75th Season of Arkansas Valley Community Concerts Wakes Up in America

Description: Sanya Mateyas sings a heartwarming La Vie en Rose while Tajci Cameron, David Langley, and Brian Hanson accompany. (Photo Credit: Bette McFarren)

Published: 10/02/2021
Byline: McFarren

Waking Up in America Draws Crowd in La Junta

By: Bette McFarren

Waking Up in America AVCCA Bette McFarren SECO News seconews.orgBrian Hanson plays the score from “An Affair to Remember.” Hanson is heart and soul of the group and supplies comedy along with masterful piano solos and accompaniment.

The Ed Stafford Theatre on the Otero Junior College Campus appeared to be packed for the opening of the 75th season of the Arkansas Valley Community Concert Association. However, the crowd probably numbered 200 to 225, said Treasurer Kathy Parker, and appeared greater because of the social distancing being observed. The audience also wore masks, and kept them on during the performance, to the gratification of President Judy Hensley, who wants to keep everybody safe from the spread of COVID.

The show was worth the effort to come and be masked and sit at social distancing from other groups or families. “Waking Up in America” is a show by two Croation singers, Tajci Cameron and Sanya Mateyas, well known in their native Croatia, Brian Hanson, a dynamic MC and pianist, and David Langley, who handles the old time western and new cowboy songs, along with the sound mixing from his computer on-stage. The songs were from the American Songbook.

Waking Up in America AVCCA Bette McFarren SECO News seconews.orgTajci Cameron and David Langley do June and Johnny Cash in a rousing rendition of “Jackson” - you remember - “We got married in Jackson, hotter than a pepper pot.”

Tatiana “Tajci” Cameron, in 1992 at the age of 21, left her European celebrity to come to New York City at the height of her career. She had been a pop superstar in Croatia since she was 19, but she wanted to experience the American Dream. Sanya Mateyas, her younger sister, was born in Zagreb, Croatia and graduated from music conservatory in flute. She started singing and acting at the age of five. In her teenage years, she was employed by Zagreb Repertory Theatre as a singer and actor. She had released four solo albums by the time she was 20.

Waking Up in America AVCCA Bette McFarren SECO News seconews.orgDavid Langley sings “Gentle on My Mind,” reminding us of the gentle poet Glenn Campbell. Langley also did the sound mixing onstage in addition to performing.

During the show, Tajci played accordion and guitar, and Sanya played flute as well as singing. Brian Hanson is the MC, piano player and comedian of the group, and also their contact man. His star performance in this show was his masterful rendition of the score of “An Affair to Remember,” the famous movie starring Clark Gable and Deborah Kerr. His playing of “Misty” reminds one of the title, “Play Misty for Me.” Never forgetting the audience, he also turned upside-down on the piano bench as Tacji and David Langley performed a duet of Johnny and June Cash’s “Jackson.” David Langley is not only the guitarist and singer of western songs, but also the sound technician of the show, fine-tuning the audio on every number. For all who love Glenn Campbell, his performance of “Gentle on my Mind” brought back pleasant memories.

Sanya’s lovely voice made her performance of “La Vie en Rose” ring through the great acoustics of the Ed Stafford Theatre, and her flute enhanced “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

Tajci’s accordion accompanied many songs, and she played guitar as well. What was really a surprise, was that in the second act, she wore her tap shoes and broke out dancing to “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love.” The most moving song, though this writer is a big fan of “Crazy,” was “Those Were the Days.” At one point, the Otero Junior College Chorus belted out a chorus, and everyone was singing along with the “Ay, la, la, la, la la” part.

The performance ended with a standing ovation. The cabaret show was a big hit in La Junta and the Arkansas Valley.

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