Saturday, January 1, 2011

Looking Back: A Recap of 2010

Today is the first day of the New Year, and with it comes planning for the road ahead as well as a nostalgic reflection of the road behind.

2010 was an amazing year. Still, by comparison to recent years - those that saw me travel to Costa Rica and Mexico, get engaged and then married - it can be argued the previous 365 days were a little more low key. Nevertheless, it was still a spectacular year. It was one that opened my eyes to what is means to give and live in gratitude. It was also a year filled with continued blessings, timeless memories and, of course, music.

The following is a quick recap of some of the most memorable moments in 2010.

Lee and I rang in the New Year at home and with friends. It was a slight departure from what we’d done in previous years, but being able to celebrate the New Year with the kids and just be home was very nice. Shortly after we set sail on the Carnival Inspiration for The Rock Boat X. That was our fourth Rock Boat experience and it was fantastic. Not only is The Rock Boat the world’s greatest floating music festival, it has also become quite the family reunion for us as we get to share the ship with 1000 of our closest friends. Later in the month, I was very fortunate to have been featured at our local Barnes and Noble store as a featured local author. I got to meet some other Tampa area authors and sell a couple of copied of my short novel books. The month wrapped up with us taking in the Gasparilla children’s parade with the kids and friends from church. Music Experience(s) for the Month: In addition to the plethora of music on TRB, we also got to see Michael Tolcher perform at World of Beer.

We kicked off the month with a get-together for my birthday at the recently opened World of Beer Tampa Palms. This quickly became our preferred watering hole, especially since it’s less than five miles from our house. For the Super Bowl, we partook in a viewing party at the house of our friends Jeff and Ellen Wilson. It was low key and filled with great food and extended family. Lee and I were also very fortunate to have met celebrated zoologist Ron Magill. It was an excellent experience to have met him, and his presentation of ‘Sex and the Animals’ is a must see. Lee and I also took part in ESPN the Weekend, and my ESPN Insider membership allowed for us to once again meet and hang out with ESPN personalities Buster Olney and Matthew Berry. The month wrapped up with my daughter being selected to the All-Star squad of her soccer league. Music Experience(s) for the Month: Sister Hazel (House of Blues Orlando) and Corey Smith and Matt MacKelcan (The Ritz Ybor).

We opened the month by being thrilled to see our good friend Vic Scott sing the national anthem at a Detroit Tigers spring training game. He absolutely nailed it. We were even more thrilled to celebrate the marriage of our friends Jeff Wilson and Ellen Siefring. Their wedding was on the beach and just beautiful. Later that month, several of us got together at World of Beer to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and a good time was had by all. Music Experience(s) for the Month: We were so fortunate to not only see NEEDTOBREATH and Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers perform at the State Theatre in St. Pete, but we also got to meet the members of Needtobreathe backstage and spend some time talking with them. In addition, we got to see, meet and get to know Sam Thacker, Tim Warren and Lani Daniels as they performed as part of the Rock by the Sea Road Show. We also took in a Sara Evans show at the Strawberry Festival in Plant City, as well as a show by Ingram Hill at World of Beer Tampa Palms.

April was slumber-ful. While Danny and I went camping with his Cub Scout pack, Lee and her friend Alyson took part in the Mix 100.7 “Mix Chicks” Slumber Party. Later that month, we traveled to St. George Island for the annual Rock by the Sea event. It was filled with wonderful music and a lot of money was raised for some very worthy causes. Although we did not go on the VH1 Best Cruise Ever, a new music cruise hosted by our friends at Sixthman, we did take part in the pre-party festivities. Music Experience(s) for the Month: In addition to all the RBTS artists, we also go to see Sister Hazel perform again, this time at The Ritz Ybor.

Event-wise, May was a more relaxed month. We had fun at a book signing by Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic of ESPN’s Mike and Mike in the Morning show, and it was cool to get a picture of the kids with them. We then traveled to Miami with the kids for my nephew’s birthday party. Music Experience(s) for the Month: NEEDTOBREATH at Vinoy Park in St. Pete.

If may was relaxed, June definitely was not. The month kicked off with Lee and me traveling to Enterprise, Alabama, for the BamaJam Music Festival. It was an awesome three days filled with great musical act after great musical act. The best part for us, however, was being able to see Zac Brown Band perform an extended set (they played for nearly three hours), being able to catch Train live for the first time (absolutely incredible show), and being introduced to the music of Beth Hart (she blew us away). There was also the added surprise of Michael Tolcher performing in the VIP tent area, to which we had purchased access in order to escape the sweltering heat. BamaJam was also made special by the fact we got to stay on the campground site with our friends Sterlin and Shannon Giles in their camper. We wrapped up the month with another trip to Miami for my twenty-year high school reunion. While there, we took in a Marlins game with the kids and Lee’s nephew Hunter, as well as an airboat ride in the Everglades.

July was a socially filled month in which we had the good fortune to share in multiple dinners with various friends. We also had fun with the second installment of the Rock by the Sea Road Show which once again featured Sam Thacker and Lani Daniels, but also included our dear friends Dirty Shannon in the line-up. We also kicked off activities with Epic Thanks Tampa Bay, an event and organization to which Lee and I volunteered our time, as well as with demolition and cleanup work at the facility that would become the new home of Relevant Church which is the church we attend. Music Experience(s) for the Month: In addition to the road show performances, we also got to see the Sarah Mac Band perform at Skipper’s Smokehouse in Tampa, one of our favorite quaint music venues.

August was a very introspective month. I had my mother come stay with us for a week, and she and I were able to share some quality time together which is something we rarely get to do. Having her here in order to celebrate her birthday was also very nice. My daughter also started middle school that month, and it was a lesson in acceptance for me as I wasn’t quite ready to have her move to that next level of growing up. The introspection continued as Lee and I attended the Change Your Mind workshop which was co-hosted by Sister Hazel frontman Ken Block. It was a great experience and allowed Lee and me focus on our goals and dreams and better align our daily activities so as to accomplish and realize them. Upon our return from that seminar, Lee and I got to meet Julia Rettig and Kirsten Becker, Tampa area authors who wrote Our Stimulus Package. Music Experience(s) for the Month: Tahoe Fox, Ingram Hill and Will Hoge at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts. Lee also got to take part in a meet and greet with performer VV Brown.

The month began with us once again sailing away on the Carnival Inspiration, but this time it was for Sailing Southern Ground, a music cruise hosted by Zac Brown Band. Similar to The Rock Boat, SSG was filled with tons of great music and we had an amazing time. Upon our return, we spent a weekend at the beach with our good friends (and extended family) Matt and Michelle Harrington and the kids. We took in several Tampa Bay Rays games towards the end of the month, and Lee and I continued our volunteer work with Epic Thanks Tampa Bay. Music Experience(s) for the Month: Joey + Rory at the Dallas Bull.

October opened several new doors for me as I participated in the Florida Writer’s Conference in Lake Mary, Florida. It gave me the opportunity to learn a lot about writing, marketing a manuscript, finding a publisher, etc. It also gave me the opportunity to meet lots of authors from across Florida and the rest of the country. Later that month we had a blast at the exceptional Halloween party hosted by our new friends Julia and Kirsten. October was also upgrade month for us as Lee and I both traded in our existing vehicles for newer trucks. Lee got a Durango and I got a Ram 1500. Music Experience(s) for the Month: While in Lake Mary for the conference, I had the chance to swing into Orlando to catch my friend Matt MacKelcan perform at The Backbooth.

November was a heart-warming month. It began with the wedding of our friends Heather Brenneman and Rob Sadler. In the middle, we saw the culmination of our efforts with the Epic Thanks Tampa Bay event. I am proud to say ETTB raised over $8000 for Halley’s K9’s for Veterans, an organization that provides trained service and companion dogs for disabled Veterans. That month we also celebrated the promotion of our friend Warren Soong to Colonel in the US Marine Corps with a wonderful get-together at his home. ETTB also featured live musical performances by Tampa area bands November Rush and Tahoe Fox, as well as our friends Dirty Shannon. Lee and I also took part in and contributed to Epic Thanks Day, which is an event that evolved from Tweetsgiving and celebrates the power of gratitude. We wrapped up the month with a trip to Miami for Thanksgiving at my cousin’s house. From there we traveled to Puerto Rico for the wedding of our friends Megan Stockton and Ricky Rodriguez. Music Experience(s) for the Month: Ken Block and Drew Copeland of Sister Hazel at The Venue in Clearwater.

The final month of 2010 gave us lots more music to wrap up the year. Lee and I joined our friend Jared Martin and drove down to Ft. Myers for the Almost Acoustic Christmas concert. The show included Christina Perry, Ryan Star, Sara Bareilles, and one of our new favorite bands Michael Franti and Spearhead. A serendipitous surprise with that event was running into our friend Shelbie Langlois whom we met as part of the CYM workshop. Later that month, we were blessed to have my sister-in-law Tammy and her son Hunter drive down from Alabama and join us for the holidays. The year wrapped up with Lee and me joining several of our friends at the new Hard Rock Café Tampa to ring in the New Year with Sister Hazel. The serendipitous surprises continued as we were gifted VIP access passes for the show. Music Experience(s) for the Month: November Rush at The Orpheum in Ybor.

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