Sunday, August 27, 2017

My Summer of Live Rock & Roll, 2017 Edition Act V – Jeff & Larry's Backyard BBQ

Whenever I provide a review or write up, it means that I have bought and paid for the item or admission costs myself.  In the rare instance when items or admission are being provided free of charge or at a discount, I say so.  This site is non-monetized therefore the opinions provided are truly free of influence.

This concert was very different, in that the tickets were provided to me as a result of my being a veteran, and by someone other than the act being reviewed.  Therefore, I will explain a little bit about Vet Tix before I talk about the concert itself.  

From their website:

For More Info Click Here
Vet Tix provides tickets to events which reduce stress, strengthen family bonds, build life-long memories and encourage service members and veterans to stay engaged with local communities and American life. We support our troops by honoring their service and providing positive family and life experiences, during and after their years of service to our country.

There are too many details as to how all this works to get into here, but if you are a veteran I would recommend you check it out and sign up.  Short version:  They go out and seek donations (and ask that you help), they have a fair way to make sure every Veteran gets a chance at what tickets are available and the manage the administration of the distribution of the tickets very well.  This was only my second event for which Vet Tix supplied admission, but they have recently started offering a lot more shows and events in my area.  

Jeff & Larry’s Backyard BBQ is a great concept.  A full evening of entertainment that starts with cook out foods, yard games, music, and comedy.  An MC guiding two headliner comedians, three headliner bands, and a local band.  Add some dancing girls, a comedian, and a sword swallower, and you have recreated burlesque.   Alas, that is not the evening we got.

First there no special cook out foods, just the regular bill-o-fare always available at DTE.  I would not have been upset if I had known this in advance because I would have eaten something I wanted versus all that’s available.  Had pork sliders and mac and cheese from Union Mac – delicious. Yard games – walked around the venue three times and never saw anything that looked like yard games.

A little after 6, Nick Hof got on stage and introduced the first band: Decibel.  The band was out of Indianapolis and played some wicked covers of metal, blues, and southern rock – plus an original tune.  Very enjoyable – would like to see again.

Nick Hof reappeared, did a short bit of stand-up, and then brought on the next act:  Foghat.  Foghat built on the mood the Decibel started playing their own style of slide guitar rock.  The set included both I Just Want to Make Love to You and Slow Ride,  I was happy to experience both Live.

Nick did some more stand up, a long break while Marshall Tucker Band set up and then Jeff Foxworthy came out.    My first time seeing Jeff live and he was terrific.  Some hilarious bits and even though his first You Might Be a Redneck joke was written less than 15 miles away, he did not use the phrase once.  Jeff bridged straight into Larry the Cable Guy.

Larry’s act was okay, he really didn’t seem to ever get into a groove with the crowd.  There were funny moments but not a real raucous set overall.

The final act of the night was the Marshall Tucker Band, on their 45th Anniversary Tour.  They opened with Heard It in a Love Song – one of my favorites.  I knew Toy Caldwell was no longer with the band so I was not expecting the same vocals – however, I was hoping for a close experience.  Doug Gray’s vocals were good but they were not the same, and it soured me on the experience – even though the band was pumping out great music.  Chris Hicks and Rick Wallis were both terrific.   On one song Marcus Henderson (keyboard and flute) took over vocals and did a fantastic job.  Maybe Marcus should sing more.

They closed with Can't You See, that was terrific and included Larry the Cable Guy on guitar and Jeff Foxworthy on tambourine and vocals.  They never played Fire on the Mountain or Searchin’ for a Rainbow – both favorites of mine and songs I was surprised they didn't perform.

Nick Hof deserves a lot of praise for not only doing good comedy sets but for keeping things moving and being honest about how much time there was going to be between acts.  He was great as an MC.

Note:  Eddie Money never played – and no explanation was given.  He was listed on the poster and ads for the concert.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Finding Tranquility In The Real World

When I was 12 or so, my family spent the summer living in the campground at the edge of Lake Elmer Thomas.  Even though there is not a lot of stress in a 12 years old’s life, I did enjoy a daily escape from various chores, fishing, and swimming by taking a walk to the other side of the large hill that backed the site and into a secluded inlet that was surrounded by trees.  It offered me a bit of space that was curtained away from the rest of the world.    I would sit on the rocks at the edge of the water, dip my feet into the cool water, and listen to my radio for an hour or so being by myself and away from any other humans.  Pure tranquility.  Just me, Mungo Jerry, and the Raspberries.

Places of mental escape like that one are harder to find as you grow older.  The places are there, but you are too busy dealing with life to find them.  A while ago, I tripped over one -  The Woodhouse Spa in Ft. Wayne.  By tripping over it, I mean I was initially dragged through the door kicking and screaming against my will but then found I really enjoyed it.

After a stop at the main desk to verify services a guide is called up to lead you down a candlelit hallway to the changing room.  For me, usually an 80-minute massage, but they offer everything (hair, nails, facials, etc.)  The walk down the hall is meant to be a spiritual change and entry into a different world.  After getting undressed, you slip into a comfy robe and slippers that are laid out for you.   Leave your phone and the world in the locker provided as you leave the changing room and enter another plane of existence.

They advise you to get there thirty minutes early, fifteen of that is to get checked in and changed, the other fifteen is to finish your transition by having a seat in a comfortably appointed Quiet Room.  The whole place is appointed with flowers, candles and other details meant to set a tone of escape -- it works. Once in the Quiet Room, you can enjoy a glass of wine or cup of tea as you let your mind off load and prepare for the next step.  Your massage therapist shows up and guides you to the massage room, and after a quick discussion of your needs (aching muscles here or there, sore spots, sensitivities, and pressure level) they depart and you’re given a moment to drop the robe and get under the sheets.

I have had three dynamite therapists (Gabby, Pamela, and Shanna) but the basics of the spa’s massage are about the same.  A little aroma therapy, a foot massage to start, and then on to your requests.  The level of conversation varies, I prefer to mentally escape during the massage.  The massage itself is a release of tensions and then a reawakening of your soul.  Shanna is the only one of the three I’ve had that is still on staff, and I recommend her highly.

At the end of the session, you are again left alone to slip out from under the sheet and into your robe.   Your therapist meets you at the door with a glass of water and guides you back to the Quiet Room to recover and float away on relaxed feeling and calmness you’ve been given. 

No rush from there, but when ready you go back to the changing room and have a nice sauna, then a rain forest shower before getting dressed.  When you are willing to re-enter the real world, you guide yourself back to the front of the spa and then leave – facing the world again but carrying a small piece of serenity in the back of your mind.