The idea came to me one day, when I was out for a run. I had a combination of Hanky Panky, Life Saver and Mongonucleosis blasting on my ipod. The idea was this...as a fan of Chicago for over 40 years, how could I get them to come to my hometown, Hamilton, Ontario?
I'm the afternoon news anchor at 900 CHML in Hamilton. Our station is, and has always been, heavily involved in our community. So, with the station's promotional assistance, the question became, can we get the boys up here for a benefit concert, and can I host the event?
Last April, I approached PJ Mercanti, the president of Carmen's Banquet Center. The final words as we wrapped up our meeting will stay with me forever.."I'm excited by this."
Weeks turned into months. Finally, on Friday, September 23, I received a call on my cell phone, that Chicago were coming to Hamilton, on Monday, January 30, 2012 for a charity fund-raiser.
The good news became better.
My station got behind the event. People in the city got excited. And, I found out, I had a phone interview lined up with Lee Loughnane!
I was never more prepared for anything I've done in this business. Lee and I talked for 17 minutes, and that could have tuned into an hour and 17 minutes. Afterwards, I was humbled when Lee told me I may it easy for him to be interviewed. Many people told me, it sounded like two old friends chatting. That's true... Lee and I have been friends for 40 years...only he didn't know it!
Fast forward to January 30. My role was to greet the band as they arrived at Carmen's C Hotel. I walked down the hall, turned the corner, and the first person I saw... was my idol... James Pankow!
With my hand extended, I said "Jim, I'm Ted Michaels. Welcome to Hamilton. I have to tell you what an honour it is...." With that... my eyes welled up. I couldn't contain my emotions. I'm normally not star-struck, but this was different. I can tell you that Jim was as down-to-earth and gracious as could be as he told me how nice it was to hear that.
After meeting all the guys, we headed up to the VIP reception. I had the honour of introducing each member of the band to the assembled crowd, something they didn't expect, but appreciated.
Then, showtime! Again, the emotions got the better of me, when they played Beginnings and I've Been Searching So Long.
After the show, I spent a little more time with the band before they departed. And truthfully, I didn't want the night to end.
Why am I writing this?
Simply to let everyone know that what you see in concert, or on Chicago Premium Access, is what you get. These guys are absolute gems. As easy-going as can be. They're outstanding musicians who are getting better. I'm not ashamed to say... I love you guys!
A quick thank you to Laurie, Marc and Steve, for all your help. I'm not trying to embarass you, but you must know how easy you made it for me.
The final word is the one I wanted to hear... and Walt provided the answer. At the end of the night, when I was on stage, I turned to the band and asked them one question..."will you come back to Hamilton?"