Sunday, May 17, 2015

Another stop in Texas, balmy theatre conditions in Shreveport, back to Arkansas and another rock n' roll pilgrimage

The Temple Theatre, Lufkin, TX 

The historic Municipal Auditorium, home of the Louisiana Hayride, Shreveport, LA

The boys with the King 

The Strand Theatre, Shreveport, LA

Maumelle Performing Arts Center, Maumelle/Little Rock, AR

A little pilgrimage (my 4th) to Memphis, and of course, Sun Studio

Gabe and Carl!  It was Gabe's first trip to Sun!

One of many of Jake and Elvis

"Hey, Mr. Phillips? My name's Carl Perkins, this here's my brother Jay.  We drove down from Jackson to play you a couple of tunes."

Probably my favorite picture I have ever taken of the exterior of Sun 

Ike Turner's saxophone, used on what is often considered the first Rock n' Roll song, Jackie Brenton's Rocket 88

A familiar sight....

"I stood right here"

Gabe overwhelmed at the thought of standing exactly where Carl did for all of his historic sessions 

The new home of the Hard Rock in Memphis.  Of course I had to check it out!!

An awesome Johnny Cash display in the new Hard Rock 

My 5th trip to Graceland, and Gabe's 1st! 

Look out, Jack

Some awesome new shots of the show, thanks to the good folks in Lufkin 

A great shot of sound check at the Strand, thanks to Bryan Langlitz

Jake with Estelle Brown, member of the legendary Sweet Inspirations, who sang backups for Elvis for many years at the end of his life

The cast with Sonny Burgess and the legendary Pacers, Sun recording artists 

Sonny and The Pacers

Patrick and the Pacers' drummer Bobby Crafford 

A sensible selfie with the picture I know so well

Hey, y'all!  Welcome to the latest late installment of my blog!  As usual, it's been a busy couple of weeks out here on the road, and this one was no exception.  I am writing this blog from the confines of our first stage manager's apartment (David Lober, who is now the PSM for Matilda on Broadway) in New York City.  Time for a little layoff before the final stretch of tour commences.  It's crazy to think that in just a few short weeks it will all come to and end.  But, until then, I have plenty to catch you up on.  Here's what transpired this week:

After our nice stint in the state of Colorado, we made the long trek to Texas on Monday.  An hour and a half drive to Colorado Springs, followed by a couple of flights to Dallas and finally Houston, and then a 2 hour drive to Lufkin.  We were all pretty tired once we got in, but thankfully we had some time before it got too late.  After laying low for quite a bit, I joined some of the cast and crew around the fire pit at our hotel, before I decided it was time to finally get some shut eye.  

I woke up nice and late on Tuesday morning, and spent much of the day laying low inside.  The weather had turned quite warm, so I went out in search of food, coffee and some essentials at Walmart, all within walking distance of the theatre.  Following that, I spent much of the day laying low and waiting for my friend Sonia to arrive from Austin; it just so happened she was there on vacation from NYC, and so she made the trip out to Lufkin for the evening to see our show!  It was great catching up with her for a bit, but then it was time for me and the boys to head to the show.  The boys and I headed to the Temple Theatre (above) for the first of two shows in town, and before the show we were able to wish Laura a very happy birthday!  The show went amazingly well in Lufkin that night, and following a successful opening the cast and crew decided to have a BBQ at the hotel, in the parking lot where the crew bus was parked.  The beer and wine flowed, charred mammal flesh and seared fruits and vegetables were consumed; all in all, it was a nice night for the cast, crew and even our truck drivers to get together and let go a bit.  

Wednesday also brought another laid back day, but I did do a few productive things.  I got a nice sushi lunch before heading to Best Buy to find a new laptop bag; my trusty black pinstriped one had started to fall apart, and it was honestly just too big for my new MacBook.  So, I walked out with exactly the bag I wanted and headed home to transfer all of my goods.  Then I spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing before our last show in Lufkin that night.  After a great closing show, I ventured to Buffalo Wild Wings (man am I getting sick of chains....) with Gabe, Jeffrey and Justin for a bite.  When we got back, I invited Gabe and Jeff over to watch a documentary I had been dangling in front of Gabe for quite a while, Rockabilly Legends.  The documentary as a whole is quite good, but I wanted to show Gabe this one particular interview with Carl Perkins toward the end of his life.  After a late night and some great entertainment, it was time to rest.  

We made our way to Shreveport the next day, and thankfully we had quite a bit of time to chill in our rooms once we got in.  It was a short drive with a late start, so that gave us a bit more time to sleep and not stress too much about the travel day.  I had been looking forward to our short stint in Shreveport, as it meant we would be able to take a trip to the home of the Louisiana Hayride (above), The Municipal Auditorium.  The boys and I headed to the theatre a bit early that night so we would be able to see the place, and after wandering for a bit and taking it all in, we headed to the Strand Theatre (above) for our only show that night.  What a gorgeous old theatre.  The crowd in Shreveport definitely came to rock that night, and we even had a special guest in our midst, as we learned shortly before curtain.  Estelle Brown (above with Jake) had been a member of the Sweet Inspirations, the backing group for Elvis for quite a number of years.  Jake got to meet her afterwards, and hear tales of her time performing with the King.  All in all, it had been a successful day.  Following that, a few of us headed to the Rockin' Rodeo bar near the hotel for a bit of fun and karaoke.  Then, it was off to slumberland.  

Friday brought another travel day to Little Rock, AR, and I was not feeling well.  I usually only get sick about once every 8 months, but it seems as of late I have not been able to stay healthy, which I have chalked up to the constant travel and weather change.  I did my best to rest on the bus and was feeling a bit better by the time we got in to rainy Little Rock.  The theatre we were playing was actually about 20 miles away in Maumelle, as the usual tour house in Little Rock was closed for renovation.  So, with little time to spare for relaxation and food, the boys and I headed to the Maumelle Performing Arts Center (above) for some rehearsal before the show that night.  Sonny Burgess and the Legendary Pacers (with the cast above) was in town to sit in with the band that night and perform their first Sun hit, Red Headed Woman.  So they joined us on stage for a short rehearsal and sound check before our normal sound check when moving into a new venue.  It was great to be onstage with some true legends of Sun, and to hear all of their stories about their first encounters wit Sam Phillips.  Following the rehearsal I attempted to get a nap in before our full sound check to little success.  The audience was a bit reserved that night, but that didn't stop us from having a great show, and enjoying our raucous encore with Sonny and the boys.  After a long and eventful day, it was time for me to go home and see if I could sleep off my meager cold.  

Saturday brought our typical 2 show day, with Jimmy on as Jerry Lee for both shows.  The commute to and from the theatre certainly put a damper on our free time, but both shows did end up going quite well.  The audiences as a whole in Maumelle were quite a bit more reserved and quiet than we had become accustomed to, but that didn't stop us from giving it our all.  Between shows I did my best to rest after getting some Jimmy John's next door, and it really was necessary considering how poorly I was feeling and how busy a night I had ahead.  My old boss and friend Will Prather was in town that night with Lauren Sobon and Russell Thompson in tow, checking out our production for their upcoming hand off of our tour to them for a non union run.  It was great to catch up with all of them over a craft beer with the cast at the Flying Saucer in downtown Little Rock, even if I had been feeling pretty lousy.  I stayed out for a bit with them before we all decided it was time to call it a night.  

We had only one show to look forward to the next day, and then an impending day off.  Thankfully that show was a matinee; because like the rest of the shows in Maumelle, the audience was quite lackluster.  Following the show I headed to run a few errands with Jake, and then we made our way downtown to get some food at a place called Big Whiskey.  I was still not feeling the greatest, so once we got back to the hotel, I laid low and even napped for a bit.  That day was Aly's birthday, and she had invited people out to a place called 109 that night; craft cocktails and such.  So, once I finally dragged myself out of my bed, I made the short walk to join much of the cast and crew.  It was a pretty fun night, though there were definitely some dramatic moments.  My lips are sealed.......

With the day off on Monday, a few of us had decided to make our way to Memphis.  As the early morning approached, it appeared that it would just be Gabe, Jake and I; and I was just fine with taking the small group.  I was still coughing a lot, but feeling a bit better.  I certainly wasn't going to back out of our trip, so I tried to make the most of it.  We talked a lot on the way, and the 2 hour drive seemed to go very quickly.  Gabe had been to Memphis before, but hadn't been to many of the places Jake and I had been, so we intended to be his tour guides.  The first stop was Sun Studio, which seemed more than appropriate.  No matter how many times I visit the studio, it is just as special and meaningful each and every time.  I got some great pictures of the boys (above), and even tried some new black and white offerings; I do have hundreds of pictures from past trips, after all.  We had a great time there, so we headed downtown to get some lunch at my favorite BBQ spot, Rendezvous.  The only problem was, it is closed on Monday. So, we were out of luck.  We opted to walk around a bit more before heading for lunch, so we went into the Peabody Hotel, and of course into Lansky's.  We even got to talk to Mr. Lanksy (the original namesake's son) for a bit before moving on.  We walked toward Beale, and I noticed the new home of the Hard Rock Cafe (above), and also the new/old home of another Lansky's location.  Apparently it was back where it had originally been.  We shopped around there for a bit before walking the length of Beale in search of BBQ.  Most places were closed on Monday, including Jerry Lee Lewis' semi new place (new since I had been back to Memphis).  I suggested a place I had been to quite a bit, The Pig.  We were all starving at that point, so just about anything would have done.  But the Pig has some great BBQ, and was certainly exactly what we were looking for.  Then it was time to think about either heading out of town, or trying to get to Graceland before it closed; the day had truly flown by.  As Gabe had never been, we opted to head out and try to make the final tour of Graceland.  By some stroke of luck, we just barely made it, and embarked on the final tour they would do that day.  This marked what I think is the 4th time I've been to Graceland.  Now, don't get me wrong; I like Elvis and all, and the tour is pretty great.  But, I'm not sure I ever need to go again after the 4th visit.  We took our time following John Stamos' (yes, that's right.  Not a joke) voice around the house and grounds, and even got to head to the archives, a building I had never been to on the tour before.  We then headed back to the welcome center to visit the car museum, and all of the other exhibits along the way (multiple pictures above).  Once we finished, it was time to gas up, grab some necessities and hit the road back to Little Rock.  The drive back seemed to take even less time, and once we landed we all went our several ways.  I grabbed a bite to eat and opted to have an early night in my room before our trek to Cleveland, MS the next day.  

So, that's about all from another eventful week out here on the road.  More to come from the next two weeks before our layoff (which I am currently writing from), and I hope y'all will stay tuned!  Thanks for reading!!!

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