Mistress of the Mix: Aaron Neville Tells It Like It Is

It's official! A News Cafe readers are the luckiest readers in these here parts. This week, once again, A News Cafe, Jefferson Public Radio and yours truly, the Mistress of the Mix, team up to give away a pair of front row tickets to see and hear another spectacular performer at the Cascade Theatre. So read on, give the Nevillecentric playlist a listen, and comment below to enter to win.

I've had the rare opportunity to meet, even if only for a few brief moments, some of the most amazing and talented performers in the world since JPR restored the Cascade Theatre. Sometimes I'm lucky enough for that meeting to be a 15 minute conversation about buying funeral plots, as was the case with Chris Isaak, sharing an entire meal together (the Manhattan Transfer), or sharing the stage for an entire song (when Pink Martini invited me up for their encore). But mostly my moments are nothing more than a quick handshake (if that) just before I run out on stage to get you excited about upcoming shows (you do know Peter Frampton is coming next Spring, right? And Foreigner? And Kenny Rogers?)  and thank our sponsors.

That was pretty much the case the last time Aaron Neville brought his amazing voice to Redding a couple of years ago. He came up the stairs, said hello to me, and then I turned around and ran out for my 2 minutes alone with ya'all.

I'm really looking forward to Aaron Neville's next appearance on the Cascade Theatre stage on December 21st. Not just because of the distinctive quality of Neville's voice, but because I'd really like the opportunity to thank him for being so willing to go on the road during the holidays. I  have to really respect someone who's willing to venture out to entertain the demanding masses (that would be us) just a few days before Christmas.

Being on the road ain't easy. You've probably seen those big buses that hug the alley behind the theatre during a show. That's not just a means of getting around for most of the performers who grace the stage of the Cascade. That's home. Sometimes for months at a time. Living on a bus is just part of the necessary evil of being a star performer on tour.

I've lived on a small island before. It was just me and a few thousand other people who tended to get pretty grumpy in the winter when the weather was bad and there was nothing to do but sit inside, and we just saw the same faces day after day. Even though my island was 30 miles long and a few miles wide, it felt so small in the winter, that being stuck there was a slow suffocation.

Now take that small island claustrophia and put it on a 40 foot bus with one bathroom, and send it out on the road in the middle of December, from Oklahoma through Texas, to Arizona, and then up I-5, for 4 shows in one week. That's Aaron Neville's life right now. Taking the same path as Santa Claus, pretty much, just a few days before Christmas. Maybe he's breaking trail for the big guy in red.

It must take a very strong backbone, a lot of patience and a real love of what you do if you're going to do it like this, and you're doing it at this time of the year. Well, I'd like to thank him for gracing us in that way, and maybe I'll get the opportunity to do that when he takes to the stage on the 21st.

Check out today's playlist on Grooveshark if you want a taste of what Aaron Neville will be singing during that show.

Hopefully you, sweet reader, will be able to grace the Cascade Theatre with your presence as well. One lucky reader will get a pair of front & center seats to enjoy the show just by commenting below. I'll draw the winner in the traditional scientific manner....by tossing all the entries into an old green fruitcake tin I keep next to my desk and drawing a name a few days before the show.

A final note: I'd like to toss out a holiday gift idea for those who want to keep it local: A Cascade Theatre gift certificate or membership.(Click here to purchase a gift certificate, or here to become a member.)  The theatre is offering memberships early for the next season (which doesn't start until late Spring or early Summer 2012). If you join now, you'll have early ticket purchasing privileges for the entire 2012-13 JPR season (which hasn't even been released yet) plus any new JPR shows added for the rest of this season. You'll also have the ability to exchange seats within a show or exchange tickets from one JPR show to another if something comes up months after you've purchased tickets that keeps you from attending. It's a great feel-good thing to do, because you'll be supporting a local non-profit dedicated to making your life more rewarding by bringing high quality entertainment and culture to our town.

Valerie Ing-Miller has been the Northern California Program Coordinator for Jefferson Public Radio in Redding for nine years and can often be found serving as Mistress of Ceremonies at the Cascade Theatre. For her, ultimate satisfaction comes from a perfect segue. She's the mother of a teenage daughter and a 7-year-old West Highland Terrier, and can't imagine life without them or music. Valerie wakes up with a song in her head, she sings in the shower and at the top of her lungs in the car.

A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment. Views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of anewscafe.com.

Valerie Ing
Valerie Ing-Miller has been the Northern California Program Coordinator for Jefferson Public Radio in Redding for 14 years and can often be found serving as Mistress of Ceremonies at the Cascade Theatre. For her, ultimate satisfaction comes from a perfect segue. She and her husband are parents to a couple of college students and a pair of West Highland Terriers, and Valerie can’t imagine life without them or music. The Mistress of the Mix wakes up every day with a song in her head, she sings in the shower and at the top of her lungs in the car.
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29 Responses

  1. Carey Castagnoli says:

    Per usual, your playlist is PURE perfection! Thank you for reminding us all that like Santa, Aaron Neville is out there, away from home sharing his gift of Christmas cheer and song. Merry Christmas!

  2. Adrienne Jacoby Adrienne Jacoby says:

    Bus touring ain't half bad these days. Most road musicians would prefer to do the bus to their next gig rather than flying; however, doing all that during the holidays begs the question even for hardened, on-the-road musicians. Thank you Aaron for sharing this season with us . . . and safe trip back to "N'arleans" for Christmas. Also, thank you Mistress Of the Mix (you realize that makes you a MOM right?) for your part in keeping the music alive and well.

  3. Adrienne Jacoby Adrienne Jacoby says:

    P.S. GREAT idea for gift giving. One of my soap boxes these days. Buy your loved one an experience, not thing. . . and keep it local.

  4. autumn says:

    I lived in Valdez, Alaska for seven years and worked on the local radio station there…KCHU, the sneeze of Valdez, so I can relate. I enjoy your stories and your playlists very much. Please place my name in your fruitcake tin. I would love to see Aaron Neville!

    • Autumn – the island I was referring to was in Southeast AK. I spent 13 years in Petersburg, 7 of them working at KFSK. As a reporter, I did a lot of pieces on Alaska News Nightly and the AK Fisheries Report. I contemplated going to Valdez once…it was 1989, the oil spill had just happened. It was a great opportunity, but I passed on it because I'd just started my job in Psg.

  5. Leslie says:

    As usual, Valerie's columns are a joy to read, and make me appreciate living in the North State. I'd love to hear Aaron Neville perform, perfect for a Date Night with the hubby!

  6. Debi says:

    "Tell it like it is" a favorite – love reading your column and enjoy your playlists. Please enter me in your drawing for Aaron Neville tickets – love him – love you!

  7. Mary D says:

    This will be a great show, I'm sure! Please enter me in your drawing.

  8. James Montgomery James Montgomery says:

    Interesting song selection. Sure different from the stuff he did with his brothers! Of course, he could sing the back of a cereal box and make it sound great.

  9. Roberta Busher says:

    I sure hope he sings "Such a Night"! My favorite song to get in the mood!

    Got my tickets already

  10. Barb says:

    One of my favorite performers! I am constantly amazed at the quality of talent that makes pit stops in Redding! Thanks for all you do to promote great music here! Would love to be in your drawing!

  11. kirsten says:

    Val- I don't know this artist AT ALL, so would love to be in the drawing! After all: you introduced me to "Pink Martini" and I became their top fan! So your choices are up my alley…….. for sure.

  12. Liz says:

    'WHO DAT!' Scintillating sublime sweetness………..yes, literally alliterative, that's how she rolls. When I get to heaven I want Aaron on continuous PLAY!

  13. Claudia Hastings says:

    After just recently thinking of losing ART HOP. I must say that the Cascade Theater is another of the BEST things about Redding! And it continues to get better. Thank you and all the others involved. Wish I could afford to go to all the shows.

  14. Jon Lewis Jon Lewis says:

    Had the pleasure of chatting with Aaron over the phone. Pretty cool cat. You can read my interview here: http://after5online.com/Issues/11-12%20AF.pdf (once the pdf loads, it's on Page 8)

    It should be a great show and I want to thank JPR and the Cascade for continuing to bring such cool opportunities to Redding!



  15. Budd Hodges says:

    Val…Put me in your drawing for two free tickets please. Thanx!

  16. Pam Baugh says:

    Hi Valerie

    I would love to be in the drawing for tix to the Neville concert…How heavenly!

    Thanks for what you do for our community:)

  17. Gayle says:

    Please put my name in the drawing for tickets


  18. michelle Nicolls says:

    Love your columns and Aaron Neville. Please drop my name in the drawing too. Thanks fr the opportunity and for the good writing too.

  19. Jamie Harvey says:


    This should be a great concert, please enter my name in the drawing, thanks.

    Have a great day,


  20. Brooke says:

    Dear Santa . . . May I please have two tickets for the Aaron Neville concert?

  21. Out n About says:

    Can Not think of a better way to spend a romantic evening with a one that is loved. Pick me!

  22. Louise Wilson says:


    I know your music recommendations are top-notch, because I went to see Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (for the first time) with a friend and it was lots of fun! Haven't seen Aaron Neville yet, but would love to.

  23. Vickie says:

    Listening to a cassette tape, yes, from 1993, "Aaron Neville's Soulful Christmas" while I dance around the kitchen baking gingerbread cookies to send to family…………splendide voice & music! Buy a ticket!!!…You'll never forget his performance!

  24. Vickie – thanks for reminding me to execute the drawing so that one lucky winner won't have to buy a ticket! By the way, do you already have yours Vickie? Because guess what…this morning I put all the entries into a yellow bowl and my daughter stuck in her hand and drew your name! So even if you already have a ticket, now you've got FRONT ROW SEATS! We'll get in touch via email as well and get your tickets under your full name at will call.

    Congratulations, and thanks for reading Mistress of the Mix on A News Cafe.

    If you can't attend the show, we can always draw another name…just let me know.

    Have a wonderful time, be sure to say hi at the show, and be sure to tune in to MOtM next week for not one, not two, but THREE holiday playlists just in time for last minute tree trimming and holiday cookie baking ambience!!!

    • Vickie says:

      Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

      Yes, Valerie I will be able to attend the show now thanks to winning your ticket drawing! I've replied to your email with requested info.


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