After enjoying a bountiful breakfast buffet we boarded an Ayr Coach for our journey to Shipshewanna Indiana. Paul is my driver for this tour. He was also the driver on my Branson, Memphis and Nashville journey that arrived back in Ontario two days ago. A handful of the same passengers are on this capacity tour.
We crossed the border quickly with no issues.
Break stop was at a popular, Cracker Barrel. Their staff was happy to see us.
When we arrived in Marshall, MI it was a winter wonderland. Obviously a nasty snow storm had just fallen because many of the highway signs were covered in the white stuff. Luckily we missed that precipitation and the main roads were clear.
Our 3 course Welcome Luncheon at Schuler’s of Marshall was excellent as always. We were impressed with their wine bottle Christmas tree (over 400 of them).
Our first Shipshewanna stop was at Davis Mercantile, a unique shopping complex in the heart of this little Amish town. Paul and I dropped our passengers luggage at our homey hotel for our 3 night stay. Every time we stay here a group of Amish ladies look after luggage delivery and they have it down to a science – quick, and always perfect – it takes a woman to get it done right!
Dinner was family style at the Blue Gate. Tonight’s two meats were fried chicken and meatloaf. The bowls of food kept coming and the homemade pies provided the perfect ending to a true Amish style feast.
I recall a few years ago before my family was going to be performing at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, I was invited to Music City to go over all the arrangements. Typically my brother Darren is in charge of this but I steer headed our Ryman performance.
I was sitting in a beautiful suite at Opryland Hotel during the meeting when it was announced that they had a special guest they wanted me to meet. In walked “Louise Mandrell”, of the famous Mandrell Sisters with her little dog wrapped in blankets just like a baby and Louise’s personal assistant. Louise was dressed glamorous just like she was going on stage. She sat next to me and even though I had only met her once before for a brief time she spoke like I had known her for years.
She congratulated my family on our upcoming Ryman performance and of course talked about what that performance hall mean’t to her but what I will never forget is when she talked about entertaining.
She said her sister Barbara wanted off the road and retired. Barbara literally dropped off the face of the earth. You hardly hear her name anymore but she does get involved with some charity fundraisers in Nashville. She is content working in her garden and spending time with her family.
Louise told me that her husband was not a well man and she wanted to look after him so she took time off the road to do this but she said entertaining was in her heart and she needed to get back on stage. She missed the audience interaction and her fans so much.
A few days ago I was in Branson, MO with my passengers and we watched the Urban Cowboy, Mickey Gilley on stage. It was a remarkable show. When Mom and I met Mickey back stage prior to his performance I didn’t get the picture of him that he portrayed on stage.
When he walked on stage he turned into a new man, an Entertainer, something he loves to do just like Louise Mandrell, Ronnie Milsap, The Walters Family….. I’m sure the excitement of being on stage is what Mickey Gilley looks forward to more than anything else.
I’m sure this is the same reason that Ronnie Milsap is still performing today. At 75 he is much younger than Mickey Gilley but I’m not sure how well he is. Paul, brought the coach right next to Ronnie’s tour bus. As my passengers were getting off I noticed that one of Ronnie Milsap’s band members was taking a wheelchair out of the bus bay and he brought it next to the coach door. It was for Ronnie.
Tonight’s Capacity Crowd for Ronnie Milsap was so enthusiastic. They cheered as Ronnie sang his hit songs. His band was just fantastic. Ronnie certainly is no longer in his prime and was rusty at the beginning of the performance but as his concert went on he continued to improve. I couldn’t believe some of the high notes he hit.
I recall when Ronnie announced his farewell tour a number of years ago. Like many artists they re-appear years later as they miss being on stage so much. It was an honor seeing Ronnie Milsap
once again. He is certainly a true legend. I don’t think he’ll be well enough to continue much longer. His show was scheduled for 90 minutes without an intermission – it only lasted 70 minutes. I could tell that some of his fans that travelled from across the USA were disappointed but I think he probably performed to his max.
His performance was a throwback in time, bringing back many memories of his 40 hit songs!