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!

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Colored Lights and Birthday Cakes

August 8, 2018


With Jenna and the band.


Boom Forest

Colored Lights and Birthday Cakes

Anyone that knows me at all knows that my all-time favorite band is Counting Crows. Back in 1993 when they released their first album, I recall buying it on the first day it was released, not because I knew anything about the band, but because I was a huge fan of singer Maria McKee who sang back-up vocals on “August and Everything After” and I wanted to hear her. Suffice it to say that album has since become one of my all-time favorites and I went to see Counting Crows on their first national tour in early 1994 in Ft. Lauderdale.


Fast forward twenty five years and I have at least one show on every single US tour the band has had since then with the total number of shows that I have attended reaching the triple digits. Of course when they announced they were touring this summer (with Live for the third time; 1997, 2000), I knew that I had to make my way to see them once again. 

With the Dude 


I am much busier these days than in those carefree days when I could see many multiple shows on a single tour, so I was only going to go see the show in West Palm Beach at the Coral Sky Amphitheatre, but as luck would have it my friend Nicole contacted me and said she had a spare front row ticket for their show in St. Pete and I had to rethink my entire plan. 



Having just seen the band at the Innings Festival earlier this year and the fact that the shows were once again mid-week made Kathy opt out of going, so I made plans to fly one way to Tampa to catch the show there and then drive a rental car the next day to West Palm for the second show. I love St. Pete and I arrived early enough to stop by Cigar City Brewing before heading to my hotel.


I met my friend Nicole for dinner before the show, she is one of many people that I have met simply because we share a love for the band and she was in the middle of seeing a six show stretch traveling to Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida. We had hung out at other shows, most memorably at a show in Indianapolis some years ago, but it was really nice to see her again.


The show was amazing, to celebrate their 25 years of existence, Adam decided he would add spoken stories explaining many of the songs. The band has always had a storytelling element to their shows but this was much more scripted and planned and I thought it was a fantastic addition. I always enjoy it when a band has stage banter and this was all that and more. 

I was really pleasantly surprised by Live, I had seen them a lot, especially back in 1997 and 2000, and this was easily the best performance that I have ever seen them good. They haven’t really had many hits since back in the 90s but based on this show they should, they were truly impressive. For an opening act, they were given a decent amount of time for their set, they played thirteen songs including all of their most well-known songs.



Counting Crows proved once again why they should be the headliner, they played a nice full set that was really aimed at long-time fans, the stories were an excellent addition and they all seemed in good spirits and in fine form. The summer tours like this are always a little more structured than I would like, but they still remain one of the best live bands ever.

For the second show, I drove pretty much straight through directly to the venue because I had passes for the meet and greet and to watch the sound check, which I always enjoy, especially watching the behind the scenes of the band working during the sound check. I met my friend Jenna at the venue. Jenna and I worked together at Reef Relief close to thirty years ago and I don’t think I had even seen her in probably twenty years so it was a really fun reunion. I had some other friends at the show as well including a group from Key West and my friend Janien who I have been interacting with on the Counting Crows message boards for twenty years but never had met in person. 

Sound Check

Boom Forest

Jenna and Michael 

Michael and Janein

It was a really fun night once again. So great to see old friends and meet new ones. It was Jenna’s first Counting Crows show ever and I think she had a good time, we again had really good seats in the third row, which helped. This was Adam's birthday show and the opening act, Boom Forest, delivered a cake to the stage and the band and crowd sang Happy Birthday.  It was yet another amazing concert, twenty-five years and counting and I still love seeing this band as much as anything that I do. Here’s to twenty-five more.

Jenna and Michael



True Colors

August 1, 2018

Rod Stewart

Cyndi Lauper


True Colors

Anyone who knows me at all knows how much I enjoy going to see live music. It is something that I really enjoy and have since my very first concert experience when I went to see John Denver at Market Square Arena way back in 1972. There are few bands over the past 45 years or so of any significance that I have not seen live and I still love attending a good show as much as I ever have. Living in Key West makes attending some shows more of a challenge and I obviously have to travel a lot if I want to go see a lot of artists who just do not make it to the island.

It is not too much of a problem to see shows in Miami or Ft. Lauderdale, though even that takes planning and usually an overnight stay to make it work. It is a lot easier if the show is on a weekend night and it takes a pretty special show for us to change work plans etc. around to go to a mid-week show. This week happened to be one of those times and even so, Kathy still was not able to change her schedule around to go.

Rod and Cyndi

I was however because it was an act that I really, really wanted to see. I saw Rod Stewart once before, some 30 years ago, again at Market Square Arena in Indianapolis and ever since I have wanted to go back and see him again. I almost had the chance a couple of times when I was in Las Vegas during his residency show there, but I never quite made it.

When it was announced that he would be playing at Hard Rock Live in Ft. Lauderdale, I was pretty certain that I wanted to go, and when I found out that Cyndi Lauper was opening I was sold. I had never seen Lauper perform, not during her heyday in the 80s or since, and my appreciation for her talent has done nothing but grow as the years have gone on. Now I believe that she was a truly iconic figure in women’s rock and her music, which I dismissed at the time as light pop, has actually stood the test of time way better than much of what I was listening to back in those days.


The double bill made the drive to Ft. Lauderdale well worth the trip, and the fact that I was able to sell Kathy’s ticket to a wonderful woman who just happened to have lived a few blocks from where I grew up in Indianapolis made the trip that much more fun. The Hard Rock Seminole Casino and Hotel is undergoing a major, major renovation and upgrade. A huge new hotel is being built that is shaped like a guitar as well as a massive pool and entertainment complex that will be able to host more and much larger concerts.


For the time being the original Hard Rock Live venue where I had been many times was torn down and the concerts were being held in what essentially was a huge conference room. Thankfully I had great seats in the fourth row, nice and close to the stage. I had never seen Cyndi Lauper before and after seeing her wonderful performance, that is my great loss. She was absolutely terrific.


She played a set that about 70 minutes that featured all of her old hits from the 80s and a few more songs. Her voice was great and she has the energy of a twenty-something, bounding about the stage and repeatedly coming off the stage and into the appreciative crowd. She even sang the majority of one song standing on a seat that was only three seats down the aisle from me.

The headliner was amazing as well. Rod Stewart had much more of a stage show, with a number of back-up singers and dancers and a large band. His performance was much more of a show, just a tad smaltzy and much like you would expect to see in a Vegas lounge with multiple costume changes and a vaudeville feel to some of the songs. However his voice was in spectacular form, the raspy quality seeming even more refined as he ages. He played a long set featuring seventeen songs from across his massive catalog including many of my favorites.


As always he kicked autographed soccer balls in to the crowd during the song “Stay With Me” and he covered music from throughout his storied career. I think he really is an underappreciated music legend and he puts on a truly wonderful show. He is one of those artists that you know almost every song and the crowd found itself singing along through most of the show.