By Tom Blake
On Feb. 16, I had a reunion with a special friend. The last time I saw her in person was in 2020, just before COVID-19 spread. This reunion was special, as I was able to introduce my friend of 20 years, Mike Stipher of San Juan Capistrano, to Rosanne Cash, the late Johnny Cash’s eldest daughter.
The reunion took place at the Musco Center for the Arts, at Chapman University, in Orange.
And why was it a reunion for me? Because I’ve known Rosanne for 46 years, since she was 18. She is a four-time Grammy Award winner and a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. Rosanne has recorded 15 albums of different genres—country, folk, pop, rock, and Americana. She is also a prolific songwriter.
In the mid-1970s, when I was the marketing director for Victoria Station—the boxcar and caboose restaurant chain—I hired Johnny and worked with him for two years. He was our company spokesperson and sang our radio commercials. I also co-produced an album with him of his train songs titled, Destination Victoria Station.
My friend Mike had met Johnny at the Victoria Station in Cincinnati in the 1970s, where he had been a bartender. He was thrilled to meet Rosanne.
Johnny and I had a nice friendship; he took me into San Quentin Prison for a “prisoners-only” concert. I attempt to see Rosanne in concert when she performs in Southern California, as she is my last living connection to Johnny.
When I published Middle Aged and Dating Again, my first book in 1997, Johnny endorsed the back cover with these words:
“In the 20 years I have known Tom Blake, he has become an authority on dating and relationships.”
I’m not sure how Johnny knew that, but I happily accepted his endorsement. Now, after 28 years of writing dating columns, I’m still trying to understand the ins and outs of senior dating. Whew, it’s tiring.
Before my partner, Greta, passed away last October, she and I had seen Rosanne, along with her husband, co-writer/producer, and arranger John Leventhal, in concert five times. Seeing Rosanne last week was the sixth time for me.
The Musco Center for the Arts is a magnificent concert hall. It was packed. The ushers and workers, mainly Chapman students, are pleasant, friendly, and helpful. My buddy Mike and I were given “All Access” badges when we checked in (I had informed Rosanne earlier that we were attending).
Check the Musco website at muscocenter.org for upcoming shows.
John is a master guitar player; he joined in on limited vocals with Rosanne, his wife of 29 years. They have fun together on stage. They performed without an intermission for 90 minutes.
It’s evident that Rosanne loves the United States; she mentioned unity for our country several times.
Her rendition of “The Long Black Veil” was spellbinding. She sang a host of other songs including “Sea of Heartbreak,” an old Don Gibson tune.
She ended the concert with her 1981 No. 1 hit song, “Seven Year Ache.”
The applause brought Rosanne and John back for an encore; she sang “Tennessee Flat Top Box,” a tune I heard her father sing in person multiple times.
After the show, Rosanne greeted Mike and me warmly backstage for a nice chat and photo-op.
Add a future Rosanne Cash concert to your bucket list; it will be one of the most enjoyable 90 minutes of your life.
Find out more about Rosanne at rosannecash.com.
Tom Blake is a retired Dana Point business owner and resident who has authored books on middle-aged dating. See his website at findingloveafter50.com. To comment: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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