June 25

The summer music season debuted at the Legacy of the Lakes Gardens. Kudos to the Education Foundation for “landing this big fish” for the opener. The Fabulous Armadillos, from St. Cloud, have been a mainstay of the Central Minnesota music scene for 15 years. And like the Energizer bunny, they just keep going and going . . .

[The morning full moon was a portent of a wonderful evening to come . . . ]

[The gates opened at 6:00 for the 7:00 concert. The Super and I arrived at 5:50 only discover “thousands” of people were there before us. Nevertheless, we and our traveling music companions, Karin & Dave, were delighted with our “seat” location . . . ]

[Panorama of the crowd from the back . . . ]

[Panorama of the crowd from the front . . . ]

[You can see Ruthie center left with my empty chair next to her . . . ]

[The crowd had initially had been limited to 350 according to protocols. I’m not sure of the final numbers, but it looked like the Education Foundation did good . . . ]

[The potential for rain was wafting through the air, but it turned out to be a lovely evening requiring light jackets by the end . . . ]

[Our loge seating . . . ]

[These were the true “front row” seats . . . ]

[Christine Reilly, Executive Director of the Alexandria Education Foundation, thanked the crowd for their attendance . . . ]

Established in 2002 the Alexandria Education Foundation is an independent non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to the continued academic excellence of Alexandria Public Schools. We partner with Alexandria Public Schools to provide financial support for unique learning experiences for students in early childhood education through grade 12. The Alexandria Education Foundation (AEF) supports educational excellence and a passion for learning by partnering with our community. Our focus is on funding projects above and beyond the scope of the state budget and local tax dollars. Funds raised will directly impact students through grants to classroom teachers and other funded projects that help support initiatives that further the mission and educational goals of the School District (AEF website).

The Fabulous Armadillos came out of their shell in 2006 and have since established a large and loyal following in Central Minnesota with their spot on recreations of songs from many genres of music from Country to Motown to Heavy Metal to 70’s Soft Rock and do them just like you remember. Close your eyes and you are listening to all those vinyl records again or your AM/FM radio. The idea of the Fabulous Armadillos started with a diverse group of musicians who came together to perform “themed” concerts at the Pioneer Place On Fifth Theater in St. Cloud, MN. Themes like “One Hit Wonders”, “Woodstock”, “Motown”, “Singer/Songwriters”, “Stadium Rock” and more. They have now played over 100’s of themes at that theater as well as many regional venues in the Midwest and even in Mexico! Each show gaining them new fans and enjoying their brand of fun and entertaining, yet musically spot on performances. They have brought hundreds of special guests in for their theme shows comprising of local and national talent. The FABULOUS ARMADILLOS PARTY BAND features musicians with a deep history with some great regional and national bands from their past including Greg “Gary D.” Armstrong on keys (GB Leighton, Bobby Vee and The Vees, Heartbeat), Paul “Stretch” Diethelm on guitar (Jonny Lang, Slip Twister, Greystone Rockers), Chris Hawkey (Chris Hawkey Band, KFAN Morning Show Host) on vocals , Pamela Helmer McNeill on vocals (Pamela McNeill Band, Rumours and Dreams, Lamont Cranston) Mike Zeleny on bass (Airtight, Slip Twister, Greystone Rockers). Jay O’Donnell on drums (The Britton Brothers, Slip Twister, Greystone Rockers). Their 8 piece band also features a horn section with Pat Thorn on trumpet and Mike Krietzer on saxophone. COME OUT OF YOUR SHELL and see what everybody has been talking about! (fabulousarmadillos.com)

[Pamela Helmer McNeill . . . ]

My friends joke that I’m dead until I get onstage. I’m dead right now as you’re speaking to me. ~ Lady Gaga

[“Stretch” . . . ]

For those of you in the cheap seats I’d like ya to clap your hands to this one; the rest of you can just rattle your jewelry! ~ John Lennon (although I recall Harry Belafonte saying that during his Carnegie Hall concert)

The bravest thing David Bowie ever did was to go on stage after Queen at Live Aid. ~ Stewart Stafford

I’m afraid concerts spoil people for everyday life. ~ L. M. Montgomery

[“Gary D.” . . . ]

Liberace was certainly master and commander of the ivories ~ he is the only pianist I can watch or listen to without suffering a case of ‘Stagefright Sympathy Sickness’. ~ E. A. Bucchianeri

[Always on the lookout for the rain that never comes . . . ]

I’m much more energetic now; you might say live performance is my mission. ~ John Fogerty

Get out of your house and go see some live performance, for God’s sake. There are people creating things just outside your window. ~ Maria Bamford

The adrenaline of a live performance is unlike anything in film or theater. I can see why it’s so addictive. ~ Gwyneth Paltrow

[Keep an eye out for activities on the side lines . . . ]

When you have a live performance, you’re going to be pitchy here and there, unless you have perfect pitch. ~ Mya

[The Super greets some old friends . . . ]

I have no idea why a guy would bring a jar of peanut butter to a concert. ~ Iggy Pop

[A little jammin’ . . . ]

I Hate Myself for Loving You

[Rain keeps holding off . . . ]

A concert is my experimentation time. I practice playing something several different ways, but in a concert, inevitably I get more ideas onstage, in that combination of focus and adrenaline, than I could ever get in the practice room. ~ Hilary Hahn

Believe me when I say this: you can’t please everyone in concert, even though I still want to. Someone always wants you to sing a song that isn’t necessarily on your set list. ~ Gladys Knight

Heavenly shades of night are falling, it’s Twilight Time . . .

I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself. ~ Mikhail Baryshnikov

Never give a sword to a man who can’t dance. ~ Confucious

Part of the joy of dancing is conversation. Trouble is, some men can’t talk and dance at the same time. ~ Ginger Rogers

[As we continued into the long summer night, we gave a one-time thanks for the drought conditions which meant mosquitoes were not an issue . . . ]

[With Mike and Julie, champion line dancers, in the foreground, we cell-phoned candled adieu to the band.]

[And we leave you with Karin, Nicole, and the Super on the dance floor with many thanks again to the Armadillos.]

Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance. ~ Dave Barry

As we were walking out a friend asked if I had danced. I noted there’s a long time axiom that white guys can’t dance so I (who has never been given a sword) felt no need to get out there and prove it. OK, there are a few who can, including my questioner, but they are the exceptions that prove the rule. It plays out over the course of a 3-hour concert where it becomes almost a women only arrangement on the dance floor. ~ Me

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