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It’s no secret that I love music. My earliest musical memories are of my father, playing clarinet with a Dixieland Jazz band. When I was old enough he taught me how to set the needle down on a vinyl LP so I could listen to George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” on my parents’s record player. Then came six years of piano lessons—with music that didn’t interest me—until rock ’n’ roll and Motown rescued me and liberated my soul. Fast forward to the ’70’s, when my husband and I helped finance a string of rock concerts.

Recently I caught up with Don Perry, Hollywood concert promoter, recording engineer and record producer.

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— Life —

PHOTOGRAPH BY BRENDA COFFEE, ©2019
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Along with watering some of my outdoor plants, twice a day, to keep them from dying in the heat, my summer continues to be filled with music. This week I saw five-time Grammy award-winner Michael McDonald in concert. Other than the Rolling Stones, he’s THE best live music performance I’ve ever attended, and that’s saying a lot. His band is world class plus his backup singers include his wife, singer, Amy Holland. They met when she was 16 and he was 19.

I’ve also been reading some great books this summer, plus I was late to the Big Little Lies party on HBO. Have you seen it yet? Woah…

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PHOTOGRAPHS BY BRENDA COFFEE, ©2019
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Last Friday I spent my 70th birthday at Diana Ross’s 75th Diamond Jubilee Birthday Celebration at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas. Oh, my stars. She was fabulous. The first time many of us saw Diana Ross was back in the 60’s, on black and white TV, when she was lead singer of the Supremes. They were powerful and chic, like nothing we’d ever seen, and they became Motown’s most successful artists of that decade. The Supremes are still the best charting girl group in US history and one of the world’s best-selling girl groups of all time.

Did I tell you Diana Ross called me up to the stage because she liked my dress?

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Image Courtesy of Cheryl Strayed
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After the death of her mother, the breakup of her family and subsequently experimenting with heroin, Cheryl Strayed made a radical decision to hike 1,100 miles up the Pacific Crest Trail from California to Oregon. She was 26, alone, in an unforgiving wilderness, with no hiking experience. Wild, Cheryl’s powerful memoir about her journey became a number one, New York Times Bestseller, a film, starring Reese Witherspoon and the first selection for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0. 

From heartbreak and darkness to clarity, Cheryl holds nothing back. Her transparency is jaw-dropping.

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— Life —

ALL PHOTOGRAPHS ©ADRIAN VILLETA
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While trying to flee the heat this week I discovered a book of artistic photographs, each a true work of art, and then found myself slipping down the rabbit hole to learn everything I could about the man who created them. Adrian Villeta, a photographic artist from San Juan, Puerto Rico, blurs the boundaries of photography and painting. In his gorgeous new book, Adrian Villeta Poetic Vision—the forward written by Gloria Vanderbilt—Villeta’s imagination and attention to detail knows no boundaries.

As Villeta says about himself, “I have always lived in an imaginary version of reality.”

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— Life —

BECAUSE BLUE, BLOOD VEINS WERE CONSIDERED BEAUTIFUL, RENAISSANCE WOMEN WOULD MIMIC THE 'BLUE BLOOD' LOOK BY APPLYING CRUSHED LAPIS TO THEIR FOREHEAD WITH A TINY BRUSH.
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When I was in Florence last month, a British historian gave me and my friend a tour of the Uffizi Gallery, one of Italy’s most important museums. The Uffizi contains a priceless collection of paintings and sculptures from the Italian Renaissance. Our guide shared a treasure trove of knowledge about art and history as well as some “odd” pieces of trivia. While many of them don’t surprise me, others are beyond strange.

I’m just the messenger!

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I was driving to meet a friend for lunch this week, and within a 10-mile stretch, I saw three new self-storage facilities. I was shocked and amused that Americans have become so attached to their stuff they’re paying rent to store it. A few years ago it was hard to find a place to store household belongings while in transition or over a college summer break. Now it seems there’s a self-storage building on almost every corner.

I did some research and found there are five times more self-storage units than there are Starbucks!

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All photographs ©Brenda Coffee, 2017
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Like an Italian Woodstock, people of all ages and nationalities, wearing Rolling Stones t-shirts, poured into the walled Renaissance city of Lucca, Italy, to see what might be the last tour of the Rolling Stones. A reported 55,000 to 75,000 people made the pilgrimage for the Stones’s #NoFilter European tour, and I was one of them. It’s always a great day when I get to see the Rolling Stones. They’ve been part of my life since I was 12 and had a front row, center seat to their second U.S. performance in San Antonio, Texas.

It’s an even better day when I get to see the Stones and meet an angel.

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I have the rare blessing of a lifelong friendship with my high school math teacher. Ms. Bowers taught me every level of math including trig, analytic geometry and calculus. When there were no more math classes to take, I became her aide, and she often reminds me of how hard I was on my fellow students. Occasionally she’ll call just to tell me how wonderful I am, and how much I still mean to her. I pour the love back to her, in deep gratitude for the way she mentored me through high school (without me knowing it). I always thank her for changing my life by insisting I leave East Texas and go to Austin to attend the University of Texas at the young age of 17. I shudder to think what might have been had I not followed her advice. Continue Reading