NOTHING COULD BE FINER than to be in Carolina when Lindsay Bloom (left) and Michelle DellaFave (right) bring Blue Eyed Soulto the party. And as quickly became apparent to those who mingled with them and watched them perform during the Vietnam Veterans of America’s recently-concluded Leadership Conference in Greenville, South Carolina, no one could be sweeter than these sweeties when you meet them — be it morning, noon or night.
When Dean Martin first recorded “Just A Little Bit South of North Carolina” (for his 1955 album Swingin’ Down Yonder), he sang of the location in question being a place where he “longed to be” — one where “the weather is fine” and “the folks are feeling great”; where “the garden looks grand and the red rose vine is clinging to the gate”.
Fans took to the jaunty tune and its down-home imagery, and apparently, Dean was very fond of it himself, because he performed the number quite a few times over the years, including twice on his own series.
But probably little did he dream that one day more than three-and-a-half decades after his show came to a close, two of the lissome lovelies who once worked alongside him on that program would regroup and take by storm a spot on the map that indeed lies Just A Little Bit South Of North Carolina.
It was in Greenville, SC, to be precise, where Michelle DellaFave and Lindsay Bloom — two of Dean’s Dingaling Sisters now teamed anew as members of Blue Eyed Soul — came, saw, and conquered the hearts of both military personnel and civilians recently, during a four-day series of events held in connection with the biennial National Leadership Conference organized by the Vietnam Veterans of America.
The proceedings kicked off on the morning of July 16, when Michelle and Lindsay sang the National Anthem and “God Bless America” at the conference’s opening ceremonies.
AND THE ANGELS SING: “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America”.
The following day, the pair attended a luncheon at which they were accorded the first of three distinguished honors that they would receive during the course of this journey. The initial laurels came from the Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America, an affiliate of the VVA comprising families and friends of Vietnam Vets, which inducted the girls as lifetime members of their organization.
A LIFE-LONG INTEREST: Mary Miller (above center), outgoing president of the Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America, honored both Michelle and Lindsay for their years of dedication to our nation’s Armed Forces with lifetime membership in the AVVA.
BEAMING WITH PRIDE (AND LOOKING MIGHTY FOXY DOING IT): Michelle and Lindsay are understandably all aglow after receiving the first of three honors they would be given during their South Carolina sojourn.
After the ceremony, it was on to the driving range, where the ladies lit up the links, drawing considerable attention as they dove into the swing of things at the start of the Mike Nash Memorial Scholarship Golf Tournament.
BLUE EYED SOUL BRINGS GLAMOUR TO THE GREEN: But for Michelle and Lindsay, that’s par for the course, as they helped launch the opening round of the annual Mike Nash Memorial Golf Tournament in Greenville, SC.
On Friday, the girls performed their full 40-minute set for the VVA’s Conference of State Council Presidents, and we’re pleased to report that the show was recorded, with individual segments from it to be made available for fans to view in the near future.
The engagement wrapped up Saturday night, July 19, with the VVA’s 30th Anniversary Banquet at Greenville’s Hyatt Regency Hotel. There, not only did Michelle and Lindsay treat invitees to a couple of songs and some jamming with the house band on hand for the occasion, but the gals were again lauded for their efforts on behalf of active and retired men and women in uniform. In Michelle’s case, that legacy includes her two trips with the Bob Hope USO Tour (in 1969 and 1970). For Lindsay, it includes her service at the VA hospital in Long Beach, CA in 1976. And for both gals, it of course encompasses their present-day volunteer performances at VA hospitals around the nation.
In other words, for these two ladies, their involvement in this cause isn’t a passing fancy or merely a credit to add to their résumés. It’s a heartfelt commitment — and one to which they have devoted a good portion of their lives. And so, in recognition of that fact:
1) Vietnam Veterans of America President John Rowan presented each of the ladies with the VVA’s Service Award, in the form of a crystal eagle engraved with their names.
THE EAGLE HAS LANDED:
2) Each of the two received from Joe Sternburg, Executive Director of the Vietnam Veterans Assistance Fund, a folded American flag that had previously flown over the U.S. Capitol.
By the way, in accepting these accolades, Ms. DellaFave and Ms. Bloom found themselves in some highly illustrious company: Among the other honorees with whom they shared the spotlight that evening was the man bestowed with the VVA’s Excellence in the Sciences Award, J. Craig Venter, who’d been a Navy corpsman during the Vietnam War, and who is today regarded as one of the leading biologists in the world, in part because of his pioneering contributions to the field of human genome research.
HBO PEOPLE DON’T MISS OUT: That was the pay cabler’s slogan back in the ’80s, and the company certainly lived up to its promise during Blue Eyed Soul’s latest outing. When audio equipment that HBO had already furnished to BES suddenly went missing on the way to South Carolina, officials at the premium channel moved at once to dispatch replacements, which a grateful Lindsay and Michelle (not to mention their Manager, Wes) were only too happy to receive.
It was after the awards were handed out that the entertainment at the VVA banquet got underway, and even once Michelle and Lindsay had finished their portion of the program, the response to Blue Eyed Soul was so enthusiastic that they were called back to the stage for encores with the band. Once again going above and beyond the call of duty for their fans, the gals not only obliged the audience with virtually an entire show’s worth of additional numbers, but in-between rounds, they danced with, and signed autographs for, a crowd filled with appreciative Vets and other devotees.
In the final lyric of the little ditty to which we referred at the beginning of this piece, Dean declares that “Just A Little Bit South of North Carolina”, he’ll “find paradise”. For a few days this past July, both Michelle and Lindsay, as well as a gathering of their admirers, likely felt as though they’d already found it, in the very same place.