stage and it's a bit wider and more rounded than the Hilton's theater. It should lend itself well to Barry's type of show.

There is plenty to do, plenty of places to eat (even pastry shops and sandwich offerings), great "hang out" spots and a great strip location. If you like to gamble, there are plenty of tables and slots and the players club is available to rack up those comp points.

Personally, I'm looking forward to the new venue and the strip location. It should bring new life to the fans, the show and bring in some new fans who might not have seen him when he was off the beaten path at the Hilton.

Looking forward to Manilow (my favorite musician) in Paris (my favorite city),
Texas Fan

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