This year has been the best year of my life. And the cool thing that I say that every year, which means my life just keeps getting better and better. I am very fortunate. Usually I qualify a great year with the concerts and games that I have attended. While I have have seen some great concerts and games this year, 2013 has been the best year of my life for personal reasons – I have finally found what I’ve been looking for. This is more of a blog, than a journal, so I won’t get into those details but I will share what events also made 2013 a great year!
Musically it really was a great year. It was all about New Kids on the Block with Lisa Marie Presley on the side and a sprinkling of Boyz II Men, Ryan Bingham, Justin Timberlake, Jay Z, Living Colour and Chris Cornell – meeting five of them along the way. Yeah it really was a great year!
I went to six NKOTB concerts this year and was lucky enough to meet them – twice! In March, I flew up to Boston for a night to attend NKOTB’s Record Release Concert at the Orpheum. I met Jon as he was walking out of the theatre – actually I held the door for him before I realized who he was. Then after the concert, saw Jon again at the bar where everyone was hanging out. In May, I went to the first three shows of the NKOTB Package Tour at Mogehan Sun Casino. It was here that I met Jordan for the very first time (as well as the rest of NKOTB). It was brief, but memorable. I also attended all three after parties (before they were $150.) I had a drink with Wanye from Boyz II Men (who opened for NKOTB) and almost danced with Shawn and Donnie. In June, I saw NKOTB in DC where again I met Jordan (and Danny, Donnie and Jon) and again attended the after party. I also went to the Meet and Greet with Boyz II Men, where it was a sit down Q n A session and then a photo. It was great fun. My last NKOTB show was an shortened set at the MixTape Festival in Hershey in June, but it was still great fun. I made a lot of great new friends on the NKOTB Package Tour.
I was lucky enough to meet Lisa Marie Presley again this year and attend two of her concerts in Virginia and Pennsylvania. Lisa’s performances were even better than last year’s and she was as nice as ever. I also met Ryan Bingham after his set opening for Bob Dylan at Merriweather in Columbia. Ryan’s performance was great as usual, and he is so sweet and gracious. And I met Living Colour after their concert at Rams Head in Annapolis. They are a great bunch of guys, and so talented. I went to the summer concert spectacular of the season, the Legends of Summer Tour with Justin Timberlake and Jay Z. It was really great. We were about 15 rows back on the floor (center) at M & T Bank Stadium. Just as big as that show was, Chris Cornell‘s show was that small. Small in that it was him and his guitar singing on stage in the Lincoln Theater in DC for almost three hours. What an amazing voice he has! In the summer, I attended Baltimore’s Music Festival for the second consecutive year, but this year it was called The Shindig and was at Caroll Park in PigTown. It was a great day of local food and music, including Joan Jett. I made my annual trip to Memphis to attend the Beale Street Music Festival – and to visit Graceland. This year the weather was terrible. Besides being rainy, it was also cold. But the music was still great. My favorite of the festival was Al Kapone.
It was a good year for sports, but not the greatest. Not for baseball or football anyway, but it was great for basketball. I went to three NBA games in 2013. In March, I saw the Memphis Grizzlies take on the Washington Wizards in DC. Although they lost, it was still great fun because we were in the front row just to the side of the Grizzlies bench and by the tunnel where they ran in and out of. Then in May, I saw the Grizzlies again in Memphis – my annual trip for the Beale Street Music Festival. I saw the Grizzlies take on the Clippers in game 6 of the playoffs. In October, the NBA finally returned to Baltimore, at least for one game anyway, and I was there. The Washington Wizards hosted the New York Knicks. We were on the floor center, first row behind VIP. It was a great time.
Besides music and sports, blogging also played a signification role in my life this year. In August, I changed my blog and committed to blogging everyday. Then I changed my blog again in September and also started writing for some sports websites trying to get my name and writing out there. In further effort to get my writing out there and network a bit, I took a blogging seminar put on by HoCoBlogs and entered the Mobbies, the Baltimore Sun‘s annual blog awards. I didn’t win, but I learned a lot and met some great people. And just recently I started posting again on my U2 blog ‘On the Road with U2‘ as well as made new Twitter, Facebook and Google+ pages to accompany it. All this in preparation for the upcoming U2 tour next year and for the publication of my book, which I am currently finishing.
So as great as 2013 was, I know without a doubt that 2014 is going to be even better. The new U2 album and tour will make 2014 magnificent. In addition, I am seeing Lisa Marie Presley in concert again in June, going to Memphis again in May, going to the Grizzlies game in DC again in March and hopefully my Denver Broncos will actually win the Super Bowl this year! My biggest goal for this year is to publish my U2 memoir On the Road with U2: my musical journey in time for the upcoming U2 tour. Then of course I have my annual goals of exercising more and eating better. And I vow not to buy another book until I have read the 100 plus books I already have. Actually I need not to spend any money, so I can save up for the U2 tour.
The Americanarama Festival of Music arrived at Merriweather Post Pavilion last night in Columbia, MD with Ryan Bingham, My Morning Jacket, Wilco, and Bob Dylan. Most people were obviously there to see Bob Dylan, but there were also a lot of My Morning Jacket and Wilco fans. But sadly hardly anyone was actually there to see Ryan Bingham, except me and about maybe 30 people. But Ryan made fans out of the few who arrived early enough to see his short half hour set that started at 5:10.
I arrived at Merriweather just before 4pm to enjoy the gatecrashers free food. While there I got to listen to Ryan Bingham’s sound check. I got my VIP pass and went to the VIP deck at 4:30. After downing my $5 blue gatorade, I walked down to the GA section. I got a spot on the front rail on the left side of the stage. There were only about 40 or 50 people in that GA section at that time, a few people in the seats, and some on the lawn.
Ryan Bingham came out at 5:10 and played a fantastic set, although way too short at only a half hour. After, he signed autographs at the merch stand for about a half hour. I met Ryan, and he was so sweet and smiley with a great southern accent. I said, “It’s nice to meet you.” He asked my name and then said, “Hi Deena. I’m Ryan. Nice to meet you.” I told him I enjoyed his set and I was at his show at Rams Head in October. He said he loved that place. I asked him how his dog was, and he said ‘hot’. I told him I wanted to meet his dog, and I liked enjoy the pics of his dog that he tweets. After the line of people subsided, I went back up to him and asked to take a picture with him, which he graciously obliged. Then he said he had to leave because he was going to go jam with My Morning Jacket, who were already playing.
I went to the VIP deck and enjoyed a $16 bacon cheeseburger and bottle of water while listening to My Morning Jacket – and watching them on the monitor. At 6:30, I went back down to the GA section so I could see Ryan perform with them. The entire GA section was full, so I stood all the way at the end on the left of the stage. After a half hour, Ryan finally joined them on stage to sing and play on one song. It was great. When he finished, I went back to the VIP deck to relax. At 7:30, I left Merriweather without seeing either Wilco or Bob Dylan. I didn’t care about seeing Wilco and had just seen Bob Dylan in November. Plus I had a headache and didn’t feel like waiting another two hours for Bob Dylan to take the stage. My main point of going to this concert was to see Ryan Bingham. And I did more than see his set, I got to meet and get my picture with Ryan Bingham. I had a great time! It was very relaxing to hang out on the VIP deck and then go directly to the GA section, without having to walk all the way around through the field.
After three long years (it seems like longer), I finally saw Ryan Bingham in concert last night at Rams Head Live in Baltimore. It was well worth the wait – definitely one of the best shows I have ever been to. I have wanted to see Ryan Bingham, since I saw him and his oscar winning song The Weary Kind in the wonderful movie Crazy Heart.
Still excited from the day before when Ryan Bingham favorited my tweet “@RamsHeadLive SO excited for @ryanbingham tomorrow!!!”, I left my house an hour before the show started, so I could be one of the first people in line. I arrived at Rams Head about five minutes before the doors were to open. There were about 10 people in line, but oddly none of them went to the stage when the doors opened. I secured my spot front and center on the rail. By 7:30, there still weren’t many people there. The upstairs was closed off because they didn’t sell enough tickets. The previous night Ryan sold out the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC. The Americans took the stage at 8pm and played for about 45 minutes. They were great. They were all in white tee shirts and rolled up jeans and slicked back hair – very 1950s.
By the time Ryan Bingham took the stage at 9:15, Rams Head Live had sort of filled up. It certainly wasn’t sold out, but the fans who were there were true music fans – true Ryan Bingham fans. Ryan walked out onto the stage in this purple-ish 1920s style shirt, suspenders, torn jeans and converse sneakers. He said he wore purple in honor of the Ravens. Ryan’s voice was even better live than on his cds – raspy and strong. Ryan played the guitar and harmonica. His new band (he is no longer with the Dead Horses) was great, especially the drummer. There was a girl bassist, which is unusual, and a fantastic guitar player. Just simple, real, rock n roll music. Yes, rock n roll. Ryan Bingham’s new album Tomorrowland is more rock n roll than country. He played my favorite new song Guess Who’s Knockin’ and it was even better than the cd – totally rocked! Ryan adjusted the lyrics when he saw the two young kids in the front row. He commented that they were the ‘coolest kids’ who had the ‘coolest parents.’ Later on Ryan signed an autograph for that 13 year old, again commenting how cool he was. Ryan introduced I Heard Em Say telling the story about how he wrote it in Memphis after visiting the National Civil Rights Museum. I wanted to shout out, “I used to work there!” but I resisted. While on stage by himself during the encore, a fan shouted out for Ryan to play Don’t Wait for Me, but Ryan said he didn’t know if he could remember it and could he have a raincheck. The crowd screamed NO, so Ryan played it – and it was wonderful! The Weary Kind was not played, but I was told by fans later that he rarely plays it. It was a fantastic show that lasted almost two hours. (Ryan Bingham played as long as U2 and he only has a few albums – just sayin) Ryan and his band played for one hour and 15 minutes, then Ryan played on stage by himself for 15 minutes, then he and the band played for 15 more minutes. The show was over way too soon at 11pm. It was truly one of the best shows I have ever seen. I immediately tweeted, “@RyanBingham just played an amazing show @RamsHeadLive” Before I got home, Ryan Bingham had favorited my tweet!
To see all my pictures of Ryan Bingham in Baltimore, please click here.
I thought my concert season would end this summer with my 6 concerts in 3 months, but luckily it will not end there. My concerts will continue on into the Fall, past my 40th birthday celebration in Las Vegas. In June, I saw Lisa Marie Presley and Lucero. In July, I will see Def Leppard / Poison and Toad the Wet Sprocket. In August, I will see NKOTB twice at a 2-day festival. Now I have added another festival in September and a concert in October.
On September 15th, I am going to the Charm City Music Festival at Harbor East Waterfront in downtown Baltimore. There is going to be over 12 bands on 2 stages including Weezer, Flogging Molly, Southern Culture on the Skids, Stephen Marley, Eve 6, All Mighty Senators, Ballyhoo, Jah Works, and Loving the Lie. For the first time I can remember, Baltimore is hosting a great music festival. I did not want to miss this one. Tickets are $50.
A month later, I am finally going to see Ryan Bingham at Rams Head Live in Baltimore on October 14th. I have wanted to see Ryan Bingham perform ever since I saw Crazy Heart – his song The Weary Kind won an oscar. I kept missing Ryan on tour because I was always doing something else – not this time. This is a general admission show and tickets are $25.