Friday, August 28, 2015


I'm usually reading two books at any time - one devotional for my spiritual life and something for fun like a biography, or music industry book, and once in a while - fiction.

For my role as Band Manager for Anthem For Today, I've got a hunger for information about the music industry - backstage stuff, how stuff works, marketing and hype, learning to connect with smarter people than me. All of it will help me guide AFT's career.

Two books I read on vacation might be of interest to you if you like music industry books. "Everybody Wants Some" by Ian Christie is the story of Van Halen. Being a classic rock fan, (and maybe a musicologist), this book told their story as kids, making people think they're the definitive California band even though none are from Cal, breaking into the music business doing free shows, going through lead singers and of course - how their manager saved the day.

The author goes through each Van Halen album, how each were planned and marketed by their manager. Actually they had three over the years - all brilliant guys.

There's a lot of junk in the book (sex, drugs and tattletale stuff) that I skipped over. But, overall, I had a hard time putting the book down, even while looking over the ocean from my cruise cabin.

The other book I read is "Roadie - my life on the road with Coldplay" by Matt McGinn.  The amazon description was so good, I ordered the book immediately. I'm not a Coldplay fan - in fact before reading the book, I only knew one song. (I know, I know - I'm late to this party!)

Matt is the full-time roadie for Jonny Buckland and the book is 50% about his off-stage work for Jonny - which is what I wanted to know.

Unfortunately, I don't think there was one single page that didn't glorify beer and F-bombs. It was excessive and after jumping pages, I absorbed the info I was looking for.

There was a redeeming factor - his emotional descriptions of events were bang on. Like, standing with the band backstage, for the two minutes before the band goes on stage - it's a nervous, brotherhood  moment - hard to put into words, but Matt did. I found myself saying, "Ya! Ya! Me too!"

Overall, it's a positive book - there's no dirt or gossip about Coldplay.

My next book is "We Are The Road Crew" by Ken Barr. I'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, August 22, 2015


The Baltic Cruise - August 15-22, 2015.
August 12 - (evening/overnight) flew to Copenhagen, Denmark
August 13 - arrived in Copenhagen self-tour
August 14 - Copenhagen - biking to the beach
August 15 - depart via Royal Caribbean
August 16 - day at sea
August 17 - biking in Stockholm, Sweden
August 18 - bus tour of Tallinn, Estonia
August 19 - bus and canal tour of St. Petersburg, Russia
August 20 - biking in Helsinki, Finland
August 21 - day at sea
August 22 - arrived in Copenhagen, flew to Toronto; home
Here are the photo highlights.

Our hotel - crazy modern on the inside too. This is an actual photo from the road; the hotel sign is
outfront and you can see my shadow, just to show it's real. We biked or walked to "The Metro" subway to get around. Cool city - we liked it.

The plane ride - squishy, on Air Canada.

In Copenhagen - Amager Beach. Mostly manmade with an intercostal beach. It was about 7 km from our hotel across town.

Biking in Copenhagen. Good times.

Biking in Stockholm - 15km with tour guide, stopping outside the Abba Museum.
 "Sorry, no time to go inside!"

The bike ride was 3-hours. Our tour guide wanted to add some extra stops - we wanted to go back to the ship so we joined another nearby ride that was ship-bound. Until that tour guide took two extra stops and in the end he said, "you can go back to the ship - it's ....down there." Swell. Unorganized, no provision of water for the ride, otherwise, the scenery in Stockholm was awesome. Very bike-friendly city.

Stockholm - very nice. We liked.

We took a bus tour in Tallinn, Estonia. Lots of old stuff - churches, cathedrals.  While I'm not into old churches and stuff,  I did find it interesting that Russia invaded Estonia several times - a bunch of wars - and only recently (August 31, 1994) did Russia pull out.  What is odd, is that they have monuments that commemorate the fallen Russian soldiers who took control of their country. I asked the tour guide -  "why would you memorialize anything Russian?"  The tour guide didn't know.

The original wall around the town of Tallinn.  If you like history, you'd like it.

Hanging outside.

Bus tour - stopping at the Song Festival Grounds. They say 300,000 people attended a concert here. I find it very hard to believe - the photo doesn't do justice, but 300,000?

 In Russia, a Royal Caribbean excursion took us to an old (boring) palace. it was a really long tour. Here, we're in an underground walkway where a mystic faith healer ("and holy man" they say), Rasputin was running around. The "must see" portion of the excursion was our low-point of the day.

In the palace, on a wall was this painting. I stared at it wondering why it was familiar. I snapped this photo and then realized it reminded me of an album cover....(below)

This cover of the Rolling Stones "It's Only Rock and Roll" album. Hmmmm.  Ok - I know, I know - only I would notice something like this. I know. Not sure if there is a connection. Don't know the significance of the cover.

Canal tour in St. Petersburg. There was actual traffic jams!  Canal boats lined up to dock. It was so bad, that we dock against another boat and walked across THEIR boat to get off. Saw a bunch of old churches and stuff. Not recommended.

The worst souvenirs on the entire trip. They sell a lot of Matryoshka wooden dolls that stack on inside the other. I think I got one for xmas when I was four. Ugly and useless. I think these non-cute dolls are the biggest industry in Russia. No other souvenirs were interesting.

From the bus, "Oh there's St. Petersburg square over there....look...oops it's back there now!"  This was the only shot I got thru the bus window.  The only thing I wanted to see in Russia and it wasn't on the stop.

Something old in Russia. Everything is old. I was uninterested in this port and upon leaving, was happy to leave.
This was the most enjoyable port. It's funny how we rate our feelings about a country based on unrelated events, such as the tour guide. Unlike the bike tour in Stockholm, this was on time, organized, water provided, and pleasant guide.  Here is their Olympic stadium but -  "Sorry, no time to go inside".  We biked thru the marketplace so quickly there was no time to shop either. That was a disappointment. However, all of the facts about Finland he announced, made this country one to remember.

The railyard - I thought this was kinda cool. Our bike tour briefly stopped here.

Finland - down by the shore people bring their carpets and beat the dirt out of them, wash them on the table and hang them to dry. Everybody's doing it. Apparently this is a popular thing to do.

On board.

Sibelius Monument is dedicated to the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius
Too many photos to go thru so I just picked a few. Overall, the trip was "ok". By far, having a balcony stateroom was more enjoyable than the ports. The downsize of the cruise was the internet cost - $240 for a week, for two people. I sprang to buy 24 hours for $36. Crazy.

Looking more forward to San Francisco by Royal Caribbean!