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Jameson met me in Albany, and we got a hotel near the airport. I was exhausted! The train wasn't due to arrive in Rochester until Tuesday afternoon, so we killed time on Monday at a mall, and on the drive of course, and on another hotel.

On Tuesday we hit the grocery and went back to the train. I spent the day unpacking, cleaning, doing laundry...all the chores. We also went to the gym.

Wednesday was a dark day. Spent time at the gym, and later on Jameson and I went to look for pumpkins to carve! This close to Halloween there weren't many options, but we found three that fit the bill! The little white one is a "backup" in case one of us messes up our carving!



While Jameson was watching the Cubs game, I prepped the pumpkins! No guts no glory!


All done and ready for carving!


And of course I kept the seeds for roasting in my compact NuWave oven!



Thursday was opening day. It felt good to be back! I was surprised when many folks stopped me in the hall to say "welcome back" or "we missed you". Thanks everyone, I feel loved!!

One of our favorite things about the Rochester arena is that there's a Dinosaur BBQ right next door! After rehearsal we all headed over there for some fantastic barbecue. I had the classic brisket sandwich, cucumber tomato salad, and cornbread! Yum.


Read more... )
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We drove a long ways this overland...probably about 10-11 hours to get to Albany. The fastest way was by cutting through a section of Canada, so we brought our passports. Canada's pretty nice-looking! And with a Tim Horton's at every exit too! We had a pleasant safe drive and crossed into and out of Canada without issue.


We drove straight through; others stopped to enjoy Niagara Falls!

(photo courtesy Anna D.)

The train actually beat us to Albany, which was a pleasant surprise. We were able to get groceries and get on the train Tuesday night. On Wednesday I borrowed Jameson's car to pick up supplies for my venus flytrap's winter dormancy...because getting run over didn't quite kill them, so I will try my best to give them a shot at a better life next year. To stay dormant the plants need to be kept cold, and there's no way I can keep them cold if I have to bring them into a heated train car every time we move. So I'm going to have to try refrigerator dormancy. I got a bottle of antifungal, and a brick of sphagnum moss. I also picked up some groceries I'd forgotten the day before. Exciting stuff.

Thursday was opening day. We found out that the train will be in a different yard in Boston, much farther outside the city. What a bummer! We really had it good in the MIT yard, with shops and restaurants within walking distance. Oh well. Word has it we'll at least be close to some public transit! Thursday's show went well, but crowds were pretty poor and our Human Cannon was out due to a wrenched shoulder.

Friday, one show. I spent the day working on things for our upcoming contract negotiations and doing general writing. The evening show went well, though again, underattended compared to the past several cities.

Saturday, three shows. I felt a little down. Maybe it was the weather, maybe it was just that smaller audiences are kind of discouraging. But still, shows went well. We had visits from some awesome former circus musicians, and that really brightened the band's day :)

On Sunday we only had one show. I am choosing to end this post before our show because I don't feel like bringing my computer overland (if anything exciting happens between Sunday afternoon and midnight you'll find out in the next post :P). This was just kind of a 'meh' week. But it's good, because it helped to get me back into the swing of work. I enjoyed playing the Williams trombone all week, and am getting more used to it. I love to see my circus friends every day :) Next week we are in Boston. Boston in the fall! It's usually a wonderful visit, I'm looking forward to it!


Other stuff:

Rebecca (head of wardrobe) loves to decorate our car for Halloween! This year's decorations are AWESOME. We have the coolest car. Thanks Rebecca! CLICK HERE for a tour!

While in Albany, Chaz (drummer) made some friends at Akira Albany, a Japanese restaurant. The whole staff came out to see our show! And they invited us to a special Hibachi meal just for us! I didn't go, but about twenty circus folks did, and they were treated to an amazing lunch (CLICK HERE to watch the Hibachi go down). Thank you so much to everyone at Akira Albany for your generosity and hospitality! We'll be back!!!


(photo courtesy Chaz)

The animal setup this week. I've no idea where the tigers were though. Hiding!

(photo courtesy Robert S.)

Congrats to the Blue Unit on performing a milestone 100 shows!!! You rock!!!

(photo courtesy Landon B.)
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This week was, like, the opposite of last week. So much happened!

On Monday Jameson and I got up bright and early, got to Union Station, and rode an Amtrak into Penn Station. From there we walked to a hotel that Jameson's Dad graciously reserved for us, right in Times Square!! It's a little fancier than I'm used to.



The view wasn't bad either!


After settling in we found pizza for lunch, then took an hour to chill before the David Gilmour concert. When we got to Madison Square Garden we stumbled upon a floor tile dedicated to Gunther Gebel-Williams:


Read more... )

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On my glorious day off, I did practically nothing. Laundry, changed the air filter in my room, read a book, ate, slept. It was wonderful. Jameson and I walked to Fairway...an easy short trip made infinitely frustrating by huge piles of snow on the sidewalks and rude motorists splashing us as we tried to navigate the sludge. But hey, Fairway! I got some tasty cookies, Irish soda bread, and other treats :)

On load in day, I walked to a nearby mall for new sneakers. It's only a mile walk but it was made treacherous by unsalted sidewalks.



The train yard is incredibly icy as well, with several inches of ice on and around the tracks.


Read more... )
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On Monday we had a day off. Sinus infections are the bane of my existence; every time I get one it lasts for weeks. For the fourth night in a row I was unable to get a good night's sleep. So first thing on Tuesday morning, I walked to the local clinic to recruit some assistance in the healing process.

I was given a nasal spray and an antibiotic, a pretty normal treatment combo for sinusitis. The size of the pills was something new. I had to break them in half to swallow them.



That evening Jameson and I went to Sawa, a Japanese restaurant down the block. It was a very cold night and I was still feeling crummy, so a bowl of genuine tonkotsu ("pork bone") ramen topped with pork, soy-pickled egg, nori, bean sprouts, corn, cabbage, bamboo, chives, and garlic oil sounded like the perfect comfort food.


Actually, I have never had "real" ramen before. It was absolutely delicious! The broth was surprisingly rich and creamy. With a little research, I discovered that it's made by boiling pork bones for fifteen hours! Wow! (CLICK HERE to see photos of the process).

Read more... )
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As the frozen train made its way to Brooklyn, I used the free day to get an updated driver's license and visit my parents. It was a normal weekday for them and both of them have nasty colds. We didn't get a whole lot of time together, but some is better than none! We shared a meal and just enjoyed each others' company :)

Meanwhile, some circus folk flew/drove/Amtrak'd into the city early to catch a Broadway show or enjoy NYC's many other delights. Some took the train run despite the lack of running water. Looks like it was a pleasant run despite that. They left while there was a pretty dusting of snow on the ground, as shown here in Rebecca's photo.
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And there was some very nice scenery. Photo courtesy David Shipman, Ringmaster.

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Read more... )
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So, I had to post a little earlier than planned last week thanks to sketchy internet.
The shows on Sunday were fine. Jameson and I got to a neato hotel in Port Chester. It had the CREEPIEST hallways (photo lost, go figure).


The next day we decided to do an NYC day trip!
We caught a train to Grand Central and walked to Sarabeth's for lunch. Jameson got "Goldi Lox" (salmon scrambled eggs with cream cheese, a scone and jam) and I got a potato waffle with ham, two eggs and Mornay sauce. We both got orange/banana/pineapple/pom juice. Everything was delicious!



After the meal it was time to do some serious Ingressing. We've both picked up Mophies to double our playing time (#nerdy), and I brought my pocket router to cut down on data usage. One of the features of Ingress is a "missions" option...a sort of scavenger hunt that takes you down a path of historical or artistic significance. Although this feature has been on Droid phones for quite some time, it's new to iOS.

We decided to try the High Line mission. At first we weren't quite sure how to reach the Waypoints...some of them seemed to be inside buildings! But we finally figured out why we couldn't reach these spots. The High Line is a park built on an abandoned rail line ABOVE the city!



So once we got ABOVE street level, the mission became much easier :) Basically we had to walk the length of the park and stop at certain portals marked with a Waypoint indicator.


Read more... )
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I decided to ride the train to Bridgeport, so that I could use the "free" day to sort through my room and figure out what needs to stay/go before the end of the year. I was really hoping that my bass trombone would fit under the sink, so I cleared it out.


Totally didn't fit :( But I did reorganize under there.
.....ok, yeah, it looks just as messy as before :P



The New England scenery on this run was lovely. I didn't stay on the vestibule as it was very cold (too much time out West, I'm becoming a wuss) but sat near my window and enjoyed the view.




Read more... )
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The train run to Albany was about two days, because we had to go up through Ohio and then cross near the lakes to get to that city. The weather was rainy and cold for the entire run, so I didn't take any pictures (those I did take came out blurry and wet).

During the run I spent time on Quora when we had internet, watched a few movies, cooked...the usual stuff really.
Once we arrived the train was cut into about three pieces (cut = cars are separated to sit alongside each other on separate tracks rather than end to end). I don't recognize this yard from the last time...it's full of grey gravel that creates grey mud. Otherwise, nothing to distinguish it :P

Looking back on my entry from 2012, I was able to see the state museum and poke around some local businesses. This time the weather pretty much doused my activities :P It was rainy and cold for most of the week. We did have an elephant brunch in front of the arena! (Yellow arrow = my boss Brett). CLICK HERE to see more pictures of the event!

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After the brunch Brett took me to meet a former trombonist and his family for lunch at a nearby hole-in-the-wall with fantastic sandwiches. We had a lot of visitors this week, including John, a trumpet player who has subbed with us recently, and yet another former trombonist and his family! I am very sorry that I can't recall everyones' names! But it was awesome to meet new people and see familiar faces as well :)

Some Blue Unit peeps came to one of our shows too! I finally got to meet Kathryn, the newest member of the Blue Unit band. She and I are the only female musicians currently. Team Pink! :D

On Friday during the split, Brett treated us to a trip to Trader Joe's. I stocked up on dried fruits and organic soups for Mexico. Thanks Brett! Saturday went pretty normally, three shows, nothing to write home about. Oh, except that Tom's wife made us a fantastic derby pie!



After the Saturday shows we hopped over to The City Beer Hall to celebrate our last week with Harden, our current trumpet sub. He's an absolute professional and a kicka$$ musician. It's been a pleasure, and I wish he wouldn't leave!!!

Read more... )
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Monday wasn't a train run, but a much appreciated day off.
And then we had 16 shows in 6 days. (that's a lot.)
Congrats to everyone for making it through this CRAZY week!!!

The weekday shows were late splits: 2pm and 7pm start times.
This was great because the commute to Brooklyn was very long, sometimes up to 1 1/2 hours.
The later shows gave some of us time to rest up.

Even so, many people still had to work HARD, staying late and getting up early.
For some the best option was to sleep at the arena.
I didn't sleep over, but did do my dishes at work to save time :P

The break between the 2 and 7 shows was also longer than usual,
so on weekdays there was a little time to walk around near the arena.
The Atlantic Center Mall is the big draw, but there are lots of cute restaurants and houses around too.

Brooklyn brownstones:


On Thursday around noon we did the Yeshiva show.
THIS REVIEW does a great job of covering all the changes we made to accommodate the Yeshiva beliefs.
As a female, I can say it was a very interesting experience!


Our women were not allowed to perform, because Yeshiva women do not sing or dance. Women working on the floor and even backstage (I think there were four) had to wear full-body black jumpsuits and black hats.
The production women walked around in their normal black shirts and pants,
and I was allowed to wear the band costume as normal and keep my hair the same.
I was also moved to the inside of the portal (that's where I had been last year anyway).

No photos of the show or the audience were allowed. Sorry!

The music was changed too; female vocals were removed and some different songs were used.
Since only boys were allowed to perform, some of the acts (Cannon and Dog Acts) were cut,
and the rest were modified.


We did the first half of our show, then the Yeshiva Boys Choir did several numbers and traditional songs.
They did a great job, and they were very enthusiastic :)
Then we played the second half, and after that the show went on for another hour
while more singing groups performed and Uncle Moishy did a few numbers.
The arena was packed...about 14,000 seats filled!


As one of few women who was visible during the show, I was a little self-conscious
and nervous, but there was no need to be. Mostly I just had to be careful not to 'dance'
(nothing I do could be called dancing anyway, haha).
It was a fun and interesting change from our usual shows. I was glad to be a part of it!


On Saturday I got a little surprise at the 3pm show!
A young Circus Fan came up to me before the show (I was 'hiding' in the audience)
and said he enjoyed reading my blog! I should have asked his name, but by the time I'd
gotten over being surprised he had gone back to his seat.
That really made my day! Thank you for reading! :D

Read more... )
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The train is back in Secaucus, and we're playing Brooklyn!
The Barclays Center is a new building, very state-of-the-art:



Right next door is a mall, grocery, and restaurants, so there's lots to
occupy our time as we won't be able to go very far from the arena between shows.
There's also a subway station right underneath the arena, so
many of us have been using it to get to and from Secaucus instead of bussing it.
By the end of March I'll be super familiar with Penn Station lol.

It's been 80 years since RBBB played in Brooklyn!
We had a special PR event right under the Brooklyn Bridge to mark the occasion!


(scan courtesy Brian, animal trainer)

View under the bridge!


The elephants performed a part of their act with some dancers and clowns,
and KCT entertained the crowd with some unicycle work too.
After that, the elephants got a snack!
Fun fact: Mabel LOVES carrots. She ignored everything else, ate her own carrots,
and stole carrots from the other elephants. Hilarious!
The snacks:



Elephants enjoying the snacks:


I was there to help keep people at a safe distance, along with
several others who normally do elephant walk.
Many media folks were there, taking pictures with huge cameras.
One guy even rested his lense on my shoulder to take his picture lol.
The protestors were kept at a pretty good distance thankfully, and
were sort of limited to where they could protest.
I'm glad, because there were lots of kids present.

Here we are! (it was cold!)


(photo courtesy Xianzeng, clown)

Some protestors in their designated 'free speech' spot.
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It was a really fun event, I'm glad I dragged myself out of bed early to do it!

We've been featured in the news a lot in general:
New York Times

New York Times Slide Show
New York Post Review


Read more... )
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Uniondale was another pretty chill city...not a ton to do, but that's ok,
the down time was appreciated! I caught the flu so ended up using most of
the train run to rest.

Our train was parked next to a community college, very close to some houses.
We were conveniently close to a Walmart, a Target, and a Fairway!


Have you ever been to Fairway?
It's a Tri-state only grocery. They've got EVERYTHING.
Generic stuff you'd find at Walmart, organic and fair trade items like you'd see at Trader Joe's,
and lots of imported foods too!



I treated myself to some special goodies, including
candied ginger, Belgian dark chocolate, cactus pears, and Irish soda bread.
The bread is in the freezer for next week, as I'm finishing a loaf of generic stuff this week.
Normally I would have gotten some coffee too; Fairway roasts their own and it's very good.



I have enough coffee, so got a cookie instead :)
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Their shortbread cookies remind me of my Mom's.
Sorry my thumb is always in half of my food photos...I am always 2 seconds away from
eating something before I remember to take a picture for the blog :P

I also finally picked up a memory foam mattress topper!
Probably the best gift-to-self of 2013 :D
For the past year I've been sleeping on the somewhat thin, stiff foam "mattress" that came in my room.
Granted I have slept on harder surfaces, but that doesn't mean I enjoy it.
I've already noticed a huge difference; mainly, I can sleep for more than 4 hours at a time. Yay!!!
Small pleasures matter when you're trying to sleep on a bumpy train!

Uniondale is our last city before the 3-week Brooklyn extravaganza.
It might be nice to be in one place for a bit.
On the other hand, it's going to be a heck of a commute from the train in Secaucus to the Barclays Center!
And it's a heck of a show schedule too. There will probably not be time for sightseeing.
But the Barclays Center is built on top of a subway hub, so getting into the city should
be easy if there's time to do so. There also seem to be lots of things to do around the arena.
We'll see what happens!

Here on Long Island the crowds were excellent. The arena was full most nights.

The building itself had a few issues...during preshow one night the power went out,
causing the kids' Bounce House to deflate and trapping an aerialist in the ceiling!
But it was a temporary problem...everybody was fine, everything turned out ok :)

A mural I found near the arena offices:

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This was a pretty uneventful week, but I want to mention that this week marks my one year
anniversary with FELD Entertainment!
At this time last year, I had just finished rehearsals with Busch Gardens Williamsburg.
Several months before that I had sent a portfolio to the circus, and forgotten all about it.
But on St. Patrick's Day 2012, my soon-to-be boss sent me an email:


"My name is Brett Barlow, and I am the conductor for Ringling Brothers Circus...I was wondering what your availability and interest would be in coming out on the road with the circus.  There will be an opening soon on my show, which is currently in the Washington, D.C. area...Thanks for your time, I look forward to hearing from you."

I remember being totally shocked, but responding with interest,
then going through the motions of opening day at Busch Gardens wondering
if I could REALLY drop everything and run away with the circus!!
(Answer: YES!)

Well it's been a wonderful year, and I'm looking forward to working here for several more years to come!!


In other news, FELD Entertainment is launching an international Marvel live show!!
The official site is here: http://www.marveluniverselive.com/


A photo of FELD Entertainment's massive costume collection, housed at the brand new
headquarters in Ellenton, FL:


(photo courtesy Rye, creative director)

Cutsey photo fix: a Gold Unit elephant stealing a camel's snack!!

(photo courtesy Jeremy, drummer)
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The train was parked behind the Secaucus train station this week.
It'll be there when we're in Brooklyn, too.
Nice easy access to NYC :)

I wanted to go into the city on Monday, but got called for the elephant walk so did that instead.
It was nice and sunny but with a pretty strong chilly breeze.
The walk itself took very little time, but we weren't back at the train until about 4:30.

On Tuesday I had a little time to explore NYC again.
First tried looking for a music store with trombone duet books,
and after having no luck at three different stores, gave up the hunt. I'll try again in Brooklyn.

Instead I went down to see the new 9/11 Memorial.
The last time I was in New York, the fountains were almost completed
and the tower was pretty much nonexistent.



They're up to the 104th floor!

I was lucky to get in at all. You're supposed to pre-order passes.
Fortunately it was late in the day and they had some at the door.
There are many rules for viewing the Memorial, too.



Security was similar to an airport...empty your pockets and whatnot into a tray and go through a scanner.
Once you are in the courtyard, you can get close to both fountains, view the Freedom Tower a little closer, and see the ongoing construction of the 9/11 Museum.




There are many better pictures of the Memorial out there. Just wanted to share what I saw that day.
The courtyard is done in gray granite, with maple trees spaced throughout.
The spacing of benches and trees does make one think of a graveyard.


I'm glad to have seen it in person.

Read more... )
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We pulled into Newark pretty early.
Many of those not involved in load in took advantage of our early arrival to go into the city.
Self included!

Brett (bandmaster), Skippy (trumpet), Brian (guitar) and his girlfriend and I took a train to Penn Station
and rode the subway to a few stops to the East Village. Brian knew about this great sushi place,
so we followed him there, and it was pretty yummy!



I got to try Chu-Hi for the first time...pretty sure it had the alcohol content of a wine cooler,
but it was tasty! Brian had lime-flavored, I had oolong.


Next we went to McSorley's Old Ale House (since 1854! "WE were here before YOU were born.")
They've kept it as authentic as possible, with sawdust on the floor and a cash only bar.
They did let me in (McSorley's was for men ONLY until the 1970s!) and I was grateful for that ;D
You've got two drink choices here: light or dark.
I went with light, being not much of a beer drinker myself. For beer, it was pretty good!



We then headed over to Swing 46, where George Gee's Swing Orchestra was heating things up :)


This was really a treat...the band was great, couples young and old were dancing, and it was a good crowd.
More circus people joined us here...Ashley (Animal Trainer/Preshow Host), Colleen (Pie Car Master Chef), Jessi (Vet Tech), Tony (former sax player on Blue), and several others. Brett knew the guys in the band, so we got to meet several of the musicians, that was awesome.


After the band was done we split up...
some people went barhopping and the rest of us hopped the train back to Newark.
En route we passed through Times Square. It was raining and pretty quiet at that hour.
The streets were reflecting the lights, very pretty.

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This week's show schedule is light compared to last week, and to what we'll be doing in Brooklyn.
I'm enjoying the down time while I can!
We had two one-show days this week.
I didn't do anything special, just rested, cooked, caught up on laundry, and enjoyed the time.


Yummy week )
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We missed our window en route to Rochester, so the train was sitting still for nearly 15 hours.


Despite that, most people kept a positive attitude. I went to the Pie Car for dinner, where lots of people were gathered to eat and trade rumors and keep each other from going insane :P
Some of the rumors heard that day:

"I heard the flats have derailed!"
"Maybe the engineer got angry and drove off!"
"The arena in Rochester didn't know we had a Wednesday show, and booked someone else!"
"Someone got hurt!"

That last one had me texting some train crew peeps to ask if everything was 'ok'.
The answer: "Yep. We missed our window and the next one isn't until nighttime."

So it was our usual reason for being late, but we had missed the ONLY window available that morning.

The circus train uses commercial rail lines, and often must yield to freight and passenger trains.
I don't know exactly how it works, but the "window" is the span of time where our train would be allowed to travel down the main line. It's kind of like how planes must be cleared for takeoffs and landings, and sometimes must sit on the runway for hours for repairs, delays, etc. Blechy. But here on the train, at least we have all the conveniences of home while we wait :D

We got to Rochester on Tuesday evening.
Our incredibly dedicated crew had to do load-in with a 15 hour delay,
but they got the job done because they're just that bada$$. Major kudos!
In addition, they're currently doing load-out in the midst of hurricane weather.
THAT'S incredible work ethic.

The yard this week is near the airport, and a plaza with a Walmart and various other stores.
I walked over to get groceries with several clowns, who were shopping for Haunted Clown Car accessories.
That's right...every Halloween, the clowns turn their train car into a HAUNTED CLOWN CAR. #AWESOMESAUCE


It was great!!! Considering they've only got one train car to work with and a limited time to prepare, they did a really excellent job. Each room was different and scarier than the last! :D There were like a zillion different kinds of creepy lighting, all the textured stuff hanging from the ceiling was great, and the scarers stayed in character and did a fantastic job. As I was typing this paragraph, I could hear people screaming their heads off in car 38 (I'm in car 39 after all). People going through the haunted car exited via our car, so it was pretty noisy for about an hour...but I don't mind. It was REALLY fun listening to everyone's reactions! :D

Anyway it was very cool. I wonder what it's like, being a clown. Probably one of the toughest--and potentially one of the most rewarding--jobs in the circus.

There were other Halloween events this week too: a costume party/pot luck,
and a trick-or-treat adventure for the kids :)
I didn't stick around for the costume party (didn't make a costume & didn't bring food),
but here are some fabulous pictures:

The Three Kings. (Left to right: Tom (keys), Jameson (keys), Brian 'Slick' (trumpet))



Faceless Undead Monk (Brett, Bandmaster/trumpet)


I didn't get to see this happen, but I heard about it...

When the costume contest started, the Three Kings were shoe-ins for the win...but just as the votes were about to be cast, Claudia (legendary circus entertainer) came running in wearing cymbals on her head, chest, and butt, and hitting them all with a drumstick! LMAO!!!
So of course she won. Way to go Claudia!!!


(photo courtesy Rebecca, Wardrobe)

What can I say. The circus is an awesome family/work/home :D

Explorations )

Albany, NY

May. 4th, 2012 06:43 pm
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Albany is pretty awesome!

On Thursday we had a split (early and late shows with breaks in between), so during the break I walked around the city. It's a pretty nice and clean place, with FANTASTIC pizza :D

Last night some of us went out to a bar around the corner. It was too loud, but it was nice getting to hang out with people "outside of work".

Read more... )

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