One expected to see Joe Arroyo in the dressing room back-slapping the students and posing for pictures. He had just shared the stage with them, sat through a tremendous performance of his most famous songs, and received a letter of gratitude signed by all of them.
But he wasn’t around. He also didn’t go back to his front row seat. The crowd may be been too much.
The bus was waiting to take the Berklee crew back to the hotel. Energy was high from the performance. Some of the students were visited in Miami by family and friends. There was a South Beach night to visit before an early morning flight back to Boston. The bus was filling up and it looked like Arroyo had left the building without saying goodbye.
An usher is shooing everyone from the theater and into the lobby. People are ecstatic from the show but are told they have to leave. Among those people is Joe Arroyo.
There he is, standing at the end of an aisle in the back of the theater, still shaking hands, smiling, posing for pictures.
“Does he speak English?” we ask his assistant. He doesn’t. Would he tell the camera what he thought of the students’ performance, and how it felt to play with them? Yes. The usher wants him in the lobby, though, where people are still raving and trying to get to him.
Above the noise, and in the, well, Floridian orange light, Arroyo speaks.