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An evening with Tony Bennett – birthday wish comes true

by Seth Bagwell
In the summer of 2008 the legendary Tony Bennett was scheduled to appear live in Atlanta GA.  Hetony bennett ticket stub has been one of my favorite singers for as long as I can remember.

I really wanted to go but being in my mid twenties in Georgia meant none of my friends had any interest in going.  Most of them didn’t even know who he was.  Also, I had just bought an SUV and gas prices were particularly outrageous that summer.  It was a bit of a drive from Athens.  So I decided not to go.

I almost immediately regretted that decision.  It occurred to me that that might have been my one and only chance to see him live.  Fast forward two years.  My birthday was coming up in October and my parents had been asking me what I wanted.  I was not able to think of anything I really wanted so I had no answer for them.  A week before my birthday at about two in the morning I received an e-mail from my mom.  She had just found that Tony Bennett was coming to Athens GA the night after my birthday.  Did I want tickets?  OF COURSE!

It was too perfect.  I had another chance to see him and I was not going to miss it.  I decided to get only one ticket so I could sit close to the stage.  It was such a fun night.  I got all dressed up and made my way downtown.  I stopped by one of my favorite bars to have a couple of Old Fashions before the show.  As I sat there with my favorite cocktail none other than Tony Bennett came on the speaker system.  It was such a great moment to think I would be hearing the same song live and in person very soon.

I cannot describe the excitement I felt when Mr. Bennett took the stage.  About thirty minutes into his show he sang his song.  “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”  We were on our feet halfway through the song.  I felt and still feel that it was very special to hear him sing this song as he stood ten feet away from me.  It was just amazing to hear him sing all the wonderful songs I was so familiar with.  It was very uplifting to see, after sixty-four years of doing this, how touched and excited he got by our response to him.

I had my heart set on meeting him.  After the show I made my way to the back of the building trying to find the stage door.  I finally found it because there was another group of young people waiting for him too.  I found out they were the UGA: Classic City Jazz Choir.  They were waiting there hoping to sing a song for Mr. Bennett.  After about a half an hour he finally came out.  He still looked as good as he did onstage.  He hadn’t so much as loosened his tie.  Pure class!  He stood there grinning from ear to ear as they sang for him.  When they had finished he told them they Tony Bennett and Sethwould have been onstage with him had he known about them.  What a complement!  After he posed for a couple of pictures with them he started toward his SUV. I stuck my hand out to him and asked if I could have a picture with him as well.  He gladly shook my hand and posed for a picture with me.  I told him why I was there.  He wished me a happy birthday and got in his SUV.  We watched him drive away.  As he drove by he waved with that grin still on his face.  I was beside myself with excitement because I had just met one of my heroes.  He could not have been more genuine and nice. What a phenomenal way to celebrate my twenty-ninth birthday!!!

Title: An evening with Tony Bennett

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