Saturday, October 29, 2011


I write this as it's snowing in October. Strange weather this year. I'm hoping the jury is no longer out on climate change...

I spent the last week in Joplin, MO with Mark and Theresa's MyFixItupLife. They were contracted by Extreme Makeover: Home Edition to build a ginormous play structure in Cunningham Park for the residents... a park that was destroyed by May's Tornado. I brought Mr. Mike along for some hard work, car company, and wicked cajon skills (we played 2 live shows with MyFixitUpLife and also played a 3 hours acoustic show for a few hundred volunteers during the build). We can't share our photos and videos until the episode airs in January... but we can show you this video below. It was local news coverage in Joplin, and they interviewed MyFixitUpLife's own funny-man contractor and resident dump truck stealer Greg, along with Mark and Theresa:

Click here for a sneak peak into MyFixitUpLife's Extreme Makeover Joplin project.

I left for Joplin last week, excited to be a part of a TV show. I'd never been to Missouri before and my friend and I were road trippin' to build a bit and play some music. What I didn't anticipate was the human aspect of our trip. I left Joplin rattled and humbled. For 4 days on the job site, we spoke with countless locals, survivors, friends/family of victims, who carried with them a heaviness and pride that would be tough to put down in words. They told us stories that you couldn't believe. Stories that if you saw them in a movie, you'd walk out of the theater because you would "know" it wouldn't be possible. More than any, the story of William Norton, sucked through his sunroof on his way home from graduation while his father clung onto him... only to be found many days later. Unreal.

The tornado was a mile wide at one point with winds around 200 mph. The residents said you couldn't see it coming... It was just a wall of black. It hit Sunday May 22 at 5:30pm. When the sirens went off, most residents didn't think much of it since it's a regular occurence in Joplin. Unfortunately, it was the 7th worst tornado in US history. St. John's hospital, next to Cunningham Park, was shifted 4" on it's foundation. Patients were ripped from their hospital beds and found miles away, days later. Residents told of a 2x4 found sticking out of a sidewalk like a toothpick in butter. A Pizza Hut manager huddled all of his employees and patrons into the walk-in cooler when the sirens went off, only to perish himself. The neighborhood looked like Chernobyl... like the Lower 9th Ward. I had no idea - and it's 6 months later.

But there is a positive side to this tragedy... The people of Western Missouri are friendly, welcoming, proud people who are rebuilding as a community. There were over 10,000 volunteers on site from over 40 states and multiple countries. It reminds you that no matter how much crap is happening out there in the world, there is always a TON of good in people happening all around you. And it's inspiring. It was an eye opening trip... I'm grateful MyFixitUpLife gave me the chance to go. We'll have podcasted episodes of the radio show - complete with interviews of Tracy Hutson from the cast and Executive Producer Brady Connell - along with pictures, video blogs, and more... once the show airs.

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition airs Friday nights on ABC. The 200th episode from Joplin Missouri airs in January and features a "7 houses in 7 days build" along with MyFixitUpLife's Play Structure in Cunningham Park.


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Las Vegas - Top Ten

After spending a week in Las Vegas with "Mark and Theresa's MyFixitUpLife", I found plenty of good in Sin City. Here's my Top Ten:

10. Fly at Night

OK so maybe you aren't in charge of making the flight schedules for Southwest or US Airways. But if you can help it, fly into town at night. There's nothing that I've experienced in aviation that really compares to the view. For the last hour of the East-to-West coast cross country flight, the ground is in complete darkness (mix of farmland, desert and mountains) until the final 2 minutes of the flight when she appears in all her splendor.

9. Walk the Strip (or atleast some of it)

While it's easy to get lost inside one of the many megalithic casinos - wandering around drink-in-hand, chips-in-pocket - you should really make time to walk the strip. It seems obvious, I know. But with cab stands outside every exit door, often times it's easier to simply hop a ride to your next destination. But if your lungs and legs are up for the cardio, I'd recommend starting at New York, New York and making your way all the way down to the Wynn. (Pssst: be sure to avoid the "escort" card hander-outers).

8. Pure Nightclub

I know I know... fist pumps and blowouts. I'm not much of a "clubber" either. BUT... Pure Nightclub (Caesar's) has won top-honors as the country's best night spot. It's the home of the Pussycat Dolls, the late-DJ AM, and velvet-roped celebrity parties. Bottle-service is available (at quite a premium) and includes a private booth for you and your friends, a personalized server, as well as your own 6'8", 380lbs. security guard. And, if the booth gets a bit stuffy, you can take the elevator to the tiki-torch lit rooftop and enjoy the views of the Eiffel Tower across Las Vegas Blvd.

7. Oxygen Bar at the Venetian

After a night at Pure, chock full of Jaeger-bombs and broken heels, you'll need a pick-me-up in the morning. There's no better option than the Oxygen Bar (err... cart, rather) at the Venetian. To be fair, they may exist in other casinos, but this is the one I fell in love with. You take your seat, strap on an oxygen tube around your ears and nose with your choice of flavored air (mint is nice), and proceed to receive a neck, shoulder and scalp massage. Yup. You'll be set for the rest of the day and you can proceed with a smile.

6. Roller Coaster at New York, New York

So if you're still not fully awake, bypass the coffee and swing by New York, New York and hop on the roller coaster. Granted, you can swing by Great Adventure or Dorney Park anytime, but there's something different and exhilarating about riding a roller coaster in a downtown city setting. It's pretty unnatural and your mind has a tough time making sense of it. For the shear uniqueness alone, this one comes highly recommended.

5. World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop

Chumlee, Rick, Big Hoss, the Old Man... you know 'em, you love 'em, you'll be surprised when you see the actual Pawn Stars' home. It's, well... a pawn shop. And it's surrounded by Bail Bonds, Cash Advance Centers and other pawn shops. It's really not the nicest area so I would definitely take a cab for this one, contrary to my previous recommendation. (To give you an idea it's about 2 miles north of the Stratosphere on the strip). Come to think of it, pawn shops are never in great areas. I guess it seems like an obvious statement. I mean, you'll never see a pawn shop on Madison Avenue. But I digress.

4. Bellagio Fountain Show

Whether you want to feel like part of Danny Ocean's 11 or just happen to catch it while participating in #9 (forget already? I'll wait while you scroll back up....), you'll be glad you were witness to the most impressive fountain display in 5 counties. It runs every 30 minutes during the day and every 15 minutes at night. Special bonus if you have a room at the Bellagio facing the fountains - your TV can tune into a channel that will sync classical music to the show.

3. Circle Bar at the Hard Rock / Pink Taco

There's a bar, circular in shape with a domed ceiling, at the heart of the casino floor of the Hard Rock, known for ghostly conversations. Because of the dome and the way sound travels, you can clearly hear the conversations of other patrons sitting fifty feet across from you. I know it sounds crazy, but it's true and was verified by the bartender (I know what you're thinking and no, it wasn't the booze playing tricks on me). And if you're hungry, head over to the Pink Taco on the other side of the casino floor for flights of high-end sipping tequila and fish tacos. You'll be glad you did.

2. Joe's Stone Crabs

Large Select Stone Crab Claws. End of story. It's the only time that it's OK to pay $60+ for 4 crab claws. Seriously. They're that good. Follow it up with a Bone-In Filet aka "The Original" cooked Medium Rare + (yes, they cook steak medium rare +). Creamed Spinach. Jennie's Mashed Potatoes. Bloody Mary. It's my last supper. It's my death row meal. It's gastro love... and there are only 3 locations (Vegas, Chicago and Miami). Should you find yourself within 100 miles as the crow flies of any location, you should feel compelled, nay!, obligated! to go. I mean it. If you take nothing else away from this blog please, please, PLEASE GO TO JOE'S!!! It's riiiiidiculous!!! Arrrgghh!!! (cough) ... sorry.

1. "O"

Simply put... the most amazing thing I've ever seen on stage. Ever. I've been to Broadway, seen Garth Brooks rise out of a piano, Billy & Elton at Madison Square Garden, Butch Walker (always awesome). I've seen a chandelier drop because of a phantom and a helicopter lower from the rafters in Saigon. I've attended Live 8, Conan O'Brien, The Daily Show and several school plays. But never have I seen anything even remotely close to the beauty, spectacle or scale of the opera-circus that is "O" at the Bellagio (this last sentence was intentionally "grand" and British sounding). "O" is the crown jewel in the Cirque Du Soleil lineup. Its stage is an 80'-deep swimming pool with a grated metal stage platform that lowers to reveal the water. It's haunting. It's dark. It's childish. It's everything. It's a must. It's the best. It's only better than Joe's because the Bellagio is the only place on Earth where you can see it. And I truly hope you do.

Ah, if only they sold Stone Crabs at the show...

Monday, January 3, 2011

Good to meet ya, 2011.

Thanks for all the support in 2010.

We made a lot of strides this 'last' year... playing Chicago, Cleveland and New York City, sharing the stage with Jeffrey Gaines and Ryan Star, getting a Phillies inspired song on ESPN radio and 610WIP, lots of airplay on My Fix It Up Life and Hometown Heroes & fiiiiiinally finishing 1984 after starting to read it in High School in the 90s... so... in that spirit we are jumping right in to 2011 with plenty of planned awesomeness, including two great January shows and a NEW Album before 2012.

Here we go!

Ages 21+, Bar & Food
$10 Tickets available thru Comcast Tix HERE
Myself w/ Chino on Cello
My good friends John Valerio & Chris Despo
If you've never been to Tin Angel, it holds just over 100 people in a dark, candlelit setting on 2nd Street off Market St. in Philly. Parking garage right across the street on 2nd. It's considered the best "listening room" in Philly and we love playing it. Hope you can make it.

Thursday January 20th
All Ages, Great Coffee
$8 Tickets available HERE
My good friend Matt Santry asked me to join him on the bill so that we can have a singer/song writer showcase where we'll swap tunes... I'll play some of his, he'll play some of mine - a very cool concept. You guys will remember Matt as the producer on my first Album... he also just released "Tin Ace City" on iTunes.
Very excited to be sharing the stage this night with these guys as well:
John Faye of IKE
Adam Kowalczyk formerly of LIVE

My FULL schedule is always available thru my website, which I'm positive your company hasn't blocked. Take a look around!

Be good to you,