Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Meg and Michelle's Big Hockey Adventure

I couldn't let Michelle leave Los Angeles without experiencing a hockey game with me. Luckily the Kings schedule gave us the perfect opportunity the day we got back from the boat. So after some lunch, laundry (me) and a nap (Michelle), we headed out to see the Kings take on the Dallas Stars and our favorite goalie to heckle, Marty Turco.

A funny thing happened on the way to the game. We stopped by the Fox Sports Bar to have a couple of drinks (still detoxing from the Mayercraft) and wait for Nadine to meet us for burgers. Lo and behold, the minute we sit down, one of my regular bartenders - Rich - asked us if we enjoyed the cruise. HUH? How on earth did he know??? Then my brain remembered several moments when I saw him on the cruise and thought, "I know that guy from somewhere." Of course, I thought he was an actor or something and I don't like to act like a stalker in those situations, so I never initiated the awkward "Don't I know you from somewhere?...." conversation. Turns out he has a relative that works for Sixthman and invited him on the cruise, so he saw us!! Talk about six degrees of separation!

So we had a nice little chat about the trip, compared notes on alcohol consumption, and agreed a good time was had by all. He even comped us a couple of drinks - LOVE YOU RICH! Then it was back to hockey.

Michelle is no stranger to the game of hockey. When she lived in Raleigh, NC, she dated a guy from Newfoundland and therefore spent many nights at Carolina Hurricanes games. Too bad we didn't have our "A" game that night! We lost to Dallas and our playoff hopes were pretty much destroyed, but we always have fun together, and she got to see how the Drew-cam process works.

The one treat of the game was the Kings celebration to honor defenseman Sean O'Donnell's 1,000 NHL game. The actual game took place on the road, so this was the Kings first opportunity to really celebrate. I have a soft spot in my heart from OD since he's Drew's regular defensive partner, and it takes a real warrior to play that many games in a career. So in lieu of hotties of the night (which for me is always Dallas' Mike Modano), I included a video of OD's ceremony. Enjoy!

Only 2 home games left, and I'm not ready for our season to be over. Rich, I need another cocktail.....

Mayercaft Carrier Day 5: Saying Good-bye....

The boat was moving noticeably slower when I woke up this morning, and one look outside confirmed it...we were back home.

Time to say goodbye to our cabin and our trusted companions, the towel creatures....

Goodbye Carnival Splendor. Your ride was bumpy, but you got us to Mexico and home safely. Next time we visit you, we're bringing our motion sickness patches...

I did kind of a crappy job with the alcohol and card game tallies, but here's the final total. Little Miss Michelle, our first time cruiser, smoked me!

Alcohol units consumed: Meg 27.5, Michelle 28
Card games won: Meg 25, Michelle 35
At least I win in one category - Mayercraft Cruises attended: Meg-2, Michelle 1

And in a final homage to the wonderful scenery of Cabo San Lucas, I'll leave you with a little video of our boat trip.

Here's hoping all you readers enjoy as much fun, sunshine, music, friendship, and happiness in your lives as Michelle and I shared over the past 5 days. And the biggest thanks goes to John for making it all possible.

When is the Mayercraft 3? And who else is coming with me?

Mayercaft Carrier: Heartbreak Warfare

I was bummed I wasn't able to post this from the boat, but now that I'm home here's your first listen to a little preview of one of the possible songs for the new record.


Monday, March 30, 2009

Mayercaft Carrier Day 4: The Big Show!

Finally the moment I'd been waiting for the entire trip arrived - John's main stage show! We were lucky enough to get seats right in front of the sound board, which meant we were in the best spot acoustically, and I could look over my shoulder and watch Chad work his magic. WE LOVE CHAD!

The set list was amazing...although now that I think about it I've never been to a show of John's without an amazing set list. In no particular order, here's what I remember him playing.

Good Love is on the Way
Bigger Than My Body
Don't Trust Myself with Loving You

Lots of extended solos, and quite a bit of audience interaction compared to last year! At one point, he took the mic and answered questions from fans in the crowd. He even gave shout-outs to a couple of fans in particular....someone named Debbie who tapes all his shows and shares them with the universe for free. He dedicated Gravity to her! I wanna be Debbie!!!!!

The best part was the encore...an excellent mash-up of Marvin Gaye's "Inner City Blues" and Peter Gabriel's "Digging in the Dirt," accompanied by DJ Logic! Just like being back on tour in 2004!

Thanks to John for an incredible 2 1/2 hours of ultimate Mayer-ness!!!!

Now get to work on the new album....

Mayercaft Carrier Day 4: Q&A with John

As a returning Mayercrafter, I got an invite to a Q&A session with John, which was pretty cool. We wrote down questions, and the Sixthman crew picked the ones John would answer. Mine did not get chosen, but it was cool to hear what was on every one's mind, and of course, what the "Tattooed One" had to say.

Here's a rundown of some of my faves...

Q: When will the new album come out?
A: Hopefully as early as September, so John can get on the road this fall. But then he proceeded to tell a great story about how Continuum was late, and the advice he got from none other than Bruce Springsteen was that no one would remember whether the album was late or not, they'll just remember whether it was good. So I guess we'll see.

Q: What do you consider your greatest achievement?
A: Being 9 years into a career, and having the same excitement still be there as releasing the first album.

Q: What is your songwriting process?
A: This one went one for a while, but the essential piece was "Songwriting is not a cumulative process. Writing one good song does not unlock the key to the next one. Every song is it's own football game."

Q: Have you ever had writers block, and if so how do you get past it?
A. Another long answer, but the essence was if it's not happening, you put down the guitar and do something else.

Q: Do you choose the other artists on board?
A: It's about 50/50 between artists he likes, and artists recommended by his management or record company that are "up and comers" and a good fit for the audience.

Q: What songs do you wish YOU had written?
A: "She is Leaving Home" - The Beatles, "Got To Give It Up" - Marvin Gaye, "Hypnotized" - Biggie Smalls, "Girls, Girls, Girls" - Motley Crue, "Old Love" - Eric Clapton, and "Best of What's Around" - Dave Mathews Band.

Other funny anecdotes:
One guy that asked a question said, "Hi, I'm J.J. and I talk to you every day on-line (through Twitter). John's response? "Hi, I'm Blocker...."

When talking about how he selected his management team, he essentially said that he had an All-star list in mind, but ultimately it came down to connecting with people. He doesn't believe in networking, and feels there is no middle of the road with people. You either meet and hit it off, or you think, "I can't stand this guy!"

He mentioned he owes a lot of his pop-blues amalgam approach to the Dave Matthews Band.

And my all-time favorite....
The secret to life? Cover everything in frosting!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Mayercaft Carrier Day 3: Cabo San Lucas

So we woke up this morning already pulled into port in Cab San Lucas. It was a little hazy to start the day, but with a predicted forecast of sunny and 80's, we knew we were in for a great day!

Carnival offered shore excursions aplenty, and the dock was a little chaotic getting everyone organized and in the right line.

Michelle and I had some time before our tour left, so we walked around town for a bit.

The Pelican should really be the official bird of Cabo. They were EVERYWHERE! Although I've never seen one of these birds folded in half like the guy on the right.

The excursion Michelle and I did is called "Land's End Boat, Beach and Shopping." It included a 45 minute boat trip of the surrounding coastline. Here's a photo of us on the boat.

These are just a few of the incredible views from our tour, including some of Cabo's most famous landmark, "Los Arcos," a dramatic natural rock arch.

After the boat tour, we had a bus take us to a nearby beachfront resort for lunch, including some two-for-one Coronas. $4 for 2 beers? I love Mexico! We enjoyed lunch with Beth and Michelle, two lovely women from the Des Moines area who left their hubbies and kids behind to come stalk John. I like how they think!

The resort also had a nice view of the coastline and our boat. Didn't stick my feet in the water since I was wearing sneakers. I was stupid enough to think I could break in a new pair of flip-flops on this trip and they've been chafing the bridge of my foot a little. Doh!

On the way back, we got an even better view of the boat. It's a big sucker!

And here's the same shot of the coastline as this morning, but with much better light conditions...

Michelle takes a moment to relax and enjoy the view from the balcony.

So tonight, we have 2 more shows with Justin Nozuka and O.A.R. in the big concert hall. Then it's time to rest up because tomorrow is our last day, and it's gonna be mostly about John...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Mayercaft Carrier Day 2: Halfway to Cabo

Today was our first full day on the boat, and our plan was pretty simple - get some sun and check out some music. A beautiful sunrise got us off to the proper start.

Michelle is still on East Coast time, so she headed out a couple of hours before I did, and we hooked up later. It was warm but very windy on deck, which did not make for the best sunbathing conditions, at least for me. When I'm getting sun, I like feeling the sweat so I know I'm working at it. But we both got some color, and after grabbing some lunch we started checking out music for the day.

First up was Japanese/Canadian/American singer-songwriter Justin Nozuka.

I only know one of his songs ("After Tonight") from radio, and I was pleased to discover this kid has a ton more going for him. Incredible voice, really knows how to interpret a lyric. He did a cover of "Ain't No Sunshine" and absolutely KILLED it! He's added to my iTunes wish list as of now!

After a nap and some dinner, we caught James Hunter at the El Morocco. Besides John, he is the artist I was most looking forward to seeing.

The best way to describe his performance is like watching the British love child of Elvis Presley-Chuck Berry-James Brown, with a little Sam & Dave style 50's croon thrown in. Such an incredible voice! As Austin Powers would say, "It was swingin', baby!" James' website design is also tres cool, so check it out. And order his CD pronto! You won't regret it.


Our day ended on the Lido Deck with the boys from O.A.R.

They rocked it out. Absolutely everything you want in a band. All killer, no filler. Enough said.

Now we're off to bed. Busy day in Cabo San Lucas tomorrow!

Mayercaft Carrier Day 1: New Music

One of the things I truly loved about the first Mayercraft was discovering new artists. Recorded music is great, but I've always thought you get a truer sense of someone as an artist watching them live. After all, if Paris Hilton can make a record, is it really that hard? Live performance is the test of musical character.

The Sixthman crew did a tremendous job with the line-up again this year. Last year I discovered Dave Barnes, Brett Denen and Brandi Carlisle. Here are some photos of the artists I saw yesterday...all worth checking out at your local live music venue.

Brendan James really impressed me. And anyone who lists Stevie Wonder among his influences is just fine by me. He did a really superb cover of "Isn't She Lovely?"

Jessie Baylin deserves really brownie points for turning in a great performance in spite of motion sickness and major jet lag coming here from her last tour in Australia! Her music has a Jewel kind of vibe.

Erin McCarley really impressed me. Little girl, HUGE voice, great grooves and insightful lyrics! And she actually sat down on the edge of the stage after the show and patiently signed autographs and took photos with everyone who was willing to wait. Her most recent hit is a song at the end of the movie "He's Just Not That Into You." Although my favorite selection of her set was an outstanding cover of Suzanne Vega's "Tom's Diner." Support this woman - she rules!

David Ryan Harris is not a new artist to me, but he may be to you. He can rock everything from Hendrix (he did a cover of "Electric Ladyland") to booty-shakin', baby makin' music. His show at El Morrocco was PACKED, and everyone worked up a sweat and did some dancing during his set. Plus he brought up John's touring sax player, the amazing Bob Reynolds. They did a song called "Legs" that jammed so hard it blew me away! And DRH is the absolute KING of mashups - his original "Pretty Girl" interspersed with lines from "Your Body is a Wonderland/Slow Hand/I Want You to Want Me/Let's Get it On/Most Beautiful Girl in the World."

Plus DRH had a special guest....JOHN!! They basically got the whole touring band together for a classic blues track and brought the house down. Only video, so sorry you have to wait for that one too, but I promise to get them posted when I'm back to a faster version of the internet.

Until then, get out there and see some new music, people!

Mayercaft Carrier Day 1: John Loves the Lido Deck!

The Lido Deck is the center of activity on the boat, since it has pretty much everything - food, beverage, pool, and stage. So the first big event of the day (after the lifeboat drill, of course), was the Sail-Away party, featuring our intrepid host John Mayer.

John always makes his first grand entrance onto the Lido dressed in something with a nautical theme. Last year his getup was regular shorts and a shirt with just a captains hat. This year, he upped the ante and came out in full uniform. Here's Captain Mayer in the tightest, whitest shorts I have ever seen! Are the Village People reuniting and no one told me?

Then we finally got down to some music, featuring John and his side guitarist David Ryan Harris going acoustic, but rocking it out nonetheless. John pulled out some oldies but goodies, including "My Stupid Mouth" and and especially jammin' "Who Did You Think I Was?"

Always fun to see John and DRH doing their dueling guitars thing.

And John is one of the few artists I've seen who actually acknowledges signs fans bring to gigs. It's a little hard to read in the photo, but this one has a list of favorite songs, so John used it to help poll the audience on what he should play next.

And the most special part was getting a little preview of potential material for John's new album. The song title is "Heartbreak Warfare," and I have video but the ship internet speed stinks so it's not uploading after 2 tries. I'll work on getting that to you later. I will say I was especially impressed that he managed to work the lyric "...red wine and Ambien..." into the song, so I can't wait for you to hear it.

Can't wait for the new album! But first, time to see some more new music....

Mayercraft Carrier Day 1 - Door Decorating!

The Carnival Cruise Line is known as the "fun ships" cruise line, so pair the Mayercraft with Carnival and you've got double the fun!

One of the cool things the Sixthman crew did last year was a door decorating contest, and the tradition continues this year. No word on who the official winner is yet, but here's a quick look at some of our more favorite entries from the Veranda Deck, where our room is located.

This one does a great job of focusing on the "Even Craftier" Mayercraft theme.

As you can see in this one, John's "mankini" last year made quite the impression....

But I must say, this one was by far our favorite....

Ole!!! We're off to Mexico!

Mayercaft Carrier Day 1: We're Cruisin!

So much happened on the Mayercraft already, I thought it would make sense to break my daily reports into smaller pieces. That way, those of you who are friends of Meg and Michelle and only want to know what kind of silliness we're up to can skip all my rhapsodizing about Mr. Mayer get to the stuff you want to read. So here goes the Meg and Michelle portion of the program.

One of the silly but unfortunately required things you have to do on a cruise is a lifeboat drill. Nothing like putting on a life vest when you're already hot enough! At least the crew let us not be serious long enough to snap a self-portrait.

And since our room has a balcony, I had to take the mandatory "wind-in-your-hair-enjoying- vacation-already" photo.

While I was doing that, Michelle perused the spa service list. Debated on getting facials, but that normally doesn't go so well with being in the sun. Maybe a massage later....

Then we got some food, grabbed a cocktail, and pulled out the cards. Yes, cards! Anyone who's known us a while knows we are incapable of getting together without many games of Gin being involved. And we have gin & tonics to go with them! Michelle is grinning like a fool here because she kicked my ass all afternoon....something insane like 4 hands won in a row.

So we will also be giving you a "Bridget Jones" style status update throughout the trip, something like this.

Hands of cards played: 6 (Michelle 4, Meg 2)
Alcohol units consumed: 12 (not each, if that's what you're thinking!)
Michelle's minutes of Crackberry use since getting underway: 0 (unless she's lying to me)

And now on to something completely different....