Today marks the first week anniversary of the beginning of a three day run of "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" (2.0). It was a very magical weekend for me, not only as a performer but as a member of the Heagle family. To have my brother John staying with us for four days and then to have Jon fly in and join us for the Sunday shows was truly something special.
John's flight was delayed for nearly a half an hour as his plane kept circling the Twin Cities airport in a holding pattern. It wasn't until we were on our way out to the interstate that we got a cell phone call from Sister Fran Ferder, who had flown in with John to make a connecting flight to LaCrosse, that we found out that their aircraft had been involved in a "near-miss"!
So the weekend that turned out to be an all time highlight in my life almost started as an insane tragedy.
I wish I could truly express how good it was to be with John for an all too short four days. He is probably the easiest man in the world to be around. it wasn't as if we even had a house guest - it seemed as though he has always lived with us right from the start.
We immersed ourselves in re-writing and re-organizing the show from its original 20 year old shape to update it and make it fresh not only for ourselves but for the audiences, some of whom would be returnees from the shows so long ago.
Friday arrived and we loaded up the Scion with guitar, music stands, and other needs, and made the drive to Wausau for the first performance.
Wausau East High School is an incredible building with an auditorium that seats close to 1,000. We wee supposed to be getting all kinds of coverage through a Wausau radio station, but (and this is just my opinion) I think somebody dropped the ball big time.
Thirty free tickets were supposed to have been given out over the air. Thirty eight folks showed up for the show, none of them claiming a free ticket.
I talked to several people who asked why we hadn't been advertised more -- that they had only accidently found out about the show through a small blurb in the Wausau newspaper.
Nonetheless, the show was well received by those in attendance and gave John and I a chance to do a bit of a "run through" for the rest of the weekend.
I think the fondest memories of that evening will be the stop we made at the Kittsons before the show, the hell of a time I had finding my way out of the high school parking lot in the rain after the show -- and stopping in Abbotsford for a late night BLT at a truck stop.
Saturday night started with a family gathering at the Heyde Center in celebration of two of my aunts birthdays: Gertrude and Lucille, the youngest and oldest of the Wetzel sisters. Both John and I ran into a lot of familiar faces throughout the evening and we played to a sold out house --(the management had to turn away over forty people seeking tickets).
After the show, John and I unwound with a couple of beers with Tom, Stan, Johnson, and Scott Sutherland - three great guys with roots in Superior, Wisconsin. then we went on to join the Wetzel party poolside at the Plaza Hotel in Eau Claire.
We got as much rest as possible on Sunday morning, then proceeded to Menomonie for the two shows at the Tainter. Again both shows sold out and the crowds loved the show - so much so that we received standing ovations. I was just to proud to be on stage with John. And to be able to look out into the audience and see my son Jon as well.
I just received an e mail from John that I would like to share:
I'd thought you might smile at the following:
Someone said to me after the last performance (in Menomonie), half smiling,
and half serious: 'Whatever possessed you to try such a thing?'
My response: 'At my age, given the state of institutional religion, I am possessed by
possibilities! And, add to that, I am less and less concerned about being 'proper'.
Zorba said it well: 'Life is trouble. Only death is not.'
So, I'll take trouble...
Not that I have a choice!
HAPPY FIRST WEEK ANNIVERSARY, JOHN! THE CHECK IS IN THE MAIL -- SOON.