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Backstage with Ron Onesti: Staying Positive? No Problem!

Ron Onesti:  Staying Positive?  No Problem!

Each week, I sit down, take a deep breath, and see what comes to mind as a topic to share with you here in this column.  Sometimes it is a recollection sparked by a song I heard on the radio.  Every time I hear one of my own favorite dashboard-keyboard songs as I am driving to one of our shuttered (for the moment) venues, I not only transform into a Buick-drivin’ Billy Joel, but I am also reminded of an earlier time when the song first came out, and when times were a bit easier.

Then there are the texts, emails and Facebook messages that all begin with, “Hey Ron, do you remember that show when…”.  That is always exciting to read because it is then that I see just how small the world is!  There are many times I was at the same show, or at least knew about it and can remember the same incident that person was describing.

For example, I recently received a note talking about this great show forty years ago back in October of 1980.  It was the Chicago stop for the “Black & Blue Tour” at The International Amphitheatre and featured Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult and Molly Hatchet.  He went on to describe the excitement, the head-banging, the volume.  But I was there too!

And so many Arcada fans love to describe their experiences at one of the thousands of shows we have had here at the soon-to-be 95-year-old gem.  They will tell of the high school buddies they got together and came to see UFO.  Or the big “Girls Night Out” to see Rick Springfield.  The fiftieth wedding anniversary celebration at the Wayne Newton show, or a 90th birthday party for Grandpa at the Glenn Miller Orchestra dance.

So many wonderful memories celebrated, and new, magical ones created, all because the music is still LIVE and alive!

And it is a blessing for me to get the notes about those special moments.  And for most of them, I was there too!  But still, it is so uplifting, especially now, to hear the great memories that live music has provided to people over the years.

How many times the show someone saw at The Arcada helped them through a challenging time in their own lives?  A loss of a loved one, a loss of a job, a loss of their own spirit, they would look to music to help take their minds off things for a while.

As we enter an unbelievable eighth month of lockdown at our venues, many people are concerned about our well-being, our survival, our sanity.  Truly it is YOU and the memories we have created together that keeps us going!

Each day as our team puts back together what we once had in a newer, cleaner, more exciting and efficient operation, we look forward to the day that we can share music and meatballs again!

It won’t be easy, and it won’t be right away, at least as we knew it before.  New sanitary and virally-safe methods and distances in place, we will slowly get to some standard of normalcy, hopefully sooner than later.

But the one thing that will remain the same will be the power of music to balance the otherwise craziness we experience in our daily lives.  It will be the thing that keeps us together, makes us stronger and helps us to re-gain some of the personal time we used to keep us happy.

For me, more than the music and meatballs, I look forward to the hugs of welcome I would give and receive, the masked smiles I have been unable to see, and the family-style setting of our restaurants and concert halls.  That is my dream, and realizing that dream I know will help other realize theirs, because I know for many, the experience of live music is second only to health and safety for music fans and their families.

Until then, keep the faith, stay safe and be healthy!  And don’t worry about me.  Just knowing you are still out there waiting with baited breath to return to the magic of our music keeps me positive, driven and energized!

#musicstrong…We WILL ROCK AGAIN!