Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Ween of Hallows

San Francisco is pretty cool. This afternoon I went exploring and found a great used CD shop: five floors of awesome and cheap music.
I got some great stuff, like the new Patty Griffin, the new Magnet and the new Perishers. Then, I headed to this famous SF landmark:
Yeah...again. What can I say? I like.

So tonight, I was going to hang out with Candice and Jaco and have a little Halloween dinner, but they both went all out and got costumes, and I just didn't care that much. So Candice was going to make me a sign that said "Nudist on strike," and then I could just wear my regular clothes.

But at the last second, she changed her mind and decided I should go as her. So she just started handing me her clothes and putting makeup on me. I looked just like Candice...well not really, and as the night went on, people kept adding things to the costume, like blood, a jacket, etc, and by the end I decided I was "Frustrated Housewife With A Random Bowler Hat Who Committed Suicide". Don't ask why she has chest hair. Ultimately, I looked pretty terrible:

The leggings were especially horrific. And cold. Those things are pretty drafty. And you could totally see my leg hair through them. Not attractive. But I fit in just fine:

(That's Candice as "Tequila Te-Kill-Ya," Ellen from wardrobe as "The Contessa Of Death," and Ashlee Nino the dancer as "Patron In The Zone.")

Jaco went as "Wonder Woman Going To Prom Incognito." I got a great photo of him stalking Brandi Cyrus.

We hung out for a while in the hotel bar and got many many weird looks from strangers. Completely justified, I'd say. We were quite a motley bunch.

Then we headed to the Mission District and had dinner at a tapas bar. Jaco and I were already pretty tired so we headed home, but I know the dancers are still partying now, and probably will continue to party into the am.

What did I learn tonight? Well:
#1) In San Francisco, anything goes...unless you're in the hotel bar.
#2) There's a big parade at the Castro every Halloween, and last year 6 people got avoid that party.
#3) When you dress like a woman, even an ugly one, everyone will want to squeeze you:

Life lessons, indeed.

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Not Sure If You Know This, But...

...I try to reply to the comments you leave. So do check back.

Also, the subscription feeds were messed up since I changed the name of the blog. They're fixed now, so if you'd like to subscribe by email and have sweet little updates in your inbox, or subscribe by RSS feed and have sweet little updates in your reader of choice, you are now free to do so.

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Goodbye Portland!

I'm so glad to be leaving the Pacific Northwest. Not that it's not beautiful. Not that it's not filled with culture. It's just that, for me, it's associated with many things to do with my wife. So I kind of expected that part of the tour to be difficult. I didn't expect to get hit by a car or anything, but that's just a bonus. Thanks Seattle.

While I was in Portland, I:
#1) tried to stay away from busy intersections and buses
#2) went to my new favorite place: play with my new favorite toy:
And that was all I found to like about Portland. Although everybody says it's really nice. I just couldn't take my chances on the streets till I got out of the crazy Pacific Northwest...seeing as it hates me and wants me to die.

The Portland show, however, was by far our most fun show so far. Pretty much everyone agreed. We were all goofing off on stage. Jaime has begun walking up to the keyboard platform and making me laugh while I'm singing during the first act. And last night, all the male dancers came out with funny wigs: mullets and afros and stuff. They had just been to the Halloween shop earlier in the day. Miley also messes up a lyric from time to time and turns around and makes crazy faces to the band. The nice thing is, with this show, nobody really needs to keep a straight face, so we were all laughing pretty hard while continuing to play.

And now it's Halloween, and we have the day off in San Francisco! Yay!

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Playing Through The Pain

Last night' show was really difficult. My back was really hurting so I tried to hold pretty still as I played. There are some songs in the show that were rough on my back before the accident, and as they would come up I would think, "uh oh, here we go."

I've really got to see a doctor, cause I don't know if I can continue the tour this way. There was supposed to be a doctor last night, but he didn't show up. Hopefully tonight.

So I'm playing the show, rocking gingerly like a geriatric mummy, and I guess I'm putting all my energy into my fingers, because I somehow managed to break two nails. And I've got short fingernails. So now they're all bendy on the keys. Kay is gonna lend me her clear nail polish to strengthen them for tonight. I'm a girl now.

Meanwhile I'm trying to get a copy of the police report for insurance purposes, and the City of Seattle is making it very difficult. They don't do fax. They don't do email. I have to mail a request, and they have to mail the report to my home...despite the fact that I won't be there for a while.

In other news, while we were in Seattle, Kay and Miley both ended up buying the same jacket by accident:

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Happy 100!! I'm A Superhero!!

This is my 100th post! Yay! I'm happy that I'm sticking to this whole blog thing, even if nobody really reads it.

So I was talking to The Amazing Kay Hanley about what's been going on with the bus and the divorce and the fire, and she said "maybe you don't have bad luck. Maybe you absorb all the bad stuff so that everybody else can be safe." If that's the case, I'm happy to do it.

I'm like a superhero...with a bad back...and no wife.

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Seattle Underground

Last night, Chad and Julie recommended I check out the Seattle Underground. So I asked everybody in the band if they wanted to go, but only Candice was game. She loves that sort of thing.

We, along with a group of strangers, filed into a random hole in the wall:
And our tour guide showed us around what used to be the city of Seattle, long since built over with superior technology.
At the end, Candice and I started wandering around, taking random pictures, and didn't notice that the tour group had left. We walked briskly to the exit, only to notice we had been locked in. The group had gone back up to street level to head to the next section.

Candice started yelling "we're down here!" She was worried we'd be stuck down there, which I thought was really funny cause I saw the turnlock on our side of the door. I unlocked it just as the guide came down the steps and pushed the door open for us.

We unfortunately didn't get to finish the tour as it was already 2pm and our call time was 3. Boo. It was interesting though, what we did see. We heard all about how the crapper was invented by John A. Crapper, who became Sir John A. Crapper for his work in sanitary engineering...oh and we also heard about the massive Seattle poop explosion. Ahh, what a historical city.

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Yes, It DOES Happen

I iron.
Living out of a suitcase, it's hard to keep my clothes from staying horribly wrinkled, and I hate wearing wrinkly clothes. So it's nice that pretty much every hotel has an iron and ironing board. This has become part of my daily ritual.

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Inlaws and Dead Plated Animals

I called up my brother- and sister-in-law Chad and Julie and had dinner with them. We had a great time, and did our best to avoid the big divorced elephant in the room.

Julie ordered crawfish, but couldn't bring herself to eat it.

Could it be because it was staring up at her? Or was it because its underside looked like this?:

Probably both.

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Great Cosmic Running Joke

We're in Seattle today, and I needed to exchange my camera, cause it's been acting funny. So I was going to take a cab. It was kinda far though, and instead of paying $20 each way, I found out that there was a public bus I could take for $1.25 both ways. Sounded good to me.

And then this happened:

I'm thinking I might need some medical attention at this point. Everybody else on the bus was fine, but I was the only one who literally flew out of my seat and rolled up the aisle...probably looked hilarious, but it's not so funny now.

Still though, I'd take that over this ----anyday.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Shooting in Salt Lake

Tonight's show in Salt Lake City was much different than the others. The full-on 3D camera crew was there with all their gear (massive dolly tracks, humongous crane-cams stretching to the ceiling, guys with Steadycams running around the stage). We played the whole show, then came back and re-played several songs, and many of the fans stayed for a couple hours while we did that. Of course, once Miley left, they continued shooting the band for a while, but most of the fans didn't care about us.

Everyone in the upper levels were paying audience, but the crowd on the floor were all cast. I thought that was interesting.

The guys making the movie herded us band members into a little custom made tent theater, and showed us a demo of the 3D technology, with footage from our show. It's mind-blowing. This is brand new technology, and I've never seen anything so amazing. It's almost better than being there: the sense of dimensionality, the clarity, the eye-popping color. Whether you're a fan of Miley or not, go see the movie in February. It will be in all Disney Digital 3D theaters across the country.

We have another day of shooting tomorrow in the same arena.

Because of the shooting, they did hair and makeup for us, which was new to me. I've never been airbrushed before.

The wardrobe department supplied me with more shirts today, and they all fit within my parameters:
They're all black.

Right before the show my FutureSonic ears (through which I hear the whole show -- very crucial) fell off their cable and hit the floor. Then somebody stepped on them and they broke. So my right earphone now has a jagged edge, which I filed down for a while, but it still juts right into the skin of my ear. Hopefully they'll order a new one for me.

Fred, Miley's vocal coach, came back for this show, since we're shooting. Fred smelled popcorn. Fred wanted popcorn. So Fred went to concessions, and got this:

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Denver Fans Are Crazy

So we're in our bus after the show, just chillin' and watching game 2, and the fans crowd up to the barricade and start freaking out. I imagine they would hang out for days waiting for The Jonas Brothers and Miley to show up.

Here's some video:

And now we're off to Salt Lake City. Hopefully we won't have to run over any fans to get outta here.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Empty Streets Can Only Mean One Thing

So tonight I got to see my awesome cousins Nick and Maurice, who happen to live in Denver. It was great to hang out with them again. I haven't seen them since my wedding in 2005.

We were trying to find out the final score of game 1. Nick made the observation that downtown was pretty vacant...which means the Sox won. Otherwise there would be tons of Rockies fans piling into the street.

They introduced me to this Discovery Channel show, "Everest," which is one of the most intense things I've seen. It follows a group of crazy people as they trek Mt. Everest...for no apparent reason. And they're losing fingers and toes and lives left and right. Very compelling, but by the end everybody seems totally depressed. Nobody's really happy that they reached the summit.

So...uh, why are they doing it again?

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Game 1

Most of the band are rabid Red Sox fans, and every night before and after the show, they've been running out to the bus to watch the game on TV. So it's a great and strange coincidence that the Sox should be headed to the World Series, of which game 1 against the Colorado Rockies just so happens to be the same night we're in Denver, and have the night off.

They're going to the sports bar to watch the game, but I'm a little worried for they're going to be hideously unpopular as Red Sox fans in there...

As interesting as it sounds, I'm meeting up with friends and family tonight, so I won't witness the carnage.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Music Connection

This month, Music Connection magazine is running a review of my monthly residency at Genghis Cohen (which of course I won't be playing again till I get back in January). Specifically a review of our October 5 show. It's universally positive and you can read it here. My favorite part is where she says that I "exude honesty and pain."

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Monday, October 22, 2007

A-ha Omaha

Just like every day, I got ready for the night's show, got all my stuff packed up and left my hotel room for the lobby. I turned in my keycard, and the woman at the front desk said, "I don't think you're checking out today."


"And I think a bunch of people in your group just went out to a movie."

Double oh. No show today? Somebody forgot to check his itinerary. Somebody has become hypnotized by the schedule. This is our very first day off. How exciting!

So I moved everything back into my hotel room and decided to explore downtown Omaha. I put on my iPod, and walked the Old Market District to the sounds of Sufjan Stevens (I needed a gentle voice). On the street, I stumbled on the dancers and Charlie (the road manager), and mentioned that I was thinking of checking out a movie. They said they were going to see "30 Days of Night" and said I should join them. They said to meet back up with them in two hours. I said sure, and headed out looking for food.

Now, I knew there was very little chance of us finding each other randomly in downtown Omaha before the movie, but it was fun to pretend. Anyway, I always love a good zombie movie, but I was really feeling the need for intellectual stimulation and, once again, gentleness. So a zombie movie didn't really sound so good anyway.

After eating at a cool spaghetti joint, I called a cab and went to Iowa. Yes. I left the state. But it wasn't that far. I found a multiplex that was entirely empty, apart from the staff, and saw the movie "Michael Clayton," which was fantastic. I needed an art infusion, and this was definitely that. Remarkable performances, a razor-sharp script and tight direction. It's a character movie masquerading as a plot movie. Delicious. I highly recommend it.

Ahhh. It was nice to have a day to myself to relax and remember who I am again.

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A Letter to Minneapolis

Dear Minneapolis,

I like you. I enjoy your east coast feel and building-to-building bridges.

But I think you have some issues. Why are you so cold and windy? I don't desire to have the skin ripped off my face by an invisible force with every step I take.

Why is almost everything closed on a Sunday afternoon? You are the only place where I've ever seen a Starbucks and an Arby's completely black at 1pm. Cute Thai restaurant after cute Mexican restaurant after cute sports bar, all dark and vacant. Why must I scavenge like a homeless rat in your windy cold, only to find everything boarded up like something out of "28 Days Later?" Where did everyone go? And why don't they need to eat on Sundays?

Also, "MinneAdPolis?" Do you really want to be known as "The City of Advertising?"

I have to give you a little credit. You have a good Target. Two stories. I got a hard drive and the new Spoon record. I like you for that. But that's only because I was so happy to find one place that was warm and open for business...So don't get a big head.

Please try harder next time.

Take care,

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Good Morning, Moline!

I woke up in a Radisson in Moline, Illinois, hungry. But not hungry enough to order anything with this name:

We headed over to the iWireless Center, the smallest venue on the tour (11,000 people).

Our second show went extremely smoothly. We were all having a lot more fun this time, as the show is becoming second nature. The performers all seemed very relaxed, including me, this time around. And it's only going to get better. We'll be a machine this time next week.

We noticed on the ride to Moline last night that people had already posted videos of our first show to YouTube. Those were fun to watch.

Now we're on the bus for the overnight drive to Minneapolis. Around 4am-ish we should arrive, when we'll all be forced to wake up and drag our luggage into our hotel room, where we'll wake up in the afternoon and head to the venue and do it all over again.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

...When East St. Louis Was Not Far Away

It went well. Very well. We all had a blast, and rocked out to the sound of 30,000 screaming adolescent girls.

Everything ran smoothly, despite the fact that we were still getting levels and making huge changes to the set only hours earlier.

I took this shot about a half hour before the show. By the time we started, the place was packed.
And here we all are in the dressing room just before hitting the stage.

l. to r. - Jaime (guitar), Candice (vocals), Jaco (guitar), Kay (vocals), Vishon (bass), Stacy (drums), me and Fred (Miley's vocal coach).

Fred has become my new best friend on the tour, and I'm totally bummed that he's leaving us tomorrow. But he'll be joining us again in Salt Lake City for the 3D movie shoot. I'm also sad to leave my temporary home here at the Westin, which has been serious luxury. I'll miss the giant windows with the only-minorly-obstructed view of the St. Louis Arch:

One show down, fifty-four to go!

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Tonight's The Night

My cold has degraded into a sinus infection. Kay has one too. We've got a doctor coming in today to prescribe us some antibiotics. When I woke up this morning I could barely talk.

In other news, the dress rehearsal went fantastically well last night. But management still felt the show was a bit too long, so we cut three more songs. That's a total of six songs we've cut in the last couple weeks. And of course they're always my favorites. But now the set is tighter, which was the idea. It's an amazing show. No one will be disappointed.

And it's all over the news. Every time I walk by a TV, they're talking about the tour and how incredibly sold out it is. People are doing crazy things for tickets. There was a banana-eating -contest and a men-wearing-high-heels race.

Tonight's the night. It's 6pm. We're seeing the doc, getting wardrobe fittings, going to catering and then it's SHOWTIME!

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

This Is How It Works

A few choice words from Regina Spektor's "On The Radio" that feel particularly resonant to me right now. This is my favorite verse from the entire "Begin To Hope" album.

"This is how it works: you're young until you're not,
You love until you don't, you try until you can't,
You laugh until you cry, you cry until you laugh,
And everyone must breathe until their dying breath

This is how it works: you peer inside yourself,
You take the things you like, then try to love the things you took,
And then you take that love you made and stick it into some,
Someone else's heart pumping someone else's blood,

And walking arm in arm, you hope it don't get harmed,
And even if it does you'll just do it all again..."

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Blacking Out The Friction

After the self-pity-fest that was yesterday's blog entry, things have gotten better. I've been trying to connect more with the peeps on the tour. Last night after rehearsal, I was dead tired and feeling sick and all I wanted was to conk out in my room, but instead I went to the bar with the band. I'm glad I did. I got a little buzzed for the first time since college (I'm not really much of a drinker) and that lowered my inhibitions just enough for me to be myself. Everybody was getting a little drunk so Kay (Hanley, lead singer of Letters to Cleo, singing backup on this tour) had the waitress bring crackers....tons and tons and tons of crackers, in packets. Stacy (the drummer) does this thing called Pay-Per-View, where he dares somebody to do something for money, and he Pay-Per-Viewed me $20 to eat all the crackers on the table. Kay said she'd kick in another $20, so of course I said "absolutely." I started scarfing them down and Stacy revoked his Pay-Per-View. I'm told this is very rare. He said, "I don't want you to get sick and I don't want you to lose your buzz." Very kind of him, but I wanted my $40! No, I was happy to stop. If they were Saltines it would be another story, but these were Zesta crackers and they tasted like shoe.

This morning, Candice (background singer), Jaco (guitarist) and I went to the City Museum. It's basically a big playground for grown-ups, with all sorts of art that you can climb. (The Blogger Uploader is being fussy, so you can see pics on my Flickr stream).

We had a blast and basically spent the day climbing up, sliding down and spelunking through man-made caves. If you're ever in St. Louis I highly recommend it.

Full rehearsal tonight, with about a thousand people in the audience. Tomorrow night it'll be more like 30,000.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Holding On Underneath This Shroud

There's nobody in this crew that I've really bonded with yet, which is strange for me. I think that's partly to do with the fact that since this divorce started, I've become a bit antisocial -- a bit of a loner. It's hard to want to connect with people again -- by doing so, I'm allowing them to hurt me. Why give them the chance? I guess that's what "Dear Me" was all about. I know I don't need to hide away -- intellectually I know. But putting it in practice is harder. I'm noticing lately that all the songs on my "High Cost of Living" album are coming back to haunt me, with all-new meanings.

There's a big transition at this point in my life that I haven't really made yet. What am I waiting for?

I'm a very quiet version of myself. I feel like I'm going to break into pieces with every step. I'm sure these people just think I'm really boring. Whenever there's a chance for everybody to go out for drinks, I just come back to my room and sleep. Of course, I am still sick, so maybe I'll get there eventually.

Feeling alone on the road is worse than feeling alone at home.

Right now though, I'm sitting in my hotel room finishing these divorce forms. Fun. And maybe when I'm done, I'll take an adventurous trip to Walgreens and pickup some meds.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

We're Everywhere and We're Broken!

While I was getting ready this morning, I had the TV on randomly, and Ellen was on. She was talking about how huge the Jonas Brothers are and how she's having them on her show. I'm playing keys for them on our tour. Ellen said they'll be on her show on October 26, which is weird because we have a show that night.

Then while I was eating at the hotel bar, there was a story on the news about Hannah Mania, and they're giving Hannah Makeovers this week to get people ready for the concert on Thursday. No pressure.

We're rehearsing for the next few days in the stadium. And it is huge. I'll try to take some pics tomorrow. Right now it's almost midnight, I'm exhausted and still sick. I felt all spacy and floaty on stage tonight. Many of the cast and crew are either sick or injured at this point. Kay (singer), Stacy (drummer) and I all have colds. Corey (dancer), Ryan (dancer) and Kenny (director) have all sprained their ankles, and Miley's injured her toe. Hopefully we'll all recover by Thursday.

I'm ordering room service and heading to bed.

Mmmmm. Room service.

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Deaf In One Ear

I was fighting a cold all week and had almost gotten rid of it completely, but things got extremely stressful at home (trust me, I can't even go into it right now) and I started having a lot of trouble sleeping. Alas, the cold came back with a vengeance.

So I boarded the plane with a cold and de-boarded with Airplane Ear. My left ear never popped and the pressure feels like it's been building for the last couple hours. I googled it and apparently this is really common when you fly with a cold. They say to take a decongestant. But I'm stuck at the hotel. I'm going to hit up the concierge and see if they can get me anything.

Until then, everything's in mono.

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Day One

Today I flew to St. Louis to begin the tour. Checking in at LAX, directly in front of me in line was Malcolm McDowell. How cool is that? And he smiled at me. He's just as creepy in person...and I mean that in a good way.

Oh, I forgot to mention -- the other day on the Disney Lot, I had the best celebrity sighting. As I entered a building for vocal rehearsal, sitting on the ground talking with some people was none other than Felicity Huffman, the best actress working today. And she looked radiant.

After the flight, we checked in here at the Westin, and let me tell you, it is nice. Much nicer than what I'm used to. I have a suite-type thing and it's beautiful.

There's a rumor that we're now cutting "Clear" from the show. We've already cut everybody's favorite song from the show, and this is the band's second favorite song. They think the song might be too tonally mature for the show. I'm really bummed about this. We'll see if it's true tomorrow.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Thunderbirds Are Go!

The run through went well. Very well. There were lots of young'uns there, and they had a blast. We did stop a couple times, but everybody just seemed happy to be there. There are some really fun surprises in the show, which I won't ruin here.

The pyros were interesting. There was one song where I was basically choking on gunpowder. It was hilarious. Also, so not cool how the raining debris makes my keyboards all grainy and black. Towards the end of the show it gets pretty hard to play them. Eh. Such is life.

I have to buy my show clothes sometime before we leave Sunday. Bought my big fat suitcase today. So SO excited to go. Everybody in the band is on Southwest...except me. Haha suckaz! I'm on American. Not sure why but I'll take it!

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Final Run Through

This is it: our final run through of the show before we leave town. We've invited a small crowd of friends and family, so this is also our first run with an audience...And I should also say, our first run through without stopping. Yeah, we'll see. We've never even been on stage with the pyro before, so hopefully none of the dancers will randomly immolate. I just have funny cartoon images in my head of peoples limbs getting shot off.

Yeah, I guess that's not really funny.

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The Worst News Ever

I've been avoiding bringing this up in my blog for awhile now, but the dust is starting to settle.

Nicole and I are getting a divorce. Yeah, I'm as shocked as you are. She's tried to explain it to me many times but I don't get it. At all. And I think I don't get it because there's a major piece of logic missing.

I thought we were happy. I thought we were in love. I thought we just had a baby!

She first told me she wanted a divorce in July, and since then things have gotten worse and worse. This is actually the whole reason I took the Hannah gig: to get out of town. We're still living in the same house and it's miserable. Neither of us is able to be happy in a situation like this, so off I go.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Along Comes Wow

Wow. Just wow.

So I haven't blogged since we got to the Disney soundstage because our schedule has been so crazy. But let me tell you, this is quite a show! Every day, we've been adding elements. First we added the dancers - and they're awesome, flying all over the stage. Sometimes I just wanna watch them and I almost forget to keep playing. Then we added the video screens, and there's still new video content being added to the show every day. Then we added this amazing light setup, which includes these cute little sparkly lights and like a hundred giant individual light machines that can do anything.

Then this morning came the wow. The whole crew gathered in front of the stage for the wow. Two words: Pyro Demo.

We went down the show from the top and saw all the cool fireworks that get shot off. Very exciting. This is going to be so much fun! Mikey likey the big loud explosions! The only thing I don't like about them is the large amount of debris they shower upon my keyboards. We're working out a system for cleaning involves brushes and compressed air.

Tomorrow is the final dress rehearsal before we leave for St. Louis on Sunday. Once we get there, we have two days to rehearse in the arena. We have a lot of stuff to pull together in a very short period of time, but I know it's gonna be amazing.

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Monday, October 1, 2007

The Keyboard Rig

Hannah Montana rehearsal are progressing well. We're still at Center Staging. (Click on photo to enlarge).
And yes, that is a massage chair. This nice guy named John is the band masseuse. He also brings us yummy food like couscous and jicima.

Here's my keyboard rig.
Note how tiny it is. I had this genius idea to buy keyboards that were super-small and super-portable, but that was unnecessary because we'll have roadies! *sigh*

In order to make the rig look less like a pea on an elephant, they're going to build me a big cabinet all around the keyboards. This means people won't really be able to see what I'm doing, which is a double-edged sword, because 1.) they won't see me mess up, but 2.) they won't see mah cool moves.

I'm totally going to feel like a mad scientist in my lab behind that big thing.

Today we had our wardrobe fittings. I like my shirts, which is good cause I'll be wearing them every day for the next few months. Better bring my deodorant!

Wednesday we move to the big Disney Soundstage.

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