A Little Insight Behind the Hanson Side of My Life

If you know me well, this post probably needs no introduction. If you don’t know me super well, you may wonder why on earth I get so giddy about Hanson, or why I travel to see them, or why I’ve been to over 60 of their shows over the last 18 years. Well, I’m here to enlighten you on the background of this madness.

Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 10.11.20 PMEvery time Hanson goes on tour I get a little bit emotional. As I’m getting older, I’m appreciating them more and more as time goes on. During the Cleveland show of the Roots & Rock N Roll Tour last week, they covered “God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys and I completely teared up. (I’m also finding in my older age that I tear up over happy things a lot more often than I used to – look out for that, world.)

Sure, “God Only Knows” is a gorgeous song, but that wasn’t why it made me tear up. Watching Hanson perform this song, in my favorite balcony box of my favorite venue with some of my best friends, while one of our other friends (who is pregnant with twins and couldn’t come with us) is watching on FaceTime, singing her heart out at home eating popcorn, it was a lot to take in.

balcony boxMy mind started going a mile a minute and it was like one of those epiphany moments you see in a movie. I thought to myself, as I was surrounded by all of these people and this music that I love so much: what would my life be like without them? I’m telling you wholeheartedly that my ENTIRE LIFE would be different if it weren’t for becoming a fan of this band in 1997 when I was just an awkward middle schooler.

Those of us who are fans of Hanson don’t just go to their shows to fangirl over how much we love Zac, Taylor or Isaac (although that does happen, let’s be real). We go to their shows because it’s our happy place. It’s our place to be together, to truly be our crazy selves, and connect with each other in a way that no one outside of it will ever understand. To us, it’s family.

At such a young age, we all had to fight for this band we loved. Middle school was a tough place. We were made fun of because Hanson was something different that most people didn’t understand. And it sucked. But we stuck with them even when it was totally against the norm. I think we saw something in them that we believed in, we loved their music, and we decided we weren’t going anywhere.

My mom (who I miss every single day) always told me: “If you love Hanson, then keep on loving Hanson. Don’t let stupid people bring you down, they just don’t understand”. My parents both were huge supporters of me doing what I loved and I can remember these conversations about Hanson, and music in general, very clearly. I’m so grateful that they pushed me to be who I wanted to be, love whatever I wanted to love, and never apologize for it. It would’ve been way easier for me to forget about Hanson and move onto whatever everyone else liked, but I didn’t. Thank goodness for that.

hanson onstageMaybe it’s super cheesy, but the older I get the more I realize being a fan of theirs had to be part of the plan. So that I would make these friends and become the person I am. So that I’d learn how to stick up for myself and fight for what I believe in no matter how grueling it may be.

Hanson fans, we grew up in a different way than most of our peers and we experienced so much at a young age because of this band. Traveled to the big cities. Met people from all over the world. Connected with music on a way deeper level than most people do at that age. Experienced the feeling of being part of something.

Going to Hanson shows introduced me to some of the best people and friends I know. Road trips together, waiting in lines together, traveling the country, going on vacations, watching each other get married or have kids, standing by each other on some of the biggest ups and downs of life.

Since graduating high school and entering the real world, I didn’t really have a steady group of friends in one city. I’ve moved three times in the last five years, most recently moving 8 hours away from where I grew up. Was I nervous about it? Maybe a little, but I always had the comfort of knowing my friends would be there no matter where I lived. We’re always looking forward to the next adventure and it’s become a weird (but amazing) way of life that I wouldn’t trade for anything. When we all get in the same room together, whether it’s a concert, a birthday, a wedding, or a Tuesday, it’s like no time has passed.

I’m so lucky to have this aspect of my life, for it to STILL be such a big part of my life, and to be part of this incredibly unique, passionate group of people. Some of my very best friends, I met because of them. A lot of the music I ended up loving, it was introduced to me because of them. So many of the cities (and countries) I’ve visited, were seen while traveling with my friends to Hanson shows.

Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 11.39.44 PM

What’s even more amazing is that it’s become very evident that the band that brought us all together is just as passionate about this community as we are. They’ve said it, we’ve said it: their concerts are like coming home. For me, especially now that “home” is becoming a new normal to adjust to and it’s not quite as simple as it once was as a kid, I’m so thankful for this part of my life. It’s something we can always count on.

So when people wonder why I get so excited whenever there’s a tour, keep these things in mind. These are the underlying reasons. Sure, we love them, we love their music, we love dancing and having a blast at the shows. But the BEST part? We get to do it all together.

As long as they keep doing this, we’ll be there.

Had I not taken a chance on this crazy band when I was 11 years old?

Well, God only knows.🙂


My Best Tips for Surviving Music Festivals


With summer officially upon us and music festival season heating up, it seemed appropriate to share some of the best tips & tricks I’ve learned over the years to make a long festival day a little more tolerable. Whether you’re an avid music festival attendee or haven’t braved a single one so far, these tips will serve as a friendly reminders or eye-openers you don’t want to miss.

Bring Hand Sanitizer
I’m not talking about one of those tiny bottles from Bath & Body Works that you keep in your everyday purse, I am strongly suggesting you bring several small bottles, maybe even one per day. If there is one thing I know for certain after years of festival-going, there is nothing worse than using a port-a-potty and having nowhere to wash your hands. Even if they supply hand sanitizer, it’s usually the really cheap, sticky kind that doesn’t make you feel any cleaner. Bringing your own will be the next best thing to washing your hands and you will be thanking yourself later.


Sunset at Beale Street Music Festival 2015

Wear Appropriate Shoes!
I can’t stress this enough. I’m sure your favorite pair of strappy sandals are super cute, and those wedges you love so much would look perfect with that sundress, but learn from my mistakes: it will NOT be worth the pain. Stay away from shoes that are super flat as well as anything with a heel. Stick with some type of sneaker or a sandal that has a good amount of support and cushioning. I never realized how much flat sandals could hurt my feet until wearing them for a full day of Beale Street Music Festival and realizing my toes were completely numb by the time we were driving back to our hotel. Scary feeling, guys.

Drink A LOT of Water
I know this should be common sense, but it can be difficult to remember to drink water when your adrenaline is pumping, lines are long and alcoholic drinks are a plenty. Anytime you have a chance, drink some water. If you end up snagging front row at the stage one of your favorite artists plays on a few sets later, it’s unlikely you’ll want to leave that spot to go get a drink. So, drink up whenever you can in case you get stuck for a while. Stay hydrated and you will feel better and have way more energy throughout the event.

Prioritize Your Schedule in Advance
Chances are high that multiple bands you like will overlap sets and you will be forced to miss out on something one way or another. Yes, it’s heartbreaking when two artists you like play at the same time, but unfortunately that’s the spirit of music festivals. Depending how far apart the stages are, the best way to tackle this is to make decisions ahead of time on where you want to be. Maybe watch the first half of one band’s set and then walk to another stage to watch the second half of another. You may not see a full set for every band you like, but if you go into each day with a game plan you will be a lot more comfortable with it.

Scope Out the Area When You Arrive
Do a lap around the festival grounds or at least study a map if one is offered. You’ll be pretty bummed if you settle for a lukewarm corn dog for dinner only to find an awesome BBQ food truck around the next corner. Or maybe you deal with the port-a-potty only to come across air-conditioned restrooms in a different area of the festival. Sometimes it’s just a matter of knowing what your options are. Another thing to look for is multiple entrances or exits to the festival, side stages you may not have noticed, and the best spots to stand in at each stage.

Wear Layers
Depending on the geographic location and time of year, wearing layers can be super convenient at music festivals. Something as simple as a jean jacket or a hoodie can save you when the temperature takes a dive during the final headliner of the night or your walk back to the car. Layers are also great if you need something to sit on if you forget to bring a blanket.


Hozier at Beale Street Music Festival 2015

Live in the Moment
Look, I think a few photos or short videos here and there is fine. What I cannot understand for the life of me is when I see people put their phones in the air during a show and never take them down until it’s over, or recording an entire song instead of watching the band play it. What do we even do with half of this content we gather on our phones? Don’t get me wrong, I love having a few keepsake photos especially when it’s a band I really love, but don’t forget to put the phone and cameras away and the event in real time.

So let’s hear it – what are your best music festival survival tips? Leave a comment below or tweet using the hashtag #MusingMelodies!

My Music Venue Bucket List

Whether it’s for the amazing acoustics, breathtaking views or just a cool story behind it, there are so many live music venues that I would love to visit. There are some places that just give you a certain indescribable feeling. I’m lucky to have experienced this many times in the 340+ concerts I’ve been to over the years. Although the music is the reason for being there in the first place, sometimes the place you’re hearing it can play just as big of a role in your experience.

When Miranda and I were going back and forth on what topic we wanted to explore for April’s edition of #MusingMelodies, we easily agreed that our music venue bucket lists would not only be fun to share, but also really fun to get your responses on.

Coming up with a list was harder than I thought but after debating these for the last few weeks, I finally narrowed it down to my Top 5:

5. Madison Square Garden – New York City, NY 


Okay, maybe it’s a little cliche to put this on my list but there’s a reason it’s so epic. Madison Square Garden is a legendary place, like it or not. I’ve heard many times that the venue itself isn’t anything to write home about (and hey–correct me if I’m wrong, by all means); that the facility itself is not that memorable and the sound is sub-par. But I can only imagine that when the lights go out and the main act takes the stage as the headliner of Madison Square Garden in New York City, you are bound to have an amazing experience.

4. Gorge Ampitheatre – Quincy, WA 


I’ll be the first to admit, I had no idea this place existed until seeing it on someone else’s venue bucket list a few years ago. When making this list of mine, I had to go back and search for it because I knew I had to include it. It backs right up to the Columbia River in Quincy, Washington which I’m sure would make for quite the backdrop to your favorite band. This is one of those venues that leaves me staring at the picture for longer than I care to admit.

3. Hollywood Bowl – Los Angeles, CA 


Maybe it’s the Hollywood sign in the background, maybe it’s the fact that the aerial view looks like a giant hot air balloon (Google it if you’ve never seen an aerial view!). I’m honestly not sure what it is about this place, but I’ve always wanted to see a show there. Someday, I will.

2. The Ryman Auditorium – Nashville, TN 


Home of the Grand Ole Opry. I don’t even know if I need to say more. Epic. Legendary. A must-see.

1. Red Rocks Ampitheatre – Morrison, CO

Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Ah, Red Rocks. I have ALWAYS wanted to go to a show here. Can you believe this place is even real? I could look through photos of it for hours because it’s so interesting from every angle. From what I’ve read and heard from other people, the acoustics are to die for and the atmosphere is perfect. Look at the couple in the photo just sitting there surrounded by all of this! It’s just so cool to me that you can experience live music in this amazing setting. Red Rocks Ampitheatre is by far my #1 pick.

To wrap this up, I thought I’d make another little list of the venues I’ve already been to that otherwise would’ve been on my bucket list. I’ve been really fortunate to get to see live music in some beautiful and legendary concert venues over the years:

  • Carnegie Hall – New York City, NY (I saw my favorite band Hanson play here in 2003 and I will never ever forget it. The crowd was on their utmost best behavior, everyone got along and celebrated the band, and it was one of the best Hanson shows I’ve ever been to. The Sound. Was. Beautiful.)
  • CBGB – New York City, NY (Now closed, sadly.)
  • Cain’s Ballroom – Tulsa, OK (This may be an oddball choice to some, but for me it was a bucket list venue because it’s sort of like my favorite band’s home base. Hanson always plays at Cain’s, does special fan club events there (thought I have yet to go to one there) and it’s their go-to venue in their hometown of Tulsa. I was lucky enough to be front row center at the final stop of their Live & Electric Tour in 2005 at Cain’s, and it was worth every ridiculous minute of waiting in that monstrous line.)
  • 9:30 Club – Washington D.C.
  • The Bitter End – New York City, NY

Maybe at some point I’ll make a “Music Venue Bucket List: Part 2” and list another 5 venues that I’d love to see a show at. For now, I’d love to hear some of the venues on your bucket list! Leave a comment below or tweet about it using the hashtag #MusingMelodies! 

All photos are linked to their rightful sources.

#MusingMelodies is a monthly blog post series where myself and Miranda from TheGoodGroupie.com share a topic and encourage our readers and friends to join in with us. Check out Miranda’s venue bucket list here and be sure to share your picks with us! 

3 Mainstream Artists You Might Be Overlooking

We’ve all heard Hozier’s hit single “Take Me To Church” by now. I told my brother about the idea for this #MusingMelodies topic, and how Hozier was the first artist I thought of who is “mainstream” but should not be overlooked. His initial response? “Blah! Someone should take him to church and LEAVE him there. I am so sick of that song”.

His reaction is exactly why this topic needed addressed (although I’ll admit, it was funny).

Sometimes a song becoming “mainstream” can be a blessing and a curse for both the artist and the listeners. The artist will probably have an abundance of iTunes sales of the single, but will the majority of listeners purchase the full album? Will they write them off because they’re annoyed with the overplayed hit? Will they become a serious supporter of the artist and come out to see them when they go on tour?

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of artists with mainstream hits that have developed a serious fanbase, like Ed Sheeran after “The A Team” took off. I mean, look at him now. It’s pretty undeniable at this point. He still has huge hits on the radio and plays sold out shows, but he’s also become really well-respected in the music industry. People are buying his albums in their entirety, not just the single they heard on the radio. For whatever reason, the majority of people decided Ed Sheeran was worth digging a little deeper for (little secret: they were right).

Either way, I’ve come across several mainstream artists lately that I feel deserve that same kind of attention and respect Ed Sheeran has gained.

Here are a few artists with “mainstream hits” that I’m really glad I didn’t miss out on:

Bray, County Wicklow (Ireland)
1 Song You Probably Know: Take Me To Church
3 Other Songs You Should Check Out: From Eden, Jackie & Wilson, Someone New
My Thoughts: Seriously, I had no idea what to expect when I listened to Hozier for the first time. To be honest, it was driving me absolutely crazy that I couldn’t understand the lyrics to “Take Me To Church”. I kept making them up in my head and trust me when I say I was WAY off. Eventually, I looked him up on Spotify and listened while reading the lyrics, and left Spotify playing after the song ended. “Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene” started and it stopped me in my tracks. I can’t really fully explain what Hozier sounds like. It’s such a huge mix of greatness. His music is soulful yet rock n roll, it’s interesting, has depth, but also sticks in your head. Also – the dude is only 25, which shocked me given how soulful his voice is. He has a sound that feels like it belongs in another decade (in all the good ways).
Tidbit: If you’re on Spotify, take a listen to Hozier’s “Spotify Sessions” there. It really showcases his voice and guitar sound.
Website: http://hozier.com/us/

the 1975The 1975
 Wilmslow, Chesire (UK)
1 Song You Probably Know: Chocolate
3 Other Songs You Should Check Out:
Girls, Heart Out, Pressure
My Thoughts: Is it 80’s music? Is it indie music? I do not know where to categorize this band, but I know that I love their stuff and their live show was awesome. Lead singer Matty Healy has one of those voices that I can’t stop listening to and don’t get sick of. I’m actually surprised more people aren’t talking about these guys already, but I’m sure it’ll happen sooner or later. Their show here in Cleveland was packed, hot, fun and definitely made you dance. I first heard “Chocolate” probably two years ago and it was constantly stuck in my head. Similar to “Take Me To Church”, I could NOT for the life of me figure out the lyrics. Same thing happened: I listened more to figure out the lyrics and ended up exploring all of their music and loved it. This is GREAT driving music.
Tidbit: Sometimes I feel like The 1975 reminds me of old-school Genesis, but maybe I’m crazy? I would love for you guys to listen and tell me who they remind you of.
Website: http://the1975.com/

vance joyVance Joy
 Melbourne, Victoria (Australia),
1 Song You Probably Know: Riptide
3 Other Songs You Should Check Out: Georgia, Mess Is Mine, We All Die Trying To Get It Right
My Thoughts: Finding the rest of Vance Joy’s music was such a pleasant surprise. Let me clarify that I was not sick of “Riptide”, nor am I sick of it now. It is such a good, classic song. His album, “Dream Your Life Away” had way more depth and soul that I would’ve guessed. Sometimes it has a Mumford & Sons feel, sometimes a James Taylor sound. Every song makes me stop and listen to the lyrics. I hate trying to compare someone like Vance to other artists, so just go ahead and judge for yourself.
Fun Fact: My friend Emily used “Riptide” in a recap video from our trip to Mexico which made me love it even more. I also shamelessly love Taylor Swift’s cover.
Website: http://www.vancejoy.com/

Honorable Mentions:
Walk the Moon (Hit song: “Shut Up And Dance”)
Foster The People (Hit song: “Pumped Up Kicks”)
Ed Sheeran (Hit song: there are like 5 or 6 now. I think it should be obvious at this point, but if there are any people out there who still haven’t given him a real listen, go do that for yourself ASAP.)

Who are the mainstream artists that you’ve fallen in love with who shouldn’t be overlooked? Tell us in the comments or hit us up on Twitter with the hashtag #MusingMelodies. We would love to know what artists we need to take a closer listen to! 

 (All photos are official photos from the artists websites)

#MusingMelodies is a monthly blog post series where myself and Miranda from The Good Groupie share a topic and encourage our readers and friends to join in with us. Check out Miranda’s thoughts on this topic here and then share your opinions with us! 

Why I’m Glad I Braved the Cold for Brite Winter 2015

Brite Winter

I will be the first to admit that I was skeptical about the idea of Brite Winter, and quite honestly debated whether to go up until about 1PM the day of the event. I didn’t debate because of a lack of interest, but because it’s SO FREAKING COLD IN CLEVELAND RIGHT NOW.

Brite Winter is a music and arts festival in the neighborhood of Ohio City (which I happen to live in, yay!) that is purposely scheduled in the middle of February. With temperatures quite often below zero it’s not surprising that Clevelanders tend to hibernate during the coldest months, but Brite Winter’s message stuck out to me:

“We are about winter. Not avoiding it or running from it, but running to it, bundled arms open wide. We are about having fun in the middle of a season that is generally avoided. We are about celebrating the fantastic art, music, and general awesomeness of our city.”


I am SO GLAD I put on my winter gear, got in that Uber and ventured down to West 25th, because we had such an awesome time.

Brite Winter

Me, a Brite Winter ice sculpture, and what has to be one of the best photobombs of all time.

I wish I could say I have some in-depth musical reviews and discoveries from this event but with the frigid temperatures we didn’t really stay one in place that long. I did catch a few songs from Modern Electric (who I was excited to see after Miranda’s recommendation on The Good Groupie) and couldn’t get “David Bowie” out of my head the rest of the night.

We made our way near the front during Welshly Arms and stayed for probably 4-5 songs before running back inside to warm up. It was cool to see Sam Getz on stage as lead singer of his band after seeing him on guitar over the years with other artists like Stephen Kellogg & The Sixers and Kate Voegele. I had no idea he had this kind of sound hiding in him. It’s legit. Highly recommend giving them a listen if you like bluesy, rocky, Black Keys-ish type music. Well done, Sam. I will keep an eye on this for sure.

Welshly Arms

Welshly Arms

Brite Winter

I can’t tell you much detail about the bands, but I know that every time I was near a stage there was great music being played that made me dance, made me happy, made me excited to be there. I can’t tell you the names of every local artist with their pieces on display, but I know that what I saw made me stop and look.

It was heartwarming to be in this arctic tundra weather in the middle of winter with so many other people who just wanted to embrace it and have fun. The overall vibe of this event was so unique and positive. I’m so glad I ignored my natural instincts of staying indoors and that we went out anyway.

brite winter emilySure, we trucked through a lot of snow and our hands were freezing, but this felt like a chance for a bunch of adults to feel carefree like kids for a night. Ohio City became our playground and our entertainment was snow, local music and beer.

I will never debate whether or not to go again, that’s for sure.

See you in 2016, Brite Winter!

Photos: Emily Kaplan (follow her on Twitter!)

#MusingMelodies – Why I Dig Music

As I begin diving further into this world of music blogging, I’m excited to announce that Miranda of The Good Groupie and I will be collaborating on a little series we like to call #MusingMelodies. We thought it’d be fun to discuss topics that would explore the concepts of each of our blogs (hers is amazing, by the way), but also allow our fellow music lovers to join in too. 

Once a month, we’ll share a music-related post with you and encourage you to share yours too. Whether it’s on Twitter, your own blog or the comments section, we’d love to hear your thoughts! In the meantime, here’s a little introduction to who Miranda is and why she digs music:


Why do I dig music? I feel a little like Russell Hammond of the band Stillwater in “Almost Famous” when contemplating that question. When William Miller finally gets his one-on-one interview with Russell at the end of the movie, his first question is, “What do you love about music?”

Russell’s response? “To begin with, everything.”

That’s pretty much how I feel about music too. It’s my drug, my lifeline, the thing that keeps me sane. It’s the one thing in my life that has always been a constant, has always been there for me.

So when Danielle and I decided to do this blog swap to kick off our #MusingMelodies series, which we’ll be inviting you to join us in, I really had to sit down and pick out a few of the things I love most about music. Here’s what I came up with:

The Lyrics
From age 13 I knew I wanted to be a writer. I’ve always loved the written word, and to me lyrics are just stories set to music. I love lyrics that reflect who I am. I love lyrics that help me understand something I’ve gone through. I love lyrics that are beautifully and cleverly crafted in a way that cracks open my chest and takes hold of my heart. The lyrics nearly always come before the melody for me – they are the thing I dig most about music.

The Escape

When I go to see a live band, there is nothing better in my world than closing my eyes, listening to the songs as they pour out of the speakers and fading away in the guitar riffs, bass lines and drum beats. There are times when I feel like the music is literally surrounding me, filling my heart and soul with the one thing I’ve been missing – the thing that makes me whole again. It makes me a total escapist, but music is the world I go to when I need a break from reality. The only thing that makes it better is if it gives me an excuse to travel and visit somewhere new while I’m chasing a band.

The Friendship

I have made some amazing friends through music. “The girls”, as I affectionately call my Hanson fan girl gang, are some of my favorite people in the world. We’re all complete different, leading different lives and working in different careers. We have different goals and are spread out across multiple states and time zones. But the one thing that brings us all together is the music we have in common. I wouldn’t trade the time I’ve spent on the road or at shows with the girls for anything.

What about you? What do you dig about music? Share it in the comments or find me on Twitter! I’d love to hear from you.

And stay tuned to I Dig Music and The Good Groupie for more #MusingMelodies posts! Each month we’ll both be sharing thoughts on a music topic, from our concert venue bucket list to the lyrics we wish we wrote. Have an idea for us? We’d love to hear from you! Find both of us on Twitter (Danielle or Miranda) to share your suggestion.

Miranda Enzor is a writer, blogger and music lover from Houston, TX. She writes The Good Groupie, a music blog by a music fan, for fellow fans. She takes you backstage with up-and-coming bands, finds new music you’ll fall in love with, hosts a Rock Novel Reading Club and teaches you how to be a good groupie for your favorite bands too.

Head over to The Good Groupie to read my take on what it means to be a “Good Groupie”. You might be surprised on what this concept is actually about.

Tweet us with the hashtag #MusingMelodies or comment below and tell us what topics you want to dig into with us!

Back to the Island 2015: Hanson Spring Break


I got home from Mexico last Sunday, January 11th and I have been thinking about how to put this trip into words the entire week. First of all, I have to thank my friends who essentially talked me into going. I know, I know, crazy I had to be talked into going to the beach with my favorite band… but I wasn’t sure the cost could be justified.

Holy crap was I wrong.

Not only was this trip worth the money, it was one of the funnest, most memorable trips I’ve ever been on. Being a Hanson fan more than half of my life, since I was 11 when they came out, this was like Hanson Summer Camp… or, maybe even Hanson Spring Break.



Backing up for a second — we spent the first 3 days in Riviera Maya at the Catalonia resort in Puerto Aventuras. We went on an excursion which took us snorkeling, cliff jumping, ziplining and swimming in two different cenotes, we drank fruity drinks on the beach and at swim-up bars, we laid in bean bag chairs by the water, hung out in Playa Del Carmen, and just overall had an awesome time. I never thought I’d ever jump off a cliff into an open cenote or swim in a cave, but this trip brought on those new adventures and the adrenaline rush was awesome.

Onto the Hanson portion of the trip… BTTI DAY ONE:


The first day we got to Golden Parnassus in Cancun I was taken aback by how turquoise the water was there–and by the size of the waves. Our resort wasn’t exactly how I imagined based on the photos I saw from the last two “Back to the Island” events in Jamaica. The resort they stayed on last time was more laid out and just overall bigger–this resort in Cancun was much more confined and I’m still not sure if that was better or worse. Either way, our room was on the first floor which was super convenient, and we had ocean view which was amazing.

IMG_0542There was a big banner hanging in the lobby that said “HANSON Back to the Island” which everyone immediately snapped pictures of. This entire resort was booked out by Hanson’s event. AKA: NO HATERS ALLOWED.

We spent the first day playing beer pong in the pool and at one point the DJ played “MMMBop”. I mean, come on you guys. This was why I kept calling it Hanson Spring Break. So much fun. We ran into so many people and pretty much attacked Nat and Jess when they arrived and walked down the stairs from the lobby to the pool.

For the first time in my Hanson fandom life I was able to watch them do a soundcheck (since the stage was just out in the open obviously). It was semi-entertaining but mostly just a bucket list thing to do. After about 20 minutes of watching soundcheck we ran back to our room to get ready and go to dinner. Jess, Nat and I went to the “Old Barn” restaurant and got steaks (fancy). After dinner, we made our way down to the stage and got some drinks on the way.

The first show of the trip was the “Welcome to the Island” set which Hanson picked their own setlist for. It was basically a compilation of all of their “hits” along with some random ones we don’t hear quite as much. This set was really high energy and everyone was having an awesome time. The wind was blowing off of the water like crazy and at one point I realized it almost felt like you were flying. To stand there in the sand right by the water watching a show was like something out of a dream. Hanson of course noticed the crazy wind too and came up with a “song” about sand being in every crevice of your body, entitled “Sand in My Crevice”. Of course we sang it the rest of the trip.



Thursday was a jam-packed day since we had activities with Zac and Isaac, then solo sets from Zac and Isaac, followed by the “Christmas on the Island” concert. We started out the day by snapping photos on our balcony and then heading down to the resort’s indoor theater for Mexican pottery painting hosted by Zac. When we walked in, we could pick a nick-nack (that’s still a word right?) from a huge assortment. Emily picked a seahorse, Margo picked a little box with a fish on the lid, and I went with a little whale. We found seats and Zac came out to tell us he’d be painting too and would walk around to see how ours was going.

When Zac finally made his rounds to our table, he walked over with the weirdest looking dog sculpture ever and this look of pride on his face. We looked back at it in confusion and said “that’s…nice”, to which he replied “you guys don’t have to lie to me”. Ha! We chit chatted a little with him before he ran over to the next table. He spent a little too long at some of the tables in the front and I think was trying to make up time before the event was over and at least say hi to each table left. Here’s my whale and Zac’s mutant dog which he named “Zac’s Mistake”:


IMG_0197After the pottery painting we pretty much went immediately into Isaac’s Mixology event. You could tell he put a TON of thought and research into the whole thing. I was expecting him to have someone from the resort, perhaps a skilled bartender, doing the majority of the drink making and him just sort of following along, but that was not the case. He told us all kinds of factoids about the origination of certain drinks and how the names of certain cocktails came about. He made a few drinks, broke a few glasses, and talked a LOT. He brought a few fans up to help him and had this one girl read the recipe for a cocktail from his phone. Turns out, the recipe was missing one of the major ingredients. As he was about to throw it out, some of the fans in the front asked him if they could have it anyway, and proceeded to pass it around. When it came to us we continued passing it along. No thanks.

We left Isaac’s Mixology event a little early to head outside for Zac’s solo show. I will say, this schedule was a little too close for comfort at some points. I found Nat outside and had a few margaritas. Gotta love the all-inclusive factor. It was SO nice outside at that point, too. Seriously a beautiful day. Zac’s set was short but sweet. He played about 8 songs, I think. I was excited to hear “Bittersweet” and have a newfound love for “Wait Here For You” which has never been played live. I can’t believe I never realized what a great song that is. Now that I’m home, I can’t stop listening to it.


After Zac’s set we had a little break before Isaac’s. I have to admit, I was so pleasantly surprised at the hilarity and entertainment of Isaac Hanson solo. The setlist was on point and he had NO problem making fun of himself. These girls in the back were yelling for him to play a really old song called “Sometimes”. Finally he attempted to play it and got himself all worked up and ready, only to start playing “Smile” instead. We were seriously confused, and it took Isaac until the end of the second verse to realize it was the wrong song. THAT was hilarious. Even more hilarious that “Smile” is a Taylor lead. He also played “Two Tears” which is super old and everyone sang out the Taylor parts of the song in what I like to call “baby Taylor voice”, which really made Isaac laugh. “FROM MINE! TWO TEARS FALL!”


Overall, it was cool to see them each do some songs solo. You got a better sense of their personalities, especially Isaac. We all went to dinner together before the next full band “Christmas on the Island” concert. Hanson released a Christmas album back in 1997 (or 98) and has never really played much of it live. Fans were asking them for years and they finally decided to do a Christmas show for this event. People went all out with props and Santa hats and some fans even draped themselves in Christmas lights like the cover of Snowed In.

IMG_0238The Christmas set began with about 8 of the songs from Snowed In, followed by an a cappella version of one of my favorite covers, “Too Much Heaven” by the Bee Gees. They then told us that they were going to play a bunch of their favorite songs that they didn’t write, which launched the majority of the rest of the show into a covers set. I. Was. Dying. They played “Gimme Some Lovin'” which basically made us all feel 12 again, “In a Little While” which was one of my favorite covers from the 2005 Live & Electric Tour, “Oh Darlin” which is… well, I don’t even have words for how good of a cover that is. Hanson is just a such an awesome cover band and I’ve always wanted them to do a covers set. This wasn’t a full concert of covers, but close enough that my heart was super happy.

It was during this show that they announced that the schedule would be changing around a little and told us what the big “secret” was. We knew we were set to “depart resort” for the final show but weren’t exactly sure where we’d be going. Turns out, we were going to Isla Mujeres, an island off of the coast of Mexico that you get to via ferry. And we weren’t going on Saturday anymore, we were going tomorrow (due to potentially bad weather). These guys, I don’t know how they come up with this stuff but I was definitely excited.


Friday we woke up and spent a lot of time laying out at the pool since we didn’t have anything going on until it was time to load up to leave for the island. It was nice to have a little break and just get some sun. We saw Isaac hanging around the resort and Nat took a pretty awesome photo with him. I think he loved the chips and guac in the “Breeze” walk-up restaurant more than we did. Eventually we went to get ready and got some dinner before our lobby meeting time.

IMG_0254They brought us all on charter busses to the ferry port. The busses were SUPER nice, too. It was fun driving up the strip in Cancun and seeing all of the bars and shops and restaurants. When we got to the ferry port we all got into a huge line and soon enough they were letting us onto two different booze cruise style boats. As soon as you walked on, there was Pitbull-type music playing and people were passing out drinks left and right from huge trays. This was no ordinary ferry ride, that’s for sure. It started out really fun but the wind was crazy, so the boat was rockin’ and rollin’ a LOT. Quite a few people got sick, but miraculously there were some girls who danced and drank the whole 45 minute ride there and had no issues. Jealous!

We docked at Isla Mujeres and couldn’t believe how decked out this place was. As soon as you were stepping onto the island there was someone handing you a pina colada, and there was a huge “WELCOME” with a Hanson symbol written in the sand. I almost cried due to a cuteness overload. I couldn’t believe how much detail they put into everything. We made our way to the stage and somehow scored spots right in front of Isaac in the front row. No complaints there. Then began one of the best Hanson shows I’ve ever been to. The setlist was voted on by the fan club members and I got to hear so many songs that I’d otherwise NEVER get to hear live. This is one of the many reasons BTTI is so special. Huge standout songs for me were On the Rocks (full band style), Roller Coaster Love, Leave the Light On, and On The Road. The sound on the island was amazing, there were servers passing out drinks and appetizers and the lighting was perfect.



I don’t know what other band takes the time to do something this amazing for their fans. The whole logic behind the idea was that the event is called “Back to the Island”, yet Cancun is not an island, so they decided they’d cart us all over to one. Before getting on the ferry to head back, the guys from Island Gigs (the company who partners with the band to make these events happen) was handing out dramamine to anyone who needed one. THANK YOU FOR THAT! The funniest part though was that the dramamine proceeded to make a ton of people pass out on the ride back to the resort. Quite a different vibe from the ride over, yet the Pitbull dance music played on.


The last day of the event would be spent with a M&G for over 400 fans, a Taylor solo set, sets from special guests Nick Santino and David Ryan Harris (DRH!!!! <3), and Taylor’s “activity”, an after party where he would be the DJ. We got ready for the M&G and got in line before it got too long. It was taking place in a part of the lobby right outside our room, so that was convenient. Everyone was so respectful during the M&G. Even though you could watch and hang out from all angles of the atrium-style hotel lobby, no one bothered the guys at all. We all mutually agreed to snap photos of each other during our M&G moments which were really nice to have, especially since they usually take quite some time to get you the high-resolution photo.


IMG_0710We were just a teensy bit nervous (it’s all three of them staring at you at once, okay?!) so we had a few cocktails in line to calm the nerves. Finally my turn came up and I made sure to let them know how much fun I was having and thanked them so much for having this event. I told them that I didn’t go the past two years and sat at home on Instagram watching the photos roll in with sadness. Isaac asked me where in Ohio I’m from so I told him “THE CLE” and that was about the extent of our conversation. You don’t have a whole ton of time but I made the most of it. They were offering free hugs so I of course didn’t turn those down. They just really make you feel like you’re special. I don’t know how else to say it. Even though they’re meeting 400+ people all in one sitting, they look each person in the eye and make you feel like you’re the only one there. They are just such sweet guys.

The M&G went by pretty quickly and Taylor’s solo show was almost immediately after. They moved his show, the special guests and the after party all to the same indoor theater where Zac’s activity was. I’m still not entirely sure that was necessary, and I kind of would’ve liked to spend that last night with my feet in the sand, but hey–can’t complain from Cloud 9 though.

We went outside to take some group photos since it was our last day at the beach. We got a bunch of the Christmas props out and gathered for a picture when Isaac suddenly appears out of the Breeze restaurant (probably eating chips and guac again) and yells “I WANT IN!”. Definitely a fun moment and a nice surprise since I know some of the girls were trying to get a group photo with Hanson with the props but it didn’t happen. Isaac was pleasantly normal during this trip and super social with everyone at the resort. I hope he realizes he’s pretty much everyone’s favorite now.



Taylor’s solo set was pretty awesome. He brought Isaac up as a “special guest” and they played “Sometimes”, which they are now calling “Smiletimes” due to Isaac’s hilarious fluke at his own solo set a couple days prior. “Sometimes” is another one of those super old Hanson songs where everyone decided to sing along in “baby Taylor voice”, which was again hilarious. Isaac stayed on stage with him for “Sunny Day” too, which I was really excited to hear. That song is all about leaving your worries behind, heading somewhere warm, and just enjoying life. Perfect for this.

Taylor also played “All I Ever Needed”, a song that was recorded during the Anthem sessions but didn’t make the album BUT is one of my absolute favorites. That was definitely exciting to hear and he did an awesome job with it. He forgot the second verse to “I’ve Been Down” and asked the crowd for help. Wow, to see Taylor so humble was pretty funny. His set was full of gems like “Runaway Run” (props to Nicole for requesting that at the M&G) and “Make It Out Alive”, which Taylor referred to as the “ballad of the ferry riders”. HA! If only they knew how crazy that boat ride was. Everyone singing along to that song was pretty amazing.

We went for one last dinner at one of the restaurants. I have to mention, the restaurants were incredibly underwhelming. If it weren’t for the fact that I was at this resort primarily to see Hanson, I would’ve been really disappointed in that. But because I was on Cloud 9 as mentioned earlier, I didn’t let it bother me. But for anyone looking to stay at Golden Parnassus for a regular vacation, you’ve been warned. Lack luster.

After dinner we went back to the theater for Nick Santino and David Ryan Harris’ sets which were really good. I’m a huge fan of DRH and was super excited to see him play in such a unique atmosphere. Again, I wish we would’ve been outside for this part, especially since so many fans start piling into the theater in preparation for the after party and were really disruptive during DRH’s set. It was just a bad coincidence because the room was really small with low ceilings, so every voice echoed and carried through the room really loudly. I hope DRH realized that there WERE a lot of us who were into his set, though.

IMG_0820The after party began around 11:30-12ish and Taylor jumps onstage with a huge sombrero on. He actually played a lot of awesome songs, unlike the first time he DJ’d at the VH1 Mixtape Festival After Party two summers ago which we will not talk about. As soon as he played “Uptown Funk”, which I had a feeling he would, I was proud. DJTay has come a long way, you guys. We basically spent our time toward the middle of the room dancing and hanging out. Isaac was in the back of the room and all of Hanson’s band and special guests were hanging around too. I made sure to tell Isaac at one point how excited I was that they brought DRH along for the event. He was pretty appreciative of that. I knew he was a big fan of his and we talked about how we both discovered his music on The Rock Boat, me in 2007 and him in 2009 when Hanson was on the line-up.

The after party eventually got pretty rowdy when Isaac jumped onstage, along with DRH and the rest of the band and crew. They were all wearing crazy costumes that I don’t even know how to explain and were doing tequila shots. Highlight of the after party was Bex (Hanson’s business partner/tour manager/probably life coach) doing a shot of tequila on stage. Get it, girl! We never get to see a playful side to her so that was pretty entertaining.

The next day we said our goodbyes to friends both new and old and made our way home. I will try not to get overly sentimental here, but I can’t put into words how grateful I am for being fortunate and lucky enough to go on this trip and for this band bringing so much happiness into my life. The people I’ve met over the past almost 19 years, the experiences I’ve had, places I’ve traveled to, and the overall feeling of escape that I get from being at their shows is like no other. I truly can’t imagine what my life would be like if I hadn’t bought that little orange CD back in 1997. At one point I got emotional and drunkenly said something like “I’m just so glad they exist”, but stone cold sober I’d say it again because it’s true. I’m so glad they exist. I’m so glad to have something so positive in my life that I know is always there to look forward to, to look back on, and to offer a feeling of familiarity and consistency that nothing else can. And aside from the 5% or so in the fandom who are kinda awful, Hanson has created a group of people that have so much more in common than just music. We all grew up almost always having to defend what we loved–this band–and I think it’s given us all a sense of strength and pride that’s made us pretty awesome people.

Hanson shows are always an amazing time, but BTTI was the ultimate Hanson happy place for me, and I’m so glad I was there.

See you all at BTTI 2016!


The Pros and Cons of a Ryan Adams Show

I finally had the chance to check out my first ever Ryan Adams show. Back in the day, whenever I’d see the album cover for “Gold” I mistakenly thought it was Matt Nathanson in his “Beneath These Fireworks” phase circa 2003. I was confused, okay? But since then, I’ve come to love his music a whole lot and was pumped to finally hear it live.

photo 1I met up with two of my friends and past coworkers from Youngstown State. Back when I worked in Student Programming and Events, I saw these people all the time. It was awesome to see them again! It’s great to be around people who just “get” it—people who know, respect and appreciate so much of the same music I do. We started off the night at the new Hofbrauhaus on Chester and it was the perfect kick-off. (Sidenote – SO HAPPY there’s a Hofbrauhaus here in Cleveland!)

The show was at State Theater in Playhouse Square. If you’ve never been to one of these types of theaters, you have to make it happen. Not only are they beautiful and classic, but the acoustics are amazing. Win win.

I got my ticket from a dude named Ted on Craigslist. I’m not much of a Craigslist ticket buyer, but I needed a single ticket and everything in the lower orchestra was sold out, leaving just single seats in the back.

Good news though: Ted wasn’t a faker and my ticket was good to go. Even the guys next to me who drove in from Pittsburgh and bought the 3 other seats Ted was selling were like, “Did you get your ticket from Ted on Craigslist? What a nice guy!”. Thanks for being real, Ted.

Another plus side to this experience was the fact that Butch Walker was opening for Ryan. Butch Walker’s music brings me so much nostalgia. I remember listening to his stuff so much back in 06-07 and going to quite a few of his shows.

Confession: Butch Walker’s “Too Famous to Get Fully Dressed” was my Myspace song for a really long time. (Gosh, remember Myspace? It was so personalized and awesome! It allowed me to have a freakin’ theme song! Gives me the sads that it’s essentially obsolete now.)

photo 3 (1)

Butch Walker

Bottom line: Butch never disappoints, is super funny, and is a great songwriter. You’ve probably heard music he’s either written, produced or composed from his work with artists like Pink, Gavin DeGraw, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Weezer, and Fall Out Boy.

“I’ve been playing this town for a long time, but this place is a far cry from the Grog Shop”, Butch muttered during his set. Ha! The Grog Shop is such a little hole in the wall, though such a cool venue at the same time. Tons of artists have played their first Cleveland gigs there. Even Bruno Mars who has now sold out Quicken Loans Arena and played this little gig called the Superbowl Halftime Show. Know your roots, guys.

The people behind me were rudely talking during a lot of Butch’s set. I wanted to turn into my 14-year-old self at a Backstreet Boys concert and yell at them to shut up, but I held myself back. This was a nice place, you guys. I tried to be classy.

Also, the guy next to me was some sort of mash-up of Tyrone Wells and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Actually, maybe it WAS Zydrunas Ilgauskas and I should’ve gotten a better look. All I know is, I’m so glad he was next to me and not in front of me.

Butch started off his set on piano, then graduated to acoustic guitar, and finally to electric guitar. People were of course being a little bit rude in the beginning, but one awesome guitar lick on that electric and suddenly he had everyone’s attention.

We walked around between sets and I bought a Ryan Adams t-shirt. I have serious opinions about tour merch. I love a good band shirt, but I absolutely HATE when they are $40.00. $25.00 I can handle, but they should NOT be more than that. Not for a standard t-shirt. Fun surprise to see Ryan Adams’ were only $20.00. It was like 2004 t-shirt prices all over again! Thanks for that, Ryan. And thanks for “favoriting” my tweet about it. We totally get each other.

During our little walk around the theater I also took note of about 30 dudes who were trying desperately to look like Ryan Adams. Same glasses, same unbrushed hair, same jean jacket and torn up 90’s-esque jeans. Good job though, guys. You nailed it.

Onto Ryan Adams. Opening with “Gimme Something Good” was definitely a solid choice. Actually, the entire setlist was pretty spot on. So many good songs, one after another.

I have to say, the ONLY negative thing on my mind was the fact that everyone was sitting down the whole show. I know, I know, it’s a theater…people aren’t going to stand up and dance around and cheers drinks together. Maybe (hopefully) it was just the people who were sitting around me, but no one sang along, or even bobbed their heads to the music. Everyone just sat completely still like they were watching a movie. THAT was a little weird, no?

Ryan Adams and his awesome stage cat.

Ryan Adams and his awesome stage cat.

My personal faves on the setlist: Let It Ride, Stay With Me, Magnolia Mountain and Oh My Sweet Carolina.

The only thing missing from the setlist: Come Pick Me Up. Stupid Playhouse Square curfews cut the show a little short.

Either way, the ONE con (of people being awkwardly still and silent) certainly outweighed the many pros, and I left the show an even bigger Ryan Adams fan than I was before I got there.

Also, he has a really cool cat stage prop that I wish I would’ve gotten a better picture of. You can kind of see him up on the amp on the left above Ryan’s head.

What a cool guy.

I love you Usher, but what just happened?

photo 4

I wasn’t sure what to expect when Courtney and I decided to splurge on Usher tickets for his URX Tour’s Cleveland date. I knew we’d have fun either way, but as far as a live show goes, I was pretty indifferent. The last time I saw Usher live I was in 9th grade, my big brother Jason took me and 3 of my girlfriends, and “U Remind Me” was the biggest song out there.

So I cheated a little bit and googled the setlist from the tour’s first date in Montreal just a few days before our show. (Sidenote: I am a serial setlist cheater. I know, it’s bad. And dumb.) I was pleasantly surprised to see that almost every single one of Usher’s many hits was on this list. I figured there was no way we could possibly be let down.

East 4th Street

We went for dinner and drinks at one of my favorite places on the planet House of Blues which was great as always, and then headed over to The Q. I haven’t been downtown since the return of Lebron James and it was pretty lively. Lots of people out and about and we even accidentally took a photo with Lebron’s big banner behind us.

The openers were DJ Cassidy and August Alsina. I’m probably just old or disconnected in some way, but I did not get the appeal of DJ Cassidy, and didn’t recognize any of August Alsina’s songs. The extremely intoxicated girls in front us did, however, and it wasn’t the most graceful dancing I’ve seen… but that’s a whole other story. Bottom line: interesting choices for openers. I guess maybe I just expected Usher to have someone that was more well-known on his tour roster. Is this August Alsina a big deal? Someone enlighten me.

I couldn’t help but wonder if the seats in the $150.00 price range were ever going to fill up, but they eventually did for the most part. I am SO glad we didn’t pay more for those, though. Our seats were 2nd row in the club section looking down at the stage. Perfect view (other than the girls in front of us twerking).

photo 5Finally Usher takes the stage and opens with “My Way” and we are up out of our seats dancing and excited. But somewhere between the intro, the overpowering drummer and the twerkers in front of us, I think we got lost.

Don’t get me wrong—Usher’s voice sounds good. He looks good. He’s (still) an amazing dancer. But why why why did he make his concert feel like one long medley?

One moment I will not forget is hearing the beginning of  “Confessions” and the whole crowd singing the chorus of the song, only to have them skip to another song immediately. What was that about? We kept wondering if they’d finish it and we could actually hear the whole song, but nope. Never happened.

“Nice and Slow” did not include the “US-HER-RA-YM-OND” self-spelling moment, most songs were butchered into snippets, and the drummer was so intense (although good) that some songs actually sounded like there was another song playing on top of it. The order of songs and the flow of the set was just… awkward somehow.

I don’t know, Ush. Can you just play the songs we all want to hear and not remix them and cut them in half? I know you like your new Pharrell-esque singles, and I know you didn’t have any of the guest star rappers on tour with you that appear in a huge slew of your singles, but come on. To play “Yeah!” and not do any of the Ludacris rap? To close with “Without U”, which is a David Guetta techno-ish song and NOT close with a classic that leaves people pumped?

I almost never leave a show feeling let down, but I won’t sugarcoat it–this left me with a weird feeling. Not necessarily bad, just a tad underwhelmed. So what did we do? Got the car from E. 4th Street valet and immediately blasted Bruno Mars on the 5 minute drive home.

If you’re going, you’ll have fun as long as you don’t compare it to a Justin Timberlake or Bruno Mars concert. This show reminded me of just how amazing those two really are at putting on a show.

Love ya forever Usher, but I think I’ll stick to reminiscing on your many hits via iTunes.

Back in the saddle.


Confession: I started a blog once and then totally forgot about it. Okay, I’m lying.

It’s happened more than once.

But this time I actually registered a domain name. I was tired of brainstorming over and over only to find out that every “clever” blog name I came up with was already registered at WordPress. So I went with “I Dig Music”.

For those who don’t know, the quote “I dig music” is from one of my absolute favorite movies, Almost Famous. Someday I’ll tell you all about why that’s my favorite movie. For now, though, just go watch it sometime if you’ve never seen it. If you’re a music fan, anyway.

So, I’m here. I’m not promising myself (or anyone else) that I’m going to post something everyday. I’m not going to hold myself to silly standards or try to grab a ton of people’s attention. I am merely writing as an outlet to share my experiences and to have a place to look back on my life someday. I love reading back on my old posts on Tumblr or Timehop (hello—nostalgia city in that app), and it inspired me to pick up where I left off.