If you can’t be at home or within your comfort zone on your Birthday, it’s great if you can at least, be with your family and friends in a pretty cool place having an equally, pretty cool, time. Well thankfully, this was the case when Jose Feliciano celebrated his 74th (!) birthday this month while visiting Israel.
Jose, and his son Jonnie, travelled with his band throughout the night, arriving on the morning of the 8th (Jose’s actual date of birth) in Tel Aviv. After a bit of sleep, a bite to eat and a shower to rejuvenate, he met with the press during the afternoon and on into the evening. Returning to the hotel, Jose and Jonnie were joined by their bandmates and an intimate (surprise) birthday supper, featuring some local delicacies, a nice selection of wines, quite a few laughs and a pledge to continue celebrating life, with all it throws at you, (hopefully, on the road together) forever. L’chaim.
The next day, Jose’s first concert was in Haifa, an hour and a half or so away from their hotel in Tel Aviv. So, after soundcheck they opted to remain there, backstage, after their soundcheck and rehearsal and stay on site until the performance. The band is an unusually tight-knit group so their time together was upbeat, plus, it didn’t hurt having a good night’s sleep under their belt, either. They performed later that evening for the enthusiastic people of the ancient port city to the North and stayed on in order to visit with many who, from the audience, wanted to say, “Hello,” eventually returning to the hotel well after midnight.
Arrangements had been made for Jose and his friends to be driven down to Jerusalem early the next morning, something Jose was particularly looking forward to, but the late night return and the early morning departure, vis-à-vis the important concert ahead of him later that evening, suggested he use better judgement and remain behind with Jonnie during the day. It was a disappointment for Jose but coming to perform in Israel and having this opportunity for his bandmates to get to visit some of the most sacred spots that until then, they’d only dreamt of, was a gift of great consolation to him.
Nearly twenty years before, Jose had been conferred by the Catholic Church as a Knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, an ancient and prestigious Papal Order, and both he and his family, of course, had had the honor of visiting there, so giving his guys an occasion to pay their respects and pray for their loved ones was a special thing for Jose, too.
pictured above are Marc Alan (sound) with Salvador Fragozo (percussion) in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre; Steve Sasloe (musical director & keyboards) at the Wailing Wall and Trevor Coen (bass) standing on the Mount of Olives before the Old City of Jerusalem
Later that evening, all primed and ready to hit it hard, Jose appeared before a sold-out audience in the city of Tel Aviv. The highly anticipated performance was only elevated by the attendance of a surprise guest: producer, screenwriter and director, Quentin Tarantino, along with his wife, Daniela, right there in the first row, front and center.
It was revealed in July, that Quentin’s highly acclaimed, summertime blockbuster, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, included Feliciano’s original recording of California Dreamin’ and so to learn that he ands wife were in the audience was a thrill beyond words.
Upon their return to their dressing room after the performance, Jonnie and Jose found Quentin and Daniela already there, waiting for them. And so for the next hour or more, that chatted, told jokes, exchanged sincere compliments of admiration and respect, and again, a round of Happy Birthday (the third rendition by that time) accompanied with birthday cake and champagne, shared with all.
Happy Birthday, Jose. It’s all good…