Tuesday, April 28, 2015

One nighter after one nighter, a rock and roll Mecca, college towns and 5 cities in one week

The legendary Surf Ballroom; the last place that Buddy Holly, J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson and Ritchie Valens ever played.  Clearlake, IA 

The field where the plane went down on the Day The Music Died. 

The NACC Auditorium, Mason City, IA 

Washington Pavillion, Sioux Falls, SD

The Lied Center, Lincoln, NE

The Lied Center of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 

Stephens Auditorium, Ames, IA 

Our stop for lunch on the way to the Surf Ballroom 

Patrick and his giant specs 

Jake on the Surf stage

Photo credit: Patrick Morrow

Our awesome wall tag in

Part of the new Ask If It's Equity campaign, and they chose my blurb to be featured! 

Love Garden Sounds record store, Lawrence, KS

A nice group at the Bourgeois Pig, Lawrence, KS 

Hello friends!  Another long overdue blog because of our busy schedule, so I apologize as always!  But, we had some great times and saw some very interesting sights this week, so I hope this will keep your attention for a bit!  Here are the highlights from our crazy week in the Midwest!

We left Folsom, CA after our day off on Easter Sunday, and embarked on a very long journey with the crew joining us, on our way to Mason City, IA.  We had to make the 45 minute drive to the Sacramento airport first, and after a couple of flights to get us to Des Moines, we then had to bus for quite a while before finally getting in that night; about 1 AM.  It was a very long day for us all, but particularly for the crew, who would have to load in just 8 hours later.  We welcomed a new member to our crew that week, Lauren Daisy, as she would be covering Corey's weekend of personal days.  She had worked with quite a few people on our crew, and everyone spoke very highly of her, so we looked forward to working with her for the week.  Shortly after arriving at the hotel, most people crashed in anticipation of the day ahead.  

Jake and I had been planning a little field trip from Mason City for quite some time.  So, on Tuesday morning we headed out for yet another rock n' roll Mecca; the Surf Ballroom (above).  But first, we headed to the Mason City Municipal Airport to pick up Colte from his time off.  Ironically, this was the same airport that Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens took off from on that fateful night.  Once we picked him up Jake, Patrick, Colte and I headed out in search of history.  We stopped along the way for lunch at the Barrel Drive In.  It seemed like a great idea at the time; after our small portions and terrible service greeted us, it seemed much less so.  After spending entirely too much time there, we left and quickly made our way to the Surf.  It was here in February of 1959 that the 3 aforementioned stars played their final concert, as part of the Winter Dance Party.  The venue (above) has changed very little through the years, and still hosts a number of live concerts throughout the year.  It also serves as a museum, mostly dedicated to the memory of those lost on February 3rd.  We took in all of the artifacts, pictures and memorabilia for quite a while before heading out.  Then it was time to find our way to the plane crash site.  Thanks to a woman at the Surf, we easily found our way to the remote area about 15 minutes away.  It certainly brought everything full circle to see where their final concert, the airport, and the crash site all were in the span of just a few hours.  To make the whole thing even more eery, as we approached the memorial at the crash site, both Patrick and I went to take pictures with our iPhones....they completely shut off.  Almost simultaneously.  And even stranger than that, as we made our way back to the car, they both came back on....as though nothing had happened.  Maybe the Big Bopper had a problem with our phones......gulp.  We made our way back to the hotel to chill for a while before our only show that night in Mason City.  But, our day in Clearlake paying our respects to the lost trio certainly was well worth the trip.  The boys and I drove through the still frigid temps to the NACC Auditorium that night (above), and at our meeting before sound check we found out that through all of our efforts collecting for BC/EFA we had raised over $50,000!  A pretty amazing feat considering we had only collected a few times and didn't even have any items to auction off.  The show that night was quite good, and afterward me and a few of the boys headed to Applebee's nearby to wind down before heading to bed.  

We made our way to Sioux Falls, SD on Wednesday, and along the way had a very odd lunch stop at a Hyvee in Minnesota.  It had a wealth of fresh food options, but rather than have us pay for what we had on our plates BEFORE eating, the system was to go into a strange dining area, wait for someone to take our drink order, and then pay as we left.  The whole thing was quite odd.  At least I got a fresh salad.  We arrived in Sioux Falls in the mid afternoon, and hunkered down until we had to leave for the theatre.  The boys and I made our way to the Washington Pavilion (above) for the 1st of two shows in town.  The show went extremely well that night, and after a nice and quick meet and greet with some very pleasant patrons, a few of us made our way downtown to celebrate Andrew's birthday!  I opted to join a few members of the crew with Jake at a place called Lucky's, and after a while much of the cast and the rest of the crew joined us there.  It was a fun and very interesting night for sure, and it was great great to be out on the town with everyone.  

The weather was quite nasty the next day, so I laid quite low for much of the day.  Jake wanted to grab some lunch, so we drove a bit to get to Chili's for a bite.  After that I just laid low and tried to stay as warm as possible.  We were all starting to get pretty sick of the awfully cold weather; oh spring, where art thou?  We had another great show in Sioux Falls that night, and following another pleasant meet and greet, the boys and I headed home.  Daisy, getting ready to do her first solo show on props the following day, took the time to make an amazing wall tag for us (above) that we all made sure to sign before load out.  Patrick invited a few of us over that evening for a viewing of Walk Hard.  I had never seen the movie, mostly because of it's obvious parody of Walk The Line and Cash's life.  And though it still won't ever be one of my favorites, I certainly did have a great time with everyone laughing and watching the movie.  And after another late night, it was time to get some rest.  

On our way to Lincoln, NE on Friday we stopped for lunch in Omaha, which was a bit of a tease.  Aside from the week we spent there on tour last year, because of my years being there with the Nebraska Theatre Caravan, it was hard to only be there for a lunch stop.  Nevertheless, we continued on our way to Lincoln and arrived in the late afternoon.  We made our way to the Lied Center that night (above, one of two consecutive theatres with the same name), a place that had been part of Gabe's formative theatre years growing up.  Lincoln had a lot to offer, aside from being Cornhusker country, and it was only a shame that we just didn't have much time to spend there.  After a fantastic show, the boys and I met up with some of Gabe's friends for some food and drink at Buzzard Billy's in the Haymarket District, and though we weren't out all that late, we had a blast.  Then it was time to sleep for yet another show in another town the next day.  

Saturday brought a drive to Lawrence, KS, home of not only the Jayhawks, but our very own music director Chuck Mead.  We landed in the mid afternoon and were LOVING the warm and sunny weather once we arrived.  After quickly settling in at our hotel, I headed closeby to Love Garden Sounds, a great record store that Patrick suggested, as we rifled through 45's, LP's and all sorts of other little gems.  I walked out with quite a few Cash records I didn't have, and delighted in their Cash inspired decor (above).  After staying in my room a bit, I drove the boys to the next Lied Center (above), for what proved to be a great show that evening.  And, Chuck Mead's parents were there to watch us.  Having seen almost every production of MDQ thus far, it was really nice to meet them and hear their perspective on our production.  I met up with Jimmy, Gabe, Patrick and Laura at one of Chuck's favorite places, Free State Brewery for a bit following the show, and then a few of us headed to the Bourgeois Pig (pictured above) for a night cap of deliciously crafted cocktails before calling it a night.  

Sunday was a bit of a blur, as it was about to bring the 5th city of the week.  We pulled into Ames, IA that late afternoon and made our way to the Stephens Auditorium (above) that evening for the show, still basking in some very nice and sunny weather.  The show that night really was fantastic, and the boys and I joined Colte's old friends at Buffalo Wild Wings later for a bit of a celebration.  It may have been the end of the week, but it still was not quite time for us to have a day off yet.  We were sorely in need of one though.  

So, there is our busy week from the Midwest!  Much more to come in the next installment, complete with ghost stories and record buying mayhem!  Stay tuned, friends!