Sunday, February 22, 2015

Oh, Canada, that little town of Bethlehem, my least favorite state, and The Big Apple

Centre In The Square, Kitchener, ON

Cash played here in the late 60's, and is immortalized on a mural in the green room

The Martin Guitar Factory, Nazareth, PA

These guitars are $100,000 a piece...yes....100 grand

The Zoellner Arts Center, Bethlehem, PA

A rear view of the State Theatre, New Brunswick, NJ

The Tilles Center for the Performing Arts, Brookeville, NY

Me and Cash

Bradley, Jake and I in Ontario

A cool building near our hotel in Kitchener

That's a lot of Jameson, Jack.  At the Duty Free shop on the Canadian border 

Gabe and Friends in New Brunswick, NJ

Our view of the Big Apple on our way to Brookeville

A great pic of the boys and m'am at sound check in Brookeville, NY

Hey kids!  I hope everyone is staying warm in these frigid temperatures!  Seems like no matter where we or are friends are, everyone is getting smacked with winter weather.  These week took us across the border into Canada, and to 3 other cities along the way.  As usual, we are busy, busy, busy, but here's what we have been up to!

After our frigid day off in Rochester, we boarded the bus on Tuesday to make our way to Kitchener, ON.  We had very little trouble crossing the border thankfully, and after a quick stop at a welcome center for food, we made the rest of our way to our final destination.  We got in in the late afternoon, and were pleased to find we were staying at a sparkling clean, almost brand new hotel.  I braved the cold weather to walk to a lovely little coffee shop, and laid low for a while before Frace and Justin shuttled us to the theatre for the first of two shows at the Centre In The Square (above).  The show went quite well, and we were impressed from the response of the crowd.  Later, a few of us headed to a place across from our hotel, Crabby Joe's for a bit and a little wind down.  Some friends of friends were there to meet Jake, Brad and I (they took the picture above), so it was a nice night of hanging out and meeting some new people.  

Wednesday brought Thunderstudy rehearsal, so I made my way to the theatre with everyone to do one of the first runs they have been able to do as a group on stage in quite a while.  It all went extremely well, and following the show I got a lovely grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup near our hotel.  I got a little cat nap in, and then it was time to make our way back to the theatre for our evening show.  Another great audience followed, and the majority of us met back at Crabby's for a bite to eat and cocktail before heading to bed.  

Thursday morning came quite early, and we made our way on the bus back into the states.  I have to say, though I enjoy traveling, it's always nice to come back to the states.  We made a quick stop at the duty free shop on the border, where I was dumbfounded by the GIANT bottle of Jameson they had (above).  I later learned that Lou bought one....glad someone didn't let it go to waste.  The drive took most of the day and we didn't get into Bethlehem until the evening.  Our old standby, Ruby Tuesday was a short walk away, so I headed there for a bite once I had settled in, and then hung out with some of the boys that night before getting some rest.  

Years ago I had visited the Martin Guitar Factory (above) in Nazareth, PA, and given that we were so close to it with time off, I wrangled a few people to join me on Friday afternoon.  I did an interview for the Bangor Daily News, one of my home state's papers, and then David, Skye, Jake, Frace and Bradley headed with me to the factory.  They had quite a few people waiting for tours, so we opted to go get lunch while we waited.  We headed back, browsed the gift shop for a bit, and were on our tour in no time.  The love and craftsmanship that goes into making their guitars is pretty amazing.  We even got to see the beginnings of the D-100 (above); each guitar sells for $100,000.  After taking the hour tour, we visited the museum in the lobby and then headed home.  Everyone was glad we had been able to take the trip, and we headed home for a bit of a rest before the show that evening.  Another great audience greeted us in Bethlehem at the Zoellner Arts Center (above), and we had a very pleasant meet and greet after with quite a few of the patrons.  Then, it was time to head home for some rest.  

Saturday brought another busy day with a drive into a double, as we made our way to New Brunswick, NJ.  Once settled, we had a bit of time to find food and head to the State Theatre (above) for the first of two shows amidst a snow storm (what else is new).  The matinee went very well, (despite the fact that NJ isn't exactly my favorite state) and in between shows we were all invited to join one of our producers, Erica for a meal.  The snow continued, and though I wanted to join everyone, I opted to get some Chipotle with Jake and head back to the hotel for a moment of rest and to get some things to put in my trunk.  We headed back to the theatre for the evening show, and after another great one, we had a meet and greet with some familiar faces (above).  After driving through a legitimate blizzard to get back to the hotel, all I had in mind was a bite to eat at YET ANOTHER Ruby Tuesday, and to stay out of the bitter cold.  

The last day of our week started with us awaking to -15 degree temperatures for our drive to Brookeville, NY on Long Island.  We were all a bit teased by the fact that we drove through New York City (above) on our way, and certainly made most of us miss the city.  We landed at our hotel and were greeted with howling winds and equally bitter cold.  I walked close by to get some dinner at a diner, and after a bit of a nap we all piled in three cars and headed to The Tilles Center For The Performing Arts (above) for our one and only show there.  It was a surprisingly good show, despite an arena-like venue that had some technical limitations.  Following the show most of us braved the cold with some cast member's friends in tow for a bite to eat at the diner close by.  Then it was time to hibernate and stay out of the negative temperatures.  

It was another busy week friends, and the next proves to be the same.  I am finishing this blog from the comfort of my hotel room in Bangor, ME after a challenging and long week.  I hope this finds you all well, and that you will tune in to see my next blog!  Thanks for reading! 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Super Bowl, roaches galore and our foray back into the snowy Northeast

The Mattie Kelly Arts Center, Niceville, FL

A nice welcome gift from the good people of Valdosta

Mathis City Auditorium, Valdosta, GA

We celebrated Brad's 1/2 Birthday in Lakeland!

The Lakeland Center, Lakeland, FL

The gorgeous Shea's Performing Arts Center in Buffalo, NY

The Rochester Auditorium Theatre, Rochester, NY

We got a bit of snow this week....

The setting for our epic Super Bowl party

The crew enjoying the festivities 

And so it begins...

Gabe seems to enjoy crawfish....

Winner of the 3rd quarter Coors Light viewing chair

This is getting out of hand....

Brad and his little friend...


Hello everyone!  Our whirlwind tour of the US continues with a lot of travel and quite a few more cities.  Thankfully we were able to let loose a bit before our stressful week!  Here are the highlights!

After our long travel day from Lubbock on Sunday, we checked into our hotel and had a bit of time to settle before our bus driver was nice enough to shuttle us to the Dockside Cafe Oyster Bar (above), where Anna was nice enough to get us a group reservation.  Nearly the entire cast and company management took part, as we feasted on oysters, a crawfish boil, and other delectable sea food offerings.  It was great to have a night where we could all enjoy each other's company and not have a show that night.  My Patriots won (YES!!!!) the hard fought game, and along the way we had a great time just letting loose and hanging out.  Our bus driver shuttled us back to the hotel later in the evening, and a few of us hung out at the hotel before getting an early night's sleep.  

After a long night, I laid pretty low on Monday.  A nice salad and soup at Ruby Tuesday's in the hotel parking lot, and some time to myself in my room.  The boys and I made our way to the Mattie Kelly Arts Center (above) that night, and we had yet another amazing show in the southland that night.  Following the show I had a bite to eat with Chuck and Anna at Ruby's, and then joined Gabe, Laura, Colte and Patrick to watch the tail end of Birdman, a fantastic film that I saw in the theatre a few months ago.  Then, it was time for bed.  

Tuesday was....well...interesting.  We woke up in the morning in anticipation of our moderate drive to Valdosta that day, and got on the bus as usual.  It didn't take long to realize something was amiss; at the back of the bus, people were finding cockroaches crawling all over the place.  Bradley (above) even found one crawling in his hair.....So, we quickly removed everything from the bus, shook out our belongings to make sure we weren't taking any critters with us, and waited to find out our fate.  After some diligent work by our company management, they rented us vans to make the drive to Valdosta on our own.  And after the stress of the insects, the long wait, and the impending show that evening, we were all more than willing to take the travel day into our own hands.  So, after people volunteered to drive, Bryan, Laura and I jumped in a van with Patrick as our driver, and made our way to Georgia.  With some great tunes and better company, the drive didn't really take long at all.  But because of our late start and the need to stop for food, we got in with little time to be had at the hotel.  After settling a bit, we headed back out in the same groups and cars to the Mathis City Auditorium (above) for our meeting, sound check and the one show in Valdosta.  The crowd seemed a bit reserved, but we could tell they loved it when we spoke to quite a few of them at a meet a greet in the lobby afterward.  And Skye was asked to go on at the very last minute as Elvis, and as he had in his debut, absolutely rocked it out. The board was even nice enough to give us a tin of chocolates before the show.  It's always nice to feel welcomed.  A group of us walked to Applebee's for a bite after the show, and then home shortly after.  It had been a damn long day.  

Yet another drive into a one-nighter awaited us on Wednesday, as we made our way back to the Sunshine State for one show in Lakeland at the Lakeland Center (above).  After settling in for a bit and a quick trip to Waffle House, I headed with the boys to the theatre.  And, just in the nick of time, we had an amazing audience that night.  It was just the thing to lift our spirits after a couple of rough days.  Chuck had some friends in town, and I had a couple of new friends see the show, so they all joined us at the bar in the hotel for a bit.  Then it was off to bed for the early call in the morning.  

Thursday brought a long travel day with multiple busses and planes to get us to Buffalo, NY.  And the cold that awaited us was anything but welcome.  But, it was something we were going to have to get used to again.  I braved the cold with Chuck, Anna, Jeffrey and Justin to go to Darcy McGee's Irish Pub for dinner, and not only was it freezing there, but it was one of the worst places any of us had eaten in quite some time.  We couldn't have gotten out of there fast enough.  Once we did, I hibernated in my room for a bit before joining the cast and crew at TGI Friday's in our hotel lobby for a night cap.  

I woke up extremely early on Friday to meet Jake in the lobby of the hotel for some local press.  Unfortunately, the bitter cold mixed with yet another massive amount of snow threw a monkey wrench into the day's plans.  Our press rep was late picking us up because of the terrible commute, and once we left the hotel it was nearly impossible for us to get where we needed to be on time.  So, we turned around, made a stop at Starbucks and headed back to the hotel.  I would have gone right back to sleep if it hadn't been for an interview with the Portland Press Herald (Maine) that I had very much been looking forward to.  After a nap and a bite at TGI, it was time to walk to the beautiful Shea's Performing Arts Center (above) for our first show.  We had played the same venue in the first year of tour, and it is easily one of the most gorgeous theatres I have ever had the pleasure of performing in.  Opening night went extremely well, and afterward most people went in 7 different directions.  I joined the some of the cast and crew at TGI for a few, before heading to a place called the Lodge to meet up with Jimmy, Skye, Frace, Aly and Bryan, and I had Gabe, Bradley and Patrick in tow.  While there, Skye won an amazing 12 out of 15 games of skee ball, all resulting in a free drink for one of his chums.  And, there was an AMAZING cover band playing, fronted by my new friend Jeremy Hoyle; he did a few of Cash' songs from the American era, and I was so taken by the exactness of his vocals, I HAD to meet him.  We talked for quite a bit, and I am glad to now call him another great friend in the world of Cash.  

Saturday brought an uncharacteristic 4 pm matinee, so I laid low for much of the day before grabbing a coffee and a sandwich.  Both shows went extremely well, not the least of which was Bradley's first show as Carl this year for the matinee.  He looked as if he had been doing the show every day since last year.  In between shows I opted to stay at the theatre to do some much needed laundry.  Following our last night at Shea's, I grabbed a bit at TGI and got some much needed early sleep.  

Another snow storm met us on Sunday as we made the short drive to Rochester.  Our amazing crew had a 5 am load in just to get the set ready for the two shows that awaited us, and I could tell the long week was starting to wear on us all.  Despite the frigid temps and the buckets of snow falling, it was nice to be back at the Rochester Auditorium (above), after it having been our second stop on the first year of tour.  Cash had a pretty famous performance there in the late 60's, and I could definitely feel his presence and good vibes pushing me through the two shows.  I ordered Jimmy John's with Colte in between and opted to shelter myself from the storm, and ended up having a great conversation about music, Cash, and a whole lot of other stuff with Jake.  The night ended well as some of us headed to the hotel bar for a well deserved cocktail after a brutal week.  And, the day off ahead of us was well worth the wait; as the snow continued, most of us stayed in for the duration.  The rest was exactly what we all needed.  

Well, that it's for our week jumping all around the east coast!  Stay tuned for the next installment that should be on it's way in just a couple of days!  Stay warm y'all!  It's a doozy out there!