I spent most of my 90 minute drive to Napa last Saturday wondering about the pesky butterflies in my stomach. I’d not been to the Charles Krug Winery, the venue for last weekend’s series of Kenny G concerts hosted by Blue Note Napa, but new places are never a problem for me. As a lifelong, habitual extrovert, trips to new venues are just opportunities for me to make new friends.
So why the nerves?
As I rolled into town for the fourth of six shows Kenny G would give last weekend, I figured it out: Saturday night’s concert was to be the first live performance I’d attended since February of 2020, just before most of the world shut down due to COVID-19.
I realized the nerves were a bit irrational: I was vaccinated two months ago (thanks Pfizer and Walgreens!), the performance would be outside and, according to Blue Note Napa’s website, socially distanced. But having gotten used to listening to the music of Kenny G and other favorite artists exclusively via streaming and CD for the last 17 months, I wondered whether I’d be able to sit back, relax, and really enjoy the show.
The Charles Krug Winery made that easy. Parking was ample and in very close proximity to the venue. Tables were well spaced and restricted to individual parties. Food and drink orders were taken via smartphone and delivered promptly to tables. And the Winery’s scrumptious pre-show sangria did the rest.
And then, like the Pied Piper of Napa, Kenny G literally blew us away, taking the stage five minutes early and whisking us on a journey through decades of jazz and instrumental music by artists like John Coltrane and Average White Band.
Kenny G played all of our favorites, like “Songbird” and “Silhouette,” and even added my personal jam, “G Bop” from his Breathless CD. The concert was as crisp and tight as ever, even with a new bandmate standing in for Kenny’s usual drummer after he’d suffered a car accident just two days before.
Don’t worry: Kenny’s drummer is ok. He let us know that during his onstage banter, which made us feel like we were a part of his family. Kenny’s been playing with members of his band for decades, and jamming with his pianist since high school. The chemistry between the band mates is palpable, even from the back of the house…and even when the “back of the house” is a gorgeous outside venue facing a stunning mountain range that folks who grew up in this part of the country sometimes take for granted.
“Our dream was to be professional musicians,” Kenny G humbly told us from the stage. “Thanks for making our dream come true — and for supporting live music again!” He sounded warmer than it was outside last evening, and as sincere as your best buddy.
After each of his shows, Kenny will greet every fan and take every picture. You walk away from one of his shows feeling like you know the Best Selling Instrumentalist of All Time. The man knows how to make you feel at home, and after the year+ we’ve all just been through, we all deserve a piece of that.
Thank you, Kenny G and Blue Note Napa, for bringing fantastic live music, and a sense of community, back to us.
If you’ve had your shots, check out the rest of Blue Note Napa’s summer lineup, which features artists like Brian McKnight and Chris Botti.
And if you’ve not had your shots…get your shots!
Check out info on Kenny G, including his upcoming tour dates!