The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

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Monday, March 7, 2016

An Encounter with Celebrity & BOTB results


The Question of the Month

The Question of the Month is hosted by Michael G D'Agostino from A Life Examined. The first Monday of each month I answer a question posed by Michael prior to event day. Click on the link to his blog for more participants. 

Here is the question for March:

Have you ever met an idol/influence/someone you really admire? How did it go?”

       Over the years,  having worked extensively in the world of show business, I've met many widely known celebrities as well as niche celebrities who were notable mostly to a specific group of people.  I've never been one to be overly wowed by the concept of celebrity so I've often tended to avoid too much interaction with well known people.  Also, along with being innately shy, I often feel awkward when given an opportunity to make contact with a celebrity in that I don't want to bother them.

       If there were a purpose in a celebrity wanting to meet with me then that would be one thing.  But for me to reach out for little other purpose than to meet a celebrity in passing or have a photo op or anything of that nature, that's something I'd be likely not to do.


On Time
On Time (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
       One of my biggest celebrity encounters (read more about it here) was with rock star Mark Farner.   For those not in touch with the giants of the 1970's rock scene, Farner was lead singer and guitarist for the hugely popular group Grand Funk Railroad.  The meeting happened because I promoted a concert in 1988 with Farner and his band as the headline act.  Of course I met him!  And what a nice guy he was.  

        Farner was working as a solo artist at the time I hired him and his band.  He had embarked upon a new career as a contemporary Christian artist and was successful in that field of music as well, though nowhere like he was with Grand Funk.  He and I had dinner together the night of the show and it was a great time of discussion between us.  I was impressed by his humility and gentle demeanor.  I wish we could have had longer to visit that evening, but he had a set to perform and I had a concert to oversee.   Farner closed the show with a powerful line-up of songs.   His fans, including me, were not disappointed that night.

          After the crowds had gone and the equipment was loaded, Farner said his farewell to me and climbed aboard the tour bus with his band to depart that night.   The meeting was a memorable one for me and my time together with Mark Farner left me with a very favorable impression of a man who had been a rock icon and still wielded the legacy that is his part of music history.


Battle of the Bands Results



       My most recent Battle was centered around the Leonard Cohen song The Future.  Before going in I had sensed that this might be a tough call as Cohen's songs are not always appreciated by everyone.  This song in particular is bleak and strange, but it's song that I happen to like a great deal.

       Either contestant was fine by me.   I thought the driving version presented by the Beggars was outstanding, but I also enjoyed the quirky version done by Glittering Kingdom.   I found myself listening to both versions repeatedly over the past few weeks, enjoying each one for its own merits--I felt the versions both had merit.

        In the end though my preference leaned more toward Glittering Kingdom.  For one thing I thought the live outdoor performance recording was excellent.  It would have been executed in a far more polished fashion if done in the studio, but the way it was done in the video was far more impressive to me.  The ladies are unique and talented.    With a nod of appreciation to Beggars, my vote goes to Glittering Kingdom.

Final Vote Tally:

Beggars                         22

Glittering Kingdom      14


Something Big Ahead!

          My next Battle will be the start of series of Battles related to my Blogging from A to Z April Challenge theme.   On March 15th I will be introducing my April theme with an appropriately themed music Battle.  Later, in April, I will have two more Battles also related to my A to Z theme.  I'll provide more details and the story behind the theme in my March 15th post.  If you haven't signed up for the April event you might want to reconsider if you've decided against doing it.  If you don't know what I'm talking about please visit The A to Z Blog for more information.

         There will be more between now and my next Battle--maybe a bit of controversy along with a lighter post with a musical theme.  Nothing has been written yet so I can't tell you exactly what will happen, but I think something will happen.  And if it doesn't then just be here for my next Battle of the Bands post on March 15th.  

          Were you a fan of Grand Funk Railroad?    Are you a Leonard Cohen fan?   Do you dread when someone uses a Cohen song for a BOTB post?


66 comments:

  1. I love Grand Funk RR. I saw Mark Farner in 1995 playing with Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band. That was an awesome show with big name musicians playing in the same band. I'm not all that familiar with Leonard Cohen songs at all. I don't even think I could name one off the top of my head.

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    1. JoJo, that Ringo's All Stars tour came to L.A. too. I'd like to have gone, but wasn't able too. I still like listening to Grand Funk's music now and then. They were a good band.

      Lee

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  2. He went on to do Christian music - good for him! Sounds like that evening with him was worthwhile.
    I wouldn't go out of my way just to get an autograph or anything either. They're just people.

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    1. Alex, it was a great evening, but I lost a good chunk of money due to rushing the event too much to allow for proper promotion.

      Lee

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  3. Sorry I missed the vote Lee but my shoulders are very painful and am awaiting shots . MUST be ok for the A to Z.
    Loved the post today a good read.
    Yvonne.

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    1. Yvonne, by all means get in good shape for April since it can be a grueling time of blogging.

      Lee

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  4. I think Closer to Home might be my (and many other folks') favorite Grand Funk Railroad tune. Sounds like you had a meaningful encounter.

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    1. Tamara, "Closer to my Home" is a great song and was a big hit. I think my favorite album was the first one.

      Lee

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  5. I loved Grand Funk Railroad. A most excellent trio. I still have a couple of their albums. It's always nice when someone "famous" turns out to be nice person.

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    1. Bish, I wonder if Mark Farner was the same in his rock superstardom days? I can't imagine that he would have changed that much.

      Lee

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  6. I would be extremely awkward meeting a celebrity too. I'd probably just blush and smile.

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    1. Chrys, they are just people. If you really had something to say to them you probably would.

      Lee

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  7. It's always nice when a story like yours turned out so well. There's nothing more sad than finding out a celebrity is a bit of a dick.

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    1. Patricia, it seems like for PR purposes any celebrity would want to convey a good image, but I guess it could depend on the circumstance of a meeting.

      Lee

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  8. Lee, living in East Tennessee, as you know there is little opportunity to casually meet Hollywood status celebrities. Even the local celebs aren't easy to spot, but if I saw someone in passing then I wouldn't hesitate to say hello, introduce myself, and as for an autograph despite my normal reclusive self. I'm not shy, but somewhere over the years the life as a full time SAHM as made me a bit withdrawn. Your meeting and time spent with Farner sounds nice. It's great reading of well-known celebs who are actually humble. Those are the kinds of people I hope to cross my path. I'm glad you had that experience. It looks like I picked the winner in this round of BoTB. YAY, me! I'll be looking forward to your next showdown, as well as reading about your A-Z Theme choice. That's a good idea to tie these these two posts together. I may just have to do the same. :D Thanks for the inspiration!

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    1. Cathy, the concert I promoted was at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium--a lot of big acts have played there and elsewhere. Since my BOTB is related to my A-Z theme I have to do it this way because it makes sense.

      Lee

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  9. Meeting Baryshnikov was such a thrill I almost fainted, I saved Bobby Vinton's 'germs' (he shook my hand) in a tissue for years and neither time was I able to squeak a single word!

    I always liked Grand Funk - after CCR, of course;-) I'm glad you enjoyed dinner with Mark Farner, such a cool memory!

    Leonard Cohen has terrific taste in hats! He's an epic songwriter as well, with a voice that matches the intensity of his thoughts. He could easily have been the reason someone once said "Music is what feelings sound like".

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    1. Diedre, I'm not sure which would be worse: being so stricken and not saying anything or saying something really stupid.

      Lee

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  10. That is cool to meet a talented person who was also humble and kind. I remember some of Grand Funk's music.

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    1. Susan GK, GFR had a few monster hits and were maybe even bigger on the concert scene. That was back in the day when albums were important to a band's rise in stardom.

      Lee

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  11. Hello Arlee! I'm new here and a new participant in the A to Z challenge. I have two blogs on blogger, Party Vikings http://partyvikings.blogspot.com/ which was an old blog chronicling my rise to movie stardom. It and my acting career ended in 2011. I started a new blog because I was supposed to be more mature at http://stumblestandfly.blogspot.com/ but in truth, I miss being immature. I love blogging and maybe I'll reactivate the Vikings. Oh, I also have a blog for a children's book character, Ollie Bug, Adventure Spider at Ollie-bug.com. That's my short story. I'm happy to part of the challenge and would love to make some new friends! Now I have to go read your entries.

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    1. Serafini, glad to have you join us for this year's Challenge.

      Lee

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  12. H, Arlee, I'm not familiar with this artist, but then there are a lot of American singers and musicians that I don't know.

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    1. JL, I don't know how big GFR was outside the USA, but here they were a monster group in the 70's.

      Lee

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  13. Hi, Lee!

    That's an interesting "brush with greatness" story about meeting and working with Mark Farner and his 80s band. I have a related story for you. One of the greatest hits of the Shady Dell is a cover of Ben E. King's "I (Who Have Nothing)" by the Flint, Michigan, garage rock band Terry Knight & the Pack. As I'm sure you know, when the Pack disbanded, two of its members, drummer/vocalist Don Brewer and guitarist Farner, went on to form Grand Funk Railroad. From 1969 to 1972, Terry Knight was their manager, producer and promoter. From what I have heard and read, Knight wasn't what you would call a "nice guy," but there is no denying that he turned Grank Funk into one of the biggest name rock acts of the era.

    I was afraid those women and their squeeze box were going to catch up and overtake The Beggars. You got a tremendous response for your battle and it was a relatively close contest. Congratulations, Lee. I hope to see you at my next Version Sacrifice. I value your friendship and support.

    Thanks, Lee!

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    1. Shady, Yes, I'm familiar with Terry Knight and the Pack. In fact I have one of their albums (not sure how many they put out) which is pure 60's music through and through. Not too bad actually, but a far cry from GFR.

      Lee

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  14. I am happy to say that GFR was a bit before my time. But "We're an American Band" was still getting air play when I got into music in the late 1980's.

    I like several of Cohen's songs, most of which I found through YouTube.

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    1. EMan, I guess just about any Classic Rock station has at least "American Band" and a few others on their play list. GFR played some great power rock.

      Lee

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  15. Alright, QotM made it before BotB! I've made it in the world!

    Also, I've decided to use your trick of putting a link back to my blog in comments. I hope it's okay.

    A Life Examined

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    1. Michael, I encourage people to use that link so long as it actually takes us to an actual blog. It's so much easier to find the blog of the person who left the comment.

      Lee

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  16. This shows my ignorance...I know Grand funk Railroad and I know I have heard some of their songs but I can't. Put two and two together. It is cool how much he stood out for you. Looking forward to your A to Z reveal. I think any artist should be A Ok -there should not be any issues regardless what they sing or how they sing. If people are offended or annoyed or anything else, they just don't have to listen.

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    1. Birgit, anyone following the rock scene of the 70's should know GFR, but in a way they were a passing fad--a mega-group now relegated to the annals of rock history.

      Lee

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  17. Lee, growing up in Michigan I loved Grand Funk Railroad. Lots of great tunes that will live on a hundred years from now.

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    1. Stephen, that's right--the group originally hailed from Michigan. Someday I guess there might be a revival of their music, but now I don't hear it much.

      Lee

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  18. I like hearing stories of celebrities who are humble and kind despite their status. People who don't let fame get to their heads are worthy of admiration.

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    1. Elizabeth, just real down-to-earth people is good. A star today might be a has-been tomorrow and they should consider that in how they treat others.

      Lee

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  19. I met Jimi Hendrix at L'Hibou Coffee House. He was in town for a concert and came to the L'Hibou to record Joni Mitchell who was performing. I worked as an impressario of sorts for several years and met some astounding young classical musicians. Among my faves were Jamie Parker, Chia Chou, Angelle Dubeau and Chantal Juillet. I also got to spend time with the amazing singer-songwriter Stan Rogers who died in 1983 in a terrible plane accident. All of these people were humble and generous including Jimi! He is the only one I went up to and I'm very happy l did as it has given me lots of cred with the youth l council.

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    1. Jan, Hendrix is such a legend now. Cool that you got to meet him.

      Lee

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  20. Never even heard of Grand Funk Railroad haha but always good when they turn out to be nice guys indeed.

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    1. Pat, you must have been a child in the 70's or not born yet. Or maybe you weren't following the rock scene then? I'm sure you'd recognize their hits if you heard them.

      Lee

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  21. I loved Grand Funk Railroad and had a few of their albums, but never got to a concert. As for Leonard Cohen, I was hooked on his voice and music from the moment that I heard his debut album, which my sister had. Some truly memorable tracks on that, like "Suzanne"'

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    1. Roland, I learned about Cohen's music through hearing others cover them. When I first heard him I didn't care much for him, but I've come to appreciate him over the years.

      Lee

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  22. I get to meet a lot well-known writers when attending conferences and conventions, but the most memorable was William Kent Krueger. He and his wife won the hearts of Coloradoans a couple of years ago at the Colorado Gold Conference in Denver. In addition to being an awesome mystery writer, he is a genuinely nice person.

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    1. Patricia, I guess part of the draw of many of the writing events is that we get to meet accomplished writers and those who are established in the field of publishing.

      Lee

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  23. Great story about meeting Mark Farner. Grand Funk Railroad had some good tunes. I'm not one for approaching celebrities either, but we did bump into Debbie Allen of "Fame"fame and her husband while touring Pompeii in 1990.

    I'm a huge Leonard Cohen fan and think he's absolutely brilliant! There are also some excellent covers of his songs out there, including the two you presented. I'm glad The Beggars won, though. ☺ Looking forward to your A to Z tie-ins with BOTB. That takes a lot of planning! Wish I were better at multi-tasking like that. Cheers!

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    1. Debbie D, many celebrities I probably wouldn't even recognize. There are indeed a lot of Cohen covers. Just for the song "The Future" I found so many interesting ones that I'm considering using the song again someday--in the future.

      Lee

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  24. I love Grand Funk Railroad!! I'm still heartbroken by giving away the gold vinyl that I had of their We're An American Band album! So stupid was I when I gave away all those amazing records...
    Very cool that you met Mark Farner!

    Michele at Angels Bark

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    1. Michele, What'd you give it away for! That song was a huge hit.

      Lee

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    2. I know! I was in the middle of moving and frustrated, exasperated. I was just getting rid of stuff and I gave all the albums away when I donated my gym. I'm so sorry for it now. I think about it all the time! dumb dumb dumb! It was done in a hasty moment for sure...

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    3. Michele, oh well, it's just stuff. I think about stuff I know longer have and kind of wish I still had it, but then again it would just be taking up space along with all the other stuff that just sits here.

      Lee

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  25. This was an interesting song choice. I had a feeling my pick was not going to be the winner, but it's nice to know we both picked the same version. I haven't really had any big run ins with celebrities, excluding meeting a few Doctor Who and Star Trek celebrities at autograph signings.

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    1. Jeffrey, I guess those celebrities are pretty notable.

      Lee

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  26. Cohen is a favorite. I like a good many of his songs. I'm glad the Beggars won!

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    1. Dixie, good to hear that you like Cohen since I've got more to come.

      Lee

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  27. While I like Grand Funk Railroad too, I'd like to address the question you answered, Lee. I met Mary Higgins Clark early on and had her sign my book. I've read all her stories and learned a lot about plot and pacing. I remember bringing her some flowers I had just bought from a vendor in Philadelphia. Yea...that was cool!

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    1. Victoria, it's pretty cool that you were thoughtful enough to bring Ms. Clark flowers. I'll bet that hasn't happened to often with her from her fans. Maybe though--I don't know.

      Lee

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  28. Yay for The Beggars. Those girls are too weird. I like most Cohen, but this song is weird and a downer to boot. Come to think of it, maybe the weird girls should have taken it. Ha!

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    1. FAE, I think the ladies are very talented and they delivered a unique sound in my opinion. Of course the song is a downer--it's about a future that is murder and in many ways this looks like where the world is going. The lyrical content reminds me of those stories about the Tribulation as depicted in the Left Behind series.

      Lee

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  29. It's so hard to pick a celebrity or an idol. If I could pick who to see I think I'd have lunch with more an artist type. Robert Rauschenberg would be someone I would have loved to have lunch with.

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    1. Alissa, is he still alive? I don't remember what his art was like, but just know that he is/was an artist.

      Lee

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  30. Wow, what a great story!!! I would imagine many people would feel shy or at least intimidated when meeting a celebrity. I know I would.

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    1. Jaclyn, meeting a celebrity is like meeting anyone new if you try to push the celebrity aspect to be back of your mind as much as possible. Sometimes I have to really push myself and step out of my comfort zone in meeting anyone new to me.

      Lee

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  31. I've met a few Christian artists like Switchfoot, but I've never really gone out of my way to meet them. Mostly my church was hosting their concert and I got to help with the setup and take down.

    I did want to meet John Rhys-Davies at a local comic con. I waited in line through the break and they wouldn't let me go see him because I didn't have cash on hand. The comic con staff told me to wait and come back when there wasn't much of a line. That frustrated me because I had got in line when there wasn't much of a line and waited an hour. I never did get to meet him.

    I did get to meet Nicholas Brendon at the comic con. He was wearing sunglasses and I thought that was odd. I discovered later it was because he was arrested the night before. I also got to meet Claire Coffee (super sweet lady) and Nichelle Nichols, though Ms. Nichols didn't appear interested in socializing.

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    1. Loni, I don't like the idea of waiting in a line to meet anybody and I don't imagine I'd ever pay to do it unless I really wanted their book or something like that. It must be kind of weird to have people waiting to meet you when you'd rather just be doing something else.

      Lee

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  32. Your celebrity encouter sounds very nice. You got to have dinner and really converse with him on a person-to-person level, not a celebrity to commoner level (eventhough we all know celebs are just people). I'm glad he was humble and nice to talk to.

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Go ahead and say something. Don't be afraid to speak your mind.
I normally try to respond to all comments in the comment section so please remember to check the "Email follow-up comments" box if you want to participate in the comment conversation.

For Battle of the Bands voting the "Anonymous" commenting option has been made available though this version is the least preferred. If voting using "anonymous" please include in your comment your name (first only is okay) and city you are voting from and the reason you chose the artist you did.

If you know me and want to comment but don't want to do it here, then you can send me an email @ jacksonlee51 at aol dot com.

Lee