Sherry's Rockapella Trip Report

June 21-23, 2002

1st-Ever Rockapella Fan Convention & Concert at The Power Center

Ann Arbor, Michigan

On Friday evening, I dropped my car off at the long-term parking lot, and hung out at LAX, doing a little shopping before my flight. I realized that I had forgotten to pack my eyeliner, so I went to the Duty-Free shop, since I knew they sold Lancome products. I got to the register, and the lady asked for my plane ticket. I thought that was weird, since they only let ticketed passengers get through the gate now, but showed it to her anyway. Turns out that I wasn't allowed to buy anything there, because I wasn't an international traveler. Maybe they should put some signs up at the entrance, so that we all know not to go in there and bother these people. The flight was quite full, and I was seated adjacent to babies, whom were quiet most of the time, but one of them did not enjoy the landing at all. Poor Mom.

When I arrived in Detroit, I went to Hertz to get my rental car, and was informed by Olivia that I could rent a Mustang for a small additional fee. I thought,"Heck, I'm in Michigan, I'm having fun this weekend, why the heck not?" I even picked a red one. Go, Sherry! When I got in the car, though, it didn't start. So I brought the key back and one of the ladies laughed about how some people try to put the convertible tops up and down without turning off the engine. I got to my 2nd car, and it wouldn't start either! I finally realized that the emergency brake needed to be on in order to turn on the ignition. I bet that that was the reason I couldn't start the first one! Oops. They're going to be checking that car, wondering why I had such a problem. I need to write to Hertz, to tell that to their customers, or at least have the people actually pull up the emergency brake when they park the car. I need to write to them anyway, and give them a glowing report about Olivia. She was really friendly and informative.

I arrived at the Quality Inn, which had been recommended by the fan club. I was not impressed. I think the only thing that pleased me was the fact that I was able to register late for my reserved room, and the man knew my name when I arrived. After I unpacked, I called Liz and Karla that I had arrived, and we arranged a meeting time. While taking my shower, I heard the shower start in the room above me. Then when my shower was over, I still heard dripping. It turns out that the shower from above me was leaking through my ceiling, and dripping into my bathtub! Well, now that explains the patchwork in the ceiling. I just wondered if, one day, all the showers above me were going to collapse and fall into mine, since I was on the first floor.

Liz and Karla knocked on my door, and I advised them of my crazy shower. They advised me of the crazy elevator, which didn't stop at the 2nd floor, which happened to be where their room was located. Nice. We ate breakfast at McDonald's, where they didn't have Happy Meal breakfasts, like they do in So Cal. They're missing out in Ann Arbor. We then went to Target for some necessities, and drove around, in my Mustang, of course, because it was the cool car of the weekend.

We passed by the Neutral Zone, and said, upon Karla's direction, "Oh, look! It's the Neutral Zone!" We visited Fire Station No. 1, so that Liz could schmooze with a fellow dispatcher. Karla and I needed to use the restroom, and didn't want to interrupt the conversation or bother the firefighters, so we walked over to the Hands-On Museum and pretended to shop so that we could use the restroom there. Wel, we ended up finding little firefighter figures for Liz there, and, since there were 7 of them, we attached 'Pella & Phil & Fred names to them. I said, "Scott's the one with the hose straight out in front." I need to stop talking. ;) When we got back to the fire station, Liz was not done visiting, and we couldn't find a Long Beach Fire Department patch on the wall, so we went shopping, where I found a bunch of CD's that my brother would like (U of M Marching Band stuff). Liz was finally done when it was lunchtime for the station, so we went shopping at Steve and Barry's, where we found lots of U of M stuff that was quite inexpensive. We also went to the Briarwood Mall, which was not very far away, and was very close to the other hotels that Liz and I had been contemplating, and looked a whole lot better than the one we had chosen. At the mall, we sampled some Harry & David goodies, drank yummy energy drinks (which I REALLY needed), and I bought an outfit for the party, as well as my eyeliner, finally. For some reason, when Liz and I bought new outfits for the concert, we totally forgot that the party would be a separate affair and would therefore necessitate an entirely different outfit! Duh! you'd think we would've thought of that, seeing as how we look for excuses to shop. Liz and I dropped off Karla to get her Rockapella museum from Bob, and we went across the street to buy shoes at DSW. We were completely impressed with ourselves because this was the 3rd time for us to go to DSW together, and we finally ended up both buying a pair of shoes. We went to Michael's to get the journal that Karla requested, but it was the wrong one. Sorry. We checked out the Sushi/Bakery (that's NOT a misprint), and the sushi smelled good, but we didn't know if Karla was a sushi person, so we didn't insist on it. We went back to downtown to buy the CD's for my brother, since he had finally called me, but we got lost trying to get there, so Karla was pretty much starving by the time we made it back. Oh, we also found a bakery to buy some cookies for Pella, and encountered a really cute little girl that was helping her mom out with selling the stuff there. We ate at Bob's Big Boy for dinner and I ate shrimp. The food server was not a happy person. We went to Barnes & Noble and bought the local newspaper, where Rockapella and Ann Edwards were featured.

Back at the Quality Inn, I couldn't get into my room because my key didn't work. The clerk tried it and the door opened. OK, I'm lame. We hung out in Liz and Karla's room, while Karla repaired her museum, and made signs for the windows, so that other Pella fans would know where we were staying. I also tried to solve Karla's picture puzzle game, and realized that I didn't know the names of songs. Liz and I went to the vending machines for a snack, and the M&M's package got stuck, so the clerk had to shake the machine. Then we went to the other machines, and I received a drink that I didn't want. Liz said, "I didn't see that listed." I replied, "Because it's NOT!" Laughter ensued. I was tired, big time, since I really hadn't gotten any decent sleep since Thursday, so I finally went to my own room and went to bed.

On Saturday morning, Liz and I ate breakfast at the Courtyard Marriott. Well, being us, we couldn't figure out how to get to the area where they were serving the buffet, so we had to actually ask somebody to lead us there. Breakfast was tasty, especially the orange juice. We went over to the Neutral Zone a bit early, in order to set up Karla's museum, and make sure that we had parking. They only let Karla in, though, so Liz and I hung out in the heat, where we found Monica and her new friends, whose names I can't remember. We also met Lisa, from Nebraska. MJ arrived with her friends, and I was very happy to see her.

They let us inside the Neutral Zone, and we received our convention t-shirts, and a packet that held a bio of George, postcards, a publicity poster, the menu, post-it notes, a really cool pen, and Karla's sketch of her museum. Shirts were laid out on tables for all of us to sign, which would be given to the guys. Barb's photos were displayed on a laptop computer's slide show. 'Pella stuff like t-shirts, cd's, videos, pencils, and robes were sold. Displays of fandom were all around, such as a Rockapel-opoly game, "Twisted"--a modified Twister game, Karla's Rockapella and Barry museums, Stacey's Obscure Rockapella display, photo albums, scrapbooks, and publicity notes. A videotape of bits from "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego" played as well, which was really fun. Liz and I went downstairs to check out the bakery next door (which didn't have much), and Liz had some tea. We were not impressed with the server there, who had been smoking a cigarette outside, and didn't wash his hands before serving us. Therefore, I didn't buy any food. Back upstairs, our menu consisted of Rockapella's favorite summer salads. I don't know why we all bothered to bring chocolate chip cookies for the guys, since they were all put out on the table for the convention goers to eat instead. That irritated me. I'm glad I didn't actually bake.

Barry was the first out of 4 Rockapella members to arrive, and he gave a very nice speech about the importance of fans, and how much he'd miss everyone. Lots of tears in the room. His wife Linda was there, too. When I talked to him, I told him that he made me cry, and he said that he didn't mean to make anyone do anything. I was just really glad that I was still going to see him in California for his final shows. When kevin arrived, I told him that I really liked his hair color (it was lighter than I'm used to). Liz tried to take a picture of me with Jeff, but my batteries ran out, and he whispered to me, "Help her." Well, we figured it out, and she took pics with her camera instead. I finally was able to catch Elliott's eye so that I could speak with him and get his picture. It was nice that all the guys remembered that I had traveled all the way from California. Scott didn't show, which didn't surprise me, since he's not really a before-the-show-meet-and-gereet kind of person. He needs to save his energy, since he's the lead, and, well, he's a tenor. I know, I know, Kevin's a tenor, too. He's the high tenor, folks. Trust me. We picked up some sandwiches at Subway to have some food for after the concert, then went back to rest and get ready for the concert. Of course, when we got back to the Quality Inn, I couldn't get into my room again. So I went upstairs to get Karla to try the lock, and it still didni't work. We went up to the clerk, and Karla testified to the difficult lock, and the guy re-coded the card. I didn't have much of a problem after that.

At the venue, we were greeted by Phill, whom remembered Liz's name instead of calling her "Joe's wife." Impressive, but then he called me MJ, so I gave him a hard time. We were seated on the audience's left side, on the aisle, with a bunch of other conventioneers.

The opening act was U of M's Dicks and Janes, whom were quite good, and Liz and I bought their CD, which is also nice.

Rockapella got on stage, in suits. Very nice! During "Moments of You," Scott knelt for Kev, but I don't remember what warranted this serenade. Barry said that he was happy with our rhythm. Will the Lancaster people NEVER live down their unfortunate rhythmically-challenged concert???!!! Barry introduced El as "tonsorially challenged." Did this happen just recently, or has he always said this, and I just noticed? Cute that Kevin and El look at their watches during the "Take a little time alone," and I wondered if they had always been doing that, too.

When El spoke, he had trouble getting out the words "Summer Fest....ival," supposedly due to too much coffee. He received good laughs on his "obstetricious" line in "No Doubt At All."

After "Use Me," Kev informed us that he had ripped his pants, and the guys had a great time with it, asking if he was wearing his polka dot boxers, or the Hello Kitty ones. When he talked about Michigan and Firestone tires, Scott said that he thought it was pronunced "Fihrehstohnee." It's funnier in person.

After their Folger's ditty, El advised that they're looking for new sponsors, and offered themselves to the medical supply company that had sponsored the event. During "Don't Do It," Elliott knelt down for someone to pet his bald head, and the guys sang, "Don't Touch It," and "Wipe Your Hand." El was clearly trying not to laugh later, during "Long Cool Woman." Kev mentioned it later.

Kevin picked a 4th-grader, Erica, for "My Girl/Pretty Woman" and asked her to be his date to the 6th-grade prom. She was really cute.

Scott sang the "Don't Tell Me You Do" remix, as he forgot the words and repeated a verse. The fans tried to help out, and he finally got it later.

The guys gave a Breitling watch to Barry for his retirement, and said they wanted to do it that night, so that the fans would get to witness it. Very nice. The guys joked and said it cost $50.00. They used the term later during the "Keep On Smilin'" VP Drumline, saying "Fifty Bucks."

During his VP solo, Jeff informed us that Ann Arbor was the birthplace of the throat mic. Very cool. He was still out of breath from his solo when they sang "Up on the Roof/Wonderful World," and had to stop singing for a couple of measures. He did some very nice grinding during "Dance With Me." Oh, yes!

"Zombie Jamboree" is back after a post-September 11 hiatus, and I was very happy. Barry asked us to help him out with the whole "Island" thing. Kevin didn't actually have an eyeball to drop. Barry practically pushed El all the way across the stage during the whole "Back to Back" thing. Instead of the World Trade lyrics, Kev did a fun growly thing.

Afterward, Karla was very happy that Rockapella signed her yearbook. She was already hyped up when she realized that Sean had signed her museum, so then she had 2 things to be excited about and tell us a thousand times. ;) Liz actually got in a picture for Sandra ON PURPOSE. Sandra's some kind of magician.

When I talked to the guys at the meet 'n' greet, El asked if I'd be at the California concerts. I said, "Yes, and I'm going to cry AGAIN," and Barry held my hand to comfort me. Sweet. His wife, Linda, was crying after the concert, because it was her last time to see him perform with Rockapella. I was sad for her and almost cried again. Scott had his son Jesse at his side, and I introduced myself to Jesse. Scott informed Jesse that I had come all the way from California, in an impressed sort of way, and I was happy that he remembered.

We went back and had a little Subway picnic in my room, laughing about the events of the evening. Someone stupid set off the fire alarm, which put Liz on alert. The gals had an early flight in the morning, so I told them I'd see them in July.

I had plenty of time to hang out in the Detroit airport in the morning, and checked out just about every shop there. I arrived in L.A. and called the parking lot to have the shuttle pick me up, and they said it wouldn't take very long for me to wait, because the shuttle was already at the airport. When I opened the shuttle car door, there were Liz and Karla! Their flight had just arrived, too! We laughed and laughed the whole way back to the lot, and then some.

Fun trip, even though the hotel was yucky. Fun concert, even though I didn't get to see Kev's underwear through the rip in his pants. ;) Oh, well. Maybe next time!

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