LEGENDS IN CONCERT – The AndersonPonty Band
Ron and I had the honor of attending the AndersonPonty Band concert at the One World Theatre in Austin, Texas on Saturday, May 7th, 2016. Of course seeing the original singer/songwriter for 35 years of YES (Jon Anderson) and international violin superstar Jean Luc Ponty is exciting all by itself. But at this concert, we not only got to see these two music legends, but were able to enjoy our dear friend (and keyboardist/arranger of “Cover of Comfort”) Wally Minko on keyboards.
BEHIND THE KEYS – Wally Minko
In my opinion, AndersonPonty keyboardist Wally Minko is by far the most talented and amazing in the business. And, one of the kindest people you will ever meet. He has a heart of gold, and it revealed itself before we even made it inside the theater that night. Here’s what happened:
Earlier that afternoon at sound check, Wally met a wonderful woman (Stacy Johnson) who is the Founder and CEO of CENTRAL TEXAS TABLE OF GRACE. She explained to Wally how her non-profit organization provides shelter, healthy food, and life-skills training in a loving and nurturing “home-like” environment for displaced children in the Austin community. Wally was moved by her story, and invited us to meet her before the show.
Wally has been supportive of the “Covers of Comfort” project from the beginning. He shares our desire to reach people with a need, and allow our CD to work as a therapeutic tool to heal hearts, and raise funds for organizations/charities/etc. All of us believe that meeting Stacy that day was not an “accident”, but another place where the Hand of God has moved in our journey. Wally wondered if maybe the “Covers of Comfort” project could help her and her organization.
CENTRAL TEXAS TABLE OF GRACE FOUNDER & CEO – Stacy Johnson
Stacy shared with us her own personal story of being a former foster child, who recognized the need of temporary shelter for displaced children. CENTRAL TEXAS TABLE OF GRACE is dedicated to providing emergency shelter services to the children and youth in the foster care system. Here is an excerpt from Stacy’s website:
Founded in 2014, the organization was conceived and organized to address the social, intellectual, and recreational needs of Texas’ displaced youth, to counteract failure, and to assist in the successful transition to life in a positive environment. They demonstrate passionate commitment to excellence. They teach that character matters.
Ron, Wally, and I were touched by her story, and in complete admiration of her compassion for others. We were especially moved by her Faith, and how she repeatedly gave God the glory for helping her create a shelter for His precious children. When there was a need, God moved people, and spoke to their hearts to help Stacy. And now our paths had crossed, and we wanted to help in any way we could. At this point, we don’t know exactly what that is, but we will pray the work we are doing on completing the CD will be able to help Stacy, and other organizations like hers who are committed to helping others.
For more information about Central Texas Table of Grace, please click here.
Before the AndersonPonty Band show, we were able to get a photo with Stacy, some of her friends, Wally Minko, and the extraordinary guitar wizard (and good friend of Ron’s and Wally’s), Jamie Glaser.
It’s Time For The AndersonPonty Band Show!
This was my first time to see the AndersonPonty Band in concert, and I was absolutely overwhelmed! You expect to see these two legends, and be in awe of their catalog of work and their unmistakable contributions to the world’s music library. However, to see them live is beyond describing.
I was especially moved when Jon Anderson remembered his friend, the late Chris Squire (original bass player of YES) who died June 27, 2015. He spoke of their writing relationship, the years they spent together in YES, and how Chris had just “moved onto the next level”. After a beautiful spoken tribute, the band followed with a stirring rendition of the classic YES song, “And You and I” from the 1972 YES album “Close To The Edge”. In an interview with the website www.songfacts.com, Jon explains the meaning behind this song.
When asked WHO the “You” is in “And You and I”, Jon said this:
Probably God. Or it could be “we” collectively. The audience and I, collectively we look for reality of being a true understanding of the beauty of life. We reach over the rainbow for an understanding of things. You and I climb closer to the light.
Knowing this now makes his dedication at the show even more touching. And, it’s encouraging to see how the music lives on (even after the musicians who gifted us with it) have passed. It was truly an honor to hear the original (and incomparable) voice of YES deliver such a moving musical tribute to his friend, his brother in music.
One of my favorite Jen Luc Ponty moments happened when he led the band in “Jig” (a Celtic number from his 1982 album “Mystical Adventures”). Like all of his compositions, it was filled with impressive and complicated runs, paired with a driving rhythm truly indicative of Irish music. I couldn’t help but think of my family’s roots in Ireland, and how he really captured the spirit of the culture.
Jean Luc Ponty is the pioneer and undisputed master of jazz/rock violin. He is someone every serious music lover should add to their music collection. You will heighten your listening IQ if you allow yourself the pleasure of experiencing this ground-breaking master musician.
The other thing I found so impressive about the AndersonPonty Band was the level of musicianship in each and every member.
I was mystified by our friend Wally Minko’s breath-taking piano work. I even got choked up seeing how he pours his heart into the music, and shares it with us with such excellence and undisputed soul. He’s the best! I sat there in awe thinking, “I can’t believe I get to work with this musical genius.” Especially considering the list of musicians Wally has worked with. They include Toni Braxton, Pink, En Vogue, New Edition, Barry Manilow, Tom Jones, Arturo Sandoval, Gregg Rolie (Santana/Journey), and Eddie Money. Did I mention Wally was nominated for a Grammy? I am so grateful.
I had heard Jamie Glaser’s name when Ron spoke of his first years in Los Angeles, and becoming acquainted with the music scene there. Jamie had been a good friend to him, and upon meeting him I could understand why Ron has always held him in such high regard. Jamie has worked on shows like ‘Seinfeld’, ‘Saved By The Bell’, ‘Married With Children’ to name a few. Also, he is known for recording and touring with greats like Bryan Adams, Chick Corea, Manhattan Transfer, Lenny White, Gloria Trevi, and many others. His magnificent work on the guitars/piano/etc. simply blew me away. He’s over-the-top talented, and a force to be reckoned with.
Seasoned drummer Rayford Griffin has played with the likes of The Stanley Clarke Band, George Duke, Dave Koz, Anita Baker and Michael Jackson. He is a vivacious drummer with an impressive skill set, and engaging stage presence. Rayford’s drum solo was magical, and his non-stop energy speaks to his passion for his craft.
Engaging bassist Keith Jones has played with Ron and Wally in the Gregg Rolie Band. He has also worked with Santana, Kenny Loggins, Teddy Pendergrass, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, Michael Damian, Player, and many others. Keith is a solid player with an inspired grove that lends itself brilliantly to the music.
The AndersonPonty Band AFTER SHOW
Ron and I are grateful to Wally for inviting us to the show, and were excited to get an opportunity to meet with members of the AndersonPonty Band after. Then it was off to a late dinner with Ron and Wally at our new favorite 24-hour cafe in Austin, Texas – “Magnolia Cafe”.
For more information about the AndersonPonty Band, click here
For more information about Wally Minko, click here
For more information about Jamie Glaser click here
For more information about Rayford Griffin click here
For more information about Keith Jones click here
For more information about One World Theatre in Austin, Texas, click here