The view from my hotel room on the first evening
A cool wall mural I found in my travels
Yet more gorgeous views from my hotel room
The Alaska Center For The Performing Arts
Some highlights from our BC/EFA benefit, Don't Stop The Music at Mad Myrna's
Captain Cook, for which Cook Inlet is named
The view from Captain Cook's vantage point
An amazing and giant crab roll from Humpy's
One of the many new meme's posted on MDQ's social media. Photo credit: Jeremy Daniel
A few shots of our promo at the Hard Rock Cafe. Photo credit: Megan Moore
This blog will be prefaced thusly: After 3 days of uploading pictures, constructing witty turn of phrase and writing about our adventures in Alaska and on layoff, the ENTIRE blog was lost. After contemplating throwing my expensive MacBook out my second story window, I decided instead to completely forget about it for the night and attempt to move on. So, this blog comes to you after a few long and frustrating days, long overdue, but better late than never.
Hello everyone! Welcome to my blog for our first week sit down of the year! After a nice long week off, we were all very much looking forward to going to a new city and state for most of us, as well as not having to travel all week. Here are the highlights of our week in the great white north.
Having the forethought to book a hotel next to the Portland Jetport after my week in New York City turned out to be a brilliant idea. My parents met me with the remainder of my luggage, and we grabbed a bite to eat at the Sea Dog before they made the trip back home that evening. My flight was at 6AM, so I didn't see the point in waking up and leaving my house at 3. Thus, the hotel. It was a wise decisions. I woke up before dawn the following day and boarded my first flight of a very long day ahead. Portland>Detroit>Seattle>Anchorage. All said and done, it was about a 14 hour travel day. Thankfully with the time change it was still quite early in Anchorage. After taking the shuttle to the hotel and moving in, I snapped a few shots of the view from my hotel room (above). I was pretty hungry, so I headed next door with Patrick to a popular local hang, Humpy's. It turned out that almost the entire crew was there, as well as Jeffrey, Colte and a few others. Patrick and I caught up over a local brew and my giant crab roll (above). After that, I decided to lay pretty low considering I was quite tired from the flights and the time change.
I woke up very early for me on Tuesday, and was determined to see as much as I could and be productive on my first day in Alaska. I walked around for a very long time, making my way to the edge of town to get a few pictures of the glorious snow capped mountains in the distance (above). On my way back, I stumbled upon a memorial for Fire/EMS workers (above) and stopped in the fire house to get my brother a shirt (I have gotten him fire house shirts from almost every major city we have played). The woman working there suggested a place for lunch, and I was sold. A short walk from the memorial and quite close to our hotel, Ma's Hot Dog Stand (above) has been a mainstay of Anchorage for 23 years. And, the most popular thing on the menu is exactly what I wanted: a reindeer hot dog. And let me tell you, I was not let down. That and the kosher beef dog I had were just amazing. My hunger satisfied, I walked around a bit more, heading into the brand new Hard Rock Cafe where our promo was to take place the next day. Feeling very accomplished and productive, I headed back to the hotel (all of this well before noon, mind you) and I even fit in my first workout in quite a while. After chilling in my room for a bit, I grabbed a sandwich at Brown Bag Sandwich Company, a coffee at Kaladi Brothers, and made my way to the theatre for opening night. Now, we have some good crowds almost every night. But I will tell you that the enthusiasm coming from each and every crowd at the Alaska Center For The Performing Arts was like nothing we have EVER experienced on tour. They were raucous, laughing at every joke, and with us every step of the way. For every single show. Likewise, we collected for BC/EFA again in Alaska, and the patrons were as liberal with their money as they were with their praise. We were blown away by their generosity. So, needless to say, opening night was amazing. It also happened to be St. Patrick's Day, so the entire cast and crew headed to Humpy's to celebrate the day and a successful opening night. I had some really great conversations that night, and I think everyone was just in such high spirits because of the venue, the full week there, and just the positivity all around us. I headed home relatively early to be ready for the promo at the Hard Rock the next day.
I woke up on Tuesday at about 8AM, and realizing I could still sleep, promptly went back to bed. I woke up at 10 with terrible stomach pains, and I had no idea why. I got ready for the promo and was feeling like hell warmed over. After sound check we were fed, and there was NO WAY I was going to be able to keep anything down. I tried to eat a bit, and was drinking tons of water, but it just wasn't helping. Sure enough, as we were waiting for the promo to start, I got sick. Sicker than I have been in years, and at the Hard Rock. The day after St. Patty's. How embarrassing. I'm sure anyone who heard the sounds of me wrenching from the bathroom assumed I was hung over from the night before, but I assure you that was not the case. I made it through the promo as well as the press interviews that followed, but as soon as everything was over I headed home to sleep. I slept almost until my call, and found I was feeling slightly better; not great, but better. So, I trucked through the show and did just find. I always find in instances like that that my adrenaline kicks in and I just make it happen. Following the show I got a cup of soup and some electrolytes, and I am pretty sure I was in bed by 11pm.
Feeling a bit better on Thursday, I headed to Kaladi for some coffee and light food before joining up with the cast at Mad Myrna's, a gay bar across town. We had been planning a benefit concert for BC/EFA for quite some time, and the day had come for rehearsal, sound check, and after the show would come the concert. We teched through everything, and it was really great to see the cast doing all sorts of different things that we never get to see anyone do. Following rehearsal, Gabe at I headed to Fat Ptarmigan for some food. I got a pizza with, you guessed it, reindeer. We walked back to the hotel and a had a few slices and some soup before taking a much needed nap. My stomach was still not the greatest, and really stayed that way for the rest of our time in Alaska. C'est la vie. After my nap I headed to the theatre for yet another great show with an audience to match. Then, it was time to head to Mad Myrna's for our concert. There were tons of people there waiting to get in, and after some food and drink, we got ready for the show. The whole thing was really a blast, and it was fun to let loose and perform for each other. I got a good amount of pictures (above) of every act, and we were even able to video tape the entire concert. We raised close to $5,000 that night through the ticket sales, donations and auctions we did. So it was an extremely successful and fun night. We were all there quite late, and then it was time to head home.
I slept in a bit on Friday, and then after a failed attempt to hit a popular brunch spot, I wandered around taking pictures a bit more. My first stop was the Cook inlet (above), and the view from that vantage point. I could even see a glimpse of Mt. McKinley in the far distance. I then headed across town to the Anchorage Museum to learn a bit more about the history of the industry in the area, and more fascinating to me, the native people of Alaska (above). I was there for quite a while taking pictures and reading most everything before I decided to head back home for a bit. We had yet another great show that evening, and though I had been feeling quite a bit better I opted to have an early night and nurse my still ailing stomach.
Saturday brought our first two show day in Alaska. I woke up relatively late and tried to eat something light with my coffee before I headed to the matinee. It of course went off without a hitch, and I opted to stay at the theatre in between to do some laundry. That night marked the 900th performance of Million Dollar Quartet on tour, and Skye was on as Elvis to join in the festivities. Another great show followed, and a few of us headed to Orso, close to our hotel for a bite and a drink afterward. I had a delightful salad and smoked salmon/king crab deviled eggs. MMMMM. The plan for the rest of the evening was for a small group of us to head across town to an Anchorage watering hole institution, Chilkoot Charlie's. Frace's girlfriend Haley had scored some VIP passes for us, so we were looking forward to going. The bar is a massive complex, housing over 10 separate bars each with a different theme from cowboy to surf to punk. So, we were escorted in and brought to our roped off VIP section, complete with security and table service. We were in the largest of the areas, and there was even a band playing an array of cover songs. Gabe got up and sang a White Stripes song, and we all just enjoyed walking around and exploring each of the bars. After being there quite late, it was time for us to head home and rest for the double the next day.
Sunday brought the last two shows in Anchorage, and we were all pretty sad that the time had flown by so quickly. The matinee was great as usual, and after doing a bit of shopping for gifts for my family I headed to The Hard Rock with Jake for dinner in between shows. Since I finally had my appetite back and I hadn't been able to eat there when we did our promo, I decided to get their local burger; and of course, it had a full reindeer sausage on it. Talk about a hell of a burger. We all made our way to the theatre for the show that night, and a hell of a show it was. We may not have wanted to leave, but they certainly showed us how appreciative they were of our week there. Following the show I did my best to pack, and headed back to Humpy's for some food. After practically falling asleep over my food, it was time to head back to the hotel for some rest before my extremely early flight in the morning.
4AM came pretty early on Monday, and I headed to the airport with Briggs; thankfully we were able to finally catch a cab and because we got there so early, had no problem checking in and making it through security. As with the week before Anchorage that I spent in NYC, we had a week off following Alaska so that our set could be shipped back to the continental 48. I opted to head to a couple of places I hadn't been in quite some time: Chicago and my alma mater, Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, IL. After a lengthy delay in Seattle, I finally made it into Chicago in the late evening, and checked into my hotel in Skokie.
I woke up early on Tuesday so that I could make my way to a few places in downtown Chicago that I hadn't seen in quite some time. The first stop was at the Alley, one of my favorite punk stores for some t-shirts and browsing. I then made my way to Wrigley Field (below), a park I had visited years ago, but still have never seen a game in. I made my way across town and headed to the Hard Rock; surprisingly I don't believe I had ever been there in all of my travels. I then made my way to Millennium Park to take pictures of the Pritzker Pavillion, as well as the Cloud Gate (below). Then it was back to Skokie for a nice dinner with my old Christmas Carol tour mate Julie Nichols, and a trip to Delilah's bar for a drink with some new and old friends.
The next morning I made my way to IWU, having not been on the campus for 11 years. I was just excited to be back and see how much things had changed. The more things change, the more they stay the same. It was great to see so many of my professors (and, that they seemingly had entered a time warp where they didn't age), spend some quality time with my dear friend Maggie, and to meet so many of the students. I visited some old haunts along the way, as well as getting to teach an auditions class, have a few informal talks with students from the School Of Theatre Arts, and even a nice dinner with the head of my department and my former advisor, Nancy Loitz. I also somehow managed to get strep throat while I was there; so, I was trying to do all I could to rest and get better while still trying to do and see as much as possible. After a trip to the doctor for some antibiotics, I was on my way to recovery and also headed back to Chicago.
I got there in the middle of the day, and checked into my frightening yet cheap hotel in Hyde Park. After a lengthy nap and some down time, I headed back to the city to FINALLY see the boys and m'am of the Chicago MDQ do their thing! I had a great chat with John Countryman (our Jerry Lee last year) as I awaited the beginning of the show, and then rocked out with our Chicago brethren. It was amazing to see how different the show is there, yet so similar. The set is so different yet amazing, and I loved watching all of their different takes on each character. I had a blast. After meeting the cast afterward, most of whom I have "known" through Facebook for some time, it was time to head out and have a bite to eat with Kelly Lamont (below), our Dyanne for the last three years on tour, and our assistant director Scott Weinstein. It truly was an awesome night, and I was in no way looking forward to leaving the Windy City.
The next morning I dropped off my rental car and made my way to O'hare, ready to rejoin my tour pals in California. So, after much waiting and frustration from the deletion of this blog, here you have it! This ALMOST brings you up to speed on what we have been up to out on the road, but I hope to have the next installment out to you very soon. I hope his finds everyone well, and enjoying the spring weather! Stay tuned for more news from the road!!!
Only my second trip to Wrigley, and I have still yet to see a game there
Yet another new Hard Rock added to the list
The Cloud Gate, or "The Bean" in Millennium Park, Chicago
Some modern art on the IWU campus
Presser Hall, home of the School of Music. I can't tell you how many countless hours I spent in this building
McPherson Theatre, home of the School of Theatre Arts. I learned pretty much everything I know about theatre in this building
I finally got to see MDQ Chicago!!!
A long overdue reunion with a familiar m'am!