August 16, 2018

The 5 Hours I Spent with Madonna & Praises on Her 60th Birthday by Ron Roecker


When Madonna was confirmed to open the GRAMMY Awards with the Gorillaz, media outlets scrambled to get access to her. Ellen Degeneres, who was taping her TV show backstage at the GRAMMYs, wanted Madonna for her very first appearance. MTV decided to bestow the first ever Artist of the Century Award on the Queen of Pop. And, once that disco ball got rolling, every honor and excuse anyone could think of was shamelessly presented. Eventually, there were about 5 hours-worth of activities that Madonna’s publicist and manager agreed to and it was all taking place backstage on GRAMMY night.
“Ron, need you to take care of Madonna for a few hours after she performs. Meet her backstage after ‘Hung Up.’” And then Beautiful Stranger Liz Rosenberg, Madonna’s long-time publicist, well, hung up.

I know, it didn’t really seem like a request to me, either. But I did have to think about the professional implications of being gone 5 hours since I was, you know, VICE PRESIDENT OF COMMUNICATIONS AND MEDIA RELATIONS FOR THE GRAMMY AWARDS!

Oh, Father, I also had to think about the personal implications: Spend 5 hours with Madonna? The woman to whom I had always felt some sort of familial connection, as did other boys who loved to sing her songs and wear a bangle bracelet or two? My Lucky Star. My Ray of Light. The biggest celebrity in the entire material world who I had never met but who somehow knew me so well?  Just thinking about it made me feel like I simply could just Die another Day!

But wait, Keep it Together! What if she really lives up to all the horrible things she’s been called and of which she has been accused? Will she be Causin’ a Commotion, bringing nothing but dark clouds and Rain or worst yet, will I even Live to Tell about it?
I mean, I agreed to do it, I’m not stupid…

Leading up to M-Day, I kept asking the universe, God, can you send me a sign or Like a Prayer or something, so I know how to handle whichever version of Madonna was the real one: the Angel or Frozen Queen? Regardless, I decided I was just going to do a great job and treat her with kindness, like a real human being.

The night of the show, Madonna was killing it on stage with the Gorillaz and everyone in the arena was going gorillash*t for Madonna. It suddenly was about 4 Minutes until her Madgesty would be coming off stage and I would either fall Deeper and Deeper or become Borderline cray cray.

After the arena erupted, I saw the toe of her first boot come very close to touching the top stair and then I watched, in slow motion, Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone float down the stairs and grab my outstretched hand.

Hi, I’m…
“We have a busy night…”

As Madonna and I walked, I started briefing her on the schedule of events and asked if there was anything she needed. “If you get me to where I need to be and tell me what I’m there to do before they get ahold of me, then we’re good.”

We finished our discussion in Madonna’s dressing room (which was very cool btw) while her entourage, which was only her manager, publicist, makeup person, stylist, personal assistant, and one or two other people who kept trying to appear very busy, were standing in the hallway. I smiled nervously at the security guard who was holding Madonna’s door open and out of  the corner of my eye I spotted HIM. HE was walking toward us. Surely I couldn’t ask. It’s too soon. We just met. Liz would have me for lunch. But Don’t Cry for Me Argentina, he’s gonna pass us by!! You have one shot! Express Yourself.

“Madonna, is it ok if our photographer snaps a pic of us real quick?”
“He’s your guy?”
“Yes!”
“Sure.”

As the flash bulbs were popping around us like glitter from a machine gun, I started hearing: “Greta Garbo and Monroe. Dietrich and DiMaggio..Roecker, Ron Madonna too…OMG she just took it witchu!”

I walked out into the hallway Like a Virgin who no longer was. “Rick, thank you for the picture I will Cherish it forever. Please don’t tell Liz and it’s our little Secret! OMG, please tell me my eyes were open…”


Madonna took no time at all to change and we were off again. (No complaining, no pouting, no tantrum). She looked amazing and I felt like I was taking the most popular gal to Prom.

Things got really surreal really quick as I started noticing that everyone we walked by stopped whatever they were doing to see if what they thought they were seeing was real. It didn’t matter if they were a stagehand, the hot dog vendor or Beyonce, everyone stopped, got really nervous and then just stood there chatting like little girls: “Who’s that Girl?” Wait, what? Is that Madonna?” “That’s MADONNA!” Artists who were the flavor of that year, who were throwing out demands like feed to pigs, became wide-eyed and smitten.

I watched how the crowds parted, how security guards straightened up when they realized they were so close to greatness. I am certain if there were Pixar horses and bunnies and cute little drunken weasels lining the sides of our path they would all bow to their Queen who floated by with adoration.
Madonna saw my face as I was trying to take it all in and figure it out. “You get used to it. It’s when they yell bad things or talk sh*t about my family. That’s the hard part.” (She has feelings?!)

Among other surprises, I couldn’t believe how tiny Madonna was – petite but strong. Her features were much softer in person and her eyes were mesmorizing. Big, blue and beautiful.  She was stunning. Not a classic beauty. Stunning.

But what you couldn’t see, you could feel: Greatness. That’s the only way I can explain it. When she walked by, the backstage seemed to get and feel smaller. She was dripping in “that special something” that has been associated with Barbra, Michael, Elvis, Cher…call it charisma, call it presence but it certainly was palpable. As I stood next to her, I could sense the light that was streaming continuously through her. It was electric.
We got to Ellen’s taping a little early. “Vogue” started playing from the giant speakers and I said to Madonna, “Pretty catchy tune.” Without missing a beat, she replied, “One hit wonder at best.”

I was telling Madonna where she was supposed to sit, etc. when suddenly two long wooden Q-tips came soaring up from the ground and were shoved into Madonna’s nostrils. They spun around and quickly disappeared as if none of it had ever happened. In my head I was screaming WTF? WTF?  But my cool facade was saying, “that happens all the time.”  Madonna didn’t flinch. I thought, “Wow, I wonder how much that little M-DNA would go for on eBay…:

The makeup person was called over and told that two of the dozens of Swarovski crystals that lined Madonna’s upper eyelids had fallen off and needed to be replaced. I squinted at her eyelid and noticed how tiny the glued crystals were –maybe 2-3 times the size of a pin head? How could she tell that 2 (not 3 or 7) but 2 of 60 tiny little droplet crystals needed to be replaced?  

“Looks like you have one missing from each lid,” Makeup Artist. “Yes, I know.” - Madonna

“No pictures, please, Madonna does not do any pictures, thank you,” I heard Liz yell as some enthusiastic fan came running toward us but was immediately turned back to her seat.

So, no missing bling (check). No boogers (check). No pictures (check). Madonna was aware and in control of absolutely everything. Surprisingly it never seemed she was doing it out of vanity but more out of responsibility. Maybe even duty. She had a role to play and an audience that paid so she was going to make sure they got their monies worth all the time.

But everything has a price and there were times that the gawking crowd would become more aggressive for whatever reason. I noticed it usually happened when we had to stop and wait for set pieces to be rolled by or security to unlock an elevator. Perhaps people somehow felt she should constantly be doing tricks for them. They’d lose their sense of humanity and forget she was human. Commenting on her music, her last album, her feathered hair. Her family, her love life. Good and bad. Asking about politics. Her age. Talking about her as brutally and as hurtful as insecure bullies screaming instructions and insults at a caged monkey.

Throughout the night. Madonna and I talked about how we both were from Michigan, whether we called a Coke a pop or a soda. We talked about her GRAMMY wins which she seemed so proud of because it meant she was finally respected as an artist.

By the time our journey was over, she had received 4-5 awards and had talked with hundreds of people. She had two costume changes and she would soon have a picture of the two of us.

I turned to Madonna who put out her hand, “Thanks for taking care of me. You’re really good at your job.”

It was the greatest thing she could have said. Before I knew it, I hugged her. She kissed me quickly on the cheek then pointed out the lipstick she had left on my face. For some reason I quickly scrubbed it off with my sleeve as if I had just been kissing someone right as the principle was walking by. Justify My Love.

All the way home, I tried to figure out why she was still so polarizing. She is one of the few long-term artists who has never gone to rehab, never been arrested, never been photographed sloppy drunk. But people will either fall on the sword for her or chase her out of town with it.

I thought about all the things she represented over the years, all her successes, all the barriers and taboos she destroyed and all the important discussions she made people have. She has been in control of her image, brand, career, missteps, opinions, beliefs, wins, losses. All of it. She supported the LGBT community when it wasn’t ok to do and human rights when others didn’t care. Women’s rights. Reproductive rights. And more. She is a business woman, writer, singer, songwriter, dancer, director, fashion designer, mother, mogul. She’s the top-selling female artist of all time. She has more Top 10 hits and more #1 Dance hits than any artist (male or female) in history. Madonna is the highest-grossing solo touring artist (of both male and female) of all time and the only female artist in the top six of all-time highest-grossing acts (RollingStones, U2, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Bon Jovi).

Then it hit me. Madonna is so polarizing because she has affected a lot of change and because she’s been incredibly successful. And she’s a woman. She’s a powerful, rich woman who has helped girls and women believe in their bodies and embrace their sexuality. She has made two men kissing not as shocking. She has taken on Russia, built hospitals in third world countries where there were none. She adopted four children as a single mother. Yes, people who hate change or fear differences or lack education or don’t understand the Constitution probably cry themselves to sleep every night because of Madonna: “This Used to be My Playground…” So, thank you, Madonna!

In Celebration of your 60th Birthday, I hope it’s an amazing Holiday. I am grateful for our picture and, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for not letting me down.

Crazy for You, Ron


August 8, 2018

"HOW TO TURN STAGE FRIGHT INTO MAGNETISM" WITH HOLLY SHAW THURSDAY, AUG 9, FOR CREATIVES IN ENTERTAINMENT AND MUSIC

So one of my amazing new friends is Holly Shaw -- she is an amazing on-air personality, trainer and coach and guru for anyone trying to make a living as a creative person in the entertainment or music industries right now.
I just got word she is offering up an awesome opportunity to GET OVER STAGE FRIGHT!! IT IS TOMORROW (THURSDAY, AUG 9) SO GET ON IT TODAY!! You will LOVE her, her passion and her wisdom!! To find out more, she also hosts a very popular podcast found on ITunes called the Performers & Creators Lab. I that weren't enough, she's also a best-selling author. Am I in good company or what?!

Here is the Eventbrite link: 

June 11, 2018

I Have Never Accepted Anyone Different than I


My 30th high school reunion is coming up and it has given me pause to think about what I have learned about loving people and learning from people.
The way my sister and I were raised had nothing to do with acceptance. Because "acceptance" means you have to make a conscious decision to "accept." The way I grew up was to find "those people" who made me laugh hysterically, who made me shine, who had my back, who I could be the champion of and who would be the champion of me, who would be loyal and to whom I would be loyal, to whom I could ask questions as well as provide answers, who 30 years later I could say "Purple Rain" or "Holiday" and we all would be right back there together...with wine coolers in hand!
I have friends of color, friends who are LGBT+, friends who are conservative, transgender, liberal, republican, democrat, straight, curious, mixed, single, married, Christian, Jewish, Catholic, Agnostic, spiritual and more. I have friends who piss me off at times and who I disappoint. I have friends who I haven't talked to for a year but the moment I do, it's like no time has passed (and yet we don't depend on the past to keep our connection).
I have been asked throughout my life if my acceptance is genuine -- because, as a white man with privilege (even though I'm gay), how can I understand anything but? I have been asked "how can you truly accept someone who is so different?"
In this world that challenges and questions "acceptance," I only can say that I did not choose to "accept" you.
At 48 years old, I still don't "accept" anything in life. I try to embrace it.
So everyone that I have met, everyone who is my friend, family or colleague...even those who do not agree with me on whatever level, I tell you that I do not and I have never had to "accept" you. You were given to me because you make my life better, stronger, smarter, harder and easier in whatever way you were meant to do. For me it has never been about whether or not I accept you, it's whether or not I can love you, appreciate you, laugh with you, learn from you and stand by you.

May 31, 2018

GRAMMY CHIEF NEIL PORTNOW TO EXIT IN 2019

SANTA MONICA, CALIF. (MAY 31, 2018) — The Recording Academy™ announced today that President/CEO Neil Portnow will begin preparing for a leadership transition after choosing not to seek an extension on his current contract, which expires in July 2019. Portnow shared his plans at the Recording Academy's semi-annual Board of Trustees meeting last week. Throughout the next year, Portnow will work with the Board to chart out an organizational succession and transition plan, while continuing his current work as active President/CEO of the Recording Academy and MusiCares®, and Chair of the Board of the GRAMMY Museum®.

"The evolution of industries, institutions, and organizations is ultimately the key to their relevance, longevity, and success," said Portnow. "Having been a member of the Recording Academy for four decades, serving as an elected leader and our President/CEO, I have not only witnessed our evolution, but proudly contributed significantly to the Academy's growth and stature in the world. When I had the honor of being selected to lead this great organization in 2002, I vowed that on my watch, for the first time in our history, we would have a thoughtful, well-planned, and collegial transition. With a little more than a year remaining on my current contract, I've decided that this is an appropriate time to deliver on that promise. Accordingly, I'll be working with our Board to put the various elements in place that will ensure transparency, best practices, and the Academy's ability to find the very best, brightest, and qualified leadership to take us into our seventh decade of operation. I truly look forward to continuing my role leading the Academy in the year ahead, and to continuing the pursuit of excellence and the fine missions we embrace and deliver."

Portnow, who, prior to serving as President/CEO, served on the Recording Academy's Board of Trustees, is largely credited with strengthening the Recording Academy's financial health and brand.

"Since taking the helm in 2002, Neil has been instrumental in evolving the Recording Academy to address the needs of our creative community in a changing music landscape," said John Poppo, Chair of the Board. "From critically-important music advocacy initiatives and financial assistance for our music community, to the music education and preservation programs of the GRAMMY Museum and GRAMMY Music Education Coalition, Neil has not only advanced the Academy's mission, he's extended its reach and impact. The Board and I are indebted to Neil for his years of heartful stewardship and visionary leadership. And, as we thank him for all he's done, we also look forward to finding the right person to build on our solid foundation as the Recording Academy continues its work to ensure that music and the recording arts remain a thriving part of our cultural heritage."

Key milestones achieved under Portnow's 16-year tenure include:
  • The Recording Academy established advocacy as a hallmark of its Washington, D.C., office, giving music creators a voice on Capitol Hill, and stressing the need to update federal music laws, especially in the wake of the digital music revolution. Last month, after 15 years of advocacy work, and on the heels of the organization's GRAMMYs on the Hill Awards and Advocacy Day, the Music Modernization Act, which helps bring copyright laws and artist protection into the 21st century, was passed in the House of Representatives and introduced in the Senate.
  • As the Recording Academy's leading charity, MusiCares provided more than $5.9 million to 7,900 members of the music industry in the last fiscal year alone—the largest number of clients served and dollars distributed in a single year in the charity's history—and anticipates it will provide $6.3 million to nearly 9,000 members of the music industry this fiscal year, again reaching new milestones. Since its inception in 1989, MusiCares has distributed approximately $60 million to music people in need. During Portnow's tenure, MusiCares provided relief efforts to the music community impacted by Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Harvey, and the recent natural disasters in Florida, Puerto Rico, and California.
  • As a part of Portnow's vision of preserving, crafting, and sharing music stories with people around the world, and amplifying the Recording Academy's already robust, innovative, and impactful music education programs for youth, the Recording Academy established the first GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles in 2008. The Museum has since expanded its presence domestically and internationally.
  • Portnow oversaw a landmark 10-year broadcast deal with CBS to keep the show—one of television's major entertainment events, ranking as one of the highest-rated and most-watched specials—on CBS through 2026. 
  • In addition to presiding over the GRAMMY Awards®, Portnow expanded the Recording Academy's telecast portfolio, more than tripling the organization's television footprint, with a number of new specials, including GRAMMY Salutes to Elton John, the Bee Gees, Stevie Wonder, the Beatles, and Whitney Houston, as well as the PBS "Great Performances" series honoring GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award and Special Merit Award recipients.
  • In 2017, the GRAMMY Music Education Coalition united more than 30 of the nation's most forward-thinking music education organizations with the goal of increasing the number of youth actively participating in creating, playing, and performing music in U.S. public schools.
  • After 58 years of traditional balloting, the GRAMMY Awards successfully moved to an online voting platform.
Portnow is the longest serving President in the Recording Academy's 60-year history.

May 23, 2018

Ron Roecker and Digital Hollywood


So thrilled to have been asked to moderate this Micro-Influencer panel for "An Instagram Deep Dive" at Digital Hollywood tomorrow!!
DIGITAL HOLLYWOOD (May 24, 2018)
1:00 – 1:45 PM, Herscher Hall, Guerin A, Webcast Live
An Instagram Deep Dive (Ron W Roecker, Moderator)
• How to leverage your brand as an influencer to thrive.
• An in-depth look into crafting your Instagram profile, goals, strategy, and content themes.
• The latest on the algorithm and feature changes.
• How to manage your audience and build a strong community
Brad Wayne, @bradskiibeats
Hector Fonseca, @djhectorfonseca
Sara Mills, Head of Creator Relations, Tinysponsor, @saraontheinternet

#ronroecker #digitalhollywood #instagram #influencer

April 17, 2018

A Famous Celeb Called Me Out on the Way I Keep My Fruit




So I had a friend of mine over to my house who technically is a "famous person," who shall go unnamed. He pointed out that I had a bowl full of lemons, limes, avocado, apples, oranges and more on my kitchen counter. He pointed out that this was the worst case scenario. So I did some research...in hopes that I could prove him WRONG...

"Almost all fruits and vegetables produce invisible and odorless ethylene gas, “the ripening hormone.” Fruits that produce ethylene gas in larger quantities ripen faster as a result of concentrated exposure. Other fruits aren’t as affected by ethylene gas, and can be stored with apples and other ethylene-producing fruits. The issue is more complex than simply sorting your fruits, though. Exposure to ripe or overripe fruits can cause vegetables to rapidly decay.

Most fruits can be safely stored together, though one piece of overripe fruit will cause the rest to go bad more quickly. By refrigerating some high-ethylene fruits, you can slow their ripening and enjoy them longer. Fruits that can be refrigerated include apples, apricots, cantaloupe, figs and honeydew melons. Contain them in perforated plastic bags or breathable storage containers to keep them from exchanging aromas and flavors; apples are major offenders here. You can safely store these with fruits such as cherries, blueberries and citrus, but keep them well away from watermelons.

Some high-ethylene gas fruits are sensitive to cold, and if refrigerated before they’re fully ripe their moisture levels and flavor are greatly affected. Once they’re fully ripe you can refrigerate most of them -- but warm them to room temperature again before eating, for full flavor. Fruits that fall into this category include avocados, unripe bananas, nectarines and peaches, pears, plums and tomatoes. Don’t store ripe bananas in the frig, though. Their skins will turn dark -- making them look spoiled, though they aren’t -- and everything in the vicinity will smell like bananas.

Keep lettuce, fresh greens and almost all other vegetables away from fruit, which generally produces more ethylene gas. Making this a habit will make it easier to keep your produce fresher longer. In addition to lettuce and all leafy greens, you should segregate salad vegetables including carrots, cucumbers and peppers, and all the cole vegetables: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower. Also keep eggplant, parsley, peas, potatoes, squash and sweet potatoes separate from fruit."

The good thing is that I don't feel like I proved MYSELF wrong...but it certainly educated me (and us, right?!)!....and I will never tell you which celeb called me on my shit!

March 21, 2018

AWARD-WINNING SINGER/SONGWRITER ALICE WALLACE RELEASES POWERFUL NEW ANTHEM “ELEPHANTS”



Southern California Americana singer/songwriter Alice Wallace debuts new single “Elephants,” it was announced today. With the current #metoo and #timesup movements, “Elephants” is particularly powerful because it addresses the experiences women have every day concerning sexism, objectification, safety and double standards – whether in the workplace, at home or during a girls’ night out.  Written by Wallace’s co-writing partner Andrew Delaney, “Elephants” is an extension of those current movements because it’s spurring discussions between women and men about solutions. Spotify: https://goo.gl/H5MtM1

From “Elephants”
Hey baby, why you gotta be that way?
Give us a smile, you got a pretty face
There are things you do and things you can’t
Live quiet as a mouse in a room full of elephants

Live performance of “Elephants” on YouTube


“I am so proud to record this song, especially as this conversation is growing in our culture,” said Wallace. “Women are taught from a young age that ‘boys will be boys,’ and therefore, it’s our responsibility to protect ourselves from that supposedly innate behavior. And that is wrong. This is such an important song about being a woman, and yet it was written by a man. That makes it all the more perfect for creating opportunities for both men and women to start discussing the solutions together.”

“I had heard the same story over and over from so many of my friends who were women,” said Delaney. "I heard it enough times to know for sure that this was a universal experience. As a songwriter, you're always looking for something universal to write about. And then to have someone like Alice - with a voice like hers - to perform the song so beautifully and so passionately and for it all to happen in such a timely, but organic, fashion - it's kind of magical. I'm really glad to be helping to get this message out there.” 

“Elephants” is the first single off Wallace’s upcoming album, which will be released later this year on JTMMusic.

Wallace recently received the first-ever “TeX Award” for a female independent artist during South by Southwest 2018. She was named “Female Vocalist of the Year” at the California Country Awards in 2017. She also received LA Music Critics Awards for “Best Country/Americana Artist” in 2016 and “Best Country/Americana Album” in 2015. She tours constantly across the U.S., averaging close to 150 shows per year, and has shared stages with artists such as The Band Perry, Wynonna Judd, Lee Ann Womack, Ray Wylie Hubbard, JD Souther, Albert Lee, Jo Dee Messina, and Suzy Bogguss.

ELEPHANTS (full lyrics)
Walk with a purpose through the parking lot
Keys in your knuckles cause you ain’t got claws
Remembering when your daddy taught you that
Boys will be boys gotta watch your back

Sitting there drinking at the bar alone
Sharks come circle, wanna take you home
You better not play coy, better not be mean
Cause boys will be boys and they are fragile things

And they’ve got names for the ones who talk back
And the ones who wear those clothes
They’ve got names for the ones who say yes
And the ones who say no

Hey baby, why you gotta be that way?
Give us a smile you got a pretty face
There are things you do and things you can’t
Live quiet as a mouse in a room full of elephants

Don’t he look so handsome in his Sunday best?
He said he’s sorry, you know the rest
You shouldn’t really blame him he’s just a kid
And boys will be boys, don’t call him what he is

And they’ve got names for the ones who talk back
And the ones who wear those clothes
They’ve got names for the ones who say yes
And the ones who say no

For more information:  http://alicewallacemusic.com/

March 19, 2018

SPRING BREAK: No Bikinis Only Rattle Snakes and Texas Howdy


As I hear about all of the crazy Spring Break trips that are planned this year by high school and college students alike, I can't help but be reminded of a very non-traditional adventure I went on in college. No, it didn't include white beaches, bikinis or beers!  But it did include rattle snakes, amazing southern cooking and learning the "Texas Howdy."

Here's how it went, ya'll...

I worked during college so I couldn't get off the entire Spring Break week. I was stuck and bummed that all of my friends were planning amazing getaways to sunny beaches or snowy slopes. I, on the other hand, had three days in the middle of the week off -- and no plans to speak of.

Knowing my situation, Jill, one of those friends with whom you could laugh, cry or get into a little bit of harmless mischief, asked if I wanted to go to Texas -- the deep part of Texas -- and hang out with her "Maw Maw" and "Paw Paw."

"ABSOLUTELY," I said, without much thought.  So we jumped in her Ford Escort and drove to Maw Maw and Paw Paw's.

If I were to ask you: "What do you picture when you think about a little ranch in the deep part of Texas?" then whatever you are imagining is exactly what I encountered as the Ford Escort rolled to a dusty stop in the driveway of Maw Maw and Paw Paw.

Maw Maw came out to greet us, hug us and let us know that Paw Paw wanted us in the "shed" ASAP. So, the two of us in our plaid shorts, polo shirts and flip flops, walked into the shed. Paw Paw hugged Jill and handed me a stick. Looking at a metal cage on the cement floor, Paw Paw simply said,

"Agitate Him!"

"Excuse me, Paw Paw?"

"Agitate 'Em!"

As I knelt down to see what or whom I would be agitating, I heard the haunting noise of a baby rattle...which I would soon learn was actually a baby RATTLER.



I looked up at Jill (horrified) and then at Paw Paw as if to say..."I could be on a beach with a margarita but instead..."

But not only was I going to agitate the rattler, I was going to win over Paw Paw...

So as I started to head toward the cage with my stick, Jill and Paw Paw broke out into laughter.
"Oh, you are one of the family for doing that," said Paw Paw. I looked up confused and suddenly there was Maw Maw with lemonade and home made fried chicken that smelled better than any smell I'd ever smelled.

And for the next couple of days, I became part of the family landscape.  They taught me the "Texas Howdy" which means as you pass an oncoming truck -- each with both hands on your respective steering wheel -- you both simply raise one finger in acknowledgment of the other as you pass each other. I learned a lot!

To this day, I will send Jill a Facebook post now and again and simply say, "Agitate 'em." And we laugh, and cry, and say hello to Maw Maw and Paw Paw who are now in Heaven.

So, as people are planning their crazy Spring Breaks in exotic places, I take the time to say thank you to Jill for that dusty adventure of love, family, perspective and new experiences.

March 13, 2018

Elton John: I'm Still Standing a GRAMMY Salute with Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Kesha, John Legend, Chris Martin and More!

MUSIC STARS HONOR ELTON JOHN ON THE ROCKIN' TRIBUTE "ELTON JOHN: I'M STILL STANDING–A GRAMMY® SALUTE," TO BE BROADCAST TUESDAY, APRIL 10 ON CBS
ELTON JOHN ALSO TAKES THE STAGE TO PERFORM A MEDLEY OF HIS TIMELESS HITS


SANTA MONICA, CALIF. (MARCH 13, 2018)—Music stars Alessia Cara, Miley Cyrus, Kesha, Lady Gaga, Miranda Lambert, John Legend, Little Big Town, Chris Martin, Shawn Mendes, Maren Morris, Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, and SZA celebrate the illustrious career of Elton John on the tribute special "Elton John: I'm Still Standing–A GRAMMY® Salute," to be broadcast Tuesday, April 10 (9–11 p.m., ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. The concert showcases musicians from multiple genres performing classic songs from Elton John's impressive music catalog with longtime co-writer Bernie Taupin and features special appearances by Jon Batiste, Neil Patrick Harris, Christopher Jackson, Anna Kendrick, Gayle King, Lucy Liu, Valerie Simpson, and Hailee Steinfeld.

Following is the list of performances featured on "Elton John: I'm Still Standing–A GRAMMY Salute":

"The Bitch Is Back" — Miley Cyrus
"Candle In The Wind" — Ed Sheeran
"Daniel" — Sam Smith
"I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues" — Alessia Cara
"Your Song" — Lady Gaga
"Rocket Man" — Little Big Town
"Border Song" — Christopher Jackson & Valerie Simpson
"Don't Go Breaking My Heart" — SZA & Shawn Mendes
"Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters" — Maren Morris
"We All Fall In Love Sometimes" — Chris Martin
"My Father's Gun" — Miranda Lambert
"Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" — Kesha
"Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me" — John Legend
"Bennie And The Jets" — Elton John
"Philadelphia Freedom" — Elton John
"I'm Still Standing" — Elton John & Ensemble

"Elton John: I'm Still Standing–A GRAMMY Salute" continues the tradition of previous Emmy®-winning TV specials presented by CBS, the Recording Academy™, and AEG Ehrlich Ventures, including "Sinatra 100—An All-Star GRAMMY Concert," "Stevie Wonder: Songs In The Key Of Life—An All-Star GRAMMY Salute," "The Beatles: The Night That Changed America—A GRAMMY Salute," and "Stayin' Alive: A GRAMMY Salute To The Music Of The Bee Gees."

"Elton John: I'm Still Standing–A GRAMMY Salute" is produced by AEG Ehrlich Ventures, LLC. Ehrlich and Rac Clark are the executive producers, Ron Basile is the producer, and David Wild