Friday, July 18, 2014

A brewery tour, a slew of beautiful theatres and 4 cities in upstate New York

A celebration with friends for Maia's birthday in Elmira

I'm sorry....where am I again?  New York?

Me and the boys doing some interviews (and a bit of taste-testing) at Saranac in Utica, NY

So many barrels, so little time 

That's a big stein, Jack

James IS Utica Club

The gorgeous Stanley Theatre in Utica, NY

Keep reaching, Utica.....

The Clemens Center, Elmira, NY

The Palace Theatre, Albany, NY

The Forum for the Performing Arts, Binghamton, NY

Hey kids!  It's about time I write a few more blogs to keep you updated with all the goings on here on tour!  Yes, I realize that we have moved on from these places for quite a while, but there's something to be send for looking back fondly well after an experience.  And though this was a crazy week on tour, I can now look back and remember all of the high points.  Here follows the events of our week in Upstate NY.  

We made our way from Waterbury, CT on Monday morning to the booming metropolis of Utica, NY (please read this as sarcasm).  No offense to any of the cities that we have visited recently, but quite a few of them have seen better days.  That said, each and every one has diamonds in the ruff to discover, not the least of which are some of the gorgeous turn of the century theatres we have had the privilege to play.  After an uncharacteristic bus stop at a mall along the way, we settled into our meager hotel in the heart of downtown, just a few blocks from our theatre.  After settling in, I made a short trek through dark clouds and impending rain to get dinner at the pan-Asian restaurant Lotus Garden, just a few feet from our stage door.  I was quite pleased, though not with the lack of coffee establishments in town.  The waitress did make me a lovely Korean coffee to go, so I was quite satisfied.  Then I was off to chill in my room for much of the rest of the night.  Later on, I ventured to the lobby and met up with Tyler to head to a nearby pub after a bit of a fracas in the lobby.  I sampled Utica's own pilsner, Utica Club, and after talking with the bartender of Griffin's Pub for quite a while, he took Tyler and I on a tour of the bar's basement.  Parts of it had been used as part of the underground railroad, and much of it had gone untouched for many many years.  It was an unexpected yet awesome experience.  

The boys and I met downstairs on Tuesday morning for a bit of press at the nearby Saranac Brewery.  Housed mostly in an old house that was the original sight of the brewery, it was a really neat place to do some interviews (see pictures above), play some acoustic tunes and even sample the wide variety of beer they make in house.  We all agreed that it was perhaps the best press day EVER.  We headed back to the hotel to chill a bit before opening night, and then headed to our new home for the next two nights, The Stanley.  Another in a long line of gorgeous old theatres that have had sizable renovations in the past few years (see above), and a great place to house our show for a couple of nights.  The crowd was quite appreciative, and so were the theatre's employees, because they threw us an opening night party at the bar next door, Swifty's.  It sounded like a bit of a dive, but was actually quite nice.  They had an array of food for us, and even some free drinks.  After some autographs, some photo ops and some merriment, we headed home for the night.  

I spent much of Wednesday walking around town in a fruitless attempt to find a CVS.  Thankfully I had a wonderful lunch at a quaint little restaurant downtown, and even managed to do some laundry at the theatre.  After a bit of downtime in my room, I headed to work for what would prove to be an amazing show.  The folks at Saranac gave us about 4 cased of beer the day before, so I invited the cast over to sample what Saranac had to offer, while listening to music and sharing our stories of the road.  It was a GREAT night.  

Thursday brought a short drive to Elmira, NY and a bit of downtime at our hotel before heading in our rental cars to the Clemens Center (above).  After a bit of unpleasantness in sound check, we had a great opening night.  Maia's birthday was the following day, so she invited the cast and crew out for food and drinks that night to celebrate at a nearby pub attached to the ice arena.  Nearly the entire company was there (see picture above), and we had a great time just sitting around and reminiscing.  

I spent much of Friday in my hotel room before heading to lunch with Tyler at a little diner called Light's Bakery.  We also got a few things at the grocery store before heading back home to chill before the evening show.  Another great show followed, and I had quite a few people over again to listen to music and hang out, as we are want to do often.  

Saturday meant a drive to New York's capitol city, Albany.  We were a bit off the beaten path, but we WERE across the street from a mall.  So once I got settled I headed over there for a bit of Starbucks and a trip to buy a few of the newly released cast recordings at Barnes and Noble.  After a few moments in my room, the boys and I headed to the Palace Theatre (above) for what turned out to be a pretty lackluster show.  They can't all be the best audience, afterall.  Tyler and I grabbed a quick bite at the IHOP next door before calling it an early night.  It was going to be a long day.....

......because, Sunday brought a first for our cast and crew.  A drive/load in into a two show day.  Phew.  It was an interesting one.  We made the relatively short drive that morning, and arrived at the theatre to drop our bags in the loading dock.  Our amazing crew had slept very little, and had the arduous task of loading in our set only a few hours after loading it out of The Palace.  We had a bit of time to sit and chill before we were offered a nice catered lunch, followed by sound check, and immediately doing a matinee.  The crowd was quite good, and following the show I carted my ridiculous amount of luggage a few blocks to our hotel.  After cooling down and resting for a bit, it was time to head back for the early show that evening.  That night would mark James' last show with us for a while, so following another great show, a bunch of us met in the hotel for some food and a bit of a goodbye to our beloved Pajama James.  Not to worry, dear readers, he rejoins us after our layoff.  

So, there is our busy week in upstate NY, friends.  Though there wasn't a lot of offstage excitement, we certainly didn't have much time to be bored.  Stay tuned for my blog from Dayton, OH, and a little added bonus of my time in NYC, Maine and travels to our "last" stop in Cleveland!!

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