“I left my heart in San Francisco,” “Because of you,” ”Smile,” ”Stranger in Paradise,” “The shadow of your smile,” and “The good life” is some of the songs I think of, because Tony Bennett is coming to Detroit. Of course I remember another time when he came to Detroit. I was still in college and I was selling clothes to help pay for my expenses back then. I was selling a gentleman a couple of suits, and while he was changing I was making small talk with his wife. She brought up the subject of Tony Bennett, and since I had grown up hearing music from the Rat Pack and the contempories of that type music, I was able to maintain a decent conversation. They asked me if I was going to see him that evening, and I said something to the effect that on a student’s part time wages I could not afford it. They then informed me that they had two tickets for that evening’s performance and they could not use them and they gave them to me. I was dumbfounded and thanked them profusely. Getting the night off was easy, the hard part was getting a hold of a date at that short period of time, as this was way before cellular phones.
It turns out, from what I had learned from the couple, was that the owner of The Roostertail, an iconic venue in Detroit on the river was an old friend of the singer. By this time in The Roostertail’s history, it was used more as a catering hall for functions, concerts and such, and not open to the public on a daily basis. It is still the same way today. We got to The Roostertail in time for the show, and may I say that the tickets were for some wonderful seats. This was not a dinner show, but there was a bar, in fact, I believe that it was a two drink minimum, and there was a lot of scurrying about by the guests and by the staff. We were informed that we had to order all of our drinks at one time, because there would be no service during the concert, and that problem was easily taken care of. I had always heard his singing and I was surprised to see that he was performing with a combo, and it was more in a lounge format and he referred to himself as a “lounge singer.” When he came out to perform, there was very little talk to the audience, outside of mentioning who had written the song, and who did the arrangement. These facts were more important to Tony Bennett, then to me at the time, and I was slightly disappointed that he did not work the room more, he was just singing in his own style, and I learned later on that this is his technique when performing especially in smaller settings like that evening. I still remember at one point in his performance, he actually stopped singing, and directed a statement to a lady who was having a conversation, and informed her that as soon as she finished talking he would resume his singing, as he was under the presumption that the people had come there for his singing and not her conversation. That was the first time I had seen that behavior, but it has not been the only time since that evening.
With the news that there would be a two drink minimum, I quickly did some math in my head, and decided that a bottle of non-vintage Champagne would be more economical in my situation if that would be allowed, and not only that, but it would allow possibly six or more drinks instead of the four. We enjoyed a bottle of G.H. Mumm & Co Champagne NV for the concert. I believe it was a Brut, but the label does not say that, but Brut seems to be the most popular style of Champagne imported to the United States. The Mumm Company from Reims in France is one of the oldest houses in the Champagne district and their Cordon Rouge is their flagship brand and label; we were not having that particular wine. There are seven different varietals that are allowed to be used in classic Champagne, the main three are Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier and to a far lesser degree one may find Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Petite Melier and Arbane. Since the non-vintage bottles are blends, and each Champagne house has a certain taste that they strive for year after year, any combination is possible. So there we were a couple of kids at The Roostertail, enjoying Tony Bennett, drinking Champagne for the evening and my singing later (perhaps to myself) “The best is yet to come.”