No Direction Home

This humble blog was started to document our travels around the country during the summer of 2006, We have opted to continue updating it due to the requests from family & friends. Enjoy!

Friday, February 26, 2016

And Into the River We'd Dive…

February 18, 2016

And Into the River We'd Dive…

I was reading an article about how Bruce Springsteen decided to go out on his current tour, The River 2016. It stated that his original intention was not to tour with the full E-Street band, but rather in support of his recently completed solo album. Then he was asked to play a special show in NYC in honor of the 35th anniversary of the release of the iconic double album that really established Springsteen as a serious American songwriter. He played the show, during which the band covered the entire 20 song album in its entirety and Springsteen enjoyed it so much that he scrapped the solo tour for the moment, opting instead to tour in support of the 35th annual River retrospective release, The Ties That Bind: The River Collection.


When I heard that he was touring I knew that I had to get tickets for this tour, I did not have the good fortune of seeing the original tour in 1980 that has become legendary and I wanted to be sure to see this one, so I bought a pair of tickets as soon as they went on-sale. As fate would have it, I had a really good almost lifelong friend, Henk visit me this week along with his daughter Brooke and so I got an extra ticket and we all ended up going to see the Boss. Henk and I had both been to the two Born in the USA tour stops in Indianapolis back in the day, one at Market Square Arena and one at the Hoosier Dome. I have also had the good fortune to see a number of Bruce shows since then and have never been disappointed.

Brooke and I

This time the show was to be held at the BB&T center in Sunrise (Ft. Lauderdale), the home of the NHL’s Florida Panthers hockey team. We drove up to Lauderdale in the afternoon, arriving in time to check in to the hotel and make our way down to the arena. Since our seats were separate it was decided that Brooke and I would take the pair and Henk the single which was a few sections away from us. Brooke and I had great VIP seats in the Club Lexus section just off the floor on the side. The tickets also allowed us into the Club Lexus lounge where there was a massive buffett of exquisite food as well as all the free drinks you could have, they even had a wonderful dessert bar, where we hung out prior to the show starting.

I was curious how Brooke would like the show, she claimed to be somewhat familiar with his music, but this was an entirely new sort of experience for her and she was much, much younger than the vast majority of the sold-out crowd. I need not have worried as she was pretty much caught up in the energy of the Springsteen experience from the opening chords and had an amazingly good time in spite of not being all that familiar with the music.

Bruce and the band opened the show by simply walking out with the house lights on and launching in to “Meet Me In the City while the house lights remained on. Once the opener was completed, Bruce immediately spoke to what the significance of the River album meant to him, his career and how it still resonates to him to this day, 35 years later. The lights came down and the band started playing the entire double album in order, all twenty songs without much of a break at all. The power and energy of the album were on full display as Springsteen played the album track by track.

Independence Day

Personal highlights of the River portion to me were the songs “Independence Day” which he gave a beautiful story as an intro, “The River”, “Hungry Heart” and a beautiful version of “Point Blank” which was to me much better than the album track itself. Bruce and the band wrung each drop of emotion out of each song and it was just an amazing experience to see the beauty of the album as a whole played all at once.

For most bands a 20 song set would be more than enough for an entire concert, but after the two hours it took to cover the entire River, Bruce and the E Street band were far from finished and basically played another entire concert of their hits after the River songs. Starting with “Badlands” and cruising through such classics as “Thunder Road”, “Rosalita”, “Born to Run”, “Bobby Jean”, “Dancing in the Dark” and a fantastic version of “The Rising”, the band played another 13 songs bringing the total to 34 songs played in just over three and a half hours with no intermission and amazing feat that is standard procedure for this band.

Thunder Road

The show closed with the house lights back on and the crowd joining the band in an epic cover of the Isley Brothers classic “Shout” that had the crowd in a singing and dancing frenzy. It was one of the best shows that I have seen in ages, and yet another in a series of amazing Bruce shows that I have seen over the years. Both Brooke and Henk loved the show as well and it was really fun to share a young girl’s first exposure to this iconic figure in American music. If you get a chance to catch this tour (or any Bruce show) you should certainly grab a ticket. It is even worth traveling a great distance to see and I would really like to get a chance to see it again myself.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Feast of Saint Valentine

February 15, 2016



Feast of Saint Valentine

Valentine’s Day weekend in Key West was yet another crazy busy and fun weekend for us here in Key West. We had a couple of birthdays to attend, another wacky Key West Bone Island Variety show, a concert by the Midtown Men and visits from friends all to keep us active in what was a packed schedule full of amazing friends, fun and frolic. Sometimes there is just so much going on that it is difficult to choose what to do, the good news is they are mostly all good choices and Kathy and I manage to keep as active as we want.

Velvet Garcia

Effie and Greta

The first event of the weekend was a surprise birthday gathering for our friend Ian. We all waited inside The Other Side cocktail lounge until Ian’s girlfriend led him in to find a large group of friends waiting to surprise him. It worked like a charm and Ian was suitably surprised and a great evening ensued as we all celebrated another trip around the sun in Ian’s life. I was happily surprised to find a good friend and former Key West resident, Jenny Zeller at the party. Jenny and I took photos classes together at FKCC once upon a time and she has since gone on to become an amazingly talented artist. She is in town teaching art workshops at the Studios of Key West, returning after moving away to Louisville where she has gained well deserved great acclaim in the art world.



Ashley and Jenny

Gretchen, Jenny, Ian and Natalia

The next birthday party we attended was for our good friend Beth, who once again this year threw a themed birthday party. This year’s theme was Games from our Childhood and it made for a fun night with people dressing up as the games of their youth or even playing those games as Beth had large scale versions of games like connect four on hand for guests to play. Perhaps the funniest game was a life-sized reproduction of the game Hungry, Hungry Hippos that utilized small inflated beach balls, laundry baskets and people laying on skateboards being held by their legs as they attempted to snare as many beach balls as possible in the laundry baskets in a two minute period. It was hilarious to witness and a lot of fun for those competing. The entire party was a ton of fun and we can’t wait for next year to see what zaniness that Beth comes up with.


We had to duck out of Beth’s party a little early as we had tickets to see the latest Bone Island Variety Show at the Key West Theater. The show is part of a semi-regular schedule of Variety Shows at the theater that are hosted by the funny and talented Landon Bradbury. The show collects a mélange of Key West’s most talented and interesting acts including comedians, musical talent and any number of wacky other skills to perform. This two night showing was in honor of Valentine’s Day and was a weird, wacky, raunchy and hysterical as you might imagine.

Tony Baltimore

The show featured a great cross-section of entertainment from across the island community including a couple of musical acts, a burlesque performance, a pair of amazing comedians and even a circus of performing rats…yes you heard that correctly. It was all lead by the furious Mr. Bradbury who in addition to performing his amazingly funny readings of terrible Yelp customer reviews from some of Key West’s best restaurants also acted as host between acts. One of the funnier continuous bits was having the performers read highlighted sections of an erotic romance novel. From being completely embarrassed to relishing the reading to delivering the entire thing in the voice of Christopher Walken, the performers all gamely read aloud in hysterical fashion.

Not sure what was our favorite act, the comedy was great, the dazzling burlesque tribute to David Bowie by Velvet Garcia was great, music from the likes of Tony Baltimore was excellent is well, but I think perhaps the trained rats jumping through hoops of fire and completing mazelike acrobatics was our favorite. The whole thing was yet another fantastic evening at the Key West Theater. I look forward to the next incarnation of the Bone Island Variety Show.

We also found time on Sunday to attend a performance by the Midtown Men at the Tennessee Williams Fine Art Center. The Midtown Men are a group of singers who comprised the original cast of the Broadway production of Jersey Boys, the play that depicts the rise of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. As the Midtown Men, the actors/singers have formed their own group to tour the country singing not only Frankie Valli songs, but all manner of songs from the era of the 60s and early 70s. They are fantastic singers, one having won a Tony Award and a second member who was nominated for a Tony as well. The show was fun, especially once they got going in the second act, and they had the mostly older crowd singing and dancing along.

Midtown Men

There was also one bittersweet moment of the weekend and that was attending the Key West memorial service for a good friend, Dorothy Lee Witwer. Lee passed away last summer and while a memorial service had been held in her home in Indiana, she and her husband George spent most winters at their home here. I came to know them through Lee’s involvement as a Board member for Reef Relief where she served throughout much of the time I worked there. While her passing was a sad moment, it was really good to see her granddaughter Dolly and her husband Simon who came from their home in Norway for the service. Dolly worked for me as an intern while she was in college and she has continued to visit and we have remained friends over the years.