CHAMPAGNE flowed at Sunday night's gala dessert reception following the homey performance of Gregory Hines, a really nice guy. Hines and his group of talented musicians put on a 90-minute show that made most people walk out of the Meyerhoff feeling much better than when they'd walked in. Especially people who had worked so hard on this fund-raiser and those involved with the agencies that will benefit from his appearance -- Susan Leviton, president of Advocates for Children and Youth (ACY); Georgie Smith, president of Maryland Friends of Foster Children Foundation; Marcie Abell, executive co-chair of the fund-raiser; Leonard Attman, Attman Properties; and Carol Dugan ACY executive director.
Other highlights of the evening: Hines walked down the aisle looking for tap dancers and seemed to embarrass local decorator Alexander Baer, when he asked him to stand, because Hines thought he resembled Jimmy Carter; Backstage, I noticed a distinguished-looking man walk up to the dressing room door and knock, so I figured he must know Hines well. Turns out he's Bidey Wood, who had been Hines' manager when Hines was 13 and they had not seen one another for many years. Also backstage was Patrice Martin, of Spirit Vision Productions, who had met Hines when he was at the Freedom Theatre in Philadelphia, rehearsing "Eubie" before it went to New York. She believes that spiritual music will become some of the hottest sounds around soon.
Faces in the crowd -- Barbara and David Blum, Maren Yumkas Blum and her husband, Bruce, Stuart Frankel, Louise Keelty, Seymour Attman, Rabbi and Mrs. Donald Berlin, Bishop and Ruthie Robinson, Nancy and Lou Grasmick, Penny and Sewell Watts and Mary Sue McCarthy and her mom, Beverly. (Don't be surprised if you hear that the Grasmicks, Robinsons and Badgers have taken up tap dancing. We decided that perhaps a family that taps together stays together!)
Even with lots of bubbly, most planners would not say in front of me how much money they might have raised, but I heard that after the bills (Hines, Meyerhoff, Truffles, etc.,) are paid it should be well over $100,000 for two wonderful causes.
One might say that the Multiple Sclerosis Society double-dippethe honoree department last week at its annual Testimonial Dinner. More than 500 people packed the BWI Airport Marriott, (where else would you honor a Marriott?) to rub elbows with honorees J. Willard Marriott Jr., son of the founder of the Marriott chain that calls Maryland its corporate home, and former Baltimore County Executive Dennis Rasmussen.
Gov. William Donald Schaefer presented Marriott with a lovely stained-glass window that had the Marriott flag on one side and the Maryland flag on the other. The Zim Zemarel Orchestras played "The Bear Went Over the Mountain" as Marriott walked to the podium to thank the governor and told him that "You're the only Democrat I ever voted for." He accepted the award on behalf of his 6,000 employees and Bridges, a Marriott foundation program that recruits people with disabilities.
When Schaefer presented Rasmussen with his stained-glass window with the Baltimore County seal on one side and the state flag on the other, Rasmussen said, "I know just the place to put this." Schaefer retorted that if he'd said that, he knows what would have happened. And I must say that he went on for a while before making everyone laugh when he said that he's all for Caller ID, so he could return some of the phone calls he gets.
Rasmussen was honored for all the good things his administration did for people with disabilities. He looks great and told everyone that this was the first time he'd stood in front of a large crowd as a civilian and not a politician.
course, when you consider that this event raised about $120,000 during these tough economic times, you have to consider who ran the show: Lou Grasmick, Grasmick Lumber, and Dan Colton, Colton-Laskin, were co-chairs, so need I say more?
Eubie Blake would have loved his 108th birthday bash last week the Baltimore Grand. (I've never forgotten how gracious he was when I met him at a party given in his honor at the Mechanic Theatre years ago.)
Roaring Twenties set the mood for the dress and the entertainment of Lewis Hamlin's Big Band, solo pianist Kamara Kambon and pianist Terry Waldo, a former student and noted authority on Eubie Blake. He's also the author of "This is Ragtime."
The Urban Services Agency presented two well-known Baltimore couples with its Humanitarian Awards at the party. Honorees were John H. Murphy III, who spent 49 years working for the Afro American, a paper that his grandfather founded; and his wife, Camay Calloway Murphy, Cab Calloway's daughter, who has been a moving force behind the Eubie Blake Cultural Arts Center programs; and Jack Bowden, a respected broadcast journalist since 1958, now covering the legislature for WJLA-TV, Channel 7 in Washington, and his wife, Susan White-Bowden, who spent 22 years on the air at WMAR-TV and is one of the world's nice people. The Bowdens own and operate White-Bowden Associates, which produces videos for businesses, industries and schools.
Proceeds from the evening went to the center's cultural programs.