I recently took a trip to the west coast – to Carmel by the Sea and Big Sur, California. The seventy-degree temperature was a welcome break from the hot humid weather of Atlanta. Driving south on famous Highway One, and looking out over the Pacific Ocean with the cliffs and breath-taking views, was inspiring. As with most photos of nature, you need to see it live to appreciate the beauty. Photographs can’t capture the scale of the redwood trees and the cliffs. If you haven’t seen this area of the country, I recommend it. It’s one of America’s treasures.
One of my friends and colleagues in the music business, Gig Xifaras, gave me his “must do” list for the Carmel area. Gig lives in San Francisco, so he knows all the great hotels, restaurants and points of interest in California. When I booked my trip, contacting Gig was a no-brainer. He knows everyone and everyone knows Gig.
On the final night of the stay, we had dinner at Dametra Café in Carmel by the Sea. They specialize in Mediterranean food. Dan, a charming native of Carmel (who started us off with a party pour of wine) greeted us at the bar. Seated next to us was a jolly-framed, happy gentleman from Romania, who taught quantum physics in Argentina and is currently working on the concept of four dimensional art sculptures.
During our second party pour of wine, the music started and our new Romanian friend stood up in the intimate setting of this charming restaurant and sang a Romanian folk song to the delight of all the patrons. He commanded the room with the power of a veteran Broadway actor. Every eye in the place was on him as he worked the room like a polished politician. I couldn’t help but notice everyone in the place was smiling.
After a tremendous round of applause, he returned to his seat beside us. He told us that during his time in Argentina, he had decided to take up singing and learned over one hindered and fifty songs. “I love to sing. It makes me happy,” he said.
Later in the evening (after another one of Dan’s party pours), the chef and maitre d’ found their way to the middle of the restaurant with a bouzouki. While the staff played percussion, they entertained the room. Everyone was singing and clapping along. They were not only serving some of the best food on the planet, they were giving us all an experience.
As our new Romanian friend made his way out shaking hands with the patrons, it occurred to me what a wonderful gift he and the staff had given us. For a brief time, we were all one – sharing the experience of music given to us as a gift. There was no cover charge or tip jar, and no names of the entertainers on a marque.
The songs were sung because those who frequent and work at Dametra’s simply wanted to share their gifts with us.
In a world with many people hurting and divided, we, in the room on this night, got to experience what happens when we come together to eat, drink and sing. If I can bring joy and smiles as the Dametra staff and our Romanian friend did to my clients, I will sleep well at night. I want to be a part of that kind of magic.
Thanks, Dan, for the party pours. To the Dametra family and staff, keep up the important work you’re doing. And, if you ever need a recommendation on the best places to visit in California – ask Gig. Thanks! You rock!