On the beat: 05/26

A conversation with Chris Botti

By Jim Bucher

My many gigs after leaving the local TV news world include writing (or at least attempts at writing), producing and hosting social media videos, emcee work and, of course, changing urinal cakes (whatever pays the bills, right?).

One of my ab-fab things to do is work for my good friend Karen Durham, general manager at Fraze Pavilion. She lets me voice the pavilion’s radio and television commercials, tweet and post upcoming happenings and write about artists coming to the Fraze stage.

Not only do I write about them, but I get the opportunity to speak with them.

In the past, I’ve chatted with Gregg Allman, Al Jardine from Beach Boys fame, Flo of The Turtles, Chuck Negron formerly of Three Dog Night and now Chris Botti, who, by the way, will hit the stage June 10.

I caught up with Botti at his hotel in Wichita, Kansas. His manager gave me his cell number but then asked me to call his room because his cell battery was dead, and Chris couldn’t find his charger.

Gosh, sounds just like me.

It’s funny, I think. These performers are on the road so much that they probably don’t even know what city they’re in, where they’ve been or where the heck they’re headed.

But not Chris. Just the mere mention of Fraze and the conversation was all his.

“I remember feeling the intimacy of the venue… the crickets were all going crazy,” Botti says. “You know people ask me all the time, ‘What’s your favorite venue? You can roll into the Hollywood Bowl or Carnegie Hall, which is great.’ And I say, ‘We played some place in Kettering, Ohio, that’s just fantastic called Fraze Pavilion. And it’s unexpected and turns into one of your favorite places to play.’”

(Let me clear something up, though: you can’t really hear the crickets over the crowd as Botti and his finely tuned group of musicians do their thing.)

“If you saw the show when we here years ago, it’s nothing like it is now,” he says. “We’re rolling into Fraze with our AA group, and I’ve spent my whole life trying to arrive at this point, where we really don’t have many weaknesses… I feel really proud to be able to say that.”

Since releasing his first solo record in 1995, the talented trumpeter has won a Grammy and sold three million albums.

Wow, millions of records is cool, but what about that Grammy? I asked him where he displays it, where he takes it with him.

“I did this crazy thing…had a midlife crisis,” he laughs. “You know, did it all. Moved to Los Angeles, had the big fancy house, sports car, blah, blah, blah. Last year, I said, ‘Screw this.’ So I sold all my possessions and moved into a hotel in New York. My Grammy is in my manager’s office in Los Angeles.”

Botti has worked with the biggest names in the music scene including this writer’s favorite, “Old Blue Eyes” Frank Sinatra.

“My very first gig out of college, I did this two-week engagement with Sinatra at the Universal Amphitheater in conjunction with his L.A. Is My Lady album release, so 1984,” Botti recounts. “I was so naive and young and thought me and Frank were going to become friends. So [I] went up and introduced myself, and his assistant said, ‘You may not want to bother Mr. Sinatra so much.’ That’s what you do when you’re young and don’t know any better. In a weird kind of way I’m happy I did that.”

Needless to say, Chris and Frank did not become BFFs, but he’s hoping to make new friends performing here. He says expect the unexpected.

“My live concerts are radically different from my album,” Botti says. “I craft a band that’s a night of entertainment rather than a reduplication of the album. And that’s very, very important to me. It’s a fun show that moves around from rock to classical to everything, and so we’re really happy and excited to come back to Fraze.”

See you at Fraze, Chris — of course, under the stars.

Cheers,

Buch

A regionally known and loved local television icon for over 25 years, “Buch’s” followers describe him as trust-worthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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For over 25 years, Jim Bucher has been a regionally known and loved local television icon. “Buch’s” followers describe him as trustworthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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