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Tag Archive: hotel


dan-at-swrfa-2016-bCatch up continues…This year’s edition of SWRFA in Austin began on Wednesday, September 28 with an open mic at Threadgill’s at night. Since I had the recording time at the Harman truck for the JBL contest at 4:30 p.m. (see previous post), I would not be able to get to Austin in time to sign up, so I couldn’t justify the extra night in the hotel. I arrived at the hotel on Thursday about 3:00 p.m. in time to check in, register, get my song prompt, and get ready for the dinner and open mic by the pool.

Berkalin Records provided the dinner and drinks – as they do each year. Butch Morgan hosted the open mic(s) – as he does each year. After the open mic was the official showcase alternates concert. Which were the performers who were finalists, but did not get chosen for the official showcases on Friday and Saturday night.

Friday began with the First Timers Advice – per usual, followed by various other breakout sessions. Lunch and dinner on Friday and Saturday, and the brunch on Sunday morning are covered in the quite reasonable registration price. One of the things always mentioned for first timers that everyone pretty much takes to heart is to sit at the meals with people you don’t know. So you meet new people and make new friends and contacts. It can be a little tough when you know a lot of the people there. So if we sit at a table and there happens to be someone we know, we simply put some people between us.

The first timer showcase(s) were from 1:30 to 3. Sponsored showcases were from 3:30 – 5:30 and

Baylis Laramore

Baylis Laramore

again from 10:30 p.m. until early in the morning. The DJ reception, welcoming party, and dinner, all preceded the official showcase concert from 7:30 to 10. Throughout the hotel there were spontaneous bursts of animated conversation and song circles until the wee hours.

Saturday was similar to Friday with the general exhibit area and various breakout sessions. The second pool party and open mic was held from 3:30 – 5:30, with Butch Morgan hosting. Followed by dinner and the second official showcase concert. Then more sponsored showcases, spontaneous outbursts, and song circles.

Sunday brought the brunch followed by the song assignment performances. If you will recall I said that I got my song prompt when I registered. The challenge is to write a song using the prompt during the weekend and play the resulting song on Sunday. As advertised, it’s one of the highlights of the weekend. This year 61 people sang the song they had written. Many were funny – you should have heard some of the prompts! Others were heart-reaching and thought-provoking. Especially with a group of sleep deprived individuals in the audience.

Bill Hook and Lynn McCracken

Bill Hook and Lynn McCracken

Good-byes were said throughout the morning as people from farther away had to leave. If it sounds like it was a whirlwind it was. A thoroughly enjoyable, powerful, musical whirlwind. Reuniting with friends, making new ones, learning about our craft and business, and hearing songs that inspire a songwriter to write other ones or just bring out emotions that need touching.

Dalis Allen and the volunteer staff did a marvelous job as always. Not to mention the hotel staff at the Holiday Inn Austin Midtown. Add to that a couple of hundred singer-songwriters and over fifty venue representatives, and for four days we were all one big happy, sleep deprived family. Join us next year. You will be welcome.

Peace be with you.

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Summer NAMM opening party.

Summer NAMM opening party.

I hope everyone had an enjoyable fourth of July weekend. I took the time to catch up on some things, like posts. My son, Cameron, and I went to Nashville a week ago to attend Summer NAMM. NAMM is the National Association of Music Merchants. They have Winter NAMM in LA and Summer NAMM in Nashville. They will have one in Russia soon.

The three events are where music merchants – and prospective music merchants – come to show their products to buyers representing companies country-wide (and worldwide in some cases). There are also companies that fall into the category of the House of Worship area. They cater to everyone, but houses of worship in particular. Which is why Cameron and I were there.

We were representing our church, Christ UMC in Farmers Branch. The church is making some changes and we were there for information pertaining to the potential remodeling of the sanctuary. The A/V team, in particular. But don’t get the idea that as a singer-songwriter I couldn’t glean some information and contacts for myself. And having fun at the same time never hurts.

Cameron and I left home at 6 a.m. Thursday morning. We wanted to arrive in time to check into the hotel before going to Music City Center. Hopefully, we’d have some time after picking up our badges to wander around before Charlie Daniels was to play for the opening party. He had been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame earlier in the day.

Which is exactly what we did and how it went. We had time to walk around the exhibit hall and get an idea where we needed to go on Friday morning. Then we went out on the terrace and tried to find shade and not move a lot waiting for things to begin at 6 p.m. The food and drinks were free. Fortunately, Cameron and I were near a food table.

When it was time, we got some fruits and pulled pork sliders. We went to another table later for grilled corn on the cob and other things. There were only a few choices for beer, but when it’s free you just suck it up. They had water as well so that helped.

Charlie Daniels came on while we were eating our sliders. I have yet to hear any outdoor concert sound that is not lacking. Then there is the fact that it was downtown and sound was also bouncing off of the surrounding buildings. We may not have been able to understand him when he talked, but we could hear him when he sang, and that is more important. I haven’t seen Charlie Daniels in thirty years and he still sounds the same. They played a great set. We went back to the hotel, watched the Rangers game, and called it a day.

Peace be with you.

Loews Hollywood Hotel

I had the pleasure of attending the ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers) conference in LA last week at the Loews Hollywood Hotel. Things are just now getting back to normal enough that I can post about the trip and the conference. Our middle son, Cameron, went with me. The conference began on Wednesday evening with badge pick-up and opening networking reception. Cameron and I flew out on American Airlines from DFW Tuesday morning so I could show him a few things and see some sights.

We were all in our seats and ready to go at the departure time of 9:05. I was enjoying the fact that I had walked my guitar on without any problem and it was safely resting in the overhead bin. The plane had been started. We’re all thinking “here we go” and getting ready, when the pilot comes on the speakers.

“ Ladies and gentlemen, we have some liquid on the side of the plane. It’s probably just fluid that leaked when it was filled up, but we called the mechanics and they’re here to check on it so hopefully we’ll be taking off shortly.”

After a very pregnant pause, he came back on to tell us we would be changing planes. After we had all left the plane, we were sent to another gate. After we got there – some of us anyway – it was not long before they found us another plane. However, this was a considerably smaller plane. Cameron and I thought that some people would not be able to get on the plane, but there were empty seats on the plane when we took off. Some people, I’m sure, made other arrangements if they had connecting flights in LA.

The flight left without any further delays or problems. When we arrived in LA, we were just about to come in on the runway when the pilot suddenly jerked the nose up and hit the gas. We shot up and then headed out over the ocean. It wasn’t my first flight there so I was pretty sure I knew what he was doing.

Then he made a hard banking left. People were beginning to wonder if he was going to take us into the water. But he finally got turned around and told us that the air traffic controllers had switched runways on us at the last minute and we were circling around to try to land again. Which we actually did, thank God. We arrived at LAX almost exactly two hours late.

Cameron and I had a reservation for our GO Shuttle two hours earlier, so it didn’t take long to get on a shuttle. After the obligatory run back around through the airport to check for more passengers, we were on our way to the hotel. We checked in at the hotel and put our stuff in the room. Then we went to get something to eat before I played at Pig ‘n’ Whistle on Hollywood Blvd….

Peace be with you.

 

Randy and the Big Shoe for Amputee Advocacy

Randy and the Big Shoe for Amputee Advocacy

I was in LA last week for the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) conference at the Loews Hollywood Hotel. I registered last November. A few months ago, Randy Mecca, an old friend and amputee, moved with Kelley and youngest daughter, Kaleigh, to Tennessee to stay with their oldest daughter and her family for an extended visit. Two weeks ago, Randy called from Tennessee. I knew he was trying out for America’s Got Talent, but I hadn’t heard anything since he did his amputee comedy for the Texas auditions.

When I answered the phone, he told me that he had made it to the LA auditions. He was telling me the dates when I stopped him mid-sentence. I asked him to repeat the dates. Which he did.

“Conner and I are going to be in LA on the 22nd!” I told him.

Randy was naturally surprised and said he would see about getting two more tickets. Kelley’s siblings live near LA and they were using the tickets he had been given. Which was okay. It was enough that we might be able to get together. It wasn’t until Monday, the 21st, when I was packing and finalizing plans, that it dawned on me that the Dolby Theatre attached to the hotel is the home of the Academy Awards. I began to wonder …

I sent Randy a text asking where the auditions were going to be held. Since he has spotty service in east Tennessee, the reply came a good while later. I’m sure you have figured out that he replied that it was the Dolby Theatre. Which we could not freaking believe. But as they say in the commercials – “but wait, there’s more.”

Conner and I should have arrived at the hotel about 1 p.m. But we got the Super Shuttle driver from hell. He took us through parts of Los Angeles that I could have skipped altogether. Places where I was praying he would not stop and open the door. And his sense of direction had taken an extended vacation. We passed within frisbee throwing distance of our hotel at least twice – or so it seemed.

We arrived just shortly after 2 p.m. The hotel had not received my request to change from a king to two queen beds. They had a room with the two beds, but it would not be ready until 4 p.m. So we went to look at the Musician’s Institute – the school Conner plans to attend – and get something to eat. When we got back to the hotel around 4, the room was ready. Wouldn’t you know that we were on the floor just below Randy and Kelley?

We went up to visit with them after the auditions were over. They were leaving early the next morning. What are the odds that Randy and I would end up in LA at the same time? What do you think? Have you ever had this type of experience happen to you?

Peace be with you.

Hotel Room 1bIn the previous post, I was talking about my sabbatical to Marshall that ended up being unlike what I had previously imagined. I checked in to the hotel late Monday night. When I entered the hotel room after checking in at the front desk, I did what I have always done since taking vacations with my parents and my younger brother. Check out every nook and cranny of the room, beginning with the desk and all drawers.

The dresser drawers never had anything in them and they still don’t. Some hotels used to put extra pillows in the bottom drawers of the dresser, but that was years ago. When the desk drawer had hotel stationary. Now the desk does not even have a drawer.

Some things are the same. The book of information about the hotel and surrounding restaurants, shops, etc. A pen, a notepad, survey card, and the usual bathroom items. And the Gideon Bible in the bedside drawer. But when I opened the drawer this time – and found the Bible – the Mormon Bible was next to it. Which was comforting to me – like I said, I was there to quit a bad habit – simply because there is strength in numbers.

But it was also intriguing, because it was a hotel in Marshall, Texas – a town of 24,000 people. As best I could ascertain, there are two Mormon churches in Marshall. I don’t think two churches could afford to supply Bibles to all of the numerous hotels in Marshall. Which raises the question of which hotels and why? But that is a question for another time.

What matters is that the hotel having both a Bible and a Mormon Bible is a step toward understanding our neighbors and living with our differences. Perhaps there will come a day when you check into a hotel and there will be several Bibles or holy books of other religions. More for people of the different faiths who may stay at the hotel than for the proselytization of those faiths. The different holy books would also be available for anyone wanting to learn about other faith traditions.

Which will be a subject we will return to in this blog. One of the main purposes of Chasing After Wind is to write about those times – simple or complicated – in which life and theology intersect. And since I am a member of a few interfaith organizations, another purpose of the blog is to promote dialogue between all religions and faith-based organizations. Join me as we look for God in everyday life, and learn about other faith traditions.

Peace be with you.

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