Rodriguez, Dallas Brass delight Woodlands crowds

Bring them back again Carol. The Dallas Brass with Daniel Rodriguez took center stage this past week as the second edition of this year’s Hot Springs Village Concerts Association presented the performance of “American Portraits.”The band, comprised of Luis Araya and Terry Sawchuk on trumpet, Juan Berrios on horn, alto horn and flugelhorn, Ryan Christianson on trombone, Andres Crovetti on percussion and drums and Paul Carlson on tuba, was directed by its founder, Michael Levine, who also introduced many of the selections with a bit of background and, at times, some humor mixed in for fun.With them was the sensation Daniel Rodriguez, a singer since age 12, who burst on the scene shortly after the Sept, 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. 11 when the first plane struck the World Trade Center. Nearby I heard a woman say, “What an instrument his body is,” as the first half of the show concluded.Dallas Brass did not disappoint either. What a powerful emotion-filled song especially in our current times of constant war and our nation’s desire to bring home our fighting men and women.There were so many great selections performed by Rodriguez and Dallas Brass I don’t have room for comment on them, but Billy Joel’s “The Longest Time,” was another great one, as the audience joined in the fun singing along. This one gave me goose bumps. Being there for that dose of Americanism was special and so desperately needed by today’s youth to develop a heart-felt pride in their country. I could see why. Our young people today seldom hear about America’s history and its exceptionalism. His interest in music became a calling in 2004 when he retired from the NYPD to follow his singing dreams.The band opened the performance with Levine saying, “We’re going to cover a lot of ground,” as they then played several pieces dedicated to American culture and at the same time remembering the foreign influence of many composers.Sharing the experience, were 52 members of the Fountain Lake High School band, who Levine acknowledged and thanked for their interest in attending.Among the many songs played during the opening act was Elmer Bernstein’s “Magnificent Seven Theme,” the “George Washington Medley,” Mancini’s “Pink Panther,” Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm” and “Shenandoah,” the early 19 th century folk hit, which was performed by Berrios, followed by Rodriguez entering the stage and saying, “I’m so happy to be back in Hot Springs Village.”Right out of the gate he absolutely grabbed your undivided attention with an immensely powerful voice that you could not only obviously hear, but physically feel as it reverberated through Woodlands Auditorium. He soon arrived at the site as a first responder, narrowly escaping death as he witnessed the destruction of both towers. Sousa’s “El Capitan” was another hit.And the encore of patriotic music brought the crowd to their feet out of respect for our country and the group, as Rodriguez sang “God Bless America” and “Proud to Be an American.” It was so nice to see theFountain Lake students standing, swaying back and forth together, clearly moved by the night and theemotion of the event’s ending.Concerts association president Carol Freeman, during opening remarks, said Dallas Brass and Rodriguez were back because of attendee ratings. From “Annie Get Your Gun,” “There’s No Business like Show Business” was a hit with the crowd. Rodriguez’s singing of “Some Enchanted Evening,” from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific,” was mesmerizing, a definite high point of the evening for me.But the pinnacle for me was when he sang, from Les Miserables, “Bring Him Home,” a lament, Valjean praying to God to save Marius from the carnage of war ahead. The sounds were inspiring, uplifting and enjoyed by all.Several composers were featured in act two, such as Irving Berlin and others. And Villagers, if you missed it this time, don’t make that mistake again.And another kudo to the association for bringing in the students. Then a New York City police officer, Rodriguez uplifted the country with his many appearances at sporting events and the like, with his fabulous rendition of “God Bless America.”He was on his way to work on Sept. On the way out I heard one student say his parents were going to be jealous that they, the parents, didn’t get to see and hear this.
By JEFF MEEKManaging editor