There is nothing like listening to some great live music to take your mind off of the political turmoil for a while. Late Thursday morning we drove into downtown Mesa to do just that, at the outdoor noon-hour concert series sponsored by the Mesa Arts Centre. I think I’ve mentioned these wonderful free concerts before. The performer this week was highly promoted by our neighbour Jan, and our expectations were high. We weren’t disappointed!
After picking up a take-out lunch at our favourite little café, Sweet Cakes, we walked to the Arts Centre to where the stage and seating were set up. It was only 11:30 and the concert didn’t begin until 12:30, but the best seating was already filled! We managed to grab a couple of chairs that weren’t too far away from the stage, but sadly not facing it. While we waited for the show to begin, we enjoyed our very thick turkey-on-(freshly baked) sourdough, side salad and still-warm chocolate chip cookie. Yumm.
At 12:30 the Honky-Tonk Rebel (a.k.a. Mario Carboni) appeared on stage with his keyboard and trumpet. With a bit of introduction, he started to play and he blew our minds. This young man, who started to play at a very young age, had his fingers speeding across the keys in a blur; and then his rich country voice filled the air. The sound system was perfect; no problem hearing every note from wherever you sat. I wish I could remember all of the songs he performed, but I was mesmerized by those fingers on the keyboard. He has an eclectic play list, everything from honky-tonk country, to truck driving songs, rock and roll and classical. I’ve never heard “The Flight of the Bumblebee” played so perfectly and fast! He did many cover rearrangements and many of his own songs, with a tad humour thrown in once in a while. For a couple of numbers he played his trumpet and keyboard at the same time, without missing a beat. The crowd roared, and at the end of the one-hour performance gave him a standing ovation. The host invited him to do an encore, much to our delight. When the show was over, Mario greeted fans with a smile and a chat while we lined up with our newly purchased CDs in our hands, looking for an autograph. He’ll be on tour across the US and back up to Alaska, where he spends his summers performing, most of this year. Check him out at www.honkytonkrebel.com/ .
Jimmy Phillips, former drummer with Merle Haggard, Red Simpson and several other “Bakersfield Sound” Country stars, joined Mario on stage for a couple of songs.
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