Saturday the 3rd was rainy and cool, but Sunday was nicer and I took Nina to DC for the 2nd Sunday in a row. We accidentally started at the National Museum of American History since it was right across from the Federal Triangle stop and stayed long enough to see the Lego flag and the ruby slippers before walking next door to the National Museum of Natural History. We started with the mammals (Nina’s obsessed with South America and liked seeing the animals from there), then went upstairs to see the small section of dinosaur fossils (the big ones were in a section being remodeled). We finished with the ocean animals downstairs. Next we walked over to the Washington Monument, where an awareness concert for Unite to Face Addiction was happening. Nina sat on me and ate a snack while The Fray were playing, then she wanted to run all around the monument base. We stayed long enough to see Jason Isbell, but it was getting late and we headed home.
Wednesday the 7th Jill chaperoned Nina on her first field trip of the year to Ballentine Farm. The theme was “All About Pumpkins” and they learned about the life cycle of the pumpkin. On Friday I dropped Nina and Jill off early in the morning at the Reston subway stop so they could go to Union Station and take an Amtrak train up to Holyoke. I had a quiet weekend of chores (oil change, haircut, mowing and putting up old books for sale) and TV for the most part, except for Sunday when I went shopping at CD Cellar, a quick grilled cheese dinner at next door’s Spacebar, and a show by Andrew Belle at Jammin’ Java (most surprising was Luke Brindley playing guitar for opener Eileen Graham). Meanwhile Jill and Nina had lunch with Meme and Pepe, went to Jill’s sister’s baby shower on Sunday, and went to a pumpkin patch on Monday, all while spending a lot of time with Ava, Nina’s favorite cousin (they share a love of My Little Pony). I worked a long day on Monday in order to do a half day on Tuesday and have lunch with them at Union Station and drive home.
Scheduling being what it was, it wasn’t until they got home that there was a bunch of must see concerts for me (all featuring solo members of bands). First up was Ann Wilson (of Heart) at the Barns At Wolf Trap on Tuesday the 13th. She did a set of mostly covers, but they were well received – cleverly adding the drum beat from “Sympathy For The Devil” to “For What It’s Worth” and a killer version of John Lennon’s “Isolation”. Next was Chris Cornell at Strathmore on Thursday doing a mostly solo show that really showed off the breadth of his career – nice Soundgarden and Audioslave selections as well as solo songs (especially from 1999’s underappreciated “Euphoria Morning”, Temple of the Dog and his James Bond theme song) and a couple of choice covers (“Nothing Compares 2 U” was great, but I really loved his take on “Ave Maria”, from the A Very Special Christmas 3 album).
Friday topped them all. I took the subway to DC, had a quick dinner at Melt Shop (another grilled cheese and tater tot dinner), then had a fast walk over to Constitution Hall. My only problem over the years with Roger Waters doing Pink Floyd songs solo is that he would sing songs like “Money”, “Time”, and “Wish You Were Here” that he didn’t originally sing. But this show was a benefit for MusiCorps (the wounded warrior band), and since they were the band for the night (along with G.E. Smith, Roger’s touring guitarist for a number of years), he had other vocalists to lean on. And that was evident right away as vocalist Tim Donley sang lead on the first ever live performance of “When The Tigers Broke Free” (from The Wall film). After Donley again sang lead on Buddy Miller’s “Wide River To Cross”, Roger finally stepped to the mic to sing “Mother” to an enthusiastic reception. Next actor and singer (and vet) J.W. Cortés came from the line of backing vocalists to sing classic soul songs “Lean On Me” and “Change Is Gonna Come”. But the Pink Floyd songs were not finished, as Donley returned to sing lead on “Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V)”, guitarist Greg Galeazzi did a stunning version of David Gilmour’s solos, and they were also joined by Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello on guitar and the E Street Band’s (and Clarence’s nephew) Jake Clemons on sax. Galeazzi took vocal duty next for “Money”, then Morello took over for a blistering cover of Springsteen’s “The Ghost Of Tom Joad”.
After intermission, Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins joined the band for a moving version of “Wish You Were Here”, then rocked through “Brain Damage/Eclipse” as the crowd really got into it. A string quintet from the National Symphony Orchestra came out (and stayed the rest of the night) as Roger took the microphone again for his only solo song of the night, the new “Crystal Clear Brooks”. He stopped it because the quintet wasn’t in time and had to conduct them, but when he had a guitar problem when beginning “Goodbye Blue Sky”, quipped “maybe it’s me” to laughter. Sheryl Crow had been scheduled to come but was unavailable, so she prerecorded a video of her and Tim Donley performing Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ In The Wind” and the rest of the band played along to it. Roger returned to “The Wall” for “Is There Anybody Out There?” and “Nobody Home”, then Donley took a turn with Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”. After Roger got the crowd going with “Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2”, Billy Corgan came out again to duet with Tim Donley on Gilmour’s part in “Comfortably Numb”, and Billy Corgan and Tom Morello traded verses on the finale of Dylan’s “Forever Young”. When I got back to the Metro station afterwards, I saw I had a long wait for a train, so I found the nearest bar (Elephant & Castle) and had a beer while I waited.
Saturday the 17th we took Nina to the Halloween Family Fun Day at the Reston Community Center. She wasn’t interested in playing the games (even with candy prizes), but she did play in the bouncy castle a long time with her BFF. It was chilly, and when she came out she said her tummy hurt so we went home and she took a nap (may have been some constipation as she was much better later). Sunday we went to the Reston Town Center Day to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Reston Town Center. They had games, snacks, hayrides, pumpkin painting and a Rocknoceros concert. Nina’s favorite parts were the hot chocolate (from Panera), the pumpkin painting, and meeting a horse. 30 years ago the TV I watched on the weekend was Doctor Who, Saturday Night Live, and the Skins. It’s amazing I can still watch all of them today.
Tuesday the 21st I noticed that next up in the car CD rotation was Ministry, The Ronettes, and Jason Mraz. I don’t know what that says about me. My birthday was Wednesday and we kept it low key, some tasty sushi takeout from Ariake for dinner and Nina tried her first piece of sushi (California Roll – one bite and done. At least she tried it).
Friday the 24th we took Nina to Disney On Ice after dinner. It was a big hit, she was mesmerized, and the fact that most of “Frozen” was done was a big deal for someone dressing up as Elsa at Halloween (and we only had to buy a $15 sno-cone and $12 bag of popcorn). Saturday she wore her Elsa costume (with her new wig) to her school’s Halloween Family Fun Day. They had pumpkin art, games, and prizes inside, but she was more interested in running around outside and playing with her friends. We went out for dinner to Bar Taco with my Mom to celebrate my birthday that night. Nina did great with her food (good thing she loves quesadillas and guacamole), they had delicious original tacos (pork belly and fried oysters were good) and we got cupcakes at the Red Velvet Cupcakery for dessert (they always have vegan ones).
Sunday we took the Metro (Nina’s choice) to the Tysons Fall Harvest Festival in the afternoon. It was much smaller than advertised (no food trucks were there) and Nina had fun with the pony rides, bouncy castles, and pumpkin bowling, but we didn’t stay too long. Jill had never tried Shake Shack, so we went over to the mall and she got some takeout while Nina played on the playground next door, then we went inside and got McDonalds for Nina and ate an early dinner. Later she used the Minion stickers from her Happy Meal to finish decorating her pumpkin from the day before.
Friday the 30th we got a babysitter and headed up to Baltimore through Friday traffic. We had a tasty dinner at Alewife (that smoke burger and duckfat fries are worth returning for in addition to the fantastic beer selection) before heading next door to the Hippodrome for an evening with John Cleese and Eric Idle. I knew it couldn’t live up to the Python reunion last summer, but it was still only the second time I’d seen Cleese (and the third seeing Idle), and still worth the pain of a weeknight – they were still hilarious when they spent the majority of their time seated in chairs talking. Halloween was the next night and Nina was once again Elsa. Jill wanted to go trick or treating this year, so we put out our bowl of candy with a sign and went around our neighborhood some (only 4 on Lakewinds), then over to Old Westbury where they go all out (Nina wasn’t too scared but did stop wearing her wig). When we got back home the bowl of candy was nearly empty, most candy distributed since we moved there.