Sherry's Rockapella Trip Report
April 14, 2004
Texas A&M University, Rudder Hall
I flew out from Ontario on Tuesday night and had a layover in Vegas for a couple of hours. Weird that on America West, they didn't serve drinks due to the short length of the flight, although on my flights there with Southwest, they always serve drinks. Whatever. I missed the friendliness of SWA, too. They just weren't flying to where I was going. On my layover, I perused the shops, lost 50 cents in a slot machine, and read my book. On the flight to Dallas, I met a lady whom, with her friends in the other row, was on the way to a Red Hat convention. Sounds like fun, ladies, 'cuz it's all women & a whole women's thing. When I got back home, I saw that there's a book called The Red Hat Society, and on the cover were some ladies dressed up like the women on the plane. Neato!
Upon my arrival in Dallas, I had an hour or so until Liz's flight arrived, which was in a terminal on the other side of DFW. When Liz arrived, we waited for Ang to wake up (we arrived quite early in the morning), caught up on each other's lives, and became hungrier by the moment. Really, people, let's put a place to eat on the ticketing sides of the terminals, so that travelers like us don't starve, OK?
Angela picked us up while in the middle of a job interview-type conversation, and we tried to get some breakfast at The Purple Cow, but it wasn't open yet. Sadness. So we had some yummy French Slam breakfasts at Denny's instead. yes, we all ordered the same breakfast. Pella Pushers of the world, unite!
We then hung out at Ang's nice, big apartment and I played with Bugger, Ang's cat. Everything is bigger in Texas, especially the churches. My goodness! They also have huge office buildings right next to horse ranches. Had we more time, I think Liz and I could have convinced Ang to take us to Southfork Ranch, home of "Dallas." The Ewings really do own a lot in Dallas, I noticed. I wondered why the Mary Kay building wasn't pink.
Our drive down to College Station was filled with views of flat green land, cows, goats, and these strange triangular signs. When we first saw them, the signs were made of plywood, and blank. Due to the shape, they looked like arrows point to the sky. I decided that they were signs from God, reminding people about heaven. Further down the road, the signs actually had sayings: "Buckle Up," and "Don't Mess with Texas," and one with a 911 sticker on it. We saw a sign for Vasectomy Reversal. It was quite prominent, and we wondered if Rockapella was going to see the same sign, and if they'd comment about it. It turns out that they flew in to Houston, so they might not have seen that one. Too bad. We also saw a sign which had a semi-truck on a pole on the top of it. It's a truck on a stick!
We stopped off at a Burger King and, since Liz didn't get out of the car with us, we got a paper crown for her. Too bad she doesn't allow us to take pictures of her. Angela and I got Kids' Meals, and we got Scooby Doo 2 Mystery Vans. I think I threw mine away by accident, though, since I thought it was part of the trash. Bummer.
We stopped for gas, and across the street from the station was an antique mall, so, of course, Sherry asked if she could go shopping. Ang and Liz wanted to go, too, so we perused the place, which was quite larger than it looked from the outside. They even had a second floor, where items were 50% off. They had a LOT of Fiesta ware, in probably all of the colors made. I was about ready to give up on everything until Liz saw some old Folger's cans for sale. A couple of them were banged up a little, but I was able to get one that looked pretty nice. Does anyone out there know how I can spiff up some old tin, or whatever this can is made of? Next to the cash register was a display case with little balls in it, in different designs. I stared at them for awhile before realizing that they were marbles. The lady at the cash register (whom had the first actual Texan accent that I'd heard on our trip) laughed when I marveled at how long it took me to figure out what they were. Liz went up to the display case next, and said, "Hmmm...a bunch of little balls?...Oh, Marbles!" I laughed and said, "That's EXACTLY what I said!" I guess it's been a long time since we'd all played with them. I didn't know that they were made with brand names and stuff. That would be a cool collection.
Back to the trek. More wildflowers (thanks, Ladybird Johnson!), more farms. More cows, too, one group of which seemed to be all grouped together in a huddle. A cow conference! Cool! I then began to tell all the other groups of cows that they were missing the meeting. I don't think they heard me, though. We also passed a place called Lazy Ass Ranch. You gotta love that.
We arrived at the Hampton Inn (after passing it slightly and making a turn into something that Angela THOUGHT was a driveway, but was actually just some gravel for whatever). We rested a little bit, then got ourselves all pretty for the concert. Thank goodness it was warm, because I had chosen a sleeveless outfit & open-toed shoes. The weather was quite lovely there, by the way.
Our hotel was very close to Texas A&M University, but the campus is so huge that we weren't sure where to go. The map provided on the website didn't help me at all, nor did the written directions. This was driving me crazy as the navigator, so Angela called the box office to ask for directions. We were in the wrong land and couldn't get to the hall the easy way, so we drove around awhile before finally asking a cute guy for directions. He led us back to the path of righteousness, and we finally found the streets that the box office lady had mentioned. No worries, we got there in time, and Rockapella started a few minutes late anyway. Not a surprise. Since Angela had bought Liz's ticket separately, she wasn't sitting with us, but that's OK, because she was still sitting directly behind me, so she could bop us on our heads if she felt like it. She somehow refrained from doing this, though. I wouldn't have, had I been in her position. Especially because we're just plain silly.
Rockapella began their show with "House of the Rising Sun." Ooh--Kevin and Jeff were wearing shirts I'd never seen: Kev a black shirt with white trim, and Jeff a black shirt with some pinstripes. Scott then introduced everyone, and actually introduced himself as ... Scott. As they started "Moments of You," something was wrong with their timing, but they made an instant adjustment. Other, less experienced groups take awhile for the group to adjust after a strange dissonance, but not these guys. El smiled at me when he saw me smiling at him. Awww... I've missed that smile. Scott did some tap dancing and he also did some Ham Bone action with Kevin.
The concert we were attending was actually an add-on, after the concert for the night before had sold out. Scott said that last night they were all in jeans to fit in with the rest of the Texans, but tonight they were "back to the Yankee city boys we really are." They were on CBS-TV that morning at the crack of dawn. Somebody whooped. Scott said, "What is that WHOOP thing/" Then most of the audience started whooping. One of the guys said, "Like trained dogs they are," to which the same people in the audience responded with a hissing sound. Okaaaayyyyy ... they did these 2 sounds pretty much all night. Crazy Aggies.
Scott then talked about each of the guys' roles, starting with Jeff, and as he introduced each guy, that guy added to the chord, and he said, "and I'll sing like a girl on top of that," and the chord built up to the chorus of "Get You Off My Mind." They didn't actually sing the whole song, though. Bummer.
During "Here Comes the Sun," El was laughing already. George looked all glow-y in his nice shirt. "Dancin' In The Streets" seemed to be in a lower key. Voices must be tired. El then talked for awhile. He didn't know why it had been so long since they'd been in Texas. He said, "Maybe our agent doesn't like you." In order to catch up the audience, he announced that he "went to prison, shaved my head .. actually, I didn't shave my head....See, this is a problem with me ... I have this inner conversation that has a hard time getting out." That would explain the adorable rambling, El. He then sang "No Doubt At All," wherein there was far too much echo on El's mic.
During "Use Me," Scott changed the lyrics to "Put me in a crowd of high class A&M people and they tell me 'WHOOP'" Much applause to George filling in for Scott's bass notes.
While Kev talked to the audience, we could hear someone unwrapping something backstage. Kev thought, "There's a cow on stage." Very soon after, Scott walked onto the stage, clearly attempting to finish the food that he had just stuffed in his mouth. Hungry, honey? Kevin advised that he spent a few years in Houston and McCallen, and talked about having birthdays as a boy at the Farrell's in Houston. They then sang "A Change in My Life," followed with "Smile In My Heart."
They then announced that they'd sing Rockapella's Greatest Hit, which was answered with the trademark yell. They said, "Stop with the Whoop." Funny. Folger's, of course, was next. To answer Hank's question on a phone call I received, while Jeff was making the frothy sound, he held the mic with his right hand only.
Elliott told us that on Carmen, "It was PBS, and generally the kids lost." This led to the Goodbye, Loser song, AKA "Don't Do It." During "Long Cool Woman," I decided re Scott, "God, I love his pants." For the rest of the concert, I told Angela to "Make me stop looking at his pants." I'll let y'all interpret that as you wish. This is a G-rated site. OK, PG. Enough.
Kevin told George, "George she came." He was happy that girl that he met at the post office had made it to the concert. He was so happy that she became "My Girl / Pretty Woman" of the evening. Kevin introduced her as My Girl, and then interrogated her about that afternoon, when she was on the phone. "Who were you on the phone with? Who's that guy you're with?" Her actual name is Jessica, by the way. Kevin asked if she is a student. No. "WERE you a student?" She giggled. No. Jeff said, "Good for you!" Kevin said, "OK, Jessica, you must have a really high phone bill." Scott suggested that it was prepaid. During "Pretty Woman," Jeff played with Jessica's hair, and El smelled her hair. George called her, "Jesse, Jesse girl." Jessica didn't dance with Scott at all. What are you thinking, girl? LOOK at his pants! Kevin told her to have a wonderful summer. Scott then told everyone that George and Kevin hang out in every city at the post office. I think I'll go get some stamps next time they're in town, then. ;)
They sang "Jenny Come Away." I'm not sure what Kevin was singing, but it was making El laugh. At the end of the song, Jeff added the sound of a car crash. Boys, I tell ya.
George then had a talk with the audience. Wow -- he has his own speaking part now -- yay! George said that there is "only one bass born every 10 years ... I was a tenor once, when I was 3 or 4 ... then along came Milk. I drank a lot of milk, of course, the CHOCOLATE milk." He told us that he went to Morris Brown College (hey, that's the school in the movie "Drumline"!), and was a classical singer, and is now the "Doom Doom Master." He has to think with every piece "Which doom doom am I gonna do on this song? How do I incorporate ding dong dingly day inside a ding dong session?" He said that he's heard tenors do their version of low notes, and says to these guys, "Drink some MILK!" This segue led him to "Papa Was A Rolling Stone." Love that. Love it.
I don't know what Scott said to the audience afterward, because Kevin smiled at me while he was talking, and how am I supposed to concentrate when he does that? I think it had something to do with the "Do It Rockapella" phrase. During "Carmen," I decided that Scott's got to have some strong abs to squat that low. I also decided that Jeff needs a tan. I later decided that El needs a tan, too. Those poor NYC boys!
Their first encore started with "Up On The Roof / Wonderful World," and George smiled at me. During the lyrics "Don't know much about biology," Scott caught me beaming, so he smiled an nodded at me. I don't know if that means he remembers our last conversation about that song, or not, but he smiled and nodded at me, and I was happy that he finally saw me. It's about time! Geez, I've been staring at your pants for over an hour now!
During "Let's Get Away," we almost made Elliott crack up completely, and I'm not sure how. Sorry, El. Scott then announced that he is "so fond of regularity." They sang "This Isn't Love" by request from the night before. "Dance With Me" had Kevin freaking out at the light changes. George's solo butt shot consisted of him hopping up and down. Whatever, as long as y'all have those solos!
"Summertime Blues" was the start of the second encore. Very cool for the Texas fans. I love the Alan Jackson version of this song, but, of course, it's not as wonderful as the Pella's. While George talked about the hot island of Manhattan, El shook his head as George said, "No, no, no." Scott jumped so high at the "Back to Back" portion that Kevin had to try to keep up with him. For "Keep On Smilin'," Scott sang "Too busy saying 'Whoop' anyway..."
There was a Q&A session afterward. The guys drank Mountain Dew. A guy started to ask "How come you didn't do Breakfast At Tiffany's?" Jeff practically snapped at him and advised that most of the stuff on the net that states is by Rockapella, isn't actually sung by Rockapella. He said that they "don't do covers that recent."
One guy prefaced his question with the phrase, "For the new guy:" and George quickly answered, "I ain't got no money."
Someone requested "Ellie My Love." Scott substituted some of the lyrics with some mumbo jumbo. We giggled. He then finished the rest of the song while looking down at the floor, because he needed to concentrate, and our laughing faces were not helping him a bit. Poor Scott. He advised that the song is actually titled in Japan as "Shinori." It's actually a Japanese song. Didn't know that before.
They then announced that a CD is in the works, "Live in Japan." Somebody asked about the song "Capitol." Jeff didn't remember ever singing that song in concert, but Scott did. Kevin announced that the capitol of Texas was "Austin," to which we gals giggled, because I had tested Angela with that question earlier. When Kev said "Austin," though, the crowd hissed. I don't think they like any city but their own. Kevin said that the hissing sounds like the Sleestaks from "The Land of the Lost." Kevin's making me relive my childhood.
El said that they were once called "The Lunchtime Specials," to which the group marveled at how weird it would be if they were still called that.
Jeff stressed the importance of a strong music director needed for an a capella group, especially one in college. Someone asked how they warm up for a concert. Kevin answered with the standard choir warm up arpeggio "La la la la la la la." Funny. Acutely, he hums throughout the day. El said that Kevin's really irritating to be around because of that. Jeff said that the "guy before Kevin" used to vocalize so loudly that you could hear him through the air ducts in the hotel.
Someone requested Grinch. People, this isn't a REQUEST session! Anyway, Jeff said that he had closed the Christmas vault several months ago. George still sang a little bit of it.
Scott said that the group is in negotiations with the Boston Pops for a gig this summer. Cool! I wonder if John Williams will be involved, because that would just rock! Someone asked what happened to their zoot suits. Dude, that was like, a decade and a half ago. Kevin said that if they wear them again, he wants the blue one. George wants the pink one.
At the meet and greet afterward, Phil forgot my name. Serves me right for showing up somewhere outside my state, huh? I hugged him anyway, and gave him a hint or two. He said, "SHARON!" I said, "So close, but so far away." He then remembered my actual name, then asked what we were all doing in Texas. We advised him that Angela lives there now. He was a little busy dealing with the people selling the CD's. Suffice it to say that they're going to have a more definite contract written out if they ever return.
I talked to Fred for quite awhile about Japan. Apparently, he doesn't need to do anything special with the sound when they record the live stuff, since it's a different feed. Interesting. Fred knows NO Japanese, and he's not really into Japanese food. He won't lose weight while he's there, though, since there's plenty of American type food there. Their McDonald's, apparently, presents much nicer burgers, since they're all about the presentation there.
I finally got a picture with George! We finally got a George sandwich picture! Again, we were asked by Phil, "Don't you have enough of these?" when we took a picture with the whole group. No, Phil, I don't! I told them that I need to talk to them after they were done taking pictures with everyone.
Fred then talked to me some more about food in Japan, particularly the different type of Spaghetti they make. Fred sure did talk a lot this time. I like that he feels comfortable to talk to me now. :)
I then almost attacked El to make sure I got a chance to talk to him. Sorry, El. I advised that I wasn't happy that I was only able to see them every 6 months. No, those were not my exact words. He said that they'd like to come out to California more often, but it's not under their control. New York has a big promotional thing every year, and they're a part of that, so all the venue people see them at that time. Would that I had a bunch of those connections, I'd do one for them out West. He advised me to try to get the Performing Arts Centers to include them in their package series. I told him that I'm working on it. He said that they'd be in Utah in May. I told him that it's hard to get cheap airline tickets on Memorial Weekend, and he advised me that I could drive. I told him, "That's far! YOU drive!" He laughed at me. El, whom gets lost everywhere, is telling ME to drive to Utah. It's a singing day for me, though, so it would be tough for me to swing that one.
Meanwhile, Angela lectured Jeff about something else, and then she talked to George, which is when we got our pictures taken with him. He asked if they'd be used for blackmail. Hmmm.....
Phil announced that the guys' food was downstairs, waiting for them. I didn't want to keep them from their food, but it's been 6 months, Phil! Or 5. Whatever, it's been too dang long between gigs. We let them go, though, except for Scott. He was still talking to some people.
We then waited to talk to Scott. I hugged him and told him that I missed him. He said, "I miss you, too!" Swoon, again. I asked him about my favorite shirt, and he said that the designer is Ben Sherman. I need to get me one of those shirts. He was excited about their Japan trip, because he's going to get a bunch of new clothes. They have his size, and the clothes fit him really well, especially with all the tailoring. We were interrupted for a bit, and Ang & Liz told me to look down when Scott turned back around to talk to us. Gals, I've been staring at his pants all night, and NOW you're telling me to look down again?! I don't know if he noticed me doing the Elevator Eyes thing, but geez, I was embarrassed that I actually did that. Dang that belly button of his! I didn't get to see it, though. Lucky Liz & Ang. I asked if he was bringing the kids to Japan with him, but Jesse's still in school at that time, and he has an All-State honor chorus thing. Like Father, Like Son. I want to hear Jesse sing!
OK, so then we left, and laughed about me trying to steal a look at Scott's pants again. We ate at a Mexican restaurant, and debriefed. It took awhile for us to get to sleep because we kept giggling about stuff. Yes, "stuff" includes Pants.
The next morning, we ate our free continental breakfast. The hotel offered a nice variety of stuff. After we checked out, I saw a huge sign for a restaurant that just said "PANCAKES." Mmmm....I don't think that was the name of the place, though. We then went to a bookstore across the state from the university, and I bought a cute t-shirt with the Texas A&M symbol in rhinestones. Liz was in the section of the store that had stickers, and I spied the A&M marching band CD's. So, of course, I had to call my brother to find out which ones he'd like. We then went to another store, so that Liz could get some more firefighter training stuff.
We also went to the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum. Liz bought George W paper dolls and a campaign button for a co-worker. I got a postcard about a really cool bronze sculpture outside the library (we didn't want to stay long, for many reasons), and got some info about it from one of the guide/guard people. Made of 6 tons of bronze, the sculpture is of horses jumping over pieces of the Berlin Wall. The Berlin Wall is depicted with a copy of the original graffiti, as well as one piece where there is a dove, marked with the names of some of the people who died while trying to get over the wall. It was commissioned of a famous Texan, Veryl Goodnight. The sculpture, entitled "The Day the Wall Came Down," is quite impressive, as you can really see all the muscle outlines on the horses.
We saw the Lazy Ass Ranch again. This time, there were donkeys behind the fence! Too FUNNY!
Another ranch entrance said "Fat Chance." The same ranch, different entrance, "Second Chance." Same ranch, yet another entrance, "Slim Chance." CUTE!
"Bulls for Sale" -- Ang didn't think I could take one home
"ADULT ETC III" and underneath, "XXX"
"Does advertising work? Just did!"
"Condoms To Go"
We didn't see that many God signs on the way back. Angela decided that "God doesn't work on the way back to Dallas."
Liz said that she didn't want to eat at any place that showed the actual animal on its sign, like the steak houses with a drawing of cattle. We saw one sign, for "Up In Smoke BBQ." The sign was a cartoon picture of a cow. Surrounded in Flames. The cow's face was all sad and confused. I yelled, "OKAY, NO!" I can only imagine Elliott's feeling of horror if he saw the sign. Crazy Texans.
We made our way (the long, let's-get-lost-as-usual way) to Waco, home of the Dr. Pepper museum. Fun stuff! We saw the original well where they obtained the spring water for the drink, as well as many collectibles. We had some real soda fountain drinks. Angela and I had Dr Pepper. Yummy! We also bought some stuff. Liz and Ang bought Dr Pepper stuff, and I came away with Crush - flavored lip gloss. I couldn't help it. It looked yummy. I was looking for something that said, "Wouldn't you like to be a Pepper too?" on it, but the closest thing was "I'm a Pepper," and I didn't want that.
During our road trip, we all had little suggestions of things we'd like to see or things we'd like to happen, which weren't really under our control. You know, suggestions like songs that need to be done and venues to go to. I told the gals, "People should really listen to us more." (I think I need a sign).
When we got to downtown Dallas, we managed to get lost again, but finally made it out of there, and into the Steak 'n' Shake. Their burgers are made from steak, and they're quite tasty. Angela then drove us to the airport, which was quite near to the restaurant.
My flight to Vegas was uneventful. Leaving Vegas, though, was an ordeal. The plane was delayed, but they boarded us anyway. The lady in my row arrived just in time for regular boarding, huffing & puffing because she had run all the way from the other terminal. Somehow on the way, she had lost her cell phone. Since the flight was delayed due to some audio equipment malfunction in the cockpit, the flight attendant called her previous flight to look for the cell phone on that plane. The lady wouldn't freak out so much if she was just going home, but she was arriving at 1:30 a.m. in CA, and would be driving on the freeway in the dark, and her husband wanted her to call him so that he knew she'd be OK. She was also freaked out about the flight being delayed because the rental car place was going to close at 1:30 p.m., and the phone number to call them was, yes, in the memory portion of her lost cell phone. I loaned her my phone to contact her husband, whom, for some reason, wasn't answering any of their phones. The flight attendant loaned her his phone to call Nextel to cancel her phone number, and they would send a new phone to her house the next day. Yeah, but she kinda needs it today. In California. Finally, about 3 minutes before the captain announced that we were finally leaving, an airport runner arrived, with the lady's cell phone! She called the rental place, and they kept the office open until we could all gather our bags & their customers could get there. Her husband had left a couple of voice mail messages for her, asking if she was OK. A happy ending for all. Sure, I got home at about 2:15 a.m., but at least we were all happy ... and, you guessed it, I was still thinking about pants as I laughed and drifted off to sleep. Sweet dreams, indeed.