For the third year (not in a row), she performed with my kid's school bands: middle and high, for a sorely needed fundraiser that was held this past Thursday night at the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square. I was all set to sneer--as I can't stand being in a chain restaurant, but the space was beautiful, in the old Paramount Theatre and featured curated memorabilia from John Bonham, Lynard Skynard, Alice Cooper, the Beatles, Courtney Love(!), Elvis, etc etc.
Those of you who have seen my Facebook saw a video of Debbie perform "One Way or Another" in a strangely incongruous, yet mind-blowing juxtaposition with the middle school band, children in the throes of adolescence. I can't tell you how much it moved me. She was so gracious and generous with them, treated them like professionals--musicians who deserved to be on that stage with her. And it's always an amazing to see a veteran performer do their thing live.
With the high school band, she performed (in addition to the jazz standard "Stormy Weather") "Rapture" and "The Tide is High"--this song concluded with her leading the teen musicians off the stage to snake around the audience. It actually kind of . . . breathtaking. For an encore, she let the kids be center stage and joined (sporting a black fedora) the small group of high school girls for some back-up singing.
This event was also kind of--dare I say?--emotional for me, because one of my first exposures to Debbie Harry's band, Blondie, was at a miserable job I had the summer before my senior year in high school. I worked at a dry cleaners alongside an emotionally abusive marine wife, who had an angrily chopped short haircut and red-rimmed eyes as if she always had just been crying. I realized later that her life had been probably even more miserable than mine. What got me through was the cleaner's little radio, and that summer, Blondie's music--Debbie Harry's voice always seemed to be streaming from it. (That--and the recently murdered John Lennon's, whose Double Fantasy record was still in heavy rotation.) Growing up poor in a low desert town near the Mexican border, I could never have imagined, when I couldn't even imagine New York, that someday I would be seeing her so up close and in the middle of Manhattan helping to raise some dough for the benefit of my kid's school.
(I just found out that the event netted $18,000, which will be swallowed up quickly I'm sure.)
|Debbie with our beatnik school music teacher, Roy Nathanson|
|Debbie with teacher Sean Sodderegger, directing the middle school band|
|Debbie with her awesome forearm tights and one Jazz Passenger sitting in on green trombone.|