STONINGTON, Conn. (AP) — Each year Alex Green's grandmother travels from her home on the French Riviera so she can see him perform with the Mystic Middle School jazz band.
But after a recent stroke forced her to relearn how to speak, Jacqueline Gillan's doctors did not want her to make the trip. They felt that being immersed in another language for a few weeks would set back her recovery.
That meant the 83-year-old Gillan would miss several of the band's upcoming performances.
So at 7:30 a.m. Monday, via the magic of Skype, the band played a five-song concert for her as she sat in the living room of her home in Bandol, France, surrounded by neighbors and holding a small American flag.
"This is incredible," Gillan told her daughter and Alex's mother, Christine Green, as band director Jim Hilbie prepared the 20-member band for its first song. "What's great is I know all the kids. I can recognize all of them."
During some of the songs, including "Yesterday" by the Beatles and a rousing rendition of the Rocky theme, band members walked closer to the laptop computer to play their solos, including Green on trumpet. Gillan and her friends cheered on the screen.
One song into the concert, a second laptop was set up so the mother of band member Peter Holliman could watch from Brussels, Belgium, where she was visiting his grandparents.
"We're in France and Belgium this morning. This is cool," Hilbie said.
He said he would like to make this an annual event as he knows his students have relatives in places around the world such as Switzerland and Rome.
"It would be cool to set up a bank of computers and just play," he said. "You could put this on YouTube but nothing beats playing live."
Gillan is well known to the band as she not only attended its concerts but would stop by in the early morning to watch before-school rehearsals.
Christine Green said her mother carries around a CD of the jazz band in France and plays it for friends.
She said Hilbie always asks how her mother is doing and he suggested they use Skype so she could watch the band's spring concert Wednesday night.
When Green reminded him it would be late at night in France he suggested the morning rehearsal instead, as it was 1:30 p.m. in France.
"The kids got all excited about it," she said.
Before the band played a song, Hilbie would approach the computer and tell Gillan what the band would play next.
"But I'm not doing any dancing today," he told her.
Hilbie said his students may have been a little nervous and tired, but as usual they were impressive.
"I wondered if this would work," Alex Green said, "but I thought this was one of our better concerts."
Information from: The Day
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Glastonbury police have arrested a man who they say was driving drunk and couldn't find his way out of the police department's parking lot.
The holiday season makes for crowded malls and one woman had quite the disturbing experience as she headed to the West Farms Mall. She was riding a public bus when a man took her by surprise, exposing himself.
A man was beaten and a shot was fired during a New London home invasion, where a 3-year-old was present on Tuesday.
A Stamford bank was robbed Tuesday by an armed man wearing a neck brace, who claimed he had nothing to live for.
An appeal notice has been filed by the former chairman of the tribe that owns Foxwoods Resort Casino who was convicted of embezzling tribal funds.
Tuesday night many folks are making the trek home during the evening rush hour and state police have some simple advice, which is take your time.
As we approach the one year mark of the tragedy at Sandy Hook, the state is spending millions of dollars to upgrade security at schools statewide. An international company with a huge operation in Connecticut is stepping up to help make many of those upgrades.
The slippery road conditions at the height of the storm led to an awful crash in Milford. A driver lost control of his car on Minuteman Drive slamming right into a house.
Ridgefield police and firefighters delivered a baby in a couple's home on Tuesday morning.
It's a story that folks are still talking about, even in the last 24 hours, we've received a dozen new calls on a story News 8 brought you last week about a woman being kicked out a court room for breastfeeding.