Each year Aretha Franklin gives a special Christmas party in her hometown of Detroit. She usually invites her closest friends and hires a big name act each year to perform. Well, a couple of years back I had the honor to perform for one of her parties, and it turned out to be an adventure all by itself. First, my entire band was from Philadelphia, so she paid to fly us out to Detroit for this affair. This particular year there was a huge problem, because 24 inches of snow had fallen on the Chicago/Detroit area, so our very first day the flight had been canceled. We were worried because Aretha had no intentions of postponing her party. With 24 inches of snow on the ground, many people had to be re-booked on flights, and the next day was a serious logjam trying to get the entire band through. On one flight, they told us that they could only take 6 of us. Since I was the bass player, my parts were more essential to have (as opposed to a horn player or something like that) so I took the first available flight out and the other guys had no guarantees that they would make the party on time. Well, I managed to make it, but my luggage “didn’t.” Well, at least it didn’t until about an “hour” before the gig was to start (By the way, that was also the time when the rest of the band members made it as well). Things were not going smoothly at all, but at least it was “going.” Earlier that day the 6 or us who were there had the chance to rehearse with the main group of the party, and that group was “The Emotions.” We started off performing “Boogie Wonderland,” which was credited to Earth, Wind and Fire but the Emotions sang on most of that track. Then we did “You got the best of my Love” and the ladies really loved the way we played their music. I told them that it was our honor to perform for them and if we can ever get the “entire” band here it will “really” be a great show. Aretha was very happy when all of us finally arrived, and the show went great. The Emotions are one of those groups that still sound “awesome” even during their twilight years. Their harmonies and range are still incredible. Finally, the show had been done. It took “forever” just to catch a cab through so much snow back to the hotel. We were relieved to make this gig happen, and now all that was left was to sleep for the night and go back home in the morning. At least that was what we thought. The next day our flight was delayed “again” and once we “finally” caught a flight home I am sure you can “guess” what “didn’t” happen next. Yup, our luggage did not make it back home with us. We had to come back to the airport later in the day just to get our clothes and stuff. The gig was great, but the gig was crazy, but at least we “pulled it off.” I loved working with the Emotions and I sincerely hope one day to have another opportunity. I hope you don’t mind me sharing my stories with you from time to time. I hope your holidays were excellent and as always, I wish you the very best that life has to offer.
The Emotions and Brett Jolly in concert at Aretha Franklin’s Christmas Party