Friday, April 17, 2015

Going to California, another IWU reunion in Oregon, and Folsom Prison Blues

Our first venue back from layoff, Laxson Auditorium, Chico, CA

The Craterian Theater at the Collier Center for the Performing Arts, Medford, OR

A black and white look at our coats before they are set

Outside the walls of Folsom State Prison

Inside the Folsom Prison Museum

The Harris Center, Folsom, CA

Sporting some new IWU gear at soundcheck in Chico

The view of the drive from Chico to Medford

Our sweet rental car in Medford

A little catchup with another IWU alum!

More gorgeous views, on our way to Folsom from Medford

Me and Jim Brown, former Folsom guard and curator of the museum

The new Johnny Cash Bridge, modeled after the Folsom Prison guard towers

A little coffee and mustache fun, sporting my new Folsom hat. Photo credit: Patrick Morrow

Hello everyone!  Fresh on the heels of my long overdue and oft-deleted Anchorage blog, here comes the story of our week back on the West Coast!  It was a great week filled with great weather and great shows.  And, a bit of sightseeing in there too.  Here's what happened!

After checking out of my frightening hotel room in Chicago and heading to O'Hare and dropping off my car, I had a relatively late flight to Sacramento with a layover in Minneapolis.  It was a pretty long day of flights, but nothing really too bad.  I landed in Sacramento at about 8, and waited for a few other people to land for us to take the shuttle the hour and a half to Chico.  For some reason, the folks at Super Shuttle were pretty reluctant to take us where we needed to go even though the trip had been booked a month in advance. Nearly 2 hours after we all landed, they FINALLY put us in a van and we were on our way.  It was after midnight by the time we finally arrived.  I was pretty road weary and just thankful to have some time to chill before heading to bed.  

I woke up on Monday morning, in awe of my lush green surroundings and the gorgeous weather.  After all, it had been snowing in Chicago when I left.  I walked around a bit, getting some food and coffee and meeting up with Gabe along the way.  Mostly I just wanted to be outside and enjoy the weather as much as I could before the show that night.  The boys and I headed to the theatre that night to do our one show in Chico at the Laxson Auditorium (above).  The downtown was really cute, and reminded me a lot of Santa Barbara when we played there last year.  Briggs, the lighting magician he is, ended up having to recreate his alternate lighting design that he created for Keene, NH, given the theatre was unable to accommodate our lighting trusses.  But, just as before, it looked great and I'm sure no one in the audience was any the wiser.  In fact, they were a really great audience.  Following the show the boys and I got to talk to a student at the nearby college, and grabbed a bite to eat together at Tres Hombres, a Mexican restaurant just steps from the stage door.  Then it was back to the hotel to chill before our travel day the next day.  

 We had a bit of a later call on Tuesday morning, in preparation for our drive to Medford, OR.  I was very much looking forward to it, as I was going to be able to say hello to an old friend from IWU!  Once we got in, after a very scenic drive (pictures above), I stayed in my hotel for the most part, before heading to a nearby grocery store for a few things.  Jeffrey had told me earlier that he really hoped we would enjoy our rental car for the evening....and when I saw it, I realized why (pictures above).  It's the little things; sometimes (or, just this once) you drive a Mercedes to the theatre and feel like a rock star.  Gotta love it.  We made our way to the Craterian Theater that evening (above), and though the crew had a bit of a tough load in, we had a really great show.  I got to see Gabrielle (above) after the show and meet her daughter!  We hadn't seen each other since at least 2000, so it was great to catch up for a bit.  Jimmy was on as Jerry Lee that night, and his father, sister and grandfather were all able to make the trip from Washington to see him, which was really nice.  After the show I stuck to my room mostly, after having a bite to eat at the Denny's in our hotel.  

We had a long but GORGEOUS drive the following morning, as we made our way to Folsom, CA.  We stopped for gas in Weed, CA, and I took a few pictures of the beautiful mountains in the distance (above), as well as some shots along the way of the countryside.  Once we got in that evening, I grabbed a burger at the nearby In and Out, and then hosted a movie night in my room.  As we were in Folsom with the prison so close (and, that I was the only one who had been there), I wanted to show the Johnny Cash Live at Folsom Prison documentary, so that people could get a bit more of an inside look at how the album, concert, etc. were done.  And, I was leading an excursion there the next day, so I wanted people to have an idea of where we were going.  Everyone had a really good time, and following the end of the movie we all headed to bed.  

The next morning I took Gabe, Colte, Jimmy and Brad with me as we made the short drive to see the prison (above), and visit the museum.  They had made quite a few changes since I had been there when the tour played Sacramento 3 years ago, so it was nice to see all of the new Cash additions (above).  As we were standing there, the man running the gift shop let me know that I should meet Jim Brown, the curator who had just pulled up.  Well, I knew Jim at first glance because he is in every documentary where they speak about the prison in connection with Johnny playing there.  So, I was more than thrilled to meet him (above).  He told us tons of stories about the many times Cash visited and played subsequent concerts after the famous recording in 1967, and a lot of other stories about his time as a guard, and meeting Merle Haggard and a slew of other stars that had played in the area.  I of course spent a TON in the gift shop, but it was all well worth it.  We headed back toward the hotel, and we were all feeling pretty hangry.  So, we stopped in at Mimi's Cafe on Gabe's suggestion. Damn, it was good.  Then it was time to head back home to rest a bit before our opening night in Folsom.  We had a fantastic opening there, and I was glad to hear such a positive response to my rendition of Folsom Prison Blues; I mean...c'mon.  After the show, I laid low yet again, getting prepared for the double the next day. 

A double?  On a Friday, you ask?  Well, with Sunday being Easter, the theatre opted to have a double weekend, and thus we had two shows on Friday (the first time I have every had that, I can say).  Skye went on for the matinee as Jake wasn't feeling very well, and Jimmy was on as planned for the evening show that night.  All in all the shows went very well, but the audiences were a bit more reserved than they had been the night before.  In between shows I did the all important laundry time at the hotel, and went back to In and Out for another of their irresistible burgers.  That evening we went to BJ's for a bite after the show, with a couple of my friends that had seen the year prior when we were in Modesto.  Then, it was off to bed to prepare for another double.  

Bradley joined us for the Saturday matinee, and in between shows I grabbed a bite to eat with Jake at Quiznos and talked about the show, and how the time just seemed to be flying by.  Both shows went extremely well, and I was glad to see yet another friend from Modesto, and we all ended up back at BJ's for some food and drink afterward.  All in all, it was a really great week, and a good way to ease us back into the busy schedule that awaited us.  

We thankfully had Easter Sunday off, and though some of us had plans to go out and about and do some outdoorsy things, the weather was not about to cooperate.  So, I hung out with a few people and had some mimosas and watched movies for much of the day.  That evening I got an amazing lobster roll with a friend at Rudy's Hideaway just outside of Folsom, and had a really great and relaxing night.  Later that evening much of the cast and crew joined me in my room for a viewing of This Is Spinal Tap, as I had mentioned it and quite a few people (how is this possible???) hadn't seen it.  It made for a bit of a late night, but we all needed the laughs as we headed into a couple weeks of brutal one nighters; especially the crew.  

That's it from our week on the West Coast!  Soon I will be back with tales from our barrage of cities in the midwest, and some adventures at some rock and roll landmarks.  I hope everyone is well out there, and that you can enjoy the warm weather, if you indeed have it.  Until next time!!

1 comment:

  1. If you're looking for a venue for a small event in this area, you may want to stop by and check it out. The convention center staff is very friendly and the food is great. We preferred this place because they are all-inclusive, so you don't have to worry about chairs and catering because it's all part of the package.