Vegas Love Story

I was only home a few days when news of the recent tragedy in Las Vegas broke. Amid the many rumors, it was reported that the music festival I attended was considered as a previous target. This made my blood run cold. The stage that I called home for 2 straight days was his intended target. I can’t even imagine.

The Life Is Beautiful festival became a special part of my life in 2015, when I attended by myself. The lineup was INSANE!

Life-is-Beautiful-Festival-2015-Lineup

One night when I was checking the tour schedule for Twenty-One Pilots, I ended up on the Life Is Beautiful website. Within a few days, I’d spoken to a friend who lives there and purchased airfare/hotel for myself. He worked at one of the casinos on the strip and told me he’d be able to get a handful of tickets.

Two days before my trip, he became unreachable. When I arrived in Las Vegas, there was no one to greet me. Luckily, another friend saw my Facebook post and just happened to be in Vegas attending a business convention. He was kind enough to pick me up and take me to dinner while I began to sort things out. Long story short, I was able to hang out with him during non-festival hours and met some concertgoers from Utah who hung out with me a bit during the festival. The friend I’d originally planned to see never connected with me.

I’d come down with a cold the day before I left, which only got worse as the festival went on. I’m still mad at myself for missing most of the bands I came to see, but that couldn’t be helped. I did, however, get to ride the zip-line which encompasses most of Freemont Street.

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We’re such tourists. I like this photo because you can’t tell I’m deathly ill. I must have taken SO MUCH COLD MEDICINE that weekend. And in my excited state when I was purchasing airline tickets, I didn’t realize that my departure date and time would cut the festival short. Thankfully, I had the chance to return 2 years later.

I did, however, get to see X-Ambassadors, Awolnation, Lindsey Stirling, Weezer, and Big Data. I was also there when The Killers made a surprise appearance as part of Brandon Flowers’ solo set. I saw Rosario Dawson’s talk from the second row (I love her) and stumbled right into the Duran Duran Q & A by accident when I was attempting to leave, take medicine and get some sleep.

By the last day of the concert, my Utah friends were nowhere to be found. I ran into one of them when I was leaving who said they’d all caught a cold. Ooops… I never told her that I was the culprit.

This year, I made my friend Bill go with me. This was the lineup.

LIB-Lineup-2017

Okay, you’re right, he was pretty stoked to go. And he’s an ex-military GIANT, so I felt the safest I’ve ever been.

The night we arrived we met and befriended Zowie Bowie, apparently the best cover band in Las Vegas. I inadvertently picked up the keyboard player, who was a total sweetheart. It’s nice to talk to someone who has so much in common with you when you’re so far from home.

The next 2 days were spent sequestered at the front of the main stage. (At least for me they were. Poor Bill had to take breaks from all of that standing and being pushed up against by thousands of our closest millennial friends.)

After I got to see Muse from the front row (which was the pinnacle of my concert journey), I decided it was time to relinquish my spot. The third day Bill & I roamed around trying to do everything we’d missed the 2 days before. By about 9:30pm, I’d learned that perhaps 3 days is a little much. I passed out well before MGMT and The Gorillaz made it to the stage.

But my point…

My love affair with Vegas began ironically when I was abandoned by my friend who lives there. I was welcomed by every concertgoer I met with open arms. Everywhere I went, I befriended someone new. I never met a stranger.

I remember standing in the middle of the crowd, watching Awolnation and thinking how amazing it all was. There was no place on earth I would rather have been at that moment. Everyone around me was smiling and enjoying the music… just like me. They loved the band… just like me. The whole atmosphere was so positive and peaceful. It was my musical Utopia.

When I went back, 2 years later, it was exactly the same. Everyone was amazing. Total strangers would make a point to compliment me and each other. We were all connected by the same thread… the music.

And it was beautiful.

I’ve attached my favorite images from the experience. Enjoy!

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The Gender-Bender, the Soup, and the Blur of a Weekend

As if my life weren’t crazy enough, this story has been unfolding since Wednesday.

I was at work when my phone rang. Since the area code was local, I answered. (when you have a business that’s listed on the internet, telemarketers have a tendency to swarm like vultures, so I just let most calls from out-of-state area codes go to voice mail.) I’m currently running a prom special, so I answered. It was a guy.

The conversation started out a little slow. He asked if I did makeup in a salon. I told him I was a freelancer and did mostly television makeup. He asked if I did anything more glamorous. I told him about the prom special and asked if it was for his wife or daughter. He told me he would be the client. *awkward pause* “Is it Pride already?” *nervous laughter* I haven’t done drag makeup in a long time.

“I’m not gay. It’s for a party,” he said. We talked a little while longer, agreed on a time and he texted me his address. I still had no idea what this was for. I just hoped this wasn’t his brand of kink that he was looking to indulge. (The job was on a Friday. I’m usually exhausted by the end of the week and have little patience for weirdness, perverts, or anything more than the job I’m hired to do.)

Because I’m female and always take the requisite safety precautions, I looked up the address, found his last name and within seconds had gone through his Facebook profile. He was attractive, a programmer AND a musician… SERIOUSLY? Regardless, I texted the address to 2 of my close girlfriends and the guy I would be working with on a shot for MSNBC first thing in the morning. People knew exactly where I was and what I’d be doing. I felt safe.

When I arrived, I was greeted by 2 of the tiniest chihuahuas I’ve ever seen. He was running around nervously, brushing his teeth, going from room to room. I think he’d started rethinking the whole gender transformation thing, but it was too late. I was there unpacking my large, unwieldy girl makeup kit. He was committed.

I got to work at his kitchen table in the worst light imaginable. I knew he was straight because he still had Christmas cocktail napkins out. A gay man would have tossed those in January. And there was also no better lighting in his house. The lighting in the guest bathroom was even worse. But still, we persisted. I made him into his twin sister Julie. His friends got a kick out of that. He said they called him Julie all night. (I’m not sure if I’m charmed or freaked out a little by this, but I’ll continue my story.)

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His outfit was all the sequins, leopard print and gold lamé I could handle… and in heels he looked 7 feet tall. I really should have gotten a full-length photo, but hindsight is 20/20. He was the straightest, manliest drag queen I’d ever seen. I was thinking at this point that he’d lost a bet.

As it turned out, he had 2 close girlfriends who watched RuPaul’s drag race and they’d dared him to do it. Being someone who doesn’t back down from a challenge, he embraced it head on… and hired me. Strange how these things work out.

We had a drink together, talked a while, then he asked what I was doing the next night. I paused for a second, thought about how much fun I was having talking to him and how effortless the conversation was… then accepted.

So basically, this was my weekend.
(He knows more about writing code and music theory than I do which makes me want to both punch him in the face and hang on to him at the same time. I think I’ll live.)

this weekend

And Sunday I went with my friend Erin to see Bowling for Soup. I’ve always loved them because as you know… I’m a sucker for a clever lyric and a band who has a sense of humor about themselves.

The opening bands were like sandpaper on my eardrums, but BFS made my evening. Erin and I were (of course) right up front and I took a ridiculous amount of Facebook live footage. (to that point, I realized hardly anyone is up that late on a Sunday and I probably shouldn’t be either.)

There was a child on his Dad’s shoulders the entire concert 3rd row center. They endured both opening bands to hold that spot and had earphones to protect his ears. It was DARLING! And Jaret took notice. Here are a few photos of the child and Jaret giving him picks from all guitarists, a drum stick and a set list autographed by all members.

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Another Epic weekend…. Check!

Rock Star Sparkle

This past week or so has been a crazy happy blur. I had a magnificent time in Charlotte and got to meet K. Flay! If you haven’t heard her music or seen her live, she’s touring now (so this is your chance) and she’s the absolute sweetest. She’s a hugger! The first thing she did when I approached was hug me! And when I told her that I’d driven over 3 hours to see her, she grabbed me and hugged me again! She may have even hugged me more than twice. I was so drunk with post-concert giddiness I hardly noticed. It was like hanging out with one of my best girlfriends. (If said girlfriend was a badass rapper/vocalist who made music you love.) She signed 2 cds and posed for so many photos with Allison and I (the lighting was SO BAD it was almost a must.) I wouldn’t have traded the experience for the world. In fact, I’m still all smiles just thinking about it.

It was nice staying with Allison for a day or 2. We look after each other. She cooked for me and made sure I had all the comforts of home. And I ended up coaching her on some online aspects of her business. I had brought her a book full of inspiration that I thought she’d enjoy, but I never saw myself fitting into a coaching role. I think the more we grow, the more we don’t think we have it “together.” We realize how little we actually know in the grand scheme of things. But growth isn’t supposed to be comfortable. That’s why so many people don’t do it. I’ve never been one of those people.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom”
– Anaïs Nin

After a few days of adjusting and jumping back into work, I got to hang out with a few of my favorite people this weekend. Unfortunately, we were reminded that sometimes when things come too easy, there’s a catch. Lee Ann got ROCKSTAR parking in front of the venue, but when we returned to her car, she’d been hit by a party bus full of drunken millennials. I use the term “Party Bus” loosely. It was actually a retro school bus spray-painted black. I won’t go into details, I’ll just say that I hate that this happened to one of the most amazing people I know. In other news, the food and the company were nothing short of amazing. And I’d like to wish a Happy Birthday to our friend JD, who is always there for us. (#theoriginalJD)

Saturday morning I had one of the most interesting makeup jobs I’ve had in a while. A friend of mine who I’d met when I dated his college roommate (funny story… I totally got Delta Chi and Theta Chi confused. WHO DOES THAT? Luckily, he set me straight before I went on embarrassing myself for too long) hired me to do makeup for the Intro to his local cable access show. The makeup was to be a closeup shot of lips as they spoke the opening catch phrase. What I didn’t know was that he would arrive equipped with craft services of an edible arrangement, champagne, brie, crackers and a vegetable tray for the talent to enjoy after it was photographed. He was taking care of a few jobs he needed to photograph or film that day and we all got to reap the benefits.

As it turns out, Randal is a dental hygienist. It just so happens that the practice he works for has developed a kit for in-office tooth-whitening with a take home component and a nifty reminder app that whitens at least 3 shades without sensitivity in 30 minutes. Everyone on site got to try this out for themselves and it was GLORIOUS! It’s not every day that I show up on set, get spoiled with fancy treats AND get to leave with a shiny new smile!

Evidently, this tooth-whitening system will soon be featured on the TV show Shark Tank, so I’m not allowed to give too many details, but I may end up in some of the preliminary promotional materials.

And if you get a chance, listen to my new friend K. Flay. You’ll be glad you did.

A Stonger Dose of Morphine 

Long ago in a time that seemed a few lifetimes away, a guy named Kelly Holland sent me a text asking me to go to something called “The Great Cover Up.” Since he was more accustomed to being onstage than off, (and thought the rules didn’t apply to him) we missed the deadline to get in the door each night that year.

Kelly was a rock star. He had the most amazing voice I had ever heard. And although he was a gifted musician and could play drums, guitar and most any instrument you put before him, his voice was what struck me most. It was ethereal. He didn’t belong in the mediocrity that he found himself in at that time.

He used to be the lead singer for Cry of Love. They enjoyed great success, but he was replaced during their run. When I met him, he was playing drums and singing for a local cover band called Crush. Crush played a friend of a friend’s pool party and I befriended him as soon as I saw him. Our friendship lasted until his untimely passing a few years ago. I’d had a crush on him. He’d had a crush on me. Neither of us had a gift for timing so I turned out being that friend he always turned to when he had something big twisting around in his head that he needed a voice of reason to help him with. I saw him through many girlfriends and I always listened whenever he wanted to talk. He wrote a song or two and told me he wanted my voice for the demo. He always seemed to have so many irons in the fire. I kept waiting for the call that he was about to move on to something bigger. That call never came.

I’d always been curious about “The Great Cover Up.” More often than not, it just wasn’t convenient to go, but this year I made it a point to.

My guitarist and fellow vocalist from Cherry (Jason) was performing in 2 of the acts this year. His wife (Jennifer) is a friend from my high school. I definitely don’t see them enough, so I asked if I could assist with the “transformation” into rock star Saturday night. I spent the day getting myself outfitted and grabbing the products I would need. Before I knew it, Jason was all glammed up and I was standing in a long line outside King’s waiting for the doors to open.

For those of you who have never heard of it, the “Great Cover Up” is a concert that happens each year. Proceeds go to charity and none of the acts are paid. However, it’s an honor to be numbered among the historic acts that have appeared. The event started in 1999 and has been gaining momentum ever since. It’s open to all local musicians who put together acts for the purpose of magically transforming themselves into their favorite artists (for at least a set of 4 songs). The bands that night were Teenage Fanclub, Jackson Browne, Morphine, INXS, Tenacious D, Pearl Jam, The GoGo’s and Metallica.

It was so nice to be out in my element and not worried about what anyone else was doing. I hadn’t been able to just simply enjoy something and be in the moment in a very long time. I was surrounded by friends and music. And I finally was able to see this local music mainstay that is “The Great Cover Up.” Maybe someday I’ll get to be a part of it.
Kelly would be proud.