I've always loved José Feliciano; his unique voice and his marvelously dexterous guitar-playing. So, we took time from the theater to attend a concert he gave on Saturday evening, September 28, at Fairfield University's Quick Center. We were not disappointed. His musicianship and great sense of humor were on display for two delightful hours. He charmed the large, enthusiastic audience by telling them how happy he is to live in Connecticut. He loves the state except for winter weather.
This consummate performer, who was born blind in 1945 in Puerto Rico, is one of 11 boys. His family immigrated to New York City, where he taught himself to play the guitar. His many awards include a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, NYC has renamed public school 155 in East Harlem, the José Felicano Performing Arts School, and the equestrian order of the Holy Sepulchre, an ancient order of the Catholic Church has knighted Feliciano at St. Patrick's Cathedral. On this night, he was presented with the Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J. Award for Excellence in the Arts.
Accompanied by a gifted band consisting of Tyger McNeal- Drums, Al Payson- Bass, Bob Conti- Percussion, Ty McHugh and Greg Smith- Keyboards, Feliciano opened with “Chico and the Man,” the theme song for a popular TV show from many years ago. He continued with “It's All Right,” a lovely song he wrote in 1960 called, “Listen to the Rain,” and a new one, “The Genius of Love.” He reminded us of Michael Jackson's talents with a fine rendition of “Billie Jean.” These were interspersed with Spanish songs, full of rhythm and passion. I cannot tell you their names, because there was no printed program, a common practice, which I find very annoying.
Before he played and sang, “Light My Fire,” one of his signature songs, originated by The Doors, he introduced his two sons, Michael on bass and John on drums, who are following in his footsteps. A sweet surprise. They wear their hair like the young Beatles. And Jose explained they have a band called Two Kids and a Blind Guy!
Feliciano was part of the Arts & Minds program at Fairfield Univeristy. There are many wonderful guests on the schedule, but I must point out that John Lithgow, a special kind of actor, will be appearing on Friday, November 15.