Sunday, February 26, 2012

Happy Birthday Johnny Cash, and "Another anthem, and some other shows"

Greetings from Arkansas!  We've been here in Fayetteville for about a week (Whoo! Pig Sooie!!!), and we are getting ready to make our way to Houston, TX tomorrow.  It's been a pretty good week, and we're looking forward to even better times and even nicer weather in Houston. 

We had a very nice opening night party at a place called Common Grounds, across from the theatre; it happened to be on Fat Tuesday, and because we are on the campus of the University of Arkansas, there were a lot of people out and about. 

I got to see a U of A baseball game with a bunch of the cast and crew, which not only got me very much in the mood for the approaching baseball season, but it was great to see an SEC Division 1 game. 

On Thursday the Thunderstudy boys and I got to sing the National Anthem at a Razorbacks vs. Alabama Crimson Tide basketball game.  Yet another new sporting event experience!  I've seen tons of pro baseball and hockey games live, but because of tour I've been able to experience college arenas, and NBA basketball.  Pretty awesome. 

Yesterday the Jam and I headed to The Whole Hog Cafe, a very famous and VERY GOOD BBQ place here in Fayetteville.  We were not dissapointed.  It was fantastic.  7 different sauces to choose from on our table, and some of the best pulled-pork and brisket I've ever had. 

Well, that's about it for us here in Fayetteville.  Sorry this week's post isn't more exciting, but we had a pretty busy week in Memphis, so I think most of us were trying to lay low here a bit.  I'm sure there will be a lot more excitement from Houston!  I'll be back soon!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What a week!!!!!!

Howdy, friends!  Sorry it's been so long since I've written, but it was a VERY busy week in Memphis.  So busy that I'm almost having trouble remembering everything just to write my blog!

We got to town on Monday and immediately got what we were all waiting for.....Memphis BBQ.  Almost the ENTIRE cast and crew walked through the rain to get to the Blues City Cafe on Beale street to start the week off with some ribs, brisket and steak. Mmmm.....BBQ. 

Things started off quickly and extremely well on Tuesday.  The boys and m'am played a promo on Tuesday afternoon at the Rock and Soul museum for the local press and reprensentatives from the theatre.  Me and a few of the cast took the tour, and it was a great way to kick off the week. 

I wandered around Beale St. for a while, taking in the sites, and learning quite a bit about the history of some of the buildings from some extremely nice people on the street.  I then ventured into a mainstay of Beale, Tater Red's.  I struck up a conversation with Tater himself about his shop, the fact that he grew up with The Quartet, and had fond memories of playing slot machines with Carl Perkins later in his life.  He also pointed out the huge collection of drum heads he had on the ceiling of his store.  Bands that have come through, solo performers, and TONS of national tours.  So, I arranged to have our cast sign one for him, and above you'll see a picture of me presenting it to him in his store, right before he saw the show Friday night!

Along with the sight-seeing (which I will get to in a bit) we were blessed to be visited by some amazing performers.  On Thursday night, Stan Perkins, Carl Perkins' son played onstage with the boys.  Let me tell you....he is the spitting image of his father.  Looks like him, sounds like him; and just as kind as I've heard Carl was.  Now, he's a talented musician in his own right, but he joined the cast onstage to play a couple of his dad's songs:  Everybody's Tryin' To Be My Baby (one of my personal favorites) and Get Your Cat Clothes on.  Man, can he play that guitar.  W.S. "Fluke" Holland joined us again on Friday, and it was a pleasure as always.  Then, our very own music director, Chuck Mead joined us on Saturday!  He played Red Hot with the boys, and though I've seen him perform in NYC at the Rodeo Bar, this was a major treat to see him tear it up with our cast.  Can't wait for his new record to come out at the end of the month. 

Now, back to the other events of the week.  On Tuesday night, me and the Thunderstudy boys sang yet another National Anthem at The FedEx Forum for a Memphis Grizzlies vs. Houston Rockets game.  We ran around quite a bit, doing a soundcheck at the arena, running back to the theatre for orientation, heading back to sing, and then back to the theatre again for opening night.  We capped our busy day off by having a great opening night party back at the Rock and Soul Museum.  Whew.  What a day. 

Wednesday we all headed over to the historic Peabody Hotel to watch our boys become honorary Duck Masters....I'd try to explain the whole thing here, but I have way too much to write.  However, I do have a few videos below of the whole ceremony, so check them out, and for more information look it up on Google.  We then took off for Graceland, and had a tour of Mr. Presley's famous house.  I went their about 7 years ago, but it was still great to see it.  Me and the boys made a great day of it, got some great schwag, which I am a sucker for, and even got to see our bilboard IN Graceland.  That was a trip! 

We got back from Graceland and The Jam and I went to Lansky's legendary shop.  I couldn't resist....I HAD to buy a western shirt.....I mean, c'mon, the man made clothes for Elvis and Johnny could I not?  Before we left town I went back in with Rachael (who visited for the weekend) and my friend Tim and his girlfriend Gina, and was lucky enough to talk to Mr. Lansky himself!  Hal, who's father started the shop, showed me some great pictures of him and Johnny and Elvis, and told some fantastic stories about "the old days". 

On Friday, Billy, Rosie, The Jam and I visited the Stax Museum.  What an amazing place.  The original Stax Records crumbled in decay in the 1980's, but that have done a great job of revitalizing the entire block, and making a very cool interactive museum.  A must see if you are in Memphis.  We then went to see Johnny Cash's first house in Memphis.....unfortunately that part of town is not so great anymore.....and for fear of getting shot.....I didn't get a picture.  Boo. 

Rachael and I got to take the tour of Sun Studio on Saturday, and though it was very busy, it was just as cool as I had remembered it; though, not quite as cool as the highlight of our trip, which I will get to in a bit.  It was so nice to get to take her there, and see the look on her face as she discovered the magic I did 7 years ago.  And, of course, I bought a ridiculous amount of schwag. 

Now to the highlight of our visit (the AMAZING BBQ pork-shoulder at Rendezvous notwithstanding) was BY FAR getting to record at Sun.  Not only did Lee write a great new song, but he asked us to record it with him there.  We have been working on it for a few weeks (hopefully you've watched the videos I posted previously; there are a bunch more below), but we finally got to walk into that studio and record.  I'm not sure I can even describe what it was like to be in that room; I was just overcome with emotion.  Knowing that all of those people, but especially Johnny, were in that room and recorded some of the most important, world-changing music ever created was truly humbling.  Then to be able to sing into some of the very same equipment that was used by Sam Phillips?  I wouldn't trade that experience for the world.  Billy recorded another one of his awesome songs as well, and since the entire cast, most of the crew, and even our producers and writers were there, we all hung out and talked, listened and enjoyed the evening at Sun.  Amazing. 

Well, that's about all (I think), but it's really hard to explain all that we experienced, all that we saw, and all the emotion I felt.  We really could've been there for at least another week, if not two or three.  There's just a feeling that overcomes you as you walk down Beale, or step into the Orpheum....or, of course, in Sun Records.  If you have as much of an attachment to the music as I do, I'm sure you would feel the same. 

So, enjoy the pictures and videos, and keep checking back for more posts as we continue our way across this great land!  See ya later, alligator! 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Good times in the land of Beer and Cheese

Hello, friends!  We are nearing the end of our week here in Appleton and looking forward to a crazy week ahead in Memphis.  The week started off strong with a top-notch promo at City Center Plaza downtown (a few videos I took from a funky angle are posted below.  I apologize in advance for the oblivious women in front of me bobbing her head.  She didn't seem to know I was there.  But, at least she was enjoying herself!).  Not only a great performance, but there were a TON of people there.  Tickets sales and audience response have been great here, so we are all happy to be here! 

There's quite a bit to do here, so I've spent my time visiting all of the coffee shops on the main drag, as well as sampling the local food....mmmm....cheese curds....

On Wednesday, I headed to the Museum At The Castle; a great overview of the history of the town/county, as well as a special exhibit on Harry Houdini (he claimed Appleton as his birthplace.  Though he lived there in his early years, he was actually born in Hungary).  A nice way to spend the day inside, and learn A LOT about a pretty fascinating man.  Then, I walked around the campus of Lawrence University.  A gorgeous little campus, and when it was founded in the mid 1800's it was coed; something I didn't know. 

Like I said, next week is going to be pretty crazy.  We have a lot of promotional events planned, our entire creative team and the producers will be there, AND Rachael is coming for the weekend!  So, I will try to keep this updated, but I may not have any time.  Hope the winter is treating everyone well!

I just realized....I have no idea if Phil saw his shadow or not......