People, People Who Meet People

phillips

(Are the luckiest people in the world)

You never know who you’ll meet at the bar during happy hour. Embracing the unexpected usually leads to meeting interesting people and having a good time. In Atlantic City, many have traveled 2 or 3 hours to come from Long Island or New York City. The three women we meet this evening have come from Philadelphia and one has arrived by train. (Insert New York accent here.) Who knew there was a train from Philly to AC?

Phillips Seafood is the best happy hour on Sunday, simply because it’s all day long! The house Chardonnay is quite drinkable and pairs nicely with the happy hour food such as crispy calamari with pineapple sweet chili or crab stuffed mushrooms.

We learn that our three new acquaintances, Louisa, Janet, and Julie, are singers and they are going to perform with a pianist named Bob Egan. They explain to us that Bobby calls people up to sing and he can accompany them on just about any song. He sounds like a human Karaoke machine!

Being musicians ourselves, we are intrigued and find out where and when this event is taking place. My husband is a bit hesitant to tag along, but I insist and we follow the three ladies through the casino and a maze of connecting hallways to The Claridge Hotel.

Pianist, Bob Egan, is setting up as the party is getting started. We order a couple of glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon at the bar as folks trickle in. The atmosphere is warm and friendly. Everyone’s saying hello even though we don’t know a soul except for the three ladies we met at happy hour at Phillips bar.

An older gentleman dressed to the nines in a snappy, well-fitted tuxedo has just arrived. The buzz at the bar is that this man is named Buddy and he’s here to celebrate his 89th birthday. He looks terrific at age 89!

The music begins as one by one, Bobby calls the singers up to belt out Broadway hits and croon old-time jazz standards. I’m called upon to sing and do my part with a classic Linda Ronstadt hit. Our new acquaintance, Janet, introduces us to her ex, an opera singer performing tonight. His technical prowess and sweet emotion are balanced to perfection, bringing a tear to everyone’s eye.

Meanwhile, Buddy makes the rounds through the entire room, thanking everyone for attending his birthday bash. I was too embarrassed to say that we crashed the party, but instead wished him the very best birthday. Buddy tells us that he works at the historic Absecon Lighthouse.

As the party come to a close, we thank Louisa, Janet, and Julie for encouraging us to tag along and take our leave. Back in the quiet of our hotel room, the evening’s festivities take on surreal, Alice in Wonderland effect. We turn to the Internet for a dose of reality.

buddy

Buddy Grover is a volunteer at the historic Absecon Lighthouse in Atlantic City, NJ. At least twice a week he climbs the 228 steps to guide visitors to the top to enjoy the magnificent views and experience the lighthouse watchroom.  http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/life/absecon-lighthouse-s-retired-volunteers-always-moving-up/article_405b63d6-1ded-11e6-a1d0-3f37db336365.html

bobegan

In addition to running an entertainment agency, (http://www.bobeganentertainment.com/) Bob Egan hosts “Open Mic Nights” like the one we had the pleasure of attending. Bob seems to know hundreds of songs and uses a tablet full of sheet music and lead sheets to guide him through less familiar music. The show is like Karaoke, only better because it’s all live. He customizes the accompaniment to the singer’s key and tempo and provides a human touch that’s missing from those Karaoke recordings.

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