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The Title Tracker holiday party and mini show hosted by Tracker Russell and his lovely life mate Mika is as wonderful as it gets. This is their fourth one in a row and the third I have attended. The intimacy and elegance of this one lent itself to the Trackers being able to let their proverbial hair down and enjoy it as much as their guests. And that is truly what we were last night, guests not attendees. This year, unlike last, it was a smaller intimate group which ranged from a friend since kindergarten to an adorable 23 year old transplant from the Bronx who was meeting them for the first time as the guest of the Blitzstein Art Gallery manager.  It was duly noted how she managed to lose her Bronx accent in three months while I have held onto mine for 30 years.

It was good to watch them in conversations at length about all sorts of things like songwriting and the process one Tracker goes through with people they don’t often get to share this with or discussing music with the imitable Georgia B. who runs the Midnight Mission on Skid Row.   Her passion for music and the homeless has led her to create an intersection for feeding their stomachs and their souls with the music and art programs she brings to them each week. Georgia is a shining light in this very dark problem.

We forget what our local musical heroes go through when putting on a full blown gig for us. We don’t often think about the stress technically and musically and what it takes to keep scores of fans coming back for more. They must balance the myriad details of getting it all set up and ready to go with the glad handing that must be done so that every fan who comes is rewarded with a word or two, a hug or a kiss. It’s a contract of sorts that any good artist who wants to keep doing this must enter into. It can’t always easy for them to balance this. So to be able to do this event once a year, where they can mix a beautifully simple presentation of a few old Title Track favorites done by Jim, Bono and John with a preview of a new lost Title Track or two in a truly jovial, relaxed atmosphere is well pretty good actually.
The heartbeat of the event was our hostess, Mika, a quadruple threat of talent if there ever was one. She is an amazing photographer and videographer to start, but then she simply whipped off that apron after making the most delicious Hanukkah food for us and literally never missed a beat playing the cello with the Trackers last night. Why she doesn’t open a restaurant I don’t know. My favorite part of this evening and of many of the past Tracker gigs is the good night Tracker huddle. I somehow always manage to catch it at a distance. These three embrace for a few moments privately at the end of their events. I adore this gesture by this brotherhood of blended talent that gives us those terrific lost title tracks that we love so much. I imagine they are once again sharing the joy of another job well done. Either that or they are thanking one of the trackers for not spilling his beer all night. And so I thank them all for a lovely, lovely evening and for reminding us that the best holiday presents are often simply to be in the presence of some great people for the holidays.