ROCKIN' THROUGH MY 50's & BEYOND!
Copyright © 2015-2021
Experiencing The Zombies at The Showbox, Seattle WA
As I sit in my red, vinyl bean bag chair, put my headsets on, cord attached to my turntable….
I drop the needle and just listen. I’m the youngest of 4, therefore, I have a wide exposure to music. By the time, I was 5 years old, I was madly in love with Paul McCartney. The 60’s British Invasion fascinated me. I loved the music, the fashion, the cool vibe. Someday…I would travel to London and be as groovy as those teenage girls were. When the 1970’s rolled around, I started developing my own tastes in music. I loved listening to my transistor radio, and learning all the new songs. In 1972, I was in the Junior High drill team. One of our routines was to Argent’s “Hold Your Head Up.” I vividly remember holding my blue and white pom poms high above my head, in rhythm to the beat.
April 2017, The Showbox Theater, Seattle WA
I’m a late bloomer in the adult concert scene. Hence, I’m making up for it by ‘Rockin’ Through My 50’s’. I only discovered what an awesome venue The Showbox at Pike Place Market is 2 ½ years ago. My daughter and I saw Heart there, and we ended up right next to the stage! Amazing to be just a few feet away from such a celebrated band. Now I keep an eye open for special opportunities to see legendary bands that I love. When the Zombies advertised their tickets for sale at The Showbox, I immediately bought tickets. I knew this was going to be a unique performance.
I learned at The Heart concert that you want to arrive early and sit in the bar, Kerns Music Shop. There is a limit of how many people are allowed in there, and you are the first ones to enter the venue when it opens. Very important, if you want to stand next to the stage, or sit at a table. While you’re sitting there, though, it’s a fantastic opportunity to talk to other concert attendees. We’re all there for the same reason, so it makes for enjoyable conversation. On this night, my husband and I ended up sitting next to Larry, Debbie and Steve. Complete strangers, but by the time the venue doors opened, we had a special bond. That’s what music does. It erases boundaries, and opens the doors for our souls to communicate. We were in the same stages of life. The kids are grown, so it’s time to start reviving your passions. They were amateur musicians, who had set down their instruments and voices when the responsibilities of being working parents took over. However, like myself, they were reviving their passions in life. We shared our concert stories. I loved Larry’s story about seeing Joe Cocker in concert! Another musical legend gone too early. Time flew by quickly and it was time to enter the venue. I gave them the name of my music blog, so hopefully they will see this! ‘Hi Guys! It was great sharing music with you!’.
Jeff and I were thrilled with where we could sit. At the back of the floor, center stage. And, in chairs! Valuable location. Once again, we had great people to sit and talk to. This couple traveled all the way from Florida, just to see The Zombies! They had never been to Seattle before, so it was a perfect reason to travel. Another great aspect of attending concerts. It creates a reason to travel to new destinations, and meet new people. They were lucky to have VIP Meet and Greet tickets. I regretted not buying those tickets myself. After eyeing their special merchandise (a Zombies bag, filled with an autographed book, a CD and other items) I decided to visit the merchandise table. I don’t need another black concert t-shirt, but this was a very special tour. And I even bought a personally autographed CD. When the concert ended, I realized I had made a smart decision!
It was ShowTime, and out they walked! The show was split up into two sets. The first half was their current touring band. Rod Argent, Colin Blunstone, Jim Rodford, Steve Rodford, Tom Toomey. They performed some of their well-known hits, along with songs from their latest album ‘Still Got That Hunger’. I did not have any expectations. I recognize that they are in their 70’s, so I certainly cannot expect them to sound like they did in the 1960’s. I was floored. They sounded amazing. Colin Blunstone, at age 71, is still singing strong and crystal clear.
Hitting all the high notes and in full rhythm. And Rod Argent, also age 71, was still performing magic on the keyboards. When they performed ‘Hold Your Head Up’ (by the band Argent, post Zombies), it was a full 12 minutes of pure excellence. I couldn’t believe it! All that energy and precision. It was like time had stopped for their voices and musical abilities. I also loved what Rod said before they performed this song. It had been sung wrong this whole time. It was supposed to be sung with the words, ‘Hold Your Head Up High, Woman.’ The crowd went wild and sang along with enthusiasm. They received a long, standing ovation after the song concluded. Totally impressive.
The second set reunited all the surviving members of The Zombies, with the current touring band. Colin Blunstone, Rod Argent, Chris White and Hugh Grundy. They performed the legendary Odyssey and Oracle album. I was blown away. Many times, I found myself feeling very emotional. This was a special, once in a lifetime moment for me. And, I could tell I was not alone in feeling that way. The crowd showed so much love, respect and recognition for their lifetime of work. Initially, when they came out onstage, you noticed their age. Men in their 70’s. By the end of the concert, all you noticed was their immense talent. Pure quality, pure harmony, pure genius. They were a band that formed ahead of their time. To be honest, I had never listened to the entire Odyssey and Oracle album before this concert. Now, I can’t turn it off. I have it playing through my Bluetooth earphones right now. It’s an incredible masterpiece. A rock opera. Rolling Stone has it listed at number 100 of its “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” list. How did these young men, in their 20’s, create such a work of art?
The concert ended. They stood tall on the stage, and received several minutes of applause. Every person standing on their feet. A performance of a lifetime, that we will not see repeated. It was very emotional for me, to see these men honored and respected, after so many years. 50 years since Odyssey and The Oracle was recorded. And the age group? It was a mix of young and old. 20’s through 70’s. All sharing in giving thanks to a very legendary, groundbreaking band from the 60’s British Invasion. The Zombies.
It’s the time of the season for loving….
Susan In Seattle
Meeting Allen Stone in Amsterdam
As I sit in my red, vinyl bean bag chair, put my headsets on, cord attached to my turntable…..
My older sister got married, and her husband was from Chewelah, WA. A small town, about one hour north of Spokane, WA. They were big time winter sports enthusiasts, so I started to learn to ski. I had a lot of fun up at the Mt. Spokane and 49 Degrees North Ski Resorts.
What does this have to do with the blog? Not much. I’m just trying to find a segue to start talking about today’s musician story. 10 years after I was skiing outside of Chewelah, an amazing musician was born there. Allen Stone. I have no idea if he skis, but he sure knows how to sing!
2015 to Present
Speaking of skiing, we own a little ski condo up on Snoqualmie Pass, WA. Part of The Summit at Snoqualmie Ski Resort. One hour out of Seattle. My little slice of heaven. The spring of 2015, I started to see advertisements for a music festival coming to The Summit at Snoqualmie Ski Resort; Chinook Fest Summit. I WAS ECSTATIC! 3 days of music and over 30 bands. In my mountain backyard. The Friday night headline band was XAmbassadors. I had heard them on the radio. The big headline name for the entire festival was the final band on Saturday night. Allen Stone. I had never heard of him. But everyone kept raving about how great he was. I looked him up on YouTube, and immediately fell in love with his music. A fun funk and RB sound. This was going to be a great music festival!
July and Chinook Fest Summit finally arrived. I was ready to ROCK it in the mountains! I had not attended a lot of local shows at that time, so did not recognize the band names. But that’s what I love about Chinook Fest Music Festivals. They work hard to bring the best of the best in the local music scene. Because of Chinook Fest, I now know who I want to see when I am down in the Seattle area. Since it was a brand-new festival, it was not crowded. Both Friday and Saturday night, I ended up standing right next to the stage.
When Allen Stone came out onstage with his band, I suddenly felt this whole exciting vibe rippling through the crowd. Welcome to The Church of Allen Stone. I had SO much fun dancing and moving to their funky soulful sound. His interaction with the audience was authentic and powerful. I felt like I was at a soul revival. The organ style keys, backup singers, his whole dance/ strut across the stage…I was hooked.
When he announced his 2016 tour, I was initially disappointed that he did not have any shows in the local Seattle area. Then I noticed he was doing a European Tour. One of the shows was going to be in Central Amsterdam. I’m a flight attendant who works the Amsterdam flight every month. Done deal. Ticket bought, I was going to see Allen Stone in Amsterdam!
I have no problem going to concerts by myself, but it is always more fun with someone else. I asked my friend, Kristy, if she wanted to go with me. She trusted my music judgement and said sure! Another music adventure waiting to happen.
It’s time for our trip. We leave Seattle and arrive in The Netherlands. Since we worked the 10-hour flight over, a short nap was necessary. We then headed into Central Amsterdam and stopped for a beer with the rest of the crew. The concert was being held at The Paradiso; an old, converted church in The Museum District. According to Henny, the owner of the bar we were at, The Paradiso is known for its excellent acoustics. Apparently, The Rolling Stones rent out the facility for a private show, whenever they start a new tour. That was some interesting local trivia to learn.
Kristy and I arrived at a packed concert. But we managed to get all the way up front, on the side. What a beautiful venue. It was time for the show to begin, and out came Allen and his band. The floor was filled, and people were going wild! How cool. A local Washington native, being so loved all the way over in Europe. The music starts, and once again this whole positive vibe starts rippling through the crowd. It was time to dance with the rhythm, sway with the soul. Welcome again to The Church of Allen Stone. A phenomenal concert.
After the show was over, Kristy and I were hanging out and enjoying a post-concert beverage in the main room. I was SO surprised to see the band come back out and to start break down their instruments. Okay, at what point do professional musicians stop doing that? We started talking to them, and explained that we were from Seattle and that I had seen them at Chinook Fest Summit. Super friendly guys and great conversations. But we needed to let them get back to their work.
We went out the back door and saw their big tour bus and trailer. Other people were waiting around to see Allen. So, we looked at our watches and decided to wait until midnight to see if we could meet him. Right at the stroke of midnight, out he walked. Completely warm and friendly to everyone. Giving hugs and attention to all. What a nice and genuine guy. It was fun to tell him that my brother in law was from Chewelah, and that we were from Seattle. It was time for us to head back to the hotel, so we grabbed a quick photo before leaving. What a fantastic evening!
I continue to watch his tours, and am SUPER lucky this summer. I get to see him twice! First down in L.A. as the acoustic opening act for Hall and Oates and Tears for Fears. Then, his own full band concert at The Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery in Woodinville, WA. I’m looking forward to that one.
And just think. It all started at a small music festival in the mountains, where I was standing right next to the stage. That’s why I love to support local music. You just never know who you’re going to hear perform.
If you haven’t heard his music before, check it out on YouTube, ITunes and Spotify. Very soulful and full of rhythm and blues.
SUSAN IN SEATTLE
Bringing Home SweetKiss Momma From Their European Tour
As I sit in my red, vinyl bean bag chair, put my headsets on, plug the cord into my turntable…..
I drop the needle and…aaaahhh. Off to imagination land I go. Some of my favorite ‘music to imagine by’ was Southern Rock. And the 1970’s was PACKED with incredible Southern Rock bands! Lynyrd Skynyrd, Doobie Brothers, The Allman Brothers Band, Eagles, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and Alabama, just to name a few. I had never been to the South, but I sure loved their music!
If I could go back and talk to that dreamy eyed, teenage girl though, I would tell her this: “Your journey in life is about to get really tough. Don’t despair. Keep your head and heart up. You just gotta keep listening to the music. ..Whoa whoa, listen to the music..all the time.”
A music pledge drive was going on to help raise support for a local band’s upcoming European Tour. The name of that band was SweetKiss Momma. The lead song they released from their upcoming EP was titled ‘What You’ve Got’. I heard it and said I’m IN! I loved the sound. That whole Southern Rock Grit. I just don’t hear that anymore in local bands. And those guitar riffs. YES! You have my money and I will be there for the European Tour Send Off Party! During the time between the pledge drive and the sendoff party, I found out two cool things. The first was, that 3 members of the Europe Touring band, also played in Jessica Lynne and The Cousins. The band that I sell merchandise for, and had just gone on a road trip with to the INB Performing Arts Center in Spokane! The second cool thing I found out, was that they would be traveling to and from Amsterdam, on the airline I work for! Working the Seattle-Amsterdam is my regular route. My mind started spinning. This was going to be FUN!
The night of the European Tour sendoff party arrived. It was at Louie G’s Pizza in Fife, WA. It isn’t located near me, so I hadn’t been there before. DANG! What a great venue for live music! It was amazing to see all the support the band had from their family and friends. Packed house. And what I love about attending these local shows, is the variety of musicians that show up to jam. They aren’t in competition. They are there to all support each other’s music. In this dog eat dog world, it is SO refreshing. What an amazing new concept, right?!
It was great to hear them perform their new EP live. And, The Moss Brothers joined them onstage, just tearing up the guitar solos. Awesome! I was psyched!
The day of their departure to Europe arrived. Although I was not working their flight over to Amsterdam, the crew members on that flight were my friends. I alerted them, and asked that they look out for ‘my guys’. Traveling to Europe can be stressful enough. But when you are a musician, traveling with your instruments, that adds extra stress. Your instruments are your livelihood, and if they get damaged, broken or lost, the ability to earn income has been compromised. Plus, an instrument is like your favorite pair of jeans. Hard to find, but once you do, you LOVE them. They mold and fit perfectly to your body. You dread the day when you must replace them, because you have developed such a special relationship. Saying ‘I’m sorry. We lost and damaged your favorite instrument. Here is some cash to replace it.’ NO! It’s not that easy. So, PLEASE do not be annoyed when you see a musician traveling with an instrument. That’s their best friend.
And I also alerted the band. BRING CHOCOLATES/TREATS FOR THE CREW. Seriously. You bring us a treat, we’ll make sure to and try and find a way to make your flight more enjoyable. When you spend a 10-hour flight being ignored by people wearing headsets, a kind recognition of thanks means a lot to us.
Anyway, I anxiously watched Facebook to make sure SweetKiss Momma got settled onto the flight. Cymbals, guitars, keyboards and musicians were all secured safely onboard. Bon Voyage!
It was fun to watch their tour for the next month. All over Switzerland, France, Germany, Holland and Spain. I think they had about 21 shows in a month. Plus, traveling. EXHAUSTING! Set up, perform, tear down, socialize, sleep, pack up, drive and repeat. What an amazing experience for all them. They used the Black Pike Favorites Agency to navigate their way through Europe.
The tour was ending its completion, and it was time to leave Seattle, to bring them back from Amsterdam. I was really excited to be able to do this. And, I had another fantastic crew ready to take care of them. We all wished, though, that they had been performing in Amsterdam the night we were there (they were in Spain). That would have been a blast.
It’s morning and time to check in for the flight from Amsterdam to Seattle. I look around, and there they are! Jeff, Ray, Paul, Kubby and Skyler. Lots of hugs and smiles. I’m one lucky woman, to be working their flight home.
As airline destiny would have it, they ended up sitting in the section of the aircraft that I was working. Back section of coach. On a full flight. For 10 hours. Yippee for them. However, it was probably one of the more fun flights I have ever worked. It was great to stand in the galley and hear their stories, fresh off the tour.
The crew loved them. We had a blast talking and it made a 10-hour transatlantic flight go by quickly. Pictures, laughing and some awesome treats that we fought over in the back galley. We all loved the SKM guitar picks!
And then we landed in Seattle, and it was time to go home. Well, at least for me. I have a rollaboard suitcase.
UHM…yeah, well you know how retrieving checked luggage can be sometimes. It always goes a little smoother when the baggage carousel works. However, they were finally released from airport prison. And could meet up with their wives and girlfriends and families. A month is a long time to be touring and away from the ones you love.
Make sure and check out Jeff Hamel and SweetKiss Momma on FB, ITUNES and Spotify.
SUSAN IN SEATTLE
Meeting Dagon and Incubus of the Black Metal Band Inquisition
As I sit in my red, vinyl bean bag chair, put my headsets on, plug the cord into my turntable…
I'm ROCKIN’ out, so the headsets are off and the volume cranked up!
I've always had very diverse musical tastes. I grew up playing classical music on the piano, and my Grandfather handmade violins. I sang in Jazz Choir in high school. And when you look at my vinyl collection from my teenage years, I have everything from John Denver to KISS! I'm always open to listen and learn. If there are human beings playing instruments, I'm willing to check it out. One genre of music that I have no experience with, is heavy black Metal.
After 30 years of being a flight attendant, I've met a lot of people. That's what makes this job so interesting. I was working a flight from Seattle to Amsterdam, when I noticed two men settling into the exit row seats in front of my jumpseat. My musician radar went up, so I asked them if they were in a band. They were Dagon and Incubus of the black metal band, Inquisition. Based out of Seattle and heading out on their European tour. Of course, I had to talk to them. And once I told them I was on a local musician’s team and understood a bit about their lifestyle, we enjoyed wonderful conversations. I was curious about their background and story. When I pulled them up on google, and saw their performance photos, I was WHOA!! That's a little scary looking! So, I was intrigued. Here are two very polite gentlemen, who transform into dark, occult type figures while performing. What is their story.
I have never been to a Black Metal concert. I see the occult images and imagine scenes from a horror movie, and just a lot of loud noise! So, it was great to talk to Dagon and Incubus and hear what their story was, before I heard their music. And I just want to clarify right now, these are just observations from our conversations during a 10-hour flight. This was not an official interview that I recorded or wrote down. These are just my memories. For official facts, you can google up Inquisition the band, and read previous interviews.
I was surprised to find out that it was just the two of them. A guitarist/lead vocalist and a drummer. That is so unusual for any kind of heavy metal or rock band. However, they’ve been together since 1996. So, I guess it works. No third or fourth party to add any artistic drama.
This was not their first tour in Europe. They are popular there, and draw huge crowds. Especially at festivals. I brought up how different touring as a musician is, compared to my job as a flight attendant. I work the transportation aspect, and then enjoy the destination. They rest and relax during the transportation part, and then work at the destination. No time to tour the cities. Setup, perform, tear down, sleep, next destination. A lot of scenery is viewed out a window. I found out that touring South America is completely different, as you can only travel by airplane between cities. Which adds even more fatigue factor, since they need to get up earlier to allow security, check-in and are controlled by the airlines schedules.
During my crew rest break, I had an opportunity to connect to wi-fi and look up their YouTube videos. I watched ones from Hellfest 2016 in Clisson, France. A Megadeth Concert, with Black Sabbath and Slayer as headliners. Normally, I would have watched a couple of minutes and walked away. But because I knew who the performers were, I was fascinated! I could not believe the sound and power coming from just two band members. If you close your eyes, you would think it was an entire band. This was not just noise. These were two accomplished musicians performing their craft. I had to set aside my prejudice of what my view of a black metal concert was, and just listen to their performance. Incubus is a total badass on the drums. That’s a huge drum kit to set up, tear down and transport. And Dagon shreds the guitar, while singing with the most perfect, guttural voice for a black metal concert. I asked him later, if he used a special mike to change his voice, and he said no. That was just his voice. Crazy! And in this video, they’re performing to a packed crowd that were totally into their music.
Later, I had to ask. What exactly is the message you’re trying to share? Dagon said, it’s not a message, it’s a concept. A metaphysical and cosmic concept. Good and bad, dark and light. And after looking at the song titles from their latest album (Bloodshed Across the Empyrean Altar Beyond The Celestial Zenith) I can see that a story is being told. Dagon showed me a book he was reading that was related to their philosophy. By the end of the flight, my viewpoint of their music had totally changed. If I had seen their performance without talking to them, I would have viewed their music as ‘scary’, and loud noise. I wouldn’t have given them a chance. Now, I realize that they are talented and intelligent musicians. And very successful at their class of music.
Oh,and did they hold up the reputation as being wild, drunk and rude heavy metal band members? Causing a raucous on the airplane.
Nope. They acted like respectful and professional musicians, whose careers were still rising after 25+ years.
Now, the middle age women heading out on a European Girls Trip? They were another story. They pretty much cleaned out the liquor drawer.
Make sure and check out Inquisition Official on Facebook, for their tour updates. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to see them perform live this fall!
SUSAN IN SEATTLE
Sitting in on the BJ and MIGS morning show!
As I sit in my red, vinyl bean bag chair, headsets on, cord attached to the turntable…
I drop the needle…Headsets are thrown off, volume is cranked up, it's time to ROCK!
ZZ Topp, AC/DC, KISS, Aerosmith, Heart, Rolling Stones, Peter Frampton, The WHO, Elton John,
Journey, Queen, Van Halen, Nazareth, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Eagles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Boston …. those are just a few of my favorite 1970’s classic rock bands. I Loved that music, and still do! Since I lived in Eastern Washington, the radio station I listened to was KJRB. However, when I moved to Seattle, my ears were introduced to KISW, The Rock of Seattle.
Our work office was having a silent auction for charity. One of the auction items available was sitting in on the BJ and MIGS Morning Show at KISW. I was in stiff competition with a fellow Rock Sister, Kathy. She ended up winning, which was fine. I knew she would appreciate this as much as I would! Kathy, also a flight attendant, had been following AC/CD on their European and American Tour. That’s dedication to Rock! And we had also seen Lynryd Skynyrd together, the previous summer. I was thrilled when she asked me to accompany her to KISW. How exciting! Neither one of us had ever sat in on a radio show. This was going to be cool!
Once again, I hopped on a bus into Seattle. Why do I always ride a bus into Seattle? Because traffic SUCKS here! It doesn’t matter what time of day it is, the roads are packed. Kathy, unfortunately, did not have the easy option of riding a bus. Sure enough, she got stuck in a traffic jam. I was waiting for her at KISW, while she was stressed out stuck on I5 North. I was let into the KISW offices (16th floor of the West Tower of Metropolitan Park) and sat in the outer studio of the BJ and Migs morning show and waited for her there. It was cool to look through the glass windows and watch and listen to their radio show. BJ’s kids, Sara and Joey, also work there and were the ones I was sitting with in the outer studio. Super nice! Finally, Kathy arrived and we were escorted into the actual radio broadcast room. We met Bj, Migs, Vicky and their radio show producer Danny. Once again, SO warm and friendly. We were given headsets, seats and it was time for them to go back on air.
We had a blast sitting in on the show! To watch all their personal dynamics added a whole new dimension to the show. All the computers and technology being used to interact and keep up to date on current situations. In the ‘old days’ it was just listeners calling in on the phone. Now they also use Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. And the bantering was hysterical! Where do they come up with this stuff? We were laughing the whole time. Of course, there is a certain amount of time allowed in the show for talking, and then they go to their music set list. It was funny to watch Danny give the ‘wind it up sign’ but BJ and Migs would just ignore him, and keep bantering. They are such quick-witted people. During the music sets, we would take off our headsets and get a tour of the radio studio. It was interesting to learn what topics they choose to talk about, their music and the whole operation. Then it was time to go back on air, so we donned our headsets and listened in. We had so much fun!
When the show was over, they gave us some KISW t-shirts and other merchandise. Then BJ gave us a tour of the radio station. The walls were covered with records and pictures of rock legends throughout the years. KISW began in 1950, and is the oldest rock station in the United States. They were inducted into the Rock Radio Hall of Fame in the “Heritage Rock Radio Stations-Still Rocking” in 2014. What a special experience, in a legendary radio station!
What surprised me, was how small of area the radio station encompasses. And they share a floor with two other radio stations. Very modern. In my mind, I always think back to DJ Wolfman Jack. That legendary voice that every teenager and young adult recognized. With the onset of satellite radio and streaming stations like Pandora and Sportify, listening to a radio station sometimes can seem obsolete. But what makes them so important is the human factor. A voice we recognize, the interaction, and the community created in radio listeners. Yes, it’s easy to use streaming programs and create your own set lists. But what happened to the excitement of waiting by your radio to hear your favorite band’s new song? Or calling in a request and dedicating it to your secret crush. The romance and mystery of radio. Those are great memories.
The next morning, I tuned into KISW on my SONOS speakers, and it was SO fun to listen to the BJ and Migs show! I could totally visualize where they were, and who was there with them. It added a whole new level to my listening.
About a month later, I was down at Louie G’s in Fife for a show. Beforehand was the 17th Anniversary Party of the BJ and Migs show. It was great to run into Sara and gang again! They have a community of dedicated listeners. If you get an opportunity to sit in on a radio show, do it. That’s one thing I love about Seattle; there is always something cool to experience in the music world. The traffic sucks, but the music is great!
Thanks for ROCKIN’ Seattle KISW!
SUSAN IN SEATTLE
Meeting Country Western Musician Jessica Lynne
As I sit in my red, vinyl bean bag chair, put my headsets on, plug the cord into my turntable…
March 2014 To Present
I wonder how many opportunities I’ve missed in life, by not listening to my instincts. Fortunately, in March 2014 I listened. My life is forever changed because of it.
My girlfriend and I had taken the bus into Seattle for an adventure day on the waterfront. Our Beatlemania had been reignited when we saw Paul McCartney at Safeco Field, so we were on the hunt for old Beatles paraphernalia. After a fun day, I suggested we go to the Seattle Hard Rock Café for acoustic happy hour. We had sat down, ordered our drinks when the musician performing that night started to warm up with “Maybe I’m Amazed.’ We picked up our drinks, moved to a front table and told him, ‘Play more Paul!”. That musician was Raymond Hayden. The afternoon ensued and his girlfriend (now fiancé) joined him onstage; Jessica Lynne. They had quite the entourage with them that night. We kept chatting and eventually ended up sitting with them. I noticed that Jessica’s necklace matched my angel wings tattoo!
So, we started talking more in-depth. Even though I grew up in the country, I never listened to country music. I loved her voice and her songs spoke to me. She gave me a couple of her Cd’s and said listen to the song “Fallen Angels Don’t Fly.” I also found out she was an airport musician at Sea-Tac. I’m a flight attendant based out of Sea-Tac. What a coincidence! And so, this life changing relationship began.
Her song “Calling Me Home” struck a chord with me. I would ‘drop the needle’ and just listen. Trying to hear the message that I obviously needed to hear. I was always thrilled when I would hear her voice at Sea-Tac before one of my flights. And of course, attended her performances. I especially loved when she played with her band, Jessica Lynne and The Cousins. And then one lucky day, Jessica asked me to join her music team. I said YES!
April 2016. My first trip as a roadie!
I was SO excited. Jessica Lynne and the Cousins were going to be performing at The INB Performing Arts Center in Spokane, WA. I was going back home.
The day of the road trip arrived. Jessica had left earlier in the morning with her photographer. I was riding in the suburban with the band. I still remember as we pulled onto 405 North, looking at the U-Haul full of the instruments and equipment. WOW! How in the world did I go from not going to a concert in 25 years, to being part of a band? IT WAS SO COOL!
It’s a completely opposite experience of my job as a flight attendant. I’m used to working during the travel aspect, then relaxing and enjoying the destination. During the 5+ hour drive, everyone was tuned into their own worlds. Listening to music, creating music on their computer or sleeping. Once we arrived in Spokane, it was all hands-on deck. There was not time to stop and breathe until the entire show was over. It has totally changed the way I view a performance.
Usually, I just show up and listen. Completely oblivious to all the work that goes into setting up. Now I understand that those musicians haul in, and haul out all their own equipment. They don’t have special people to do that. It’s just them. And every venue is different, as far as sound and setup. It takes a lot of coordination, communication and patience. We were having a VIP Meet and Greet prior to the performance. So, we had to set up a special room for that, including an area that our VIP’s would get a photo taken with Jessica. Out in the main lobby foyer, we had a large merchandise display for selling her t-shirts, Cds, etc. I was excited, but nervous also. This was my first day on the job, and it was a whopper! It was time to meet our VIP guests. I had a lot of fun seeing people I hadn’t seen in a long time. I’ve gone to VIP Meet and Greets before, and it was interesting to be on the other side. The main doors were about to be opened, and our VIPs were led to their special section of seats. Bryan and I took our spots at the merchandise table. That was the hard part. Instead of sitting in the auditorium enjoying a fantastic show, I was now standing outside in the foyer. If you work on the musician’s team, you don’t get to sit and enjoy a prime seat during the show. Your seat is now given up to the guests.
The show ended, and people started streaming out of the auditorium. I loved hearing their reactions and they bought more of her music! Soon it was time to pack up all our equipment, carry it out to the U-Haul, stop for a quick refresh at the hotel, and then head out for a celebratory dinner and drinks! A total whirlwind. It was late, so there was not time to socialize with the family and friends I knew in Spokane. This was not like an airline layover.
The next day, it was back on the road for another show. This time it was Ellensburg, and only a trio was performing. It was a smaller venue, and I was the solo merchandise person, sitting by myself at the back of the room. Once again, repeating the same routine of hauling in all the equipment, and hauling it all back out.
That was the only overnight trip that I’ve had with the band. The rest have been local shows. And you know what I have learned?
Musicians are severely underpaid. Especially if they travel a distance. All that time spent on driving, the upkeep of their equipment, the upkeep of their vehicles, and the time spent practicing their craft. They do this job out of passion. So, whenever you are at a local venue enjoying their music, PLEASE put some money in their tip jar! You pay $5 for a fancy cup of coffee. Why not pay $5 for a human being that is investing their heart and soul, in giving a special gift to YOU.
SUPPORT LOCAL MUSIC
SUSAN IN SEATTLE
As I sit in my red, vinyl bean bag chair, put my headsets on, plug the cord into my turntable...
Memorial Weekend 2011
Oh Dear God, how I wish I could have been back in my red, vinyl beanbag chair that weekend. Instead, I was sitting by my sweet Mom's bedside. In the background, old church hymns were softly playing. I was holding her hands and watching her die. It doesn't matter the age or circumstances; watching someone you love die is the most painful experience you will ever have in your life. The blessing from going through this, though, is that it really opened my eyes as to how precious life is. That I needed to try harder to find joy and live my passions. It's hard to find joy and passion, though, when you feel weak and broken-hearted.
I had just installed a new music app on my phone; Pandora. What a marvelous addition to my life! A plethora of music at my fingertips. I work through my emotions by spending a lot of time exercising outdoors. I loved having a wide variety of music streaming into my ears while I walked and biked. One day I heard the most impacting song; a song that was brought into my to lead me down a new path. "Calling All Angels" by Train. "I need a sign, to let me know you're here...that things are going to look up...I won't give up.." I immediately looked up the YouTube video and it was like watching my life. Pat was walking through this dead forest, filled with dark storms. But his walk was leading him up to the top of a mountain, where he finally found peace and freedom. That was me! I had turned to the mountains to grieve and figure out my life. I've watched that video hundreds of times. All I wanted was a sign. A sign to let me know I wasn't alone and that things were going to look up. And I received it.
Feathers. Beautiful white feathers that would show up in the most unusual places and important times. White feathers and angel wings symbols. From my Mom.
Those symbols have opened the door to a brand new part of my life that never existed before. And they continue to lead me down this amazing musical journey.
The first time I saw Train in concert was at the Puyallup Fair. I had tears rolling down my face, when I sang along with Pat to the song "Calling All Angels". I've seen Train in concert 5 times, and have a 2nd row VIP ticket to see them this summer. Pat Monahan is such an incredibly talented musician and puts on a great show!
OKAY...I''m going to lighten it up now and get to the cool part. Meeting Pat Monahan in person!
I happened to be on Facebook when the Seattle Hard Rock Cafe announced that Pat was having a private wine tasting at their upstairs bar. Train has their own wine label, Save Me San Francisco. I, of course, immediately bought a ticket!
The day of the wine tasting event arrived and I hopped on a bus and headed into Seattle. By myself. I really didn't know what to expect, but when I checked in at the Hard Rock, I found out the event was limited to only 50 people! 49 complete strangers and myself.
It was a wonderful setup. 3 different wine tasting tables and delicious hors-devours were being passed around. I found another woman by herself, also, so we shared a table. Both of us a bit nervous. An introduction was made to all of us, and out came Pat! The next 2 hours, he just casually strolled around and spent time talking to everyone there.
Ours was one of the first tables he came to. I tried to be calm, cool and collected. But I wasn't. I desperately wanted to share my story and what an impact he's made on my life, but I knew he's heard hundreds of stories by now. So, I poorly raced through my story, showed him my angel wings tattoo and thanked him. He was kind and gracious, and chatted with us for a few minutes. Then he moved onto other tables. It was really nerve wracking to be standing right next to the person who has literally changed your life. Drinking wine and trying to act calm, cool and collected.
What is the one of the most embarrassing things that you could think would happen, when you are smiling and talking to a rockstar that means a lot to you? Yeah.... well, after I talked to Pat, I went to the bathroom and looked into the mirror. VOILA! I HAD SPINACH IN MY TEETH! OMG, really? I was standing shoulder to shoulder with PAT MONAHAN.. and I had green leaves stuck in between my teeth. Why can't I ever be the flawlessly cool girl?! Oh well, things like this happen to keep our egos in check, right?
Oh, and don't eat hors-devours wrapped in green leaves at a special event, or on an important date.
The evening was coming to a close, and it was time to stand in line to get a professional photo taken with Pat. I was one of the last ones; hey, I was enjoying their wine!
When it was time for my photo, I walked up to Pat. He grabbed my hands, looked me in the eyes and said " Thank you for telling me your story about your Mom and your angel wings tattoo." I was floored. He kept talking to me, holding my hands and I was like...WOW. Maybe he really understands. I'm not just some fan girl, I'm a very sincere woman. Somehow, through my crazy blurted story, he felt what I was trying to say. That was wonderful! It makes his music even more meaningful now.
And then I had my smiling picture taken with him..NO spinach in my teeth this time.
Meeting Pat was a dream come true. But to make that dream come true required courage and believing in myself. To ride a bus into Seattle, to attend an unknown event by myself, to meet an individual who has changed my life...Took Courage. And I had to believe in myself, too. I had to believe that no matter what kind of crowd of people I ended up being with, I was just as worthy as them to be there.
And that is what it takes to make your dreams come true. Courage and believing in yourself.
"And I'm calling all angels
I'm calling all you angels
I won't give up if you don't give up"
SUSAN IN SEATTLE