Amy Artisan

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Category: In the Audience (page 1 of 3)

Poughkeepsie Play

As I’ve mentioned, July included a great Artisan Family vacation in upstate New York. Since last October, we had been planning our time “at camp” in the Adirondacks. As the date got closer and plans solidified, we decided to take a bit of a detour through the Hudson Valley enroute to camp.

Ready for the show!

Ready for the show!

Mom & Dad arrived at my place on Thursday afternoon. On Friday morning, we picked Rebecca up from the airport and once back at my place we quickly packed up both vehicles and set out northward towards New York. Our plan was to do some tourist-ing along the Hudson River in the Poughkeepsie, NY area. Initial thoughts were to visit the FDR Presidential Library & Museum. A later addition to the agenda was for Friday evening – seeing a new staging of “Oklahoma!” at Bard College as a belated birthday present for Artisan Dad.

Due to a softball tournament in the area, our Friday night hotel choices were limited and we ended up staying further away from things than I would have preferred. But sometimes, that works out for the better. Once we checked into the hotel, I looked at the map and realized that we wouldn’t be able to get to the FDR site and to the show on Friday afternoon/evening. So as we all rested a bit in the late afternoon my first order of business was to find a fun dining option for before the show. I indeed googled “restaurants near me” and ended up finding a great winner for us: Farm to Table Bistro was just up the road from us and en route to the college. We enjoyed an early dinner at this delightful restaurant – reading through the menu it was difficult to choose from so many delicious sounding entrees.

With Friday traffic and smaller roads, it was about an hour drive up to Bard College – a lot of beautiful scenery filled our time. As we turned on the road to the theater, we were greeted with a spectacular view of the Richard B Fisher Center for the Performing Arts – a billowing array of stainless steel shingles that is a Frank Gehry hallmark.

The first glimpse at the Gehry design

The first glimpse at the Gehry design

(As an aside, I was very impressed with the emails I received from the center leading up to the performance date – in addition to directions to the venue & dining options, they included an online version of the program as well as links to the NY Times review and a pre-opening article.)

What an amazing experience we had at that Friday evening show. We knew going into the evening that it was a “different” staging of the show and I just hoped that the rest of the family was as game for the variation as I was. In the end, they were – whew! The show was in a small theater that had been configured basically as theater in the round (actually, a rectangle here) – the audience was seated at 2 rows of tables that ringed the stage. Red crockpots filled with simmering chili where on the tables. As the audience filled into the theater, the 6 person band was warming up. Before long the show started – 10 actors; the front row of tables were used as part of the staging; cornbread was mixed together in the opening scene and served during intermission with the chili and lemonade; with the pared down staging, I felt like I was noticing the lyrics and lines much more than I previously had.

After the show, we made a wrong turn on our drive back towards the hotel & ended up crossing the Hudson (unplanned) – we quickly picked the new way south on that side of the river & then enjoyed the late night crossing of the Mid-Hudson/Roosevelt Bridge to come back on the side of the river that we needed to be on.

There were a few raindrops to start our Saturday morning but that didn’t stop us. Since we were in New York, of course our day started with a great breakfast spread at a diner across from our hotel. Once our order was placed and we sat at our table with mugs of coffee or tea, we all were reflecting on the performance the night before – without a doubt, it had 4 Artisan Family Thumbs-Up.

After loading up the vehicles and picking up iced coffee for all of us we were once again on our way. We stopped at the FDR site (picked up a postcard or 2) but realized that we didn’t have the time on this day to spend touring the site – so, I guess we need to come back. And as we had driven through the cute small towns the day before we all could easily see us coming back for a multi-day visit.

Leaving the FDR site, we got back on the NY State Thruway in caravan towards our next stop…camp in the Adirondacks…to be continued

Summer Shows

Connecting up with Carole’s Ten on Tuesday this week…the prompt was 10 Bands/Individuals I’ve Seen in Concert. Since it’s summertime, which means that there are so many opportunities for great outdoor shows, I’m adding a twist to the list & only focusing on outdoor shows I’ve seen…

Scenes from Summer Sounds...

Scenes from Summer Sounds…

  • The Hollywood Bowl – A classic American concert venue…in July 2002 I had the opportunity to see a concert there…Pink Martini opened for Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66…It was the first time that I saw Pink Martini & I instantly became a fan. In fact, I flew back to Chicago on Sunday on Monday at lunch I was picking up a copy of their CD. Since then, I’ve seen Pink Martini in a wide variety of venues and their shows never disappoint.
  • Ravinia Festival – A quintessential summer evening in Chicago is to picnic on the lawn at Ravinia & enjoy a great show. Pretty much, a no fail recipe is “group of friends + some sort of picnic + any performance = great evening.” During my time in Chicago, I enjoyed many an evening at Ravinia – from work team outings, to book club gatherings to evenings with good friends, no matter the performance the evening was a delight. Among the performances: James Galway (1st Ravinia experience); Chanticleer; Joshua Bell; Tony Bennett; James Galway with Tiempo Libre; and my fave Pink Martini.
  •  The Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park – A more recent addition to the Chicago outdoor venue (& skyline) is this striking Gehry designed band shell. Several fun evenings were spent enjoying a performance there. Again, great picnicking is a key component. When I worked downtown, it was so easy to do this. Among the shows I saw there The Decemberists put on a great show in a race against an incoming summer thunderstorm and I also enjoyed seeing The Joffrey Ballet performing to tunes of The Beach Boys, Motown & Prince.
  • First Midwest Bank Amphitheater, Chicagoland – A standard outdoor concert space. It’s hard to believe that it has been 5 years since Rebecca & I reverted to screaming teenage girls for the first NKOTB reunion show that we saw. The Jabberwockez as an opening act were great; Jesse McCartney, not so much.
  • Back in high school and college, the concert pavilion at Six Flags over Georgia was the scene of several fun concert adventures with friends. One evening was Richard Marx & Wilson Phillips. I also remember getting rather sunburned one weekend while enjoying a Christian Music Fest (including The Newsboys, PFR and so many more…)
  • A fun evening while on a project in Chattanooga during the summer of 2006 involved see Los Lonely Boys at the Riverbend Festival – just blocks from our hotel & office.

What about you? What are some of your favorite outdoor concert venues & performances? Do you have any outdoor concerts on your summer calendar yet?

P.S. Several years ago, I wrote about the joy of partaking in outdoor performances – both musical & theatrical.

In Pictures: January 2012

Another year has started without my joining a “Project 365” (or 366 this year) group to encourage me to be taking a picture a day. I have always enjoyed taking pictures and want to “do more” with my photography; however, for the time being that isn’t on the agenda. My “fancy” camera sits at home – maybe still in recovery mode for all the pictures captured in Italy over the summer? My point & shoot is in my work backpack or at the hotel (I’m not carrying a purse these days). My smartphone is always with me & so, for now that is the camera that captures my moments. This year, I aim for a monthly recap of captured moments here on the blog.

Without further ado…JANUARY 2012.

January 2012: In Pictures

The view from my smartphone

So what did January hold? This month, the new weekly planner contains mostly Marinette moments – I was only home for one weekend. While north: a local cafe provides a great weekend hangout – so my new weekend routine up here includes time in their back room with some combination of good coffee, soup, friends, knitting, reading; a rather mild winter weather month – although one morning the car read -10 (!) on the drive to the office; a serendipity in the local cafe led to attending the Newsboys concert up here on a Saturday night – I have been a fan for 20+ years and enjoyed this group and also became a fan of 2 of their opening acts – music from the 3 bands is the soundtrack to my time at the gym; a paperwhite kit that I picked up in December managed to grow and bloom in my office – while the window wall may be chilly some days at least it provides beautiful sunshine; a snowy Saturday morning drive; a bit of evening knitting at the hotel; a surprise care package containing Mom’s fragile sugar cookies (unbroken!) meant cookies for breakfast one morning.

In the Summertime…with my Sister…

Back when spring was trying to emerge from the long winter here in Chicago & when Rebecca was ready for the school year to be through we started talking about plans for a sisters’ weekend in June. We picked a weekend, made reservations at our favorite inn in Michigan and started planning what we wanted to do. Then, we saw a concert date later in June and decided to change our plans to include the concert. Rebecca flew into town on Thursday evening and our weekend was filled with a bit of everything – from silliness to shopping to fine dining to just relaxing.

Ready for the Concert!

On Friday night, we travelled back in time almost 20 years & went to the New Kids on the Block concert down in Tinley Park. Yes, back in the day we were fans – along with many of our friends. My sophomore year of high school included Dad standing in line with me early on Saturday morning to get tickets for a concert – then Mom & Dad rode Marta downtown with us (& 2 friends) for a concert at the old Omni Center in Atlanta. So, when we saw that they would be in Chicago in June, Rebecca & I modified our sisters’ weekend plans and picked up tickets during the advanced ticket sales.

Dirty Dancing

(more pictures here)

From the moment we arrived at the amphitheater we were laughing at what we saw – minivans with NKOTB on their windows, a plethora of homemade shirts pledging undying love, tour t-shirts from high school, a NKOTB lunchbox in use as a purse, a Joey doll was brought by the gal sitting behind us. Without a doubt, the best use of “vintage” memorabilia was the gal who had refashioned her NKOTB sheets into a tunic. When the guys finally took the stage, we dived in & were suddenly silly girls at the concert – cheering, singing along…and at least one of us threw our hands in the air & waved ‘em like we didn’t care…

Donnie in front of us!

At one point in the show, Donnie was 6 rows in front of us for a song, as Rebecca said “I have to admit we were screaming like 16-year-olds!”

Ready to head to Michigan...

Since the concert venue was basically en route to Harbor Country, we spent Friday night down there and then on Saturday morning we headed over to Harbor Country. This year we visited some of our favorite spots but also discovered some “new favorites” that will be visited on future trips. From the first time that I stayed at Gordon Beach Inn, people have always asked if I’d eaten at Timothy’s – the restaurant at the inn. Until this weekend, the answer had always been “not yet.” Saturday evening, we treated ourselves to a wonderful meal at Timothy’s – we had a table on the screened-in porch and enjoyed everything that we ordered.

Ready for Dinner @ Timothy's

After sleeping in on Sunday morning we packed the car & began to meander back towards home. The last several trips over to the area I had seen a cute coffee & tea house – so our breakfast on Sunday was the time to try it out. The iced coffee, iced cappuccino and almond-strawberry tart were delicious we enjoyed them while relaxing in the Adirondack chairs in front of the shop.

Sunday Breakfast

The trip back to the city included a stop at the European Market in Union Pier, a little bit of Michigan City shopping (mostly looking) and a late lunch with a friend as we hit Chicagoland. As we unpacked the car, repacked Rebecca’s suitcase for her flight home & downloaded our pictures for the weekend we were so thankful for the chance to get together and have fun in so many different ways.

Sounds of Thunder

As the holidays approach (seemingly very quickly this year!) there are many sounds that make up the soundtrack – favorite carols & holiday songs, the Salvation Army bell ringers, the crinkle of tissue paper and wrapping paper and more. This week, two different sounds of thunder were added to my holiday soundtrack.

The first sounds of thunder were Wednesday evening – at the final US tour stop of Celtic Thunder. After work I met my friend Elaine for dinner & then we headed to the show. We knew the seats were “in front” but we were both surprised when we “kept walking” down the aisle & into the orchestra pit where seats had been setup. We were in the second row – just right of center. When a couple sat down behind us, the woman commented “they are going to sweat on us.” While the seats weren’t quite that interactive we definitely felt a part of the show. Since it was their last show of the tour they hammed it up a bit with some of the songs & just had fun with it all. It was a very fun evening & just what I needed after the previous couple of days – thanks Elaine!

(Quick Shot + No Flash = Blurry Pic)

The second sounds of thunder were early Friday morning – being awoken by thundersnow & the sound of sleet pelting against the windows. This has been a tough weather week – ice on Monday morning, a four hour commute in the snow on Tuesday evening and then this latest round of snow, sleet & ice. With all the winter weather that we’ve experienced so far this month it seems like it should be February. Looking out the window on Friday morning I was grateful that I could work from home for the day!

The recent weeks have been filled with many unseasonal sounds around here and it seems like I have a ton of things to get done for the holidays. In a few days I look forward to the sound of “now boarding flight…to Atlanta” and spending some time at home with the family in the ‘Ville. Before that happens, this Sunday will be another favorite sound of the holidays – friends gathering at my house for my annual holiday tea.

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