Late to the party

Hey, it’s 8:30 a.m. and I haven’t checked in with my 160-member worldwide readership yet. :P


I’ve never really spoken these exact words in public before…but I think my performing days are over, and I’m glad to see them go.

Time was, I couldn’t imagine myself in a position where I would not want to be onstage. The thought never entered my mind. In fact, I’ve always told my students that when they are performing onstage, I am living out my continuing dream through them. Anymore? Not so much. Case in point:

Tonight, I am performing with a group of guys (loosely named the Jazz All-Stars) up on Lake Erie. Great musicians all, and I was beyond flattered to be asked to sing. I’m doing two tunes, so no big deal, but I’ve experienced no small amount of trepidation about the whole thing for the past two months. Will the voice hold out? Can I keep company with all these hot players? Do I still have it? It’s all getting to be too much; I am, in fact, dreading it, now that the day has finally arrived. In past years, I couldn’t wait to do a gig like this. Now I’m looking past it and living for 10 p.m.

Why is this? I’ve thought a lot about it recently, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s all right. It’s all right to move on. My priorities are different now: grandchildren, travel, family and friends. I said to Mavis the other day, “I don’t care about jazz ed. anymore.” That’s not really true; I care about the style that’s become second nature to me over the decades. I care about its proliferation and its importance to America’s musical heritage. It’s the only truly American musical form, and we need to protect it like any other national treasure. I love jazz (and the blues and R & B and rock and roll) and what it’s meant to me. I guess I just don’t care to perform it any longer. In fact, I don’t think I really want to perform at all anymore. (Obvious exceptions: 1. Playing in a band with my sons; 2. Sitting in with BoomR; 3. Playing Mrs. Lovett onstage in Sweeney Todd.)

My career as a music educator is approaching its twilight hours, and I definitely do not want to be one of those choral directors who just mark time, waiting to collect the retirement pay. That attitude will always seep into the music your groups sing. I want to be involved and current and motivated till the final minute, but I think I might be drifting in another direction — away from jazz and into musical theater. Am I mental? Is this allowed? Do I not care enough? Is the world truly going to end in six months and it won’t matter anyway?

Meh. Regardless, it will be a nice evening (I hope) for the audience, and the Thriller and I will have a relaxing dinner somewhere in Port Clinton, and we will all likely survive the gig and it will be a pleasant ride home. Then we can begin pre-launch preparations for the Odyssey. (Yippy!)

Wow — a 500-word, rambling treatise on nothing in particular.  Wouldn’t be RtB otherwise, now would it?   :grin:

It’s Finkday, YaAAaaay

13 thoughts on “Late to the party

  1. Suzanne

    I am sure that once you are in there and the music starts you will be grrreat and will remember how much fun and exciting it is. Doesn’t mean you are going to do it again tomorrow or even again this year. But just knowing that you still got it will be mighty fine. Have fun! If someone happens to record it and say…put it on Youtube I’d love to see it. Haven’t heard you sing since June 26, 1999.

  2. Mavis

    Being your sister, I’ve heard you humming a diddy here and there, so I know you still “have it”. I also understand how you would be nervous about tonight, sweetie. You will do great. Go with the mindset, “I’m just going to have some fun tonight” and you’ll be the hit you always are! Your family loves you and we stand by anything you want to do in life. Your awesomeness will carry over into any direction you take. Personally, I would LOVE to see you in, Sweeney Todd!

    Oh, thanks for the “goat” pictures. They were adorable! Love you HoneyBird!

  3. BoomR

    Um…Flip Video of the performance????
    **SMEWCH** Break a leg! And I, too, long for a musical reunion (heck any ole reunion with you is a GREAT one!)

    Break a leg!!


    1. Mavis

      AMEN, BoomR!!! I’d love a video of her performance, and I’d LOVE one of the two of you singing together before I die!!! :-) Hoping/praying Duke is ok?

      1. Rat Fink Post author

        Yeah, how’s Duke doing now? (Mave, he made it through surgery fine, but has a couple of nasty incisions — much like another old salt you know of!)

  4. RD

    Hey, you’ll be great tonight. I’d love to hear you sing again. But you speak of transitions. Someone has said that life is a series of transitions, and the quality of life depends on our navigating these transitions in a healthy way. Another word picture that’s often used, and I’m sure you’ve heard so this is just a reminder: Our lives are like a book with an introduction and a conclusion. But there are many chapters between them. As one chapter closes another one begins, and we’re off on a new adventure. Is that where you are right now? Is this reply way to serious? Maybe I need to lighten up!!

  5. Rae

    Late to the party of comments, am I. Something that, actually… didn’t take me long to learn is that when a thing, something you’ve done a long time, stops being fun and starts being scary, time for a new hobby. Like… making granny squares… :) You’re not wrong, you know. You shouldn’t have to do things because it’s what people expect of you. Often, “the fun” happens when you do things that no one expected. How do I say this? — there’s more to you than what people, in the past, had known you as. Besides… it’s quite enjoyable to receive a phone call and tell someone “no, thanks… but, thank you”.

  6. Rat Fink Post author

    Well thank you thank you, my dear fiends. Your words mean so much. And the gig? It was unbelievable. These guys can play, lemmetellya. They made me feel great and we all had fun. What a way to go out!

    RD, you’re right — it’s a chapter that’s closing (at least for jazz), and I have lots more chapters to go in the book before I’m done, hopefully. Suz, Mave and Rae — you are all wise wimmins. I had fun and called it quits without feeling like a quitter. I wanted to go out somewhat on top, because I was indeed starting to fear that which has given me so much joy over the years. I didn’t want to go out like Sinatra did — way, way, way past my prime and watching audiences cringe in spite of trying to be polite.

    And Boom Boom — the reunion is imminent!!! <3

    Hugs to allayaz

  7. Tom Hanks

    I reallly wish I could have seen you perform at some point before you retired from this jazz biz. I’m sure you were awesome. Was there a video taken of this? If so …I want to see!

    I know what you are saying as far as feeling like there is a right time to end certain things. As long as it gives you a better feeling to let it go than it would to continue it seems like its probably the right choice. Though I bet you have the talent to continue for a lot longer.

    I am glad to hear you won’t give up playing all music…rockin with your sons in a band or hopefully someday playing some tunes with this jerk here if I ever get up the gall to get onstage haha.

    1. Rat Fink Post author

      I’ve got to get you onstage!

      I’m sure there was video on the concert, but you know me — I’m not going to flaunt it about! Seriously though, I’ll ask the guy who organized it and see if I can SCREEN something that might be what I would classify as appropriate for all audiences. :P

      Thank you for the kind words, T. I guess I wanted to go out sort of “on top,” you know? While I still had something left. I do still have some musical goals to reach, but I’ve pretty much closed the door on live performances of jazz anymore. It’s become too frustrating to be unable to realize all the ideas in my head because the voice won’t speak them anymore.

      Did I mention I have to get you out in front of people???

      1. Tom Hanks

        Me onstage?! When did this happen?? Haha. I’d go on a stage and play some tunes with you if we got something together sometime fo sho…and my side of the stage would probably shine a lot less brightly haha.

        I know exactly what you mean about going out on top….not that I have had a chance to do it myself…but I dig the concept…and I doubt you needed the quotation marks around “on top”.


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