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PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:45 pm 
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As the 2013 Laura Branigan Spirit Of Love Memorial Gathering has come to a close, we look back at some great memories with fans and friends, old and new.

On Friday, we kicked off the weekend with some great LB video footage. We then made our traditional trek to the beach near Hampton Bays, one of the beaches Laura frequented, for our Beach Memorial, giving us time to reflect and remember, as well as spending some quality time with the setting sun, sand, and surf. Afterward, we screened some rare footage, and also that which can only be seen here at Spirit Of Love: Laura's choreography and band rehearsals for her "Hold Me" tour, which is taken from her own private video collection.

On Saturday, we had a fantastic memorabilia display, including great and unique items from first-time and returning participants! Everyone agreed that this year's trivia contest was a bit more challenging, and our winners (from 1st to 3rd place) were Jen, Cinnamon, and Ashlee. Congratulations to all our winners, and as always, a huge thank-you to our resident trivia queen Atsumi for her work, and also many thanks to Jim for custom-making the award plaques! After our lunch break, we enjoyed more LB video footage, and ended the afternoon with Laura's final performance with her band from January 2004. Next, after dinner, we had a special time with Tommy Bayiokos joining us for our Candlelight Memorial, with many speaking heartfelt feelings about what Laura and her music means to them, and Kathy held an extra candle for all those who were joining us "in spirit." Tommy and Kathy both addressed the group, and answered some fan questions. Afterward, we showed more rare video you can only see at Spirit Of Love: Laura's performance at the 40th anniversary celebration for Specialty Records Corporation (which was thee east coast pressing house for Atlantic and Warner vinyl, cassette, and CD titles), and Laura's 1998 Meadowlands, New Jersey concert!

For our casual Sunday outing, we trekked out to Montauk Lighthouse, stopping first at the newest Hampton Coffee Company location, the Southampton "Coffee Experience" store, and catching some great views along the way out to "The End", passing through Water Mill, Bridgehampton, Easthampton, and Amagansett. At Montauk Lighthouse, some in our group made the 137-step trip up over 100 feet to the top! On our way back through the Hamptons, we stopped for lunch at Buckley's Inn Between in Hampton Bays, where we treated our palates to a range of excellent dishes including some Irish fare in honor of Laura's heritage, including corned beef and cabbage, as well as bangers and mash, shepherd's pie, and fish & chips. Continuing our way westward, we drove by the home in East Quogue where Laura last resided and finished up in Westhampton Beach with a stop at Westhampton T-Shirts shop, and after a stroll through the town, ending up at the beautifully renovated and expanded Simon's Beach Bakery and Grand Café for a bit of dessert, including Napoleons and éclairs, among other delights!

All in all, the 2013 Spirit Of Love was a great success, and we sincerely thank everyone for attending, and everyone who had good wishes for this year's event. Thanks also to the staff and management at the Hilton Garden Inn Islip/MacArthur Airport for once again going above and beyond to so graciously take care of our group. Also, thanks to Jim and Sharon for providing some great snacks and refreshments (including some scrumptious smoked salmon!), and Cinnamon for helping document our weekend with her masterful photography, which we'll share along with additional photos soon. We thank Buckley's Inn Between in Hampton Bays for graciously hosting our group for lunch during our Sunday outing in the Hamptons. Additional thanks from the bottom of our hearts to Jen, who has always been there for Laura and for us, and whose friendship and support we treasure greatly. Thanks too, Jen, for bringing Ashlee this year - always great to see the younger generation connect with Laura and her music. Last, but certainly not least, we thank our close friend, and Laura's percussionist and special friend, Tommy Bayiokos, for joining us at each and every Spirit Of Love for the past 9 years. Thank you, Tommy, for being so cordial and generous with all the fans who attended; for the gifts presented; for the refreshment and Greek pastries that you brought along for everyone, as well as leading us in a toast to Laura; and most of all for the very heartfelt words that you delivered so poignantly. Thanks too, Tommy, for always standing by us on our shared journey of carrying forth Laura's legacy and ensuring that she and her artistry are never forgotten.

We also remember all of Laura's fans around the world, whom we know, that even though distance separated us, your hearts were right here with us in New York throughout the event. You're the best!!

We look forward to next year, where we hope to see you at the 2014 Spirit Of Love!

~ Kathy & Vince Golik, Other Half Entertainment

PS: Photos coming soon!

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You`re still here beside me every day
`Cause I know you by heart...


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2013 3:54 pm 
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Tommy Bayiokos' Writing Published In 2013 Spirit Of Love Event Program


"Didn't We Almost Win It All"
by Tommy Bayiokos

With the passage of time and in solace, I have reinterpreted the title and meaning of Laura's tune, as many may relate to how something so wonderful, beautiful, natural, and real can be taken away from us in an instant. Laura left us way too soon, and for many, it is a timeless wound that never fully heals as we march forward in life with its challenges, triumphs, and sorrows. I have grown with the mantra that "life is short, but love lasts forever.” We are here but a short time and tomorrow is never promised.

I recall in my years with the band, Laura showing fierce promise for better days with her joy for cooking, gardening, touring with her band, and caring for her beloved mom Kathleen. During my months with her, I found that the simplicity of life is what she adored most. We often search and search, with the treasure usually right in front of us, yet we are not ready to see it. Laura saw it, and that is what bonded us together - unplanned and deeper than deep. The exchange is uniquely wonderful with someone who knows the same lyrics to the same songs you do. We both loved and lost in our lives, and I can tell you I experienced a profound love with her that to this day stays with me and gives me the strength to excel, to be a better man today and tomorrow. Whatever success I have had since, credit the love of Laura beside me as she was my greatest teacher of life, love, arts, and of course music. She wanted to touch everyone's soul, as she no doubt did, and continues to do so. I recently went to a dear relative’s wake and the priest said something that I found really esoteric – “there is no time limit to remembering loved ones...talk to them daily and even set their plate at the table while you’re eating dinner.” I actually did this at our first private band memorial dinner gathering and the waiter looked at me oddly, but he is not the judge. We sat as a band, her family in effect, with the place setting, and a picture and flowers that I had set nicely. Laura was around, we all felt it.

To ask "didn't we almost win it all" is a question with the answer found deep within our hearts. Although we mourn her loss, I think we all have won because she was with us those precious years, time spent, which is the greatest gift one can ever give. There is a quote by Ram Dass, "we are brought into each other's lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime.” Laura left us memories of a lifetime and music for you that will live forever. Even after so many years, I remember taking my morning runs and getting lost in the beauty of East Quogue; her cooking master chef dishes; her sharing private thoughts that only years later have I come to understand concerning life and humanity; and I remember her love for her “other half,” the fans that she looked forward to seeing so much at her shows. Also, I always remember to this day Laura’s instruction to me before all performances, "space, phrasing, dynamics.....come down to a whisper, Tommy."

I recall the renewed synergy that surrounded her, the excitement Laura had for doing so many great things ahead like touring, recording her new album, and publishing a cookbook. In addition, Laura and I were just starting a regimen of working out. She wanted to learn karate from me as she had some experience, exemplified by her kicks in her shows. I once told her, "you know Laura, that kicking thing you do behind the piano when you hit certain notes, I think you should keep that in.” She looked at me with a very big smile and said, "Oh...what do you mean....Oh yes... I will.” Years later with social media and all, I found out that she always did that knee kick technique. But you see, that was the beauty of it all. I knew her as Laura - the country girl who loved and I loved her.

Although Laura is gone from this life, as I talk to Kathy and the other few close friends of hers of those final days, we all have experienced divine signs of her presence. Call it wishful thinking or coincidence, but I believe nothing is by chance, and everything in life is for a reason as God embraces us all. She is around. Laura is with us and will always continue to be with us, as I’m sure everyone who has journeyed to this year’s Spirit Of Love would agree. Just close your eyes in quietness in the ambiance of East Quogue and the Hamptons where Laura last resided, and there your answer will be. Thank you. May God continue to bless you and may God bless our Laura's eternal soul always.

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Kathy and Vince
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The Official Laura Branigan Website

I saw your sweet smile
I heard your laughter
You`re still here beside me every day
`Cause I know you by heart...


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2013 3:57 pm 
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Other Half Entertainment's Writing Published In 2013 Spirit Of Love Event Program


“Timeless”
By Kathy and Vince Golik, Other Half Entertainment

How often have we been stopped in our tracks by something from out of our past that hits us in our present; a person we pass on the street whom we haven’t connected with in years; the wafting aroma of a certain comfort food from our younger days; or even the sounds of a special song that brought us through a difficult time or that still evokes certain memories and feelings.

Laura’s music is a lot like that. It’s a comforting feeling when one of her CDs spins up in the car stereo on the way to work. Songs still evoke memories many years after we first heard “Gloria” on the radio. The words of a song penned years ago still stir, haunt, and carry us through.

Not every song can do that. Some songs we’ve heard in years past hardly touch us at all, even if we remember them played over again. Is it us? Is it the song that just didn’t seem to reach in and do something for us? Or maybe it’s the industry in general?

In the music business today, it seems the driving force is the proverbial “fast buck.” Gone are the days when most artists could rely solely on their talents providing a steady income for them, just by regular album releases and tour dates.

When Laura broke on the Atlantic Records scene in the early 1980’s, she and her contemporaries faced a music industry that largely took care of those who stuck around. Certainly there were a number of “one-hit wonders” who caught us with a gnawing riff in our ears for a while, whether for a quick bit of fame or in the fallen hope that they would “make it.” Ask about these artists, and only that one song comes to mind, if anyone remembers at all.

However, for many years, artists who showed the greatest ability to touch peoples’ hearts and lives were the ones who made more than one or two albums; and the longer they stayed in the business, the more we were able to see their inner spirit come out in their music. Laura is certainly in this distinctive class of artists who have a “hook” song for which they are instantly recognizable, but also have a large quiver full of music that shows an outpouring of their true heart and soul, and a level of musical maturity that reaches fans of all ages around the world.

But it’s not just the music that we remember, and that still touches us many years after we may have first heard it. It’s the person behind the music that truly makes the difference between artist and diva (in the traditional sense), between someone remembered for some great songs and one who is thought of as timeless, remembered for the person they are.

Over the years, even before Laura’s passing, we’ve heard many stories from fans telling how Laura’s music touched their lives in very special, unique ways. But we also love hearing the stories of people who have encountered Laura personally, and have found her the complete opposite of the off-standing, conceited type of person that we usually expect a music star or celebrity to be in “real life.”

Laura’s genuine, selfless, and humble attitude toward life gave many a pause the first time they would meet her. While on stage, she was the epitome of the musical perfectionist, offstage she was the “simple country girl”, whose passions included cooking, gardening, reading, spending time with friends, and taking care of her elderly mother. After nearly every show, she deliberately (occasionally to the consternation of security or road staff) held a meet-and-greet, during which she would make every fan feel like they were the only one there, remembering many from earlier times, and recalling stories and events in fan’s lives. This wasn’t just a put-on of some snooty mega-star who felt an “obligation” to meet fans and sign autographs; this was a reflection of the kind of person Laura was, the genuine person who cared about others and what mattered to them.

There are few people in life who achieve a level of worldwide acclaim, yet can retain an open, simple, down-to-earth approach to their personal life. There are even less who can touch people both professionally and personally. Laura was more than just a musical diva, more than just a great person to get to know. She was both. She is… timeless.

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I saw your sweet smile
I heard your laughter
You`re still here beside me every day
`Cause I know you by heart...


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2013 7:37 am 
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Always have a good time at the Gathering!! Hate to leave after Sunday :sad: Like I always say, people come has strangers but leave has family! a extended LB family :-D Nothing in the world I wouldn't do for Laura while she was alive and even though she is gone, there still is nothing I wouldn't do to help keep her Legacy alive!! I will always be here for you guys Kathy and Vince. I support all you do! Hopefully, Ashlee can make it to next years Gathering too! Maybe, I'll work on getting Jamine also to come! Since, they both meet Laura :-D Laura gave me the most precious gift I could have ever got being a fan, getting to know her on a personal level. Never in a million years could I have imagined that. I've been blessed to have known her like I did and blessed to have your and Vince friendship!
So looking forward to next years Gathering! :happy-wavemulticolor: Hard to believe that it'll be the 10 yr Anniversary :sad: of her passing, still bittersweet.. I do miss her tons, like a lot of people do. I cherish the memories she gave me, keep them close to my heart! where she has a special place and will always be a part of my life!! I will always work on "Standing up straight" like she always got after me to do lol. Thanks again for all you do Kathy and Vince in keep her Legacy alive!

Long Live LB!!!
God Bless!
Jen


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 13, 2013 7:51 pm 
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jd316 wrote:
Always have a good time at the Gathering!! Hate to leave after Sunday :sad: Like I always say, people come has strangers but leave has family! a extended LB family :-D Nothing in the world I wouldn't do for Laura while she was alive and even though she is gone, there still is nothing I wouldn't do to help keep her Legacy alive!! I will always be here for you guys Kathy and Vince. I support all you do! Hopefully, Ashlee can make it to next years Gathering too! Maybe, I'll work on getting Jamine also to come! Since, they both meet Laura :-D Laura gave me the most precious gift I could have ever got being a fan, getting to know her on a personal level. Never in a million years could I have imagined that. I've been blessed to have known her like I did and blessed to have your and Vince friendship!
So looking forward to next years Gathering! :happy-wavemulticolor: Hard to believe that it'll be the 10 yr Anniversary :sad: of her passing, still bittersweet.. I do miss her tons, like a lot of people do. I cherish the memories she gave me, keep them close to my heart! where she has a special place and will always be a part of my life!! I will always work on "Standing up straight" like she always got after me to do lol. Thanks again for all you do Kathy and Vince in keep her Legacy alive!

Long Live LB!!!
God Bless!
Jen

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 8:55 pm 
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Check out 150+ photos from the 2013 Spirit Of Love...

viewtopic.php?f=4&t=891

Can't wait for this year's event! Be there for Laura!!!


Kathy and Vince

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The Official Laura Branigan Website

I saw your sweet smile
I heard your laughter
You`re still here beside me every day
`Cause I know you by heart...


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