I can’t believe exactly one year ago today I met the incomparable Michael Feinstein, and watched him perform with the Cincinnati Pops.
Feinstein and us concert-goers braved the 105 degree heat at Riverbend, an outdoor amphitheater along the banks of the Ohio River, to share our love of Sinatra’s classics.
Feinstein prides himself on keeping the golden age of music and The Great American Songbook alive, and inspiring younger generations to embrace the music of the past.
Michael is also a gifted storyteller, recalling the moments and people of his past, in-between singing songs at his concert that night.
He told of a performance he gave at a young age for Barbara Sinatra’s birthday at a cabaret bar. Sinatra himself was there along with a myriad of stars. Feinstein decided to sing an old non-descript Sinatra song, instead of a cliche, to make himself seem worldly. Afterward, Sinatra approached him with a funny look on his face and said, “You know kid, I always hated performing that song." Whoops!
Mr. Feinstein had many other funny moments during the performance:
- The recounting of Cole Porter, his favorite song writer
- His Liberace impersonation…"HELLO!"
- Telling those of us in the audience that the song he was about to play has a “Jew-y" sound to the chorus, but even still “the chorus is surprisingly Gentile."
- Describing the time he and his close friend, THE Liza Minnelli, went to Sammy Davis Jr’s house for dinner. Michael asked Sammy if he had white wine to drink. Sammy replies, ”Oh, we got all color wine in this house!”
As the fireflies came out, Feinstein shared a heartfelt sentiment with the crowd about how he always likes to include at least one Rosemary Clooney song in his shows.
Feinstein met Rosemary Clooney when he was a musical assistant to her next-door neighbor, Ira Gershwin, and the two became fast friends.
He reminisced that the last time he visited Riverbend to perform was in June of 2002. Nick and Nina Clooney were in the audience that night and it was during that show that the news broke of Rosemary’s death.
He sang a tender and soulful version of “I Remember You” in tribute that sad night in 2002, and decided since he was back in Cincinnati that he would sing it once again for us.
The whole night Feinstein performed beautifully…“All I Need Is the Girl,” “I Wanna Be Around,” “What Kind of Fool Am I?” “So Lucky to Be Loving You,” a 1950s Nelson Riddle swing style of, “Begin the Beguine," a soft-breathed ballad version of “Fly Me to the Moon," and big show-stoppers like “Luck be a Lady."
For Michael’s finale, he sang “For Once In My Lifetime." Then got such rousing applause, he continued with an encore of the classic “Lady is a Tramp," and brought down the house with a stand-on-the-piano, audience-sing-along of Frank’s timeless “New York, New York."
Getting to meet him, and his long-time partner Terrence Flannery, was definitely the highlight. Michael Feinstein is such a consummate performer, classic entertainer, and an all-around, joyous & genuinely kind human being.
Truly a living legend!