New York Theatre Trip: Little Shop and Hadestown

I went up to New York this past weekend to see a couple of shows. I usually go up in the fall and spring for a weekend to see a bunch of shows. I had been wanting to see Hadestown for awhile, but just couldn’t commit to when I wanted to go up and see it until Little Shop of Horrors spurred me on. As soon as I saw the announcement that Jonathan Groff and Christian Borle were going to star in an off-Broadway revival of Little Shop of Horrors I knew I had to see it. I love them both and thought they would be perfect in this show. Since it had a limited run I had to commit to a date. I usually try and do three shows on weekends I stay overnight, but when I bought these tickets there wasn’t anything else I had been dying to see except Oklahoma! which I had already made plans to go up and see with friends. In retrospect there were a couple of plays that weren’t open yet when I bought the other tickets that I would have liked to see, but I didn’t feel like paying to change my train ticket. Plus it was nice to get home earlier on Sunday rather than 9 pm.

If I wind up staying in a hotel that I have to pay for I usually cash in some of our credit card points. In the past I’ve stayed in the Doubletree in Times Square, which is nice because even though it’s in Times Square (ptooey!), it’s in the part that is closed to traffic so it’s quiet. For whatever reason that wasn’t one of my options this time. Based on looking at the reviews of the three hotels available in mid-Town, I went for the Hyatt Centric because it had the least complaints about noise. All three of them had complaints about a tacked on resort fee for each night, which is super annoying and something the Doubletree didn’t have. None of the hotels in question are resorts, so it is really obnoxious. The hotel points don’t cover the resort fee, so I had to pay out of pocket for that $35. They informed me when I checked in that the coffee, tea, and water bottles in my room were covered under the resort fee. Those were some great $17.50 bottles of water I drank.

Other than the dumb resort fee it was a fine place to stay, and I would stay there again. I had a weird deja vu moment when I got to the hotel though. I was like I have been in this place before, and it took me a minute to figure out why because I knew I had never stayed there before. I finally put two and two together and realized that when I met my friend from Minnesota in New York to see Hamilton it was the hotel she stayed at and I had met her in her room when I got to the city.

I didn’t have enough time to do much of anything before Little Shop after getting checked into the hotel, so I wandered through the street festival that was happening on 8th Avenue. I thought I might grab lunch there, but didn’t wind up super inspired by anything so I walked over towards the theatre to see what I could find near there. I wound up going back to Blossom du Jour, which is a little vegan restaurant on 9th Avenue. I had eaten there with friends before and liked it. It’s mostly take away with a little counter seating. Perfect for the quick lunch I was looking to grab.

Little Shop of Horrors was great. The fact that it was in a small 275 seat off-Broadway theatre was perfect for it. I don’t think it would have felt the same on a much larger Broadway stage. Jonathan Groff and Christian Borle were perfectly cast. I can’t think of a better actor to play Seymour than Jonathan Groff. Christian Borle was the dentist plus a dozen other bit parts. Tammy Blanchard was Audrey and was the weakest part of the show. She was a fine actress, but not the greatest of singers, which was very apparent during her big solo song, “Somewhere That’s Green”. Of course it didn’t help that it’s one of the quietest parts of the show and someone’s stupid cell phone went off. Turn off your phones people! It was a delightful show, and I’m really glad I got the chance to see it.

I met a friend that lives in New York for dinner at the newest location of Ainsworth Social, which took over the space where Southern Provisions used to be. Justin Timberlake, great singer, but apparently not so great at owning a bbq restaurant. It was eh. I’m not likely to be back. It was great to catch up with my friend though.

After dinner it was on to Hadestown. I felt about Hadestown a little bit like I felt about Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812. I still literally have no idea what that show was about. Turns out turning 70 pages of War and Peace into a sung through musical does not make for the most coherent of narratives. I didn’t mind that it made no sense though because I enjoyed the experience of the show so much. I didn’t have a problem following the plot of Hadestown, I just thought it was BORING and there wasn’t much there, there. Ultimately I didn’t care for the most part though because I love the music in that show so much and it’s a fun show to watch. I have heard some people say that it has a “One Song Glory” problem though, and it does. If you don’t know what I’m referring to that’s the great song that one of the characters in Rent is supposed to be writing during the show, and then of course it can’t possibly live up to how great it’s supposed to be. I think Hadestown has an even worse problem. Unlike apparently some people I don’t hate “One Song Glory”. Is it anywhere close to the best song in Rent? No. But is it anywhere close to the worst song in Rent? Also no. In this case though the fantastic, amazing song that Orpheus is supposedly writing to get Hades to let Persephone go so that spring and fall can return and save the world is not only not the amazing song it’s supposed to be it is decidedly the worst song in Hadestown. He sings little bits of it throughout the show as he’s supposedly writing it and I groaned internally every single time. I still really enjoyed the show and am glad I saw it, but I maybe didn’t like it quite as much as I was hoping going in. “Wait for Me” is definitely being added to my theoretical list of wonderful Broadway songs though because unlike Epic I, II, and III it actually is an amazing song.

My train home on Sunday was at 11 am, so I didn’t really have time to do much before I left the city. I did however have time to go down to Fabrique Bakery on 14th Street to get a cardamom bun for breakfast. There as an article about them in the New York Times awhile back, and I became obsessed with trying one. Anyone who really knows me knows that I am an avowed hater of cinnamon. Cardamom is one of my favorite flavors though, so I really wanted to try this pastry that was flavored with cardamom instead of cinnamon. Everyone should make cardamom rolls instead of cinnamon rolls. It was well worth the trek down in the rain to try.

Since I didn’t get my normal NYC bagel for breakfast I decided to grab one from Zaro in Penn Station to eat on the train for lunch along with my normal black and white cookie. I can now add a new screwed up bagel order to my list of things that have gone wrong with bagels I’ve ordered in NYC. I should really start checking them carefully before I leave. I have a standard bagel order in NYC, whole wheat bagel with strawberry cream cheese. The worst was the time they accidentally gave me lox cream cheese instead of strawberry. Imagine expecting to bite into something sweet and then it’s smoked fish. I’ve also been given an everything bagel with strawberry cream cheese on it instead of my whole wheat. That is not a combination I recommend. This time I got two different bagel halves. They slice them in half to go in the toaster and someone obviously grabbed half of someone else’s bagel and put it together with mine because I had two top halves and no bottoms. One half was the whole wheat that I ordered. The other half turned out to be cinnamon raisin. Seeing as I just told you how much I dislike cinnamon you can bet how I felt about that. Not to mention that if you’ve been around here for any amount of time you also know that I hate raisins. So not the best bagel experience ever. I’ll be back in the city in about a week and half to see Oklahoma! so maybe I’ll try again.


Fall TV Diary: Returning Shows

Last week I wrote about the new shows I tried out this season. Now I thought I would give my thoughts on the returning shows I’m watching. Warning if you’re not caught up on these shows there are most likely spoilers included in some of them.

Grey’s Anatomy

I do still love Grey’s Anatomy, but good lord they are doing their best to make me hate Meredith this season. She completely deserves to be going to jail, but also I am uninterested in watching her be there. I wish they would just finish off this stupid plot. We all know she’s somehow going to manage to keep her medical license and get a job back somewhere because the Ellen Pompeo is contracted for at least one more season after this.

I also do not understand why everyone is pregnant. Amelia was just involved in a pregnancy storyline last season with Teddy and Owen, so at first I thought the actress was pregnant and they decided to write it in. That apparently is not the case and now that they’ve made Bailey pregnant I’m even more puzzled.

And finally I never watched Station 19 previously and if I ever have thoughts that I might want to they have now guaranteed that I never will with all this forced crossover crap to try and get the Grey’s audience to finally watch. At least they’ve decided to make most of the crossover stuff focused on Jackson because he is a character I have never cared for, so I can mostly just tune all that nonsense out.

Sorry For Your Loss

Sorry for Your Loss is a Facebook Watch show, which is now a little over halfway through its second season. New episodes drop every Tuesday. I adore this show. It stars Elizabeth Olsen as a woman whose husband died unexpectedly possibly by suicide although the circumstances mean it could have been accidental or intentional. Kelly Marie Tran plays her younger sister who is a recovering alcoholic. They’re both trying to navigate through their new lives amid the dysfunctional relationships they have with each other and their mother. It’s been a long time since I’ve watched a show where the characters felt so realized and I cared so much about what happens to them. I don’t know anyone else who is watching this show, but you really should. Sadly, I’m guessing this will be the final season since Elizabeth Olsen is going to be starring in some MCU show surrounding her character the Scarlet Witch.


Legacies is spin-off of both The Vampire Diaries and its original spin-off The Originals. I bailed on The Originals pretty quickly, but I’m enjoying Legacies so far. I like how they’ve kind of reset all the pieces in a different way so far for the second season. It’s making for a lot of teen angst and we’ve already discussed how much I like teen angst. Plus Alexis Denisof has joined this season as the new headmaster, so it’s giving me some Buffy/Angel vibes too.

A Million Little Things

I’m still enjoying this highly unrealistic show. It definitely doesn’t come close to being a great character driven show like Friday Night Lights or Parenthood or even the aforementioned Sorry for Your Loss. However I do appreciate that they seem to have pivoted at least a little bit away from the stupid mystery aspect of the show they had going in season 1 that wound up being a big old nothingburger anyway. There’s still some unanswered questions left from that and some smaller secrets being created this season, but they seem more character based than some dumb mystery that’s supposed to keep us guessing. I just want to watch the characters and their relationships. That’s a lot of the reason I quit This Is Us. I didn’t care about any of the mystery stuff and I only really cared about one quarter of the characters.

The Good Place

We’re heading into the home stretch with The Good Place. It’s still an enjoyable comedy although I’ve never grown attached to the characters on this show as I did in the same way I did with say something like Friends or Mike Schur’s previous show Parks & Rec. It’s still a clever show and given the balancing act of keeping it’s high concept running I’m okay with it ending after this season.


I don’t have that much to say about these sit-coms either individually or collectively other than they are all still solid sitcoms that I enjoy watching every week.

The Deuce

David Simon has never done anything nearly as good as he created with The Wire and most likely never will, but I still appreciate his shows at least to some degree. The Deuce, which airs its final episode tonight was only hit and miss for me. I never cared nor do I even really know what was going on with the cop/politician part of the show. I couldn’t give a crap about the James Franco twins as I do not care about James Franco. I honestly don’t even really know all the mob reasons that one of them got killed. Realistically by the end the only story lines I was paying that close of attention to were Candy/Eileen’s and Lori’s. They were well worth watching even if I sort of tuned the rest of the show out especially in this final season.

Black Lightning/Supergirl

Speaking of tuning shows out there’s Black Lightning and Supergirl, which though I’m technically still watching I’m not really watching that much. I’m actually writing this up while watching Black Lightning and am not at all paying attention to it. I basically play on the internet or read a book at this point when my husband puts it on. I only have the vaguest idea of what is happening. I probably wouldn’t be able to tell you if you asked. I am only marginally paying closer attention to Supergirl at this point. In my previous tv post about the new shows this season I indicated that I often lose interest in superhero shows after the first season or two. We are definitely at that point with these shows.

All American

This is another show that I’m technically still watching but not paying much attention to. I don’t know why, but I’ve just never grown attached to any of the characters and I don’t really care what happens to any of them. This was the single show that the CW took their good sweet time waiting to renew for a second season, and I really thought they were going to cancel it. I was kind of happy because that way I wouldn’t have to worry about making a decision if I was going to keep watching. I apparently still am, but just barely. If it mysteriously went missing from my DVR I don’t think I’d miss it.


In the tale of other CW shows I was barely watching during their second season we have Riverdale. I did very much enjoy its first season, but I quickly became bored of it in the second season, particularly in the second half of the season. I had already decided I wasn’t going to watch this season, but I had to watch the first episode because it was the Luke Perry tribute episode. I promptly deleted it from DVR after that.

New Music Friday: Castles by Freya Ridings

So the song I’m talking about today isn’t all that new. It was released back in July, but the first time I can recall ever hearing it was earlier this week. I am apparently way behind the times because the YouTube video has already racked up close to 9 million views. I am very disappointed in myself. Anyway, if you like me have yet to hear the song “Castles” by Freya Ridings you should take a listen. It’s an excellent song about picking yourself up and making an even better life after a breakup.

Fall TV Diary: New Shows

Time for my annual rundown of all the new shows I’ve tried this fall. There are a few shows I like okay, but mostly it seems to be a pretty lackluster season overall, especially on network tv.


Unbelievable is by far the best show I’ve watched so far this fall, but it was only an 8-episode short series on Netflix. I’m all done with it and there won’t (hopefully) be any more. The show is based on a true story. There are two separate storylines through most of the series until they meet at the very end. Kaitlyn Dever plays a teenage girl who is raped by a stranger who breaks into her apartment in the middle of the night. The cops eventually decide she is lying and we see how the rape and the fact that everyone believes she lied about it effect her life. Toni Colette and Merritt Weaver play cops from two different precincts in Colorado discovering that they have a serial rapist on their hands and teaming up to figure out who it is. It’s heartbreaking and difficult to watch at times, but it’s also really enjoyable and a great process-y cop show that leaves you feeling satisfied at the end.

Country Music

Country Music is the latest in Ken Burns’ series of documentaries. Being a country music fan I really enjoyed this deep dive into the history of country music. I would highly recommend it to anyone who even marginally likes country music. I get why he chose to end the series when he did with the death of Johnny Cash, but I also wish there had been one more episode that took us a few years farther into the future when he really could have addressed the switch from the old style of country music to the more pop country and bro country of today. I definitely felt like it was worth the 16 and half hours of my time though.

Nancy Drew

I’m enjoying Nancy Drew so far. I don’t think I’ve ever read any Nancy Drew books, although I did read a book about the women behind the character for one of my book clubs. I gather actual Nancy Drew fans aren’t necessarily so keen on this reinvisioning of the character, but I since I don’t have anything to compare it to I’m completely fine with it. It’s scratching my Veronica Mars itch to some degree, though they aren’t exactly the same thing. It also has some excellent teen angst, which I am still a sucker for even in my middle age. This show seems like it may have more of a supernatural element to it, which I’m not so into. It could just be a red herring though. At this point it seems completely serialized, but I think it might be a stronger show if like Veronica Mars there were the episodic mysteries in addition to the overarching mystery. I like the actresses that play Nancy, Bess, and George. I really don’t like Scott Wolf as Nancy’s father though. We’ll see where the story goes, but so far this is one of the shows I’m liking the most so far this season.


So far I’m also really like Batwoman. I like Ruby Rose as the character. I suspect I’ll enjoy it for at least this season. I apparently have a thing for super hero origin stories or these CW super hero shows just get much less interesting after a season or two because I pretty much burn out on them by season 3 if not earlier. Partly it’s because I feel like with showing their backgrounds and their origin stories you get a lot of good character development in the beginning before all it winds up being is a bunch of convoluted stuff that I don’t care about. Hopefully Batwoman will buck that trend, but if not I’ll enjoy it until I don’t any more.


Stumptown is a fairly middling but pleasant diversion. I like Cobie Smulders. The episodes are kind of fun. It’s not an amazing show, but I can take it for what it is.


Mixed-ish is the second spin-off from the show black-ish. Grown-ish, which follows the eldest daughter Zoe in college, is the first spin-off and my favorite of the three shows. Mixed-ish is fine. It follows Rainbow’s childhood in the 80s. Mark Paul Gosselar stars as her father and Gary Cole as her grandfather. Like both black-ish and Grown-ish, Mixed-ish focuses on teaching people about other people’s culture and experiences in a humours manner. As I said it’s my least favorite of the three so far, but I like it well enough to keep watching.


Emergence is one of those convoluted mystery shows that were a dime a dozen in the wake of Lost. It’s actually pretty good so far though. I actually care about the characters and the mystery so far. Again it’s early so it could go off the rails or not know how to sustain itself, but for now I enjoy watching it.

Perfect Harmony

This sit-com stars Bradley Whitford as a retired music professor from Princeton who winds up in a small town directing a not-so-great church choir led by Anna Camp. It’s not a particularly great show so far, but it’s goofy over-the-top small town ridiculousness reminds me just enough of Hart of Dixie, even though that was an entirely different type of show, that I’m still watching. I don’t expect this show to make it past one season if it even makes it that long, but it’s still on my watch list for now.


NBC has saved me the trouble of telling you not to watch this show by canceling it already. I watched one episode and that was more than enough. It was not good at all.


CBS on the other the other hand has given the first full season order of the year to the only other show that I tried that I immediately gave up on. Obviously other people seem to like this show, but it was very much not for me. I gave up on it half way through the first episode even though we watched all of it.

11th Anniversary Celebration

My husband and I always buy each other gifts based on the traditional or modern gifts for each anniversary year. Usually they aren’t anything big, but we try to be creative and get something the other one will like. Sometimes more successfully than others. The traditional gift for the 11th anniversary is steel. It is also apparently the year where we almost wound up giving each other the same thing. The only reason we didn’t is because I was waiting closer to our anniversary to order my gift and when we got home from some trip and were going through the mail I saw the return address on the package. I immediately opened up my computer, spun it around, showed my husband the tab that had been sitting open my browser for weeks, and said I guess I know what I’m getting for our anniversary. Sorry for the terrible pic, but I couldn’t find a way to take it without the shadow in it. It’s a map of Baltimore cut out of steel. He also threw in an ornament of Maryland.


Since I didn’t think we needed two steel cutout maps of Baltimore I had to come up with something else. I wound up getting him an engraved spatula. I couldn’t resist using one of the silly puns I had seen on keychains replacing the word still with steel.


To celebrate our anniversary we went out to dinner at The Black Olive. Somehow even though I’ve lived in Baltimore for over 19 years this was the first time I’ve been to The Black Olive. I mean when I first moved here and I was a poor twenty-something grad student it made sense, but now I go to plenty of restaurants at this price point. I guess there’s always been something newier and flashier that I wanted to try, but I finally decided it was time we made our way to The Black Olive.

It’s a Greek restaurant known for it’s fresh fish. They prepare whole fish that you can see in their fish case beforehand if you want. They then filet it at your table for you. I kind of wanted to try the lamb chops, but I figured on my first visit I should get some sort of fish since that’s their thing. I went with the bronzini, which is a Mediterranean sea bass. I suspect it was prepared in a way that I was supposed to eat the skin as well, but that creeps me out so I didn’t. It left the fish kind of bland even with the added sauce they poured on for me. If we go back again I’ll definitely try the lamb chops next time.

My husband had the veggie combo. I’m actually not entirely sure everything that was on it. There were definitely some mushrooms and a piece of village pie along with some other veggies and something neither of us could identify but almost seemed like a slice of baked stuffing. He really liked it. We started with saganaki plate which contained pan seared, paper-thin zucchini, tzatziki, two Greek cheeses Kefalograviera and Haloumi. It was all delicious. I would go back just to eat that again. For dessert we had baklava and a tarte tatin. They were both delicious as well. It was a nice meal, well paced with good service. I would definitely go back again at some point.

Happy 11th Anniversary to My Husband

Today my husband and I are celebrating our 11th anniversary. It’s been 11 wonderful years since we got married and 15 years since we started dating. It’s hard to believe that it has been that long. Time has flown by. Neither of us are super gushy romantic people. We don’t generally do the types of things that the culture at large would necessarily consider romantic, but I think the life we live together and the way we take care of each other is the best romance of all.

Me being me of course can think of no better way to express my love than through a song. If you read my post from yesterday, you’ll know I mentioned that I was bummed that Ray LaMontagne didn’t play my favorite song of his when I saw him on Wednesday night. That was partly because I already knew I was going to be using it in this anniversary post. If I had gotten married any later this song would have been the song I chose for our first dance. However, the album it’s on didn’t come out until four days before our wedding and somehow in that four days while I was in the midst of last minute wedding prep I did not find this song, fall in love with it, and then decide to make it our first dance song. (Our actual first dance song was Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are” in case you were wondering.) I love this song and think it perfectly encapsulates our marriage because my husband is the best thing that ever happened to me. He makes my life better every day. I look forward to many more years together.

Ray LaMontagne at the Lyric Opera House

Last night I went to see Ray LaMontagne at the Lyric Opera House. It was an all acoustic night. The opening act was Kacy & Clayton, a band I was previously unfamiliar with. They are cousins from Saskatchewan, Canada. It was just the two of them up there with acoustic guitars. Their music was fine. I’m not sure that I’ll be seeking it out again, but it was a pleasant 45 minutes that sort of flew by. I felt like they had a really short set, but then when I looked at my watch more time had passed than I thought.

Ray LaMontagne was also doing the entirely acoustic thing last night. It was him with Carl Broemel from My Morning Jacket accompanying him on guitar and pedal steel (love me some pedal steel). This was the first time I’ve really seen Ray LaMontagne in concert. He played the Newport Folk Festival a couple of years ago. I don’t remember who he was up against, but obviously someone I wanted to see more since I only saw a small piece of his set there. It was back when he was touring his Supernova album, which I am not a fan of, so that set full of those songs wasn’t doing a whole lot for me. The small section of songs he did from that album last night also reminded me that still don’t care for it.

I do like all his other albums though, and I figured seeing him acoustic would be a nice treat. It’s a good thing that I enjoyed it since I sort of paid double for my ticket. I go to a lot of concerts alone, but sometimes I choose to drag my poor husband. I somehow completely forgot that I bought two tickets for this show way back when they went on sale. I was convinced this was a show I was planning on going to alone right up until I was literally walking out the door and pulled up my ticket in the Ticketmaster app and discovered I had two of them. My husband who is usually pretty game for letting me drag him to concerts he doesn’t care about was understandably not willing to let me drag him out with 2 seconds notice. So I still wound up going alone. I just paid for two seats to do so.

I was having a conversation with someone earlier this week who said that Ray LaMontagne is the second best performer she’s ever seen next to U2. People have different opinions and different things they like in shows, so I’m not here to judge anyone’s preferences, but I can say he for sure is not one of the best performers I’ve ever seen. He wouldn’t even crack the top 25. Probably not even close. I still think his songs are lovely, and it was great to get to hear him play them live. I just didn’t find him super engaging as a performer. Pretty much the only thing he said to the audience all night was to introduce Carl Broemel and say thank you at the end of the night. He just stood up there and played his guitar and sang. I mean ultimately that’s what we’re all there for, but I like a little bit more from my live shows that makes me feel like I’m getting something I wouldn’t get just sitting at home listening to the music.

Even though he has a fairly new album, this set did not feel like he was promoting it. He pretty much concentrated on playing the hits across all of his albums. When someone starts to have an extensive catalog you know you’re never going to hear everything and you just hope that they play the songs you really want to hear. In this case he played every single song I would have wanted to hear save for one, which unfortunately is my favorite song of his. So thumbs down to that. I’m sure I’m not the only one who was disappointed he didn’t play it because it’s the second most listened to song of his on Spotify. I’ll have something more to say about that particular song tomorrow for reasons, so you can wait to find out what it is or use the clues I’ve provided to go look it up now if you can’t stand to wait.

It was an enjoyable evening, though I’m not sure it made me want to see Ray LaMontagne in concert again. Perhaps one day if I’m super excited about an album he’s touring it would be fun to see him play a non-acoustic set as well.

New Music Friday: Okie by Vince Gill

I used to really like Vince Gill, but as country music radio changed and left his style of music behind I sort of lost track him. Then he started getting a lot of press for his new album Okie, which came out back in August. I feel like it’s a really interesting juxtaposition that makes it both too old school for current country radio but also too progressive.

The music for sure is the same old Vince Gill style from back when he was popular in the 90s. It also still contains some very traditional country songs about faith, family, and his country music idols. But it also contains songs that touch on much more progressive issues like sexual abuse (Gill has shared his own experience of a coach that tried to take advantage of him as a kid), teenage pregnancy and the hard decisions about how to handle that, racism, and attempts to see beyond ourselves to difficulties faced by others. Despite touching on some hot button issues Gill does not take it to overly political place, but rather shares his hopes that we can all be fair-minded and kind.

It’s a great country album that evokes my country music sweet spot. I recently watched Ken Burns’ excellent documentary Country Music and someone, exactly who I don’t recall at the moment, said that the 90s were an excellent time in country music when the doors felt wide open. All the various styles of country music that had evolved over time seemed to be welcome. Women seemed to be welcome. And then after such a short time the doors slammed shut again and it became a good ol’ boys club of a very specific brand of country. That led to the breaking off of Americana music into its own genre. I still like country music to a degree, though I don’t love it as much as I once did and that’s because that statement made me realize that the style of country music that I really adore is what Americana is. Pretty much every single one of my favorite artists right now fall under the Americana label. Vince Gill will never be labeled Americana because he was a country artist first when his musical style was what country music was, but I would say if he came into the fold now he’d for sure be labeled Americana. This album is a great example of that.

Maggie Rogers at The Anthem

On Tuesday night I made the trek down to DC to see Maggie Rogers at The Anthem. I didn’t actually set out to see Maggie Rogers 4 times in the span of a year’s time, but that’s what happened. I first saw her last November opening for Mumford & Sons at which point I started kicking myself for not having bought tickets to see her at the 9:30 Club in March. I refused to pay the scalpers the almost 10x the face value that they were selling the tickets for, so I missed that show. But a few days later when her show for the Anthem in October went on sale I snapped them up. Then she wound up playing at the Newport Folk Festival this year, and as you know my husband bought me tickets to see her at The Greek Theatre in LA. I would totally see her again too.

Having just seen her a few weeks ago I knew I was going to pretty much get the same exact set, but I was 100% okay with that because Maggie is such a great performer and so fun to watch. Plus I adore the music obviously. She did play one new song that she’s written but hasn’t recorded yet. That was a nice treat. I saw her say something about performing it for the first time last week at one of her Radio City Music Hall shows, so I was hoping we would get it too, and we did. Other than that it was pretty much exactly the same down to the stage banter for the most part, which she doesn’t have a lot of. Just swap out DC for LA and the names of the opening acts. (I really liked Now, Now who opened for her in LA. I did not so much care for Empress Of who opened for her at this show.)

I did learn one dirty little secret though. At the LA show as she was introducing the band she was pretty much saying that they were pretty much either all from LA or in the process of moving to LA. Maybe they are in the process of moving to LA. I don’t know. It seems like a reasonable place for a band to make their home base. But then when she was introducing them at this show LA was mentioned in relation to nary a band member. Then she said let me tell you a secret, I often like to introduce one of the band members as from the city we’re playing in even though they’re not actually from there, but this is my hometown (not really, but I guess Salisbury, Maryland is close enough) so I’m not doing that tonight. So now I know I was probably lied to in LA.

Despite the music being the same in some respects the show felt completely new to me. Mostly it had a lot to do with the lighting. I know they didn’t redo the lighting design in the last couple of weeks, but somehow it seemed entirely new to me. It could be because the obnoxiously drunk girls in front of me at The Greek kept me distracted from the show or just plain blocked my view. It could be because with the time change Maggie didn’t even take the stage until well after I’m normally in bed, so I was half asleep. It could be the difference between how they looked in an indoor versus outdoor venue, or it could be that I was sitting above them in the balcony this time. Maybe a combination of all of the above.

Seeing her this time was a much better experience than at The Greek mostly because of the stupid drunk girls in front of me at that show. I had no one in front of me at the Anthem and there were no annoying people anywhere around me. It’s a concert miracle since usually I attract the worst people at concerts. This show did finally make me figure out the only way I ever want to see shows at the Anthem again.

The Anthem is a fairly new venue. It opened 2 years ago this week in fact. It’s a mid-size venue holding about 6,000 people, which based on the number of shows that sell out there was sorely needed. The 9:30 Club where most of these people would have played previously is about a quarter of the size. So obviously it’s great to have a venue that can hold more people and give more opportunity to go to the show, but logistically it’s just a nightmare if you’re doing a general admission standing room show.

The one thing that I will never be able to get around is the location. The 9:30 Club is on the outskirts of the city and much easier to get to from Baltimore. Plus they have their own parking lot. The Anthem is built at this trendy new development called The Wharf with lots of shops and restaurants along the Anacostia River in southwest DC. It’s a freaking pain the butt to get to with DC traffic and there is nowhere to park. I know DC has fairly decent public transit compared to a lot of places, but there isn’t a Metro stop particularly near there (not that it would help me anyway), and the parking is severely lacking. I don’t understand how they built this and thought we don’t need that much parking. There is a lot there, but it’s not very big and I would never count on finding a spot there. If you’re trying to use Spothero to get a parking spot the closest non-valet place to park is 3/4 of a mile away. I’m definitely not trying to wait on a valet to fetch my car after a 6000 person show lets out, so I hoofed it from a ways away.  Catching an Uber/Lyft near there after the show is also a nightmare as I did that last time I was down there and was staying over with a friend who lives in DC. It’s just a terrible place to get to no matter how you’re trying to do it.

I know a lot of people who really like the Anthem as a venue. I don’t love it. I mean it’s not a terrible place to see a show. When I was there to see Brandi Carlile and it was a seated show with only about 2,500 people it was great. I don’t like crowds so the 6,000 person standing room thing is an issue for me not only because being surrounded by that many people in a crowd with no designated space makes me twitchy. Plus I’m short so I’m never going to be able to see over that many people. Also they do not have enough security to deal with getting that many people into the venue. I don’t know what they can do to make it better given the limited number of doors into the venue, but the lines to get in are insane.

I figured out the secret to avoiding all of this at this show though. They have box seats in the balconies that you can buy tickets to. The only drawback is you have to pick them up at will call, so if you can’t make the show for some reason you have no way to sell them and recoup your money. I get that they’re trying to prevent scalping these tickets, but for someone who only ever resells tickets at face value, it’s a little annoying for me. Stupid scalpers ruining everything. I have certainly changed my mind at the last minute about going to show in DC that I bought tickets for and resold them on several occasions. I guess this forces me to not back out unless I really have to rather than just I decided it’s too much of a pain to drive down to DC on a school night.

Anyway, I bought one of those box seat tickets this time even though it makes the already stupid expensive Anthem tickets even more expensive, and I will never go back. First it gets you into the venue through the VIP security line instead of you having to stand in the insanely long general admission line. Second you actually get a seat. I’m old and tired and I like to be able to sit down at concerts if I want to. Third, being in the balcony particularly in the first row like I was meant no one was in front of me and I could actually see the show. If I was on the floor I would have been lucky to get a glimpse of Maggie here and there. If I can’t get one of those tickets the next time I want to see someone playing at the Anthem unless it’s one of their rare fully seated shows, I don’t think I’ll go. Aside from the location and the parking issues having the box seat ticket solved all of the other things I hate about this venue.

It turned out to be well worth the trip down to DC on a Tuesday night even though I promise you I did a lot of whining about going, especially since I was going solo, before I left that night. I was like whose dumb idea was it to buy a ticket to this show? It was mine, and I’m glad I had it.


Stony Run Trail

One of the things I like about Baltimore is that it’s a fairly green city. I know not every part of the city has easy access to green space, but there are a decent number of areas that do. In my little part of the city within a mile or less of my house I can walk to Druid Hill Park, the Jones Falls trail, or the Stony Run Trail.

The Stony Run Trail, which is the focus of this post is a short little trail that runs along the Stony Run. The trail part is only about a mile long from end to end, though I gather there’s a walking path that goes almost all the way up to Northern Parkway. I’ve never gotten farther than Coldspring Lane, so I’m not quite sure how it travels north of there even though I’ve looked at the online map a number of times. Someday I’ll do the whole thing. For now I’m just enjoying the trail.

Even though it’s short, it’s a very peaceful respite in the middle of the city. It’s very calming to be surrounded by the trees and walking along the water. I am a bit disturbed by how many people I see let their dogs run into that water though. It is for sure polluted. Please don’t let your dog (or god forbid your kids) go in that water. It’s pretty to look at though.

It’s about 3 miles for me to walk the trail from one end to the other and back again and add in the walk from my house to the nearest trail head. It makes for a nice bit of afternoon exercise.  Soon I’ll be relegated to the gym for the winter because it will be too dark (and soon after that too cold) for me to walk on the trail or outside after I get home from work once the time changes. I’m enjoying the trail as much as I can until I get to that point and then I’ll be counting the days until spring.