Rocking with Bruce in NZ

One week ago, we were THIS CLOSE to The Boss. In Auckland, NZ.  It was AWESOME!

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Travelling over 7,000 miles from Seattle to NZ to celebrate Thom’s 60th birthday with Bruce, we enjoyed a week on Waiheke Island off the coast of Auckland before the big day.  On Saturday we boarded the ferry to the mainland, picked up our tickets in Auckland and made our way to Mt. Smart Stadium.  Along the way we dropped off a bag at our roadside motel, hastily booked when we discovered the damn ferry didn’t do a late night run to the island and we would no doubt be stranded sleeping on a ferry terminal bench if we didn’t take action.  Those that have been to a Bruce Springsteen concert know that he has great energy and can play.  ALL. NIGHT. LONG. When we saw Bruce in LA and Seattle last year, he played for four hours straight.  Which is awesome if you don’t have a deadline to cross the ocean to your lovely airbnb cottage.  Not daring to leave the concert early, we decided to grab a few hours rest at the “no tell motel” before going back to the island the morning after.  Wise we are.

For this concert, Bruce had two opening acts which was unusual because he usually works alone with no opener.  Arriving just in time to be one of the first 500 in line, we got the coveted pink bracelets and #’s written on our hands.  The NZ stadium crew were very organized, walking in 100 fans at a time in order to avoid chaos.  We got to know some lovely people while we waited in the shade of the trees outside the gates.  Thom was even interviewed for a NZ podcast.  While Thom’s sign didn’t get Bruce’s attention, it did solicit lots of comments from the crowd as did his “Icky Trump” protest shirt.  My hubby-always ready to discuss politics-is not shy about voicing his opinions.  Luckily this crowd was very anti-Trump so many lively discussions ensued when they asked us, “WTF-how did you elect that wanker?”

Finally inside, we were about three rows from the front of the stage.  WOWOWOW!  As many times as Thom has seen Bruce, this was the closest he would get.  Ever.  Fitting for a journey as long as ours.  When interlopers without #’s on their hands tried to cut in front of us, the friends we made standing around us including a NZ policeman, joined voices in protests and summoned security to move them behind us.  One entitled lady thinking she could just cut in front of me was cussed out by Thom and others, with the cop counselling Thom not to touch her to avoid getting kicked out of the concert. Wouldn’t that have been awful?  But, properly restrained but still giving her what for, Thom did not get ejected.  Standing firm, we “policed” our area and made sure we kept up close and personal with Bruce.

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The openings acts, Jet and Marlon Williams, were good but everyone had come to see Bruce and the E Street Band.  Finally the 40,000+ fans got him as he strolled out in his trademark checkered shirt and belted out Darlington County.  Steve Van Zandt was of course his usual crazy self with his head scarf and floral pants.  When Bruce declared it was “ass-shakin time” they turned and let their bums do the talking.  Impressive.  Interesting, the crowd in the stands were seated and fairly quiet unlike the standing mob on the floor where we were.  Bruce eventually ran to the sides and got them engaged but they were definitely more reserved than the US crowds that danced for 4 hours straight last year when we were in LA and Seattle.

Next to us all night was a couple from Italy who had planned their vacation to NZ to see Bruce at Christchurch and Auckland.  Dedicated.  Another woman also interviewed with Thom for the podcast had taken a 36 hour flight from India.  Crazy.  The gentleman in front of me helping with crowd control in our group was from Poland.  Everyone had stories to tell about Bruce and the impact he and his music had on their lives, making it easy to bond quickly with complete strangers.  I will always remember them fondly.

While he sang hit after hit, the moving rendition of “41 Hands” brought tears to my eyes as I saw everyone raising their hands and feeling the heartfelt lyrics so relevant to the tensions we are all feeling today in our world, whether in the US or NZ.  The Boss ended his three hour jam with an acoustic version of Thunder Road.  Brilliant.  The concert of a lifetime.

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Bruce and E Street Band say good-bye to Auckland and the end of their world tour.

 

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Bruce ends the show with Thunder Road.

 

 

 

 

Rainy Day in Seattle

The grey skies are endless in Seattle in the winter but that doesn’t stop us from exploring and having fun.  No way does rain deter true Seattlites-wet is the norm.  So hoods up and off we went!wp_20170204_13_25_12_rich

First up, fueling up on Marionberry Pie Greek Yogurt at Elenos at Pike Place Market. Yum with a capital “Y”.  Okay, so not exactly diet food but Thom and I endulged in a small container, perching at the counter at the market with a view of the ferris wheel all lit up in pink.  Too soon the yummy, creamy treat was consumed and it was off to the Seattle Art Museum.  Taking in “Jacob Lawrence: The Migration Series”, this journey illustrates through 60 paintings the mass exodus of African Americans from the rural South to the industrial North in the decades after the First World War.  Stunning.

Artist Jacob Lawrence made Seattle his home and was a professor at UW, actively painting up until his death in 2000.  The MOMA in NYC and The Phillips Collection in DC jointly own his series.  They decided to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Jacob Lawrence by coming together for the first time in two decades on the West Coast to present this special exhibit.  Check it out.  Thought-provoking artistic experience.

Reading the story behind each piece, I was struck that our society has not radically advanced from this time in history.  We still see discrimination and the struggle to be treated equally.  We must keep up the fight for equality for all.

After a quick walk through the rest of the second floor, we hopped on the C bus to West Seattle to indulge in another one of our passions, music.  If you haven’t checked out Easy Street Records yet, GO.  Not only for the vinyl selection on the 2nd floor but just to soak up the vibe of good music, good people and good food.  Our old car doesn’t have Bluetooth but it does have a CD player so we have been indulging in buying some music to listen to with the top down this summer should the rain ever stop.  With CD’s from  The Clash and Jonny Lang in hand, we also got a “Greetings from West Seattle” t-shirt for me to wear to the Springsteen concert in Auckland, NZ.  Two more weeks and then we’re off to the South Pacific for rock and beach time.  YOLO!

 

Xtreme Holiday Xtravaganza Rocked!

Experiencing the Boise music scene at the Xtreme Holiday Xtravaganza hosted by Curtis Stigers at the Egyptian Theater was an eye opener.  Who knew there was so much local talent in little old Boise??  Now in it’s 11th year, this musical holiday journey featured Curtis, who is an amazing talent I was unaware of until lately, and loads of other Boise solo artists and groups. Not a bad note in the bunch and lots of moments that just made you smile.   It was sold out both nights and now I can see why.  WOW.stigers-2

This fundraiser benefits Interfaith Sanctuary Housing Services that supports the homeless in Boise.  I got to meet Dan Ault, Shelter Director, in the lobby while on a break and promised my future support.  How can you not?  We volunteer every Sunday in Seattle when we are home to feed 300+ homeless at Shared Breakfast.  For those of us blessed with so much, helping others with life’s basics of food and shelter seems to be the least we can do.  Stigers’ rendition of “Burden” by Foy Vance was so relevant and gave me goose bumps.  Foy is one of my favorite artists that we just got to see in Seattle at the Columbia City Theater, a small venue that won’t hold the crowd for Foy’s next concert swing as he gains in popularity.  Go see Foy if you get a chance.  Oh, and Curtis, please come to Seattle soon and allow us to enjoy a full evening of your music.  The Moore or The Paramount would be ideal venues for your big voice.  Please.

 

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Curtis sings Burden with back-up from many talent Boise artists

 

From an Irish band that I will have to check out soon at the local downtown Ha’ Penny Bridge Pub to Pengilly’s Saloon which seems like “the” place for local artists, we need to challenge ourselves to explore all this great Boise talent.  Trooping up to the stage, The Divas of Boise, a group of talented female singers/musicians started by Rocci Johnson in the mid-90s to showcase their skills and lend a helping hand in the Boise Community, brought it with big voices and loads of talent.

Silly us.  We have never fully explored the Boise music scene when visiting our home here because we are usually so busy with babysitting the lovely Miss Mia or doing home renovations.  Busy, busy but finding time to listen to great music is essential to a happy life, at least for me.

Lucky for us, Eilen Jewell who lives in our North End neighborhood was on the stage with her husband rocking out with some other local musicians.  I would love to see Eilen give a concert in this spacious theater.  The last time we saw her we were packed into the Tractor Tavern in Seattle.  Her heartfelt tunes and excellent band make for a fun evening but I would prefer not to stand the whole time.  Yes, I’m getting a tad older and like simple creature comforts like a  comfy padded seat.

 

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Eilen Jewell and friends rocking it out.  She’s AWESOME!

 

Curtis and his cohorts did a great job balancing the request for support with music and frivolity.  Even in bleeding red Idaho, the liberal taunts of Trump were woven into the evening and it felt good to be among fellow people with brains who could laugh and cry together at the state of our country.  The 3+ hour show went by quickly and raised a lot of money for those in need.  On a cold and wintery evening, we felt the holiday spirit loud and clear.  Happy holidays to all and to all a good night!

 

Hangin’ with Bruce…Truly The Boss!

“This will be the best 4 seconds of my life.”  Really???  My husband made this pronouncement this morning in advance of the upcoming meet and greet with Bruce.  What about…hmmm…the birth of your children, marrying me, etc.?  “Okay, the fourth best 4 seconds of my life.”  Better.  “What AM I going to wear?”  Oh, Thom, settle down.  Bruce is just a normal guy.  “No.  He.  Is.  Not.  He is THE BOSS.”  Okay, I get it and so the day began.

Social media is powerful and Thom and I are wired almost every hour of the day so we found out quickly that Bruce Springsteen was going to make Seattle one of the few stops on his book tour to promote his new autobiography, Born to Run. WOW.  At exactly 10 a.m. several weeks ago, we both were logged in to Elliott Bay Book Company with fingers poised and pounced on tickets (cost of the book) to get a ticket to meet Bruce, get a photo and a pre-signed book.  Sold out in several minutes, tickets were later going for up to $600 on StubHub and wannabes were circling the lines today to meet Bruce begging to buy tickets or be the “plus one” for a ticket holder to meet Bruce.  No way!

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Thom making friends in line

I have to say that Elliott Bay Book Company had a big challenge and they did an awesome job communicating the rules often and in advance of the big event, as well as being staffed well, organized and friendly on the big day.  We arrived at 10 a.m., 2 hours prior to the start time of the event and promptly got into a line with hundreds of others already lined up.  We promptly fell into conversation with a lovely couple, Ollie and Fletcher, who had come up from Northern California and Tacoma.  Fletcher told us stories of her dad’s love for Bruce and how, though her car had just been stolen and she was busy finishing up her degree, they had made time for this experience. Their dream is for Ollie to retire from her job and stay home to raise the kids they hope to have.  They were lovely and I hope their dreams come true.

Finally, as the line moved forward, we got our blue wristbands and hands stamped in the bookstore and moved to another line, the “blue” line.  By this time, we were two hours in and nature called. so off I ran to the nearest coffee shop while Thom held our place in line and made new friends, some old rockers who knew every Bruce song.  Making it back in time to continue our journey towards Bruce, Thom was still in an altered state, so excited to meet his rock hero.  We debated what to say in our 4 seconds with Bruce.   Thom settled on thanking him for writing the songs that made up the soundtrack of his life-from the heart and meaningful.

As we gained entry to the bookstore and out of the rain that had started, we saw signs proclaiming “180 more steps to Bruce” and so forth and posters where you could share your favorite song, where you were from, your favorite Seattle sight/restaurant, etc. to keep you engaged while inching closer to The Boss.  They even provided a “Spruce for Bruce” mirror to make sure you were still looking good for your photo opp.  Great job, Elliott Bay, you pulled off a wonderful experience for everyone.

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The bookstore staff quickly checked belongings and took your camera/phone from you so you were unencumbered and they could take the picture.  Bruce was warm and friendly just like I thought he would be.  Instead of a heartfelt comment, I chose to be honest but made him laugh with a sincere compliment, “You are TOO CUTE!” and then followed with a plea to keep the pressure on Trump.  Seriously, HRC needs all the help she can get.  He chuckled and hugged me tight and then we were done.  It was truly a great 4 seconds.  Afterward, we hopped over to EDM to get his new album that is the musical companion to his book that features 5 previously unreleased songs called, Chapter and Verse.

Bruce, it was great meeting you.  You are a spectacular talent and inspiration to generations of fans, including me.  Thom loves you too.  Well done.

Moving to the music with Foy Vance

Even with terrible jet lag and packed in like sardines with a standing room only sold out audience, I still managed to thoroughly enjoy Foy Vance’s performance  on his Wild Swan Tour at Columbia City Theater this week.  WOW.  What a talent to play in this small venue.  Foy pours his heart into his music, lifting your spirits so high you can’t help but smile and move to the beat.  Whether banging it out on the piano or jamming on his guitar, Foy has passion and energy to spare.  With a careful branding of his Irish roots, he has great style, sporting a handlebar mustache, traditional tweed cap and a cheeky glint in his eyes.

After just coming back from our Ireland vacation, it was a joy to hear that lilting Irish accent again.  As the Irish would say, Feck it sure it’s grand.  Yes, that’s what they say.  He and his band decided that, like most musicians, Seattle is a grand fecking place to play.  Of course it is.

Foy opened for Elton John’s tour in Europe and was the first artist to sign on with Ed Sheeran for his new label.  When I heard he was going to play at Columbia City, I was thrilled.  Boise friends, he is there this week so go see him!  He is that good. wp_20160928_21_39_51_pro-2

With a full band and a large voice, Foy would have been better suited at The Moore or Paramount theaters so hopefully next time he makes the long trip from Ireland, he will move up to a much larger hall so we can enjoy his soaring vocals and excellent band with room to breathe.  To say it was aromatic with all the sweating bodies after a long day would be putting it mildly.  Ewwww….

After standing for over an hour in my heels, my feet were numb but I just couldn’t leave quite yet.  I love all the songs on his new album and enjoyed seeing them performed live. 

Foy’s opening act was a shrill Bob Dylan wannabe who I could have lived without seeing.  Usually the opening acts I have seen in the last year or so have been truly excellent but that was definitely NOT the case here.  Only a lovely whiskey and ginger cocktail got me through that crap that he was throwing all over the stage trying to be artistically crazy.

Finally, the jet lag won out though and, knowing I had to work the next day, we left Foy singing his heart out on the stage.  Come back to Seattle soon, Mr. Vance.  You are a true talent.

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Enjoying Indie Singer/Songwriters in Seattle

I try to never take for granted that we are lucky to live in a city with such a vibrant music scene for all ages that ranges from superstars visiting us like Bruce Springsteen and The Who to hard-working talents that you have probably never heard of but should check out.  Thom and I try to support all levels, attending at least one concert a month for date night.  This fall we get to experience some fantastic indie artists who put their heart and soul into their work. Being a musician is not a easy life for most but I appreciate them all!

One of the smaller venues with phenomenal acoustics is Columbia City Theater with only 100 or so seats so you get to be up close and personal with the acts.  We’ve seen Griffin House there (and he comes back to play 12/1-go!) and last night we got to see Sean McConnell, who had been Griffin’s opening act last year but now is launching his Ghost Town tour as the main act showcasing his new album, which we bought on vinyl, of course.

Can I just say that Thom’s vinyl collection is out of control?  Soon, new furniture will be required to house it all which could be an issue as we look to downsize yet again in the future. We are looking at properties to buy in West Seattle, close to Easy Street Records which might be very, very bad for our budget if Thom can just stroll over every day looking for new vinyl.  He even, perhaps jokingly, said he would get a job there just to have more time perusing the inventory.  OH. HELL. NO.  After we put in an offer on a condo on the main drag in West Seattle yesterday, we ambled by East Street just in time to catch Sean do an in-store appearance before his concert.  He took one look at me, stared and said, “I remember you!”.  So funny and no, I am not a stalker, but on a recent girl’s weekend with my sister in Chicago, we had talked to Sean after he opened for Kris Allen at City Winery.  I had told Sean that I had asked my barber to recreate his hair style on me when I went with the shaved on the sides #3 blade look.  We’re twins now, don’t you know!

But I digress, so back to the music scene.  Sean’s opening act, Andy Davis, was good and connected to the friendly, easy-to-engage audience especially with his piano tunes.  He congratulated us on our clapping skills as everyone in the place quickly took direction to get involved with his quirky and awkward-at-love songs.  I hate a stiff crowd so it was fun to enjoy the concert with other people who appreciate good tunes with some spirit.  Sean even later commented that it was refreshing to play a venue where the focus is music vs. people eating/talking/ignoring the music. Playing bars with drunken patrons is probably not his favorite venue.  Just a guess.

In the 95+ degree heatwave and a theater that was only somewhat cooled off, Sean laid it all out on the floor with his soaring, clear vocals and original lyrics that spoke to the hard life of a musician.  He and Andy are driving a van around the West Coast from Seattle to Boise (9/3 at Neurolox-Boise friends, go!) for a total of 12 cities in two weeks.  Damn, they work hard for their money.  As Sean sings in one of his songs, “One Acre of Land”, he offered his wife the opportunity to be with a broke artist who would devote himself to her despite the lack of money.  Who could turn down that offer?   His lyrics really speak to Thom and I, especially “Best We’ve Ever Been” when he sings, “And damn girl, we look good.  Yeah baby we’re the best we’ve ever been.” and explores the adventure that life can be when you have a partner you love.  That’s Thom and I-no slowing down!  Check out Sean’s vocal stylings: 

Coming soon this fall is Foy Vance, who opened for Elton John this summer on his European Tour, and who will grace Columbia City with his presence 9/28 on his Wild Swan tour. You can bet Thom and I will be there to enjoy his music before he hits it big.  Ed Sheeran signed and produced Foy’s latest album and he has gotten great media coverage in the U.S.  We will have just come back from our Ireland vacation and will be in the mood to let this Irishman entertain us.  Get out there and enjoy some Seattle music.  Cheers!

3 Chicks in Chicago

Girl’s Weekend!  My sister Becky along with our best friend since grade school, Patti aka Trish, and I took on Chicago this weekend for a glorious girl’s only experience which featured food, fun, music and, of course, wine.  Oh. Yeah.  WP_20160604_19_17_07_Rich (2)

We have been best friends for 45 years believe it or not.  I know, how can that be???  We all look so young!  From swimming at our neighbor’s pool every day in the summers to sneaking smokes in the field between our houses, we have been through life’s challenges and celebrations-divorce, death, weddings, births, businesses, etc. with lots of tears and laughter along the way.  I truly don’t know what I would do without these great women in my life.

After meeting up in our amazing suite at the Warwick Hotel on the Magnificent Mile complete with complimentary champagne and chocolate covered strawberries, we headed out for a walk by the waterfront, enjoying the blue sky and warm temps and then through historic Astor Park where the multi-million $ brownstones are to-die-for gorgeous.  Next on the agenda was a late dinner at Volare.  Even with reservations, the place was packed and it took awhile to get our table and food.  A HUGE appletini for Patti and wine for me eased the hunger pains but then the food arrived and LOTS of it–mushroom risotto, caprese salad, minestrone, pasta–all to share and sample.  YUM.

Becky and I are the “walkers” with matching FitBits so we got up early leaving Patti to her beloved sleep and took off for a walk by the river from bridge to bridge.  Satisfied that we were well on our way to 10,000 steps, we pried Patti out of bed with the temptation of a Saturday brunch at a neighborhood café where we sat outside until the rain began but not before a courteous street dude walked right up to us, declared, “Charlie’s Angels” and walked away.  You betcha!

It proceeded to mist on us as we ventured out of the downtown core to the Hyde Park Art Fair.  I have no artistic skill whatsoever so am in complete awe of the interesting creations that the artists were showing.  I saw an interesting cross necklace made out of antique silverware (only $35!) and pounced on it to purchase.  Patti and Becky also wanted one so they are going to order online at:  Silverware Artistry.  Later we hit the Magnificent Mile and shopped till we dropped at Nordstrom’s (and the Rack), Anthro, Victoria’s Secret and Banana Republic.  All my favorite stores and the stars were aligned for us all to find stuff we loved to take home.  New Kate Spade shoes.  Check.  New Anthro white jacket.  Done.  Ring at 50% off.  On my finger.

Nothing says “Girls Weekend” like a concert by awesome artists so, lucky us, got to go see Sean McConnell and Kris Allen at City Winery on Saturday night.  I’ve seen Sean play in Seattle, opening for Griffin House at Columbia City Theater and, believe me, he is destined for greatness.  His new album comes out July 2nd and he is touring as the headliner in the fall, coming to Columbia City in Seattle on August 19th and Neurolox in Boise on 9/3.  Go see him before he blows up and is playing at huge arenas.  Seriously, if you like rich lyrics and soulful tones, you will enjoy Sean’s music.  Plus, I modeled my new hairstyle after his-seriously.  I told him that story after his performance when Becky and I talked with him so she could buy his CD.  He laughed.

Next up was Kris Allen and his band who got the crowd engaged, singing and clapping.  Thom and I saw him just last week in Seattle at The Triple Door and he was equally entertaining.  Singing by himself or with the group, Kris is a true talent that I have enjoyed since he was on American Idol.  He is a hard worker with a brilliant voice.  I hope he gains a wider audience and enjoys great success.  WP_20160604_22_04_53_Pro (2)

After a lovely evening with wine, great food and wonderful music, we once again got a quick Uber (I’ve even made Becky an Uber lover!) and off to the hotel for some rest.  The next morning Becky and I again wandered the neighborhood, walking to the lakeshore to get in our 10,000 steps.  Then, it was off to the train to South Bend to see Mom.  These 3 chicks had quite the time in Chicago and we vowed to make this a yearly event!  Cheers!IMG_8119 (2)