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Melanie at the Largo Cultural Center, Largo, FL, September 27, 2003

Well, I'm back from a trip down to Largo, Florida, to see Melanie, and this is my report. For some of you, a few things will be a repeat because of Michael Schneider's report, but I'm writing for several lists, so some of you will see it first here.

My wife Linda and I arrived Friday evening at our hotel in Largo. Wendy (babyday) and her husband Desi were going to stay at the same hotel, but were running late, so we checked in for them as well, so they could just come to our room and get their room key. They finally arrived at about 5 or 6 on Saturday morning, so they spent the first half of the day sleeping. Linda and I wanted to do something, so we looked at the tourist brochure the hotel clerk gave us, and finally decided on the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. So we went out there and had a good time petting sting rays, watching presentations about marine life, and watching a dolphin perform. Most of the fish and mammals at the Clearwater aquarium are "rescued" animals that have been nursed back to health, but would be unable to survive in the wild.

While we were at the aquarium, I called Andrew Jason on my cell phone, and he said that he would be at the concert, but would not make it to the dinner many of us "list fans" were planning before the show.

After our visit at the aquarium, Linda and I had lunch at a small restaurant and went back to our hotel. Wendy and Desi were awake by this time, and Wendy had heard from both Darlene (hippygrl) and Kari (munkeyonskates). Kari had flown in from Iowa, and Darlene had been providing transportation for her, but Darlene was not going to be able to come to the dinner before the show either, so Linda and I agreed to pick up Kari. As it turned out, Kari's hotel was very close to the aquarium, so we could have got her when we were there. Oh, well....

We went back to our room, got ready, and left to get Kari. We took her back to our hotel because we wanted to take Wendy, Desi, and Kari in our car to the dinner and concert. We got our camera gear together, got in the car, and were off to the dinner before the show.

When we got there, we found Michael Schneider outside the restauant. I hadn't seen him since Melanie's "birthday bash" in February '99, but he looked much the same. He was there with a friend, also a German, but who lived in Fort Lauderdale (I think). We went inside and met other Melanie friends. Eventually, we had, at the dinner, Michael and his friend, Dean and Ed from Charlotte, Jim Baldwin, Wendy and Desi, Kari, and of course Linda and I. Ed had made some beautiful buttons with Melanie's picture on them (not all the same picture), and the words "Beautiful People". And either Dean or Ed (not sure which) had made Wendy a beautiful T-shirt with Melanie's picture on the front, and the words "Take you an apple... Take you a song..." on the back. And Michael had brought many European Melanie CD's with him, and some of her Christmas CD too, and was selling them at cost to other people at the table. I already had them all, though.

After a wonderful dinner together, we headed for the venue. I missed it on the way out and had to turn around, but then found it. We went in and browsed around in the foyer for a while. I found Debra Stager (with the tattoo of Melanie on her arm) and talked with her a bit. There was a table setup for selling CD's, and manning it was Leilah's former husband Greg. But (sigh) there were no new CD's for sale, though. I had hoped there would be a pre-release of Melanie's new CD, "Paled By Dimmer Light".

The opening act before Melanie was a guirarist named Keith Knight. He was good, but I missed most of his act, because I was waiting out in the foyer for Andrew Jason, since I had his ticket. Finally I gave up and gave the ticket to the lady taking them and told her who it was for, because I didn't want to miss Melanie! As it turned out, Andrew made it, and only missed Melanie's first song.

Linda and I, Wendy and Desi, and Kari all had front row seats. Michael Schneider was also there a few seats down the row. We were hoping that Melanie would sing "People In The Front Row", but she didn't.

When it was Melanie's turn, Beau came out first, started up his "band in a box", and then Melanie came out to applause from the audience, and they launched into "Jamin' Alone". They also had a percussionist, Norbert, who had a wide array of instruments to play on. He was very good, and what's more amazing is that later on Melanie said it was his first performance on stage. And Melanie was just fantastic! Her voice was every bit as good as in Charlotte (in August), and her performance even more inspiring.

I didn't write down the songs, but I know she did "To Be The One" and "Extraordinary" from the new CD, and I think another new one. She also did one of her Christmas songs, "Tonight's The Kind of Night", and said that Sigourney Weaver would be doing it in a movie soon. That is great news, and I hope Melanie gets some publicity from it.

She brought her granddaughter Chiristianah on stage for a song to sing along in the background. Christianah seemed tired, like she had had a long day, but did the best she could. She's a very charming little girl. And then, in what was supposed to be a surprise, Leilah (Christianah's mother and Melanie's daughter) came out to sing background on some songs. (A few of us already had found out that Leilah would be there, but I'm sure it was a surprise for most.)

Melanie did "Look What" near the end of the show, and made it seem like it was the end, but came back to do several encores. One of them was "Lay Down", and it was just wonderful with Beau, Leilah, Christianah, and the Norbert all joining in. Over all, this was one of the best Melanie concerts I've been to.

There was an intermission in the show, and during that I found Darlene (hippygrl) and Patti Petow and talked to them a bit. Patti told me that after the show she wanted to take pictures of all the fans that came from outside the Largo area, but I never saw her again after the intermission. And after the show, I was too absorbed in all that was going on to remember to take a group shot myself, like I had wanted to do. But I did take several pictures at the dinner before the show, during the show (mostly available light shots), and after the show.

After the show, Melanie was at a table, signing things for people as usual. Kari had read in my Charlotte concert report how Linda had given her cell phone to Melanie so she could talk to Wendy, and wanted me to do the same for her friend Randy. So she borrowed a cell phone (mine didn't work to good inside the venue) and this time I gave it to Melanie, so Randy could talk with her. I have a feeling that Peter is going to be banning cell phones if he sees Linda and I at the concert. :-)

This was a wonderful show, and a wonderful after-concert time as well. One of the personal highlights for me was that Debra gave Linda and I an anniversary gift (our anniversary is October 13) that her friend Kathy (who passed away recently) had picked out. I had invited them to the wedding, but they couldn't make it.

The next day Wendy and Desi followed Linda and I back to Georgia and stayed at our house for the night. It was much cooler and dryer in Stone Mountain than it had been in Largo, for which Wendy was very thankful. Today they continue their journey to Minnesota to see Wendy's relatives. They had originally planned only a trip to Minnesota, but we talked them into taking a detour to Florida for the concert and the visit with us. That's quite a detour, but I have a feeling Wendy doesn't regret it.

The pictures from this concert are here.

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