Sunday afternoon I read there was a show happening at the Key Arena, which is being used as the mainstage for Bumbershoot. I was told it was to be fun and dancey, some electro artist going by the name TB.
After hearing a great number of fantastic things I decided it was probably dubstep, which usually isn’t my thing, but I thought well lets give it a go. I was immediately surprised when I entered the arena and encountered so many middle aged, and even elderly people in attendance. Perhaps they liked dubstep because they were becoming hard of hearing and they could feel the bass. I shrugged the notion off and found my seat.
I came to the realization that perhaps I was wrong when the lights went down and the announcement was made for everyone to welcome, one Mr. Tony Bennett, at which point an octogenarian in a white jacket walked on stage. “What the FUCK is this Shit?” I asked the people sitting next to me. They looked at me like I had three heads and I decided not to press the issue.
Within minutes the man in the white coat began to sing, and you know what? It was pretty good.
At 86 years old Tony Bennett is most likely the oldest performer at this years bumbershoot, and also the most experienced, having been recording music for more than 60 years now. As he made his way through his set list he paused and told the audience stories of his friends, people like Bob Hope, who helped give him his stage name, and Hank Williams (not the third or even Jr.) who called him up to ask him why he ruined one of his songs. These ‘friends’ who Mr. Bennett described are legends of the 20th century, but of course so is Mr. Bennett.
Did I mention he’s 86 years old? He just finished a three-month European tour, plus five dates across Canada. Bumbershoot marks the end of this tour cycle for Mr. Bennett. How many others at his age are doing what he does? Not many. My grandmother is quite content to sit in her home, only getting up to fix some tea or adjust the temperature. He may not be running around the stage like some of his younger counterparts at the festival, but then again he doesn’t have to.
One could easily listen to Mr. Bennett sing all day, or just as easily spend the day hearing him recount tales and adventures of the past 60 years, and I am grateful for the experience. After all it’s not everyday you get to see a living legend, and one of America’s national treasures.