Thursday, December 6, 2012

Good morning, Baltimore!

 The U.S.S. Constellation
 The Hippodrome Theatre, our home for the week

 The Bromo Seltzer Tower, close to our hotel
 Edgar Allan Poe's grave
 Babe Ruth statue at Camden Yards
 Mr. Oriole
 Oriole Park at Camden Yards
 The great Brooks Robinson
 Babe Ruth's birthplace and museum
 A vinyl Christmas tree
 He is indeed....
 Family dinner at the Paper Moon diner
A walking contradiction....
Seasons greetings from the Charm City!  We are currently in Durham, NC home of Duke University and the tobacco road.  But, before I get ahead of myself, it's time to tell you about our great week in Baltimore! 
Amy joined me for the beginning of the week, so on Tuesday morning, we set out to explore the town.  Our first stop was the National Aquarium in the Inner Harbor.  A little expensive, but a FANTASTIC aquarium.  We got to watch dolphins jumping, splashing and playing, observe some beautiful jellyfish, and even stand and watch sharks swim around us in a massive tank.  Lunch was at Phillips's Seafood right there on the water; it was a bitter cold, rainy day, and the crab macaroni and cheese I got there helped warm me up for the next few hours.  Next door was the Hard Rock Cafe; I feel like I haven't seen one in forever.  In fact, thinking back, the last one I went to on tour was in Osaka.  Following lunch and a quick stop at the Hard Rock, we headed home to get out of the cold and get ready for opening night. 
The Hippodrome is a gorgeous, historic theatre that has had some recent renovation, making into a more modern theatre without losing any of it's historic feel and charm.  During the show I got to chat with the city fire marshall.  A kind, interesting guy who was the technical advisor for the film Ladder 49, shot right in Baltimore.  After a successful opening night, a few of us headed to a local pub to celebrate. 
The next day started early again, and was even more bitterly cold than the day before.  We headed to Edgar Allan Poe's grave first.  On the grounds of a beautiful cathedral, it is one of the oldest burial grounds in the city.  Even in the daylight, it was pretty creepy to be standing in a cemetery at the monument to the master of the macabre.  After warming up a bit inside the historic Lexington Market, we headed to the historic Camden Yards, and more importantly for me, Oriole Park at Camden Yards.  It's a park I've wanted to go to for quite some time, so it was amazing to be able to stand there, even in the cold of winter and look out onto the park (see pictures above).  From there, we walked to the Babe Ruth birthplace and museum.  Not far from the ballpark, it's a nice little museum to comemorate a very large and important sports and cultural icon.  Now, I may not be a Yankees fan, and I may have very much believed in the "Curse of the Babe" as a die hard Red Sox fan....but you can't deny the importance of Ruth, nor not be interested in his life and playing career.  So, I really enjoyed myself there. 
Amy left on Thursday, and the Thunderstudies and I had our first rehearsal together in quite some time.  David joined as Cash, so I was only asked to do the rehearsal as Sam, which is quite different from the usual schizophrenic act I usually do at rehearsals. 
I laid pretty low inside my hotel room on Friday, but I did end up venturing out for a bit with Billy, Rosie and Corey to visit the Hampden district, and to go to Hon Cafe, featured on the Gordon Ramsey show...whose name I can't remember.  Anyway, though kitchy and fun to be with my people, I wasn't impressed with the cafe or the food.  However, we walked around a bit, and went into a fantastic antique/vintage store.  I only wish we could've stayed longer, or I could've shipped everything I had seen home. 
The highlight of the week was undoubtedly getting to see Billy and his band the Senders play at The Night of 100 Elvises.  2 years ago, Billy performed there, and a casting director approached him about going to NYC to audition for MDQ.  A few short weeks later, he was understudying Elvis on Broadway.  So, it is a very special event to Billy, and the entire cast and a large number of the crew went out to support him.  Held in an old town hall-like building, it was filled with Elvis look alikes, impersonators, crazy fans and musicians alike.  Billy peformed with his band and added Austin on keyboard, as well as Kelly, Rosie and Katie on backing vocals.  They played a small set upstairs, and then headed down to the mainstage as the headlining act.  They crowd went crazy.  The video below can't even possibly capture the excitement of that night, but I tried to do my best.  I hope you enjoy it. 
For our last night in Baltimore, a group of us headed to the Paper Moon diner where I had a great meat loaf sandwich, and.....a chocolate bacon milkshake.  MMMMMMMM.   BACON.  Ground up pieces of bacon in the shake, and a giant strip sticking out of the whipped cream on the top.  Oh, it was good.  Following that we headed to see an older area of Baltimore that is lit up and decorated for Christmas.  See the video below for a better explanation. 
Now we are here in Durham, NC, and I will keep you posted as to the events of the week in my next blog!  I hope the holiday season is treating you all well!

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