Hello Cleveland

Sometimes you think things have gone horribly wrong, but then you find out everything’s worked out for the best. I had one of those experiences this past weekend. I’d found out Rush was recording their performance in Cleveland for a new DVD/Blu-ray, and after I got shut out of good seats in Baltimore the following week, tried for a good seat in Cleveland – and got one in the fourth row, best I’ve gotten without an auction. So I made my plans, used airline miles to book a hotel, made hotel and dinner reservations, and was looking forwards to it.

The night before the trip, I stayed up very late (as I often do before trips), puttering around, finishing taxes, etc. But Jill was not going with me and waking up at the same time, and I was awoken not by my alarm, but by Jill asking me when my flight was. I sat up, looked at the clock, and realized my flight was in twenty minutes – not enough time to get to the airport, let alone get through security. I dashed downstairs, and got on the computer and the phone, trying to see what options I had. But all direct flights were full, and a transfer might put me there too late.

The last option was driving – it was almost seven hours according to Google. But I didn’t want to miss it, and packed the car with lots of music and hit the road. I’m not a huge fan of long drives, but the drive up through Maryland and Pennsylvania was pretty nice. I only stopped twice, but didn’t get to my hotel until a little after 4PM, a little over six hour drive. By the time I checked in and got to my room, it was 4:45, and I had a dinner reservation at 5.

Luckily Crop Bistro was only a five minute walk away, and I got there early enough to read the reviews and get an idea of what I wanted. The Old Figgy cocktail was fig and bacon infused bourbon, which paired perfectly with the Cherry Bomb, a wonton-wrapped tomato stuffed with pepper jack cheese and chorizo sausage. The chicken and waffles were amazing, and I finished with the Pretzel Un-Logic, a chocolate cream pie with a pretzel crust and malted whipped cream on top. A fabulous way to relax after a long drive, then a short break at the hotel before heading over to the arena.

I wasn’t the only one to travel, I heard of a number of people who flew over from Europe. The mood was pretty excited, but when the lights went out, it got crazy loud. I thought when I saw Rush in Canada that would have been the most excited audience, but I was surrounded by diehards.

The show itself was great. Rush often plays the same set for an entire tour, and there were no changes Saturday night, but every song was greeted with cheers, and wild applause at the finish. The cameras seem mostly pointed at the stage, I only noticed some pointing our way during “Vital Signs” and “2112”. The energy may have sagged slightly during the first set, but playing the entire Moving Pictures album during the second kept things energetic the rest of the night, and when Geddy told us “Best. Audience. Ever.” at the end, we couldn’t disagree. It marked my 20th Rush show and my favorite yet.


The next day I slept in, both to catch up on sleep and avoid the severe storms expected to sweep towards the east coast. I was happy to find that the breakfast buffet was included with whatever package I’d bought. I celebrated Record Store Day at the best indie music shop, stopped by the best comics shop, then hit the road. There were some intense storms right after I left Cleveland, but subsided and I saw a mixture of sun and clouds for a while.

I stopped at Primanti Bros. near Pittsburgh for a Pitts-Burger Cheese Steak (kind of a meatloaf sandwich stuffed with fries and coleslaw), then kept going. It was only when I neared Maryland on 70 that I caught up to the storms, just missing the tornado watches in the area and getting steady rain the rest of the way home. My car did really well on mileage, averaging about 44MPG (and a high of 48), and was fairly comfortable for its first road trip.

The next day I looked it up and found out my flight home I would have taken got canceled, so didn’t feel quite as bad about missing my flight there, plus I got to do things I couldn’t have done otherwise. And I had a good time on what is undoubtedly my last solo trip for some time.

Concert Bucket List

I’ve seen a lot of concerts over the years (click this link for details). I’ll likely be reducing my 100+ bands a year pace, but there’s still some bands left I haven’t seen and want to. The following I’d like to try and see this year (even though the timing on some may be unrealistic), so they won’t make the main list.

1. The Cars (9:30 Club 5/23)  I like them so much I almost went to the New Cars show (where Todd Rundgren replaced Ric Ocasek), but having all surviving members back makes this a must (plus the new songs sound just like the old ones).
2. Whitesnake (Merriweather Post Pavilion 5/14)
3. Journey (Jiffy Lube Live 8/28)
4. Mötley Crüe (Frederick Fairgrounds 7/30)  The three big bands from the 80s I haven’t seen and still want to.
5. Glee (Verizon Center 6/9)  We’re Gleeks, and I think this will be quite a fun show.
6. My Chemical Romance (9:30 Club 5/10)  They write catchy pop/punk songs like Green Day.
7. Miranda Lambert (Merriweather Post Pavilion 7/15)
8. Sugarland (Merriweather Post Pavilion 5/22)  I like a little country, usually from females.
9. Katy Perry (Merriweather Post Pavilion 6/15)  And I’m a sucker for some sugary pop.
10. Steve Miller Band (Wolf Trap 8/9)  A classic I never got around to.

So who’s left? Glad you asked.

1. Jeff Lynne/ELO/Traveling Wilburys  Any form of Jeff would be acceptable.
2. Prince  I actually was outside a sold out show of his a couple years back, but the scalpers were asking for the sky.
3. Temple of the Dog  Yep, I like the 90s too.
4. Cry Cry Cry  If you’re not familiar, made up of Richard Shindell, Lucy Kaplansky, and Dar Williams. Seen them all separately, but they had incredible harmonies together.
5. Killing Heidi/Verses  Australian groups with the same songwriters, tried to see them both times I was down under.
6. 10000 Maniacs  Only the Natalie fronted version.
7. Mark Knopfler/Dire Straits  Prefer the latter.
8. Swell Season  Just haven’t made one of their shows yet.
9. Belly  I saw Tanya Donelly, but she doesn’t have the edge anymore she had with this band.
10. T-Ride  I know no one else knows this band, but they’re real and had a Joe Satriani student who was amazing.
Bonus. David Bowie  But only if he’s playing at least 4 songs from Let’s Dance.

Now even with that, there’s a couple more special cases:
1. Queen  I’ve seen Brian and Roger play with Paul, but if they ever got John back out on the road, that’d be awesome.
2. Led Zeppelin  And I’ve seen Jimmy and Robert together, and John Paul playing with Dave Grohl, but if all three got together again, I’d love to be there.
3. Pink Floyd  I saw the Roger-less Floyd, and some great solo shows from Roger and David, but if I had the chance to see Roger and David together, I’d be there in a heartbeat.


Monday, March 1st we took Illa to the vet for his biannual visit, he was as well-behaved as usual (that was delivered with a dollop of sarcasm). Thursday March 3rd was one of favorite shows so far this year, the Killer B’s (Jim Boggia, Tracy Bonham and Bleu) as they played my requests and then played for hours. I didn’t mind not getting a Jim Boggia appearance in a couple years after that.

Sunday March 6th my dad and his girlfriend Patricia were in the area, so I made Jill’s favorite Cajun recipe (four pepper cheesy chicken). It’s one of the most labor intensive recipes I make, and I was pleased it got a good reception. Then on Sunday March 13th we had my mom over for an early St. Patrick’s Day dinner. I cooked corned beef and potatoes and cabbage, she brought the jello salad and her famous shamrock cake.

Thursday the 17th, Stuart and I had dinner at the Chutzpah Deli (I had a split sandwich of spicy turkey and roast beef), then headed over to the Patriot Center and met Pete and his friends, then went inside to see Furthur (featuring two folks from the Grateful Dead). Bobby and Phil were in great form on the second side from Terrapin Station, John K. pulled out a great Dire Wolf, and Stuart rocked the kilt all night long.

Pete and Stuart

The weekends were fairly uneventful in March as we were spending a lot of time finishing unpacking and putting stuff away, as well as decorating. The bedroom furniture arrived on March 19th. Next fun thing was Thursday March 24th, Mark Erelli and Lucy Kaplansky at the Barns At Wolf Trap. Another busy weekend around the house was halted on Saturday the 26th as Illa went crazy to try and get to this groundhog, then on March 29th we found out we’re going to have a baby girl.