MISSION: To visit every state and territory in the U.S. For my mission a visit is greater than a stop over; I wish to explore the natural and cultural environments of these areas. Each of these locations has a story to tell, and I want to find it.

As of February 2018 I have visited all 50 states (and Puerto Rico and 2 island in the US Virgin Islands) at least once.

Friday, September 9, 2016

A Classic Crooner, Boy Bands, Pop Stars, Broadway, and a Living Legend!

Summer is unofficially over (the equinox is not here YET)... I am not sure how it is September already.  I was so caught off guard that I missed my first post-Impressionism lecture at the Smithsonian - I knew it started in September, and I knew Labor Day just passed, but I just failed to connect the calendar dots.  Time flies too quickly.  It is scary. 

I would say where did the time go, but I have the answers - at work, weekend getaways, and in the many moments I had this season enjoying live music.  It has been an amazing summer for music.

 I found myself at quite a few Broadway shows (I love me some Broadway belting).  Looking back, this might be one of my best Broadway viewing seasons in a long while.  This summer, I saw shows solo, with friends, and with family.  There was my 4th of July bender where I saw Finding Neverland, She Loves Me, and Beautiful; and then near the end of August I saw American in Paris and Waitress.  Before the summer season even started, I grooved to Disaster the Musical and tapped along with Dames at Sea.  In DC, I finally saw the classic orchestrations of Bridges of Madison County.  (And there were more this past winter with Bright Star, Allegiance)  In those shows, I saw some Broadway legends and legends to be... I could not contain my excitement to see Gavin Creel along with Zachary Levi, Laura Benanti and Jane Krakowski (She Loves Me) and was giddy before Waitress with Jessie Mueller and Disaster packed with stars including Faith Prince and Adam Pascal. I saw Star Trek legend George Takei and legendary Lei Salonga in the gut wrenching WWII flashback (Allegiance).   I left shows in awe of Keale Sette (Waitress), Lesli Margherita  (Dames at Sea), Carmen Cusek (Bright Star) and Jennifer Simard (Disaster); these are names I will seek out in the future, easily.  All told, I saw 11 shows... and the year is not over.  Many new cast albums have been added to my collection - keeping me dancing in my seat while at work looking over paperwork!

The Lawn at Wolf Trap!
Broadway did not end there... Wolf Trap, National Park for the Performing Arts  had an incredible season.... and one of the shows I attended was with stage and screen siren Kristen Chenoweth (you know her - Wicked, Charlie Brown, West Wing, Glee, Pushing Daisies...)  So, braving the rain (not for the first time), a friend and I picnicked on the lawn to hear jokes and stories along with Popular, Fathers and Daughters and covers from many Broadways shows .... she even stumped us with a little known number from Flora and the Red Menace (leaving many of us to random google searches). 

Wolf Trap delivered more rain and more fantastic moments when I got to see Tony "freaking" Bennett!  My boyfriend and I sat through an epic thunderstorm, with lightening flashing too close for comfort, under a tablecloth, to see this crooner.  I refused to leave... he is Tony Bennett, and he turned 90 years old.  How many more opportunities would be have to see this living legend?  Don't know, but I do know that neither of us had seen him yet, so we weren't going to let wet asses keep us away from this show.  Acknowledging the storm, he cracked a few jokes as the classics he sang referred to weather, rain and sun. We were not exactly in a smoky room at small round tables with candles (how else you think of the old jazz singers with their bands preformed)... but man was it worth it to hear how he can still swing that voice. 

Tony was not the only legend we saw this summer... I got to see a Beatle!  A Beatle!  We went to see Paul McCartney.  And the boyfriend still gets giddy about this show, calling it the best we have ever seen.  He played for over 2 hours, pounding the keys and working the strings - singing songs from Pre-Beatles to his most recent song with Rihanna and Kanye.  It was an honest and true rock concert with lights, lasers and speaker issues... he joked that we all wanted the Beatles stuff and he could prove it with all the cell phones that came out at those moments; he admitted that he likes singing more than that... and that he likes to push.  And the crowd ate it up.  He could have played all night.  Sometimes, he didn't even need to sing because the crowd did it for him... like the entire place singing Hey Jude "lalalalala." It was an amazing, transcendent experience.

Someone that almost played all night?  Billy Joel... that man, he can put on a show... and there is nothing like a whole baseball stadium packed with people all singing Piano Man.  This show is DC was ... wait for it... yep... rain delayed... seriously rain delayed.  It was storming so badly that we were convinced it was going to be cancelled.  The opening act left... people that took the metro were stuck because Metro sucks, and cut hours meant that they could not stay late... so, even though it took us 2 hours to get home (7 miles away), we were glad we drove, we saw the whole show... And for the first time in all the times I have seen this legend, I finally got to see/hear We Didn't Start the Fire.  This man has so many hits, that he can actually hold polls during the shows to determine what songs he is going to sing and you would be happy with any outcome (yeah, that happened too)!

And at this point I am sure that it sounds like I had a refined summer at the theatre and listening classic rockers... but I also got my boy band love on...

The rain theme for concerts began at the very start of outdoor concert season with Hall & Oates.  Our first concert of the year and it poured so badly they did not want us sitting on the lawn.  We couldn't complain with our $20 Groupon tickets, but they moved us under the roof for a side view.  It was hot and humid... but we were dry.  And it was Hall & Oates - they guys from Philly that sang some of my most epic roller-skating songs ever.  Watch out during Private Eyes, I still jump as if we are skating in circles and use those claps for jump tricks!  And honestly, that Philly Rock sounds is still relevant.  Those songs could be on the radio now.  Completely worth our trek down I-66 for this show! You forget that Hall is in his 70's... (that might explain why he forgot some of the words), but they have not lost their swag.  They hit their groove and we boogied all night making our dreams come true. (whoo hoo )


A Boy Band, Friends From All Over and Chocolate!
 I made the decision NOT to do the New Kids cruise this year.  I have gone 2x and I wanted to free up time and money for other adventures...My favorite boy band also did not have a tour scheduled for this year, I was going to be New Kid free ... but then they announced as headliners for MixTape Festival in Hershey, so that plan went out the window.  Friends and I planned on a weekend trip into central PA to celebrate all things chocolate and New Kids... and then, the guys added a surprise show in Coney Island the Thursday before, and more friends and I planned a trip to the beach to see them ... and with that, my New Kids cruise free year turned into a crazy long weekend (the same length of time the cruise would have been).  It was a land based cruise where I even got to see many of my New Kids friends from all over... and this meant, I drove to Jersey, trained to NYC to subway to Brooklyn with friends for the show, to subway back to crash in the city for the night... to train home to Jersey to drive to Hershey for the evening event, to crash in Hershey with friends for the weekend, party it up in the rain and scorching heat at the Hershey stadium, to see the final acts in a fun "old school" festival - Boyz II Men, Paula Abdul and NKOTB, to eventually drive home.  It was exhausting and soooooooooo much fun.  So much of the New Kids experience today lives in seeing friends that you have connected with from all over, so while I cheered, danced and sang with a new type of New Kids concert (with lots of pop-up acts), I got to see people I love.  And that makes for a great concert experience (even if it was over 100 degree on that stadium floor)
And it was at that Hershey festival that I realized that my DC New Kid concert buddies would also join me for fun with another boy band crush (though he is no longer a boy bander... and hasn't been since he was 17).... RICKY MARTIN!!!!   Long before I had New Kids on my walls (in frames, thanks mom), I was all about Ricky's cute smile in Menudo.  Does anyone remember their song, Hold On?  I can still sing it (and damn, now it's in my head).  As with the rules of Menudo, Ricky aged out... and he was gone UNTIL, mom and I saw him on Broadway in Les Mis!  We had no idea, and once he came on stage as Maurice, I spent the entire first act hitting my mom and reminding her that it was Ricky Martin.  So... back to present day, two of my New Kids friends and I ready ourselves for some Latin rythmns and headed to Wolf Trap for the launch of his World Tour (which happened to coincide with the National Park Service's 100 Birthday).  I loved this, celebrating my love the of the national parks, at one of my favorite spots in the DC area, supporting the arts with the megastar (from the lawn).  And while over half the concert was in Spanish, it didn't matter.  The concert was electric.  People we rushing the stage, he was laughing and dancing and sang his heart out.  He changed clothes more times than Cher did (when I saw her in Vegas) ... for those that think boy banders are flashes in the pan and can't sing, all I can say is that they no nothing of what they speak... This concert was, by far, one of the most crazy amazing shows I have ever seen.  And did I mention that he sounded amazing?  I need to see him again... Oh Ricky!

As Wolf Trap winds to a close this season, I have one more show with friends... Bryan Adams.  The man that the soundtrack to all of our 90's high school proms is playing the Park.  We are hoping for no rain (please Zeus, no rain).    It is not the summer of '69, but the summer of '16 was pretty epic if I do say so myself. 

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