Story by Anne Jakowenko
Photos copyright: Debbi Allison
Our Fan Dinner And A Visit To Dear Beth
Driving back to Ft. Lauderdale for dinner, I find myself ravenous and in serious need of a cup of tea. Hero worship is demanding, especially when I have to write about it.
We arrive at the restaurant and meet several fans for our outdoor dinner.
Others who were unable to make sound check meet us and want to hear all about our experiences.
Poor Carol has been driving for several hours and arrives from Orlando drained but "happy to be with people who speak my language".
Lydia and her friend and Georgette and hubby join us as well. We are at the Quarterdeck Grille on Las Olas Blvd. and it's hopping on this Friday Valentine's night.
We sit atop high stools around a large wooden hightop table and babble away about our Bee Gees.
The gathering at the restaurant
People around us clearly learn that we are having a cool time laughing and taking pictures.
When I ask the sound check attendees what they thought was the best thing about the day, they concur that "it was great of Barry to come over and give us some of his time."
Fred, our friend from Holland, breaks into song every few minutes, and we sing Craise Fenton Kirk together, much to the chagrin of the others eating with us.
The environment is laid back, and the menu is excellent. I smell barbecue and enjoy our waiter, who has a memory that would make Dumbo jealous.
He systematically gets our orders right the first time, and we dig into our late dinner post haste. I don't remember food tasting this good for ages.
It must be the endorphins affecting my senses, that and being with Barry Gibb. As I glance around, I see a happy group sharing a common bond.
I wish Barry and Linda could be sitting here with us, just having fun and enjoying the memories and stories.
This is what the Bee Gees are all about. I feel comforted knowing that I am surrounded by people who share my devotion to them.
The Casablanca Cafe
When we finish dinner, we head a short distance away to Casablanca Cafe to see Beth Cohen perform.
She has been singing with Barry on tour and for special events for quite some time; and wow, is she a perfect fit for this band!
The Casablanca Cafe has a large outdoor area, several indoor rooms and a lounge with a piano and spacious bar.
People are packed in like the proverbial sardines, and we work our way over beside the piano and wave hello. Beth is seated next to her pianist and is in the middle of a song when we walk in.
She lights up when she sees us; and when she finishes her song, she quickly announces to the patrons that her "Bee Gee crew has arrived".
Visiting a performance of Beth Cohen
She sings "Heartache Tonight" and we all sing along. Then she hits us with a John Legend ballad, and I am again impressed with the resonant beauty of her sound.
Those vocal cords of hers are indeed special. During her break, she plays a Bee Gees Greatest Hits CD, poses for several photos and is gracious enough to talk with me.
When I ask about Barry, Beth has plenty to tell me. "You know, I've been doing this for about six years now, working for him. It's such an honor to be on stage with him.
He's a great down-to-earth guy, very professional, and still so NORMAL! You know, I have a double life. I sing in clubs like this and then get to be on the big stage with Barry.
Some nights he does a little ad lib with his voice, and I still get chills (and here Beth shivers and shakes her shoulders as she grins.) I love it."
I decide that I love HER, and I am excited to have chats with her as the tour progresses in the spring.
We leave Beth and the Valentine couples to party into the night, and I am happy that we spent some time enjoying her talent and bonding with her.
As the night comes to an end, I feel as though I am parting ways with people I have known for years.
I notice that Daniel, my new German friend, has been quiet for some time; and when I question him and ask if he is OK, he stares at me and says,
"I am thinking. After twenty-five years, a dream for me has come true". Responding to the emotion in his voice, I try to stay composed and hold back my tears.
For me, this statement was the perfect ending to a fairy tale day. I am grateful.
Coming up......Cinderella goes to the Ball....with 600 friends!