It's almost game time on a beautiful afternoon in Houston and free time is incredibly tight for Eric Nadel. The legendary voice of Texas Rangers broadcasts, who would choose Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run" as his walkout music from the dugout, did have some time to talk with DC9 before the Rangers took on the Astros. As a matter of fact, he was kind enough to dish on some of the details of his "Birthday Bash" at the Kessler Theater, which happens tonight.
This year will be part birthday celebration, part benefit, and part comeback show, continuing the spirit of Nadel's previous bashes. Back in 2001, he helped raise money for a dog park and held the bash at Poor David's Pub. A few years later, he started holding the shows at the Oak Cliff staple, the Kessler.
As Nadel turns 63 this year, country stars Hal Ketchum and Daphne Willis will play. Proceeds will go to the CONTACT Crisis Hotline, a 24/7/365 hotline that Nadel's wife has worked with since the late '90s. With a mission statement of giving "people the ability to take back control of their lives" through listening and offering hope, Nadel sees a universal need for what the hotline does.
Given the position he is in, a few months shy of being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, CONTACT could always use more funding and name recognition in the media. "I figured," Nadel says, "what better way of letting me put on a concert and allow me to go on radio and TV for the weeks leading up to the concert and letting people know what CONTACT does?"
This is a pretty special show for the headliner, Hal Ketchum, as he is on a comeback trail of sorts. A few years ago, he was forced to retire after contracting a debilitating disease called Acute Transverse Myelitis, which is similar to Multiple Sclerosis. Ketchum lost all feeling in the left side of his body, meaning he lost the ability to play guitar. Yet he's doing better now and has relearned how to play up and down a fretboard. "I saw him at the Kessler in November and it was incredible," Nadel says. "He sounds just like how he sounded in the '90s."
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Seats for the show were sold out a month ago, but less than 100 standing-room-only tickets are left. If you dig heritage folk and country music, you're in for something great as Ketchum wants to play more and more and Daphne Willis comes from a family of greats. And if you run into Nadel, try your best imitation of his signature sign-off, "So long, everybody!"