Wednesday, November 20, 2013

California dreaming...

 A view from the bus on our drive from Santa Barbara to Bakersfield
Out on the town with our friend Meghan in Modesto

The Granada Theatre in Santa Barbara

The Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield

Gallo Center for the Arts, Modesto

 Rogers Theatre, Modesto

Our "tag" backstage at the Rogers Theatre
Hello, everyone!  I hope this blog finds everyone well.  We are continuing our adventures out here in the Golden State, and this week was particularly eventful! 
After our "golden day" in Thousand Oaks, we boarded the bus on Tuesday to make the relatively short trip to Santa Barbara. Our hotel was a bit off the beaten path, but the weather and our surroundings were gorgeous, so it was hard to complain. With an IHOP nearby, most of us made that our dinner in the break we had before heading downtown to do our first of two shows in Santa Barbara. After a short drive, we arrived at the parking structure and walked into the gorgeous Granada Theatre. Though relatively new, it resembles ( and out) some of the missions in this area of California.  Not only was it a gorgeous theatre, but as we continue along our California adventure, we are being blown away by our audiences. What a great way to start the week. We made the trek back to the hotel after the show, and me and some of the boys hung out in my room for a while.

On Wednesday morning I had a couple of interviews for some upcoming dates, the first being for our week in Palm Desert over Thanksgiving. The second had to reschedule, and after I got myself ready, Frace and I took a drive down to the downtown area of Santa Barbara, close to our theatre.  After walking a bit to find a late lunch, we settled on Killer BBQ. I had a great beef brisket sandwich, and we headed along our way to explore some of the downtown area near our theatre. It is such a pretty little town, and I only wish we had had more time to spend there, or to be in a more central location. Frace and I went into a few stores along the way, and after finding a few Johnny Cash bootleg DVD's, we headed back to the hotel to chill a bit before our second and last show in Santa Barbara. After another great show and an equally good audience, we took the trip back home and got ready for the travel day and show on Thursday.

The drive to Bakersfield was stunning. I've said it a million times, but there is no better way to see the country than to drive through it. You can't imagine the majestic beauty that exists in this country by merely flying over it; you have to drive through it and see for yourself. We pulled into Bakersfield in the mid afternoon as our crew had been working tirelessly all day. We had a great hotel, and our venue was barely a few yards away; the Rabobank Arena. Though we may have been playing in the same building that housed a minor league hockey game that morning, the space was great for our show, and the sound was warm and inviting. The audience proved to be yet another great one on this California trip, and following the performance, most of the cast adjourned to the hotel bar for some great food. 

The next day, we boarded our bus, now our home away from hotel, and took the moderate trip to Modesto. I was pretty excited to arrive, as Modesto is not only the home of George Lucas, but the inspiration for one of my favorite movies, American Grafitti. We had a bit of time to chill before the show that evening, and I did another interview for our upcoming date in Flint, MI in the new year.  I got a bite to eat and headed to the theatre for our first of 5 shows in Modesto.  Yet again, we were blown away by the love shown to us by the audience.  The theatre arranged for a meet and great with donors and patrons following our opening night, and it had been quite a while since we had had such an event. It was really nice to meet some of the people who had been in the audience face to face, and to hear such kind words about our performance. Following the meet and greet, Rob, Cody and I headed to a nearby pub, the Firkin and Fox. We ended up meeting Meghan who works at the theatre, and her friends and our group talked for quite a while that night.

The following day we had two shows, and Frace was swung on for Mr. Phillips in the first show. He did a hell of a job yet again, and we had a bite to eat an American fusion restaurant, Fuzio between shows. After a bit of a break, we headed back to the theatre for yet another great show. Following the performance, most of the boys and I met up and headed to a nearby wine bar, Trisetti's. Meghan and her friend and coworker Nicole was there, and our little group had a blast; first there, and then adjourning to Minnie's tiki bar on the other end of town. They introduced us to the wonder of hot and fresh do it's from Mr. T's before calling it a night.  

The next day we had our final two shows in Modesto. Another two fantastic shows with audience to match. I was pretty tired, and with less time in between shows I just grabbed some food from Subway and tried to chill the best I could before our final show. After getting a second wind later that night, Brad, Rob, Cody and I headed to the Speakeasy for some karaoke. What a great way to end an eventful week. 

That's about it for the week, though, this next week proved to be an interesting and challenging one. For the first time, we will be doing a Monday night show, and going more than a week without a day off. So, I will have much more news from the road in my next blog! Thanks for tuning in, and I hope everyone is staying safe and warm!


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Goin' to California with an achin' in my heart

Hello, everyone, and welcome to this week's blog!  Not to worry, nothing is wrong.  This week's blog title comes from Led Zeppelin's Goin' To California.  It's my first time out here since we left Los Angeles in June of 2012; crazy to think that much time has passed.  But, the weather certainly welcomed us back with open arms.  And though I wasn't feeling all that well for much of the week, I do have SOME things to tell you about the week.  Nothing horribly exciting, but still. 
We flew into LAX on Monday afternoon, and took the bus for about an hour to the LA suburb, Thousand Oaks.  We had rental cars, but there was also a mall very close by.  Brad and I headed there to do a little shopping, and to grab a burger at Red Robin.  That night, Cody flew in to rejoin tour, as did James' wife Tara and his son Sam.  It felt a lot like the "old days", but in the best possible way.  Everyone loves Cody, just as they love being "aunts and uncles' of sorts to little Sam.  That night I started to not feel all that well.  Not sick really....well, sorta.  I had felt a sore spot in my throat, and had some nasal congestion, but mostly my head just felt swimmy. 
I woke up Tuesday and felt all of that, but a bit worse.  And though the weather was beautiful, I laid pretty low so I could start to feel a bit better.  We drove to the theatre that night for the first of a full week of shows in Thousand Oaks, and to be honest, we were a little underwhelmed by the audience.  It was moderately full, but they didn't seem to respond to us all that much.  However, every single night got better, and fuller, and by the end of the week we couldn't believe we had been in the same city as that first show.  I laid low again on Wednesday, and the show that night was markedly better than the night before.  We started our bi-annual collections for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids that evening, and we were blown away by not only the audience's response, but by their generosity. 
I was feeling a bit better on Thursday, but I also had a night off to look forward to.  Frace was being swung on for me that night, so though I had to be at the theatre, I could take a night off from being Mr. Cash.  I spent most of the day getting a few things for Frace's "opening night" as Cash, and I also stopped by this gorgeous spot directly across from the theatre, Gardens of the World.  A seemingly endless amount of acreage housed some of the most beautiful, well cared for, and culturally expansive gardens I've ever seen.  I took a ton of pictures, and though I still wasn't feeling great, being out in the fresh air certainly made me feel a lot better.  I headed to the theatre with Frace's gifts that night, and with very little fanfare we celebrated our 600th show of tour.  It's crazy to think we've been on tour that long; though I had only done a handful of shows in the 553 shows we did in the first 2 years, it is still pretty amazing to be a part of a show that has been running this long.  The longest run of a show I've ever done was 80 shows, so this is quite a different experience.  It was also really fun to be able to sit out and watch the show.  I've seen it hundreds of times, but now that I'm on every night, it is a very different thing to sit back and watch my boys do the show.  It makes me glad I am a part of it, and that I am blessed to do the show every night.  After the show, a college buddy of Frace's and a mutual friend/colleague, Kevin Hoffman, came to visit.  We had a great night talking and reminiscing about old times.  It was an awesome end to an even better day. 
I was feeling very motivated to do some "work" in my room on Friday, and I also was starting to feel quite a bit better.  But I really wanted to take care of some little things like laundry, sorting and scanning receipts for taxes, and doing a little work for my Walkin' The Line show that I will be performing in Arizona for a day on our Christmas layoff.  More on that later.  The show went extremely well that night, and afterward the boys and I hung out for a bit. 
Saturday was a bit of a whirlwind, as we had 2 shows, BC/EFA collections, I packed some things in my trunk in between shows, and tried to track down an undeliverable FedEx package.  David went on as Brother Jay that afternoon, and both shows went extremely well yet again.  Sunday was a bit of a whirlwind again, but at least we got out early that evening.  Rob's 21st birthday was the next day, so at midnight, the majority of the cast and his family met at a local restaurant to help him celebrate at midnight.  The crew got out of their load out in almost record time, and almost all of them came by as well.  His parents and sister are lovely people, and we could definitely tell that they are awfully proud of him. 
We actually had a day off on Monday!  So, I decided to take the car and see a few sights as well as visit our first Carl Perkins on tour, Lee Ferris, and his fiancĂ© Hannah.  Frace, Rob and Kelly piled in the car with me, and we took the scenic drive through Malibu, stopping at the Santa Monica Pier along the way.  A bit touristy and carnival-esque, but I'm really glad we got to see it.  After that, we took a short drive to Lee's house.  My boys got to meet him, and Kelly and I were able to do some much needed catching up.  He and Hannah are doing exceptionally well, and though he made a decision not to come back on tour, we really do miss him.  After a home cooked meal and a lot of laughs, we headed back to the hotel, and settled in for the night. 
We jumped on the bus on Tuesday, and continued our 5 week trip around California...which brings us to present day.  So, I will leave the rest for next time.  I hope this blog finds everyone well, and tune in for more Cali news next week!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

We're not in Kansas anymore....or Texas, for that matter

Brad's first time on as Carl in Odessa, TX

We welcome Cody back for some rehearsals in Wichita!

Two Elvis' are always better than one

James' creative wordplay on my dressing room door

Sometimes you just want to sit in a Jacuzzi and play guitar

An abandoned train station in Wichita

Century II Performing Arts Center in Wichita

The Wagner Noel Performing Arts Center, Odessa, TX

A park between our hotel and the theatre in El Paso

The gorgeous and historic Plaza Theatre in El Paso, TX

The whirlwind tour continues!!  Hello, everyone!  I hope you are all well, and that wherever you are, you are enjoying the fall weather, and had a great Halloween.  The Million Dollar Quartet National Tour continues to roll around the country, and this week we played three cities in one short week.  They all happened to be cities I haven't visited (well, I've been in El Paso for a short time, but I've never played there), and though we didn't have much time, I tried to see as much as I could. 
We took the flight from Minneapolis into Wichita on Monday morning.  It was a pretty lengthy day, but when we got in, we were pleased to find we were in a very cool little downtown area of Wichita.  Closeby was a brewing company, River City, that had one of the best steak sandwiches I've ever had.  It had beer cheese on it.  MMMM. BEER.  CHEESE.  After dinner I laid pretty low that night, as it was going to be a pretty busy day on Tuesday. 
I got to walk around the area a bit, which was good because most of the other days we were in town it was pretty rainy.  The Old Town area of Wichita has a lot of awesome old ads painted on brick buildings, and I love to take pictures of that type of thing.  That whole area is comprised of old warehouses and factories that have been converted into retail space and hotels.  Pretty awesome.  I even got to see the abandoned train station and still functioning commercial train tracks nearby.  After getting a bite to eat, we headed to the theatre about 2 miles away, and we were blown away by the response from the audience.  After the show that evening, Cody arrived in Wichita to do a couple of days of rehearsal before rejoining the tour.  Not to worry, folks; Tyler will be back with us in a couple of months.  On that note, I got to meet Tyler's kids, as well as Brad's little girl.  When you are away from home and the one's you love, it's always comforting when family visits.  Even if they aren't your family. 
On Wednesday morning, me and the boys had some press at a local TV station, and then we headed straight to the theatre to do a rehearsal and welcome Cody back.  He may not have done the show since May, and things may have changed a bit, but it clearly was though he had never left.  We felt pretty good about the run, and headed home to chill for a bit before heading back for another amazing show that evening.  As we left the theatre, my Red Sox were beating the Cardinals in game 6 of the World Series, and after watching for a bit at River City....WE WON!!!!!!!!!  World Series Champions!!  James and I and the rest of the boys celebrated a bit before heading to bed in anticipation of another big day on Thurdsay.  Along with it being Halloween. 
The day started off with a full costumed rehearsal for Cody and the rest of us, and then a photo shoot for all of our future press releases, etc.  I even did a phone interview in the midst of it all.  In the short break we had, Tyler and I went out for dinner, and then headed back to the theatre for our final show in Wichita.  That night, a few of us did our best to dress up for the holiday with little time to plan, and headed to a bar nearby, Mort's.  It was a lot of fun, and there were some pretty amazing costumes there. 
Friday was a travel day to Odessa, and though we were prepared for the sparse surroundings at the theatre and at the hotel, I think it was still a bit of a shock.  Not a whole lot around except for oil derricks and open land.  However, across from the hotel, there was a great little place called the Cork & Pig.  A very busy restaurant; I got probably the best salad/the best piece of steak I've ever had.  It was advertised as a steak salad, but really it was a great salad with two full tomatoes, bacon dressing, fresh gouda, and a small steak on the side.  It was just what the doctor ordered.  Afterwards, a few of us sat around a fire pit at the hotel talking for a bit.  It was one of the first rough load ins for our crew, as they had taken a sleeper bus from Wichita to Odessa and immediately loaded in when they got there.  They finished in close to record time though, and were able to enjoy a bit of the evening with us before they had to be at work in the morning. 
Saturday was a pretty full day, in that we opened on a matinee, which we have yet to do.  A beautiful new performing arts center awaited us; and though the afternoon crowd was quite small, they were very enthusiastic.  In between shows we were treated to a fantastic catered meal, and then James, Tyler and I went out in search of a few things to give to Brad for his first show that evening as Carl.  There were a couple of technical problems, but Brad really rose the occasion and KILLED it.  He has made such an amazing improvement since those first days in New York, and he should be very proud of his first performance.  That night, James hosted a party in his room celebrating Brad's first time on, and our survival of the first two weeks of our crazy schedule. 
The next morning we boarded the bus and took the 3 hour trip to El Paso.  It would mark the first time we would travel and perform in the same day.  There was very little around our hotel and the theatre, and being a Sunday, what was there wasn't open.  The majority of the cast and I found one of the few places open; a little bar/restaurant called the Tap.  We dined on authentic Tex-Mex, and then  headed to the theatre for our one show in El Paso, and what would be Tyler's last show for quite a while.  And let me tell you, it may have only been one show, but the theatre and the audience made our few hours in El Paso TOTALLY worth it.  The next morning we boarded a flight to California, and that brings us up to date.  I am writing you from Thousand Oaks, CA, one of our few week sit downs in this year of tour.  So, please stay tuned next week for news from our time here in the Golden State!  Thank you for tuning in, and I hope you enjoyed this latest installment!