“New York, New York!”

“If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere!” That was me, 24 hours ago, singing to myself at the top of my lungs as I ate the chocolate off my pillow in a posh 45th floor hotel room overlooking Central Park in Manhattan. I flew up there with Pam Tillis, to accompany her along with Matt Spicher on mandolin in a guitar/vocal performance on Naomi Judd’s “New Morning” TV show (airing on the Hallmark Channel at the end of April – I’ll keep you posted on the date).

The weekend didn’t exactly start as planned – and it’s a bit of a long story, but here it is…. In addition to my usual full schedule of cowriting appointments in the past week, I produced and sang a full demo session and shared a full-band show with Rachel Proctor (all in the same day). I also had a full plate of overdubs and vocals to sing from the session, a Bluebird round to play with my friends Tania Hancheroff, Mary Sue Englund and Lisa Brokop, and background vocal parts to learn on ex-American Idol finalist Carmen Rasmusen’s televised showcase which I got called to sing on at the last minute. So when I got the call about the Pam Tillis gig in the midst of all this, what else could I do? Of course, I said, “YES!”

Anyhow, I woke up Saturday morning with severe stomach flu and less than 24 hours left before our departure, and when I dialed Tania up to whine “I have the FLU”, her answer was “I have the flu TOO!” So I called Lisa, and then Mary Sue in a search for someone willing to go on a soda cracker run…but I got the same answer from both of them! It appears that somehow during the round we played together we were all exposed to the same bug and it was so potent that we ALL came down with the same symptoms within hours of each other. (And poor Mary Sue – bless her heart – had to play the TV broadcast portion of the Grand Ol’ Opry on Saturday night, which she managed to pull off with her usual panache, even with a concave stomach and a burning fever). But I was still DETERMINED not to miss this opportunity. So Saturday night found me gingerly trying to pack a bag for the trip, which consisted of putting in a pair of socks, sitting down to rest, picking out some jeans, sitting down to rest, putting in some shoes, lying down for awhile, etc….

Somehow, thanks to the advice of my friend Elise Curry and the miracles of homeopathic medicine, I was back on my feet and raring to go by Sunday morning, and Pam, Matt and I (along with Matt’s 8-year old niece Brandy) hopped a cushy JetBlue flight to JFK Airport. After finally settling into the hotel, I even felt up to exploring the snobby 5th Avenue haute couture shops, dancing on the giant FAO Schwarz in-floor piano keys, and taking in a late-afternoon Bach pipe-organ recital at St. Thomas Cathedral before joining the gang for a great dinner at the Park Cafe (including some stunning desserts provided on the house by a world-renowned pastry chef).

Monday morning found me at the TV studio in Brooklyn, sitting for hair and makeup with Pam, Naomi Judd, and Mary Lou Henner – not a bad crowd to hang out with – and then a couple of takes later, we had recorded Pam’s songs and we were off to explore some more. What can you pack into 3 hours in a Manhattan afternoon? You’d be surprised. We power-walked through the Mammalian exhibit, the African peoples exhibit, and the Dinosaur exhibits at the Museum of Natural History. We meandered through the Butterfly Conservatory (where vibrant-colored tropical butterflies fluttered around our heads – and one wandered around on top of my hat for a while). We raced over to the Central Park Zoo, which was unfortunately closed, and then visited the skating rink instead. And then we closed off the night with some incredible Indian food before hopping the taxi back to the airport and flying home to Nashville by midnight. A few hours later, I was heading off to this morning’s co-writing appointment, feeling like a true jet-setter and randomly mentioning to complete strangers that I’d had dinner in New York City last night.

Is there such a thing as too much fun? ‘Cause I think I’m having it. Thanks, Pam and Matt!

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