Year In Review – 2022

While 2022 kicked off not only with an in-person show but shows in another country, there was definitely still some virtual filler in there to make sure I still got my “streak” of 1 show a month.  Once May hit and I got over covid, it seemed live shows also hit an uptick. I ended the year with 50 in person concerts and 11 streams and an overall total of 731 in person concerts.

Most expensive show:
Other than Back To The Island which is hard to price out by show, it looks like NKOTB was the most expensive at $126.50 and I saw them twice at that price.

Least (not free) expensive show:
I’ll exclude virtual since they were all for the most part $20 or under… Hanson’s storytellers was $30 and Tartan Terrors were $40.

Free shows:
The Masker Singer Tour, Hanson’s Members only show, Gaelic Storm, Stephen Kellogg and Blues Traveler

# artists seen: 155
# unique artists seen: 25
# shows seen in CT: 17
# of shows out of state: 6 out of the country / 27 out of CT

Show farthest away: I don’t feel like mathing but I’m going to say Vancouver
Closest show: Fairfield CT
$$ spent on tickets: about $3k excluding BTTI and Disney
Miles traveled: 41,862

Top 6 shows of the year? I hate this question so much lol Mandy Moore, Kris Allen/Jon McLaughlin, throw in a couple of Hanson shows here…, Lindsey Stirling, Darren Criss

Total number of shows in 2022? 11 virtual / 50 in person

First show of the year? Hanson

First show with actual tickets:  The Masked singer tour

Last show of the year? Stephen Kellogg at FTC

Most surprising show? SK at FTC because he stopped mid show to get sassy with some jerks in the audience

Most disappointing? Boyband Christmas because it got canceled

Farthest traveled? Pacific Northwest

States attended shows in? VT, OK, TN, GA, AL, MA, NH, NY, OH, MN, ND, WA, OR, FL

Venue most visited? The theater in EPCOT followed by Mohegan Sun

Band seen the most? Hanson for sure

Best new discovery? Tartan Terrors

Bands seen this year that also broke up this year? None that I know of

Friends made at shows? I don’t think I made any.

Band members met? Hanson, Natasha Beddingfield, O-Town, Chris Kirkpatrick, Jon McLaughlin, Kris Allen, David Cook

Best souvenir from a show? I ended up with 2 of Isaac’s picks, a few setlists – one including my request included on it 

Longest time in line? Probably for one of the Hanson ones but I don’t wait that long 

Shows seen from the barricade [front row]– Front row of the balcony a lot…  and Tartan Terrors was front row proper.

Most shows in one month? 

January – 5
February – (7 virtual)
March – (2 virtual, 3 failed in person attempts)
April – (1 virtual)
May – 2
June – 4
July – 9
August – 8
September – 3
October – 13
November –3
December – 4 (1 virtual)

Most shows in one week? Disney for Hanson was 12 shows in 4 days 

Biggest crowd? Big Time Rush? Or maybe the arena – NKOTB, One Republic?

Any drunk encounters? Probably but I’ve blocked them from memory

Missed shows:

Greyson Chance postponed and I couldn’t make the made up date.
John Mayer postponed and I couldn’t make the made up date.
David Archuleta canceled.
90s Con After Party was missed due to weather
Backstreet Boys I sold tickets to see Hanson
Shawn Mendes canceled.

Stephen Kellogg @ Stage One

Thursday night, my 50th and last show for the year was Stephen Kellogg’s hometown show at the Fairfield Theater.  When the show started, Danny Black came out on stage by himself to play guitar and Stephen ended up walking around the crowd giving hugs and high fives to audience members while singing High Highs, Low Lows.  After his second song he said that he had an easel on stage and that each of the songs would fit under one of those topics and the topics would all be drawn out of a hat so we had no idea what show we would end up getting.  He also had to let Danny know what they would be playing and said that he might not even know all the songs so we’ll get what we get.  The first two songs were “Work” so he crossed that off and then the rest of the set was Parents, Legacy, Kids, Friends, Marriage, Sense of Humor, Health, Time, Heroes, Forgiveness and Integrity.  He did two songs for the encore after that, the second one being See You Later, See You Soon with the Kellogg Sisters.  (Sophia had also come out to play piano on Sweet Sophia)

During Objects In The Mirror he ended up calling out some people who were on the side of the stage and talking and asking them what they were talking about and if they could please read the room because everyone else was being polite and listening while he was singing.  He ended up having to almost reprimand that side of the room a couple of more times because there was so much talking and then they yelled back “You’re not even looking at us!” so he told them if they wanted him to look at them they should have bought tickets that were facing the stage instead of being so entitled.  I have to say, I love sassy SK and he kept saying he “wasn’t sure who it was” but I had an idea and after they dramatically made a scene leaving (just before ‘sense of humor’) I was pretty sure Stephen DID know who they were.  This was confirmed when he came out at the encore and made a comment about how the show got so much better once that couple left.  Honestly though, he was the headliner, you had to have had SOME idea what you were getting into? And not that I condone ever speaking during someone’s performance – it’s not like he was a crappy opener or something! Also they could have easily went out the side they were sitting on, but had to walk in front of the stage to make sure everyone knew they were leaving. *eye roll*  I’m glad they left though because they were going to derail the show entirely if it kept going how it was.

With the way we had setlist roulette going on, it was a lot of fun to see what topics were chosen and which song SK would ultimately end up singing.  He had 2 pages in front of him that I thought were the setlist – but it must have just been a list of several songs that went under each topic. I’m assuming he did the same type of thing for his last 2 solo shows before this one and there’s definitely some variety in the setlist.

Also during the show Danny Black did an awesome guitar solo and then threw his pick and it hit my in the leg. I ended up finding it under the seat of the guy next to me with the assist from the guy in front of me! So that was pretty cool.

Book Review: Hanged!

I am admittedly not a history buff and I had never heard of Mary Surrat before picking up this book.  Mary was convicted of being involved in the plot to assassinate President Lincoln and ended up becoming the first woman to be executed in the United States due to her supposed involvement.  The book takes information from all sorts of records from the time of her time in court.  Its definitely an interesting read and I’m not entirely sure if she really did do what they say they did or if people just decided they didn’t like how she looked so they made up stories about her and ended up believing them and convincing others they were true.  You’ll have to give it a read yourself to see if you come to the same conclusions or not…

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

From the critically acclaimed author of The Borden Murders comes the thrilling story of Mary Surratt, the first woman to be executed by the US government, for her alleged involvement in the plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln.

A dubious distinction belongs to Mary Surratt: on July 7, 1865, she became the first woman to be executed by the United States government, accused of conspiring in the plot to assassinate not only President Abraham Lincoln, but also the vice president, the secretary of state, and General Grant.

Mary Surratt was a widow, a Catholic, a businesswoman, a slave owner, a Union resident, and the mother of a Confederate Secret Service courier. As the proprietor of the boardinghouse where John Wilkes Booth and his allies are known to have gathered, Mary Surratt was widely believed, as President Andrew Johnson famously put it, to have “kept the nest that hatched the egg.” But did Mrs. Surratt truly commit treason by aiding and abetting Booth in his plot to murder the president? Or was she the victim of a spectacularly cruel coincidence? Here is YA nonfiction at its best–gripping, thought-provoking, and unputdownable.

Book Review: 21-Hit Wonder

21-Hit Wonder is by Sam Hollander, a song writer.  I wasn’t sure if I was actually familiar with any of his stuff, but I always find these sorts of stories fun and fascinating.  And any book that essentially kicks off with the author being baby sat by Andy Warhol is for sure going to end up being a roller coaster and that it was.  There were definitely artists and songs throughout that I was familiar with – there’s a whole nice chapter with some behind the scenes info about Michael Tolcher and how he had such a marketable story (or three) about his life but he just didn’t feel like that’s the approach he wanted to take and end up not sticking with his label…  Sam was also involved in writing with Rich Cronin and had to do with the creation of the show that Rich ended up being on to create a Man Band (with Chris from NSYNC and Jeff from 98 degrees as well).  There was a whole chapter on his attempts to write songs for the American Idol winners and even some Lou Pearlman thrown in for good measure – what’s not to love?

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

Rising up the charts seemed, at many points in Sam Hollander’s career, highly unlikely. This is his story of failing his way to the top.

As one of the most renowned, multi-platinum songwriters and producers in the game, Sam Hollander has written and produced for the likes of Panic! At The Disco, One Direction, Katy Perry, Ringo Starr, Def Leppard, Carole King, Weezer, blink-182, Jewel, Train, Fitz and the Tantrums, Billy Idol, Tom Morello, and many others.

But before he was stacking Billboard hits, Hollander was piling up calamitous flops, false starts, and feeling like the world was moving on and up without him while he spun in place. Today he wears that decade of misses like a badge of honor.

In 21-Hit Wonder, he’s collected anecdotes from his wild music industry rollercoaster ride to help aspiring songwriters and other creatives learn about survival, endurance, scheming, hustle, and the importance of laughing even on the worst days of the journey. Music lovers spanning generations and genres will find stories about many of their heroes and industry icons.

21-Hit Wonder is one part chronicle of a songwriter’s storied career and another part love letter to anyone who has been counted out—from no-hit wonders and one-hit wonders to the novelties and the never-beens—and just needs a bit of inspiration to persevere. Sam’s inspiring story is proof that setbacks are just steps on the road to success.

Book Review: The Girlfriend

I have to say, I think this book hyped itself a little bit too much in it’s synopsis. I absolutely loved Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train so I was ready for a real psychological thriller.  The Girlfriend took a really, really long time to get anywhere I’d even remotely describe as “thrilling”.  It also probably needed several dozen trigger warnings…

The story begins with Jennifer and her family preparing for a big Halloween party to debut their new house that has just been renovated.  Jennifer’s husband, Cole, stumbles out of the house and takes off without telling anyone, though his son Miller sees him go and tells his mother he thinks his Dad is drunk and took off with the car.  No one seems to think anything of this despite the fact that he had previously lost his license for a year and they continue on with getting things ready for this party.

Shortly after, Jennifer is visited by some police officers who inform her that her husband has been in a car accident and did not survive.  Shortly after that, a woman shows up on her doorstep with a baby and says that she is Cole’s girlfriend and she also is the mother to his son.  After some investigating, Jennifer finds out that Cole was bailed out of near bankruptcy by Sara and her trust fund and now Jennifer has nothing – the home belongs to Sara and so does all her money.

The two decide that Sara and her son will move in with Jennifer and her son and daughter which I think everyone else in the book and the world didn’t think was a good idea… and all sorts of chaos ensues.

The rest of the book is all sorts of twists and turns as Jennifer tries to find out what she didn’t know about Cole, what her son did know and kept from her and what other secrets Sara is hiding.  The police then let the women know that it wasn’t the accident that killed Cole but rather he got struck in the head before his death and that caused the accident.  Now on top of everything else, they want to figure out who it was that actually killed Cole…

While I have to say I didn’t see some of the twists coming, this book just wasn’t it for me.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

My husband’s dead. She’s at my door. She owns my home…

The doorbell rings, just days after my beloved husband’s sudden death. I don’t recognise the woman on our doorstep, with her buttery blonde highlights, a diamond bracelet identical to my own and a bouncing baby boy in her arms.

As I show her inside, I notice her eyes grow wide as she takes in our spacious hallway, and the big squashy sofas that we all used to pile on. She glances at the silver-framed family photos and my little daughter hiding behind my skirts.

She looks at me, her blue eyes serious. ‘I’m sorry’ she says. ‘I know this will be hard to hear. But I am your husband’s girlfriend. And this is his son.’

My world implodes. And then she tells me that she owns our home – and that she’s not going anywhere…

An utterly gripping psychological thriller from the number one bestselling author of The Marriage. If you like Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train and Lisa Jewell then you will be hooked by The Girlfriend.

Book Review: Jill

I really didn’t know much about Dr Jill Biden before reading this book, but she seems pretty awesome so I figured I’d give it a go.  My suspicions were confirmed, and she is pretty awesome by all accounts in this book.  I did find it rather odd that a lot of the excerpts were from her autobiography, but I guess that was released before she was First Lady so this biography covers everything the autobiography did and then some.  Quite a roller coaster of a read at times but truly interesting.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

Most Anticipated by Daily Hive

The personal and political life of First Lady Dr. Jill Biden

Dr. Jill Biden has been described as President Joe Biden’s greatest political asset. Like many women of her generation, she holds her commitments as wife, mother and grandmother at the center of her life. She is a professor, earned a doctorate in educational leadership, and taught at Northern Virginia Community College. She broke barriers as First Lady as the first to hold a paying job outside the White House. “Jill” is the story of this accomplished American woman.

From her earliest days dating Senator Biden, to her embrace of Biden’s young sons Beau and Hunter Biden and the birth of their daughter Ashley; her role by Joe Biden’s side through Senate reelection race after Senate reelection race; her years as Second Lady; to Joe’s successful third run for the Democratic presidential nomination, Jill has lived in the public eye. In this deeply reported biography, Julie Pace and Darlene Superville of The Associated Press, along with writer Evelyn M. Duffy, reveal some of the private sides of Jill Biden. We come to better understand her personality, which has held the Biden family together through tragedy and good fortune alike.

Book Review: Playing Through the Pain

Playing Through the Pain is about Ken Caminiti’s Career in baseball.  While his career was a bit before my time following the sport, I certainly know about the impact that his confession had by being the first player to confess about having using steroids while playing the game.  This book gives an entire backstory on his life and how he made it to the majors and doesn’t just focus on the steroids’ which I appreciated as someone who otherwise didn’t know much about him.

He had a lot of injuries and in addition to to steroids had issues with other drugs as well.  The book has a lot of interviews with people who were close to him and involved during his career and his downfall and eventual death.  A very sad story of a player that could have been great if not often sidelined by injury.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

The powerful story of Ken Caminiti, who changed baseball forever as the first player to confess to having used performance-enhancing steroids

In Playing Through the Pain: Ken Caminiti and the Steroids Confession That Changed Baseball Forever, writer Dan Good seeks to make sense of MLB MVP Ken Caminiti’s fascinating, troubled life. Good began researching Caminiti in 2012 and conducted his first interviews for his biography in 2013. Since then he’s interviewed nearly 400 people, providing him with an exclusive and exhaustive view into Caminiti’s addictions, use of steroids, baseball successes, and inner turmoil.

Decades later, the full truth about Major League Baseball’s steroids era remains elusive, and the story of Caminiti, the player who opened the lid on performance-enhancing drugs in baseball has never been properly told. A gritty third baseman known for his diving stops, cannon arm, and switch-hit power, Caminiti voluntarily admitted in a 2002 Sports Illustrated cover story that he used steroids during his career, including his 1996 MVP season, and guessed that half of the players were using performance-enhancing drugs. “I’ve made a ton of mistakes,” he said. “I don’t think using steroids is one of them.”

Good’s on-the-record sources include Caminiti’s steroids supplier, who has never come forward, discussing in detail his efforts to set up drug programs for Caminiti and dozens of other MLB players during the late 1990s; people who attended rehab with Caminiti and revealed the secret inner trauma that fueled his addictions; hundreds of Caminiti’s baseball teammates and coaches, from Little League to the major leagues, who adored and respected him while struggling to understand how to help him amid a culture that cultivated substance abuse; childhood friends who were drawn to his daring personality, warmth, and athleticism; and the teenager at the center of Caminiti’s October 2004 trip to New York City during which he overdosed and died.

A Very Darren Crissmas

Friday night, Darren Criss brought “A Very Darren Crissmas” to the Ridgefield Playhouse.  While I knew that he had released this CD last year, I hadn’t had a chance to listen to it yet and to be quite honest I think it worked out better that I hadn’t.  He mentioned throughout the show that he picked songs that he hoped we had already known and did something different with their arrangements – so aside from the couple of originals that he did, I was familiar with everything which led for some nice surprises on his different arrangements that I otherwise wouldn’t have gotten if I had already listened to the CD.  Probably one of the rare cases where that actually worked out in my favor though.

When the show was set to begin, his band took the stage which was a lot bigger than I was expecting (because, didn’t realize the CD had a orchestra arrangement LOL) and it was made up of 7 people, which was much smaller than what he had during the recording.  Off stage he started asking if the band was just waiting for him and if the theater was just waiting for him and then he busted out with Everbody’s Waiting For The Man With the Bag.  He explained that he was going to tell us about the songs as well as sing them and it would be a whole experience – and also to expect some 4 letter words included and sorry if the parents thought this would be a family show but hopefully they were wearing pearls as they’d be clutching them.  Honestly though, a sweary Chrsitmas show was just what I needed and I absolutely love when artists talk about songs – usually that they wrote – but in this case about why he changed up the arrangements and why he chose the songs.  I especially liked when he went on for about 5 minutes about how great of a song writer John Mayer is – and then totally out Mayer’ed Mayer when he sang St Patricks Day (which coming from me is a huge compliment)  (Though he also mentioned John doesn’t do it live – but I am pretty sure I was lucky enough to see him do it waaaaay back at my first show of his!)

For The Christmas Waltz he was talking a bit about how songs rhymes and how that’s changed over the years and how in pop music you can get away with different rhymes that aren’t quite rhymes.  He mentioned that The Christmas Waltz contained a rhyme like this – “And this song of mine, in three-quarter time” and that he changed it so that in his version it would be a true song more consistent with the times (and that the songwriters, Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn definitely knew that in 90 years someone would be on stage talking about how it didn’t actually rhyme, lol) and changed it to “And this song of mine, written by Cahn and Styne” and then fist pumped.

During Happy Holidays / The Holiday Season he talked about how it was actually a medley of two songs and was singing it all on his own and commented that it was so quiet.  On the next line, he went to put his guitar down and most of the crowd sang the next line.  This seemed to catch him off guard and he asked if we didn’t liked the silence – to which someone screamed out “THIS IS RIDGEFIELD” which got him to yell back “YOU’RE IN RIDGEFIELD, WE SING ALONG MOTHA FUCKA” so he ended up doing some “glee shit” and having us do various sing-a-longs with him and threatened that if we were bad we would be off the bus to regionals.

Before he sang Welcome Home he said it was from the show Fanny and how in Britain, Fanny is slang for “vagina”.  Out of nowhere a British voice yells “Its more vulva than vagina”  And my Ridgefield Playhouse visits come full circle as last time I was there, Matt Nathanson was also trying to explain what a vulva was.  Another yell from the crowd (after Darren asked) was someone was from Russia and he talked about how he really wanted to go to Russia (politics aside) and get some vodka and see a ballet.

He then came out with just his guitar (after his “costume change”) and said that every show he picks a song to learn and play and it all goes down about 30 minutes before the show starts.  Tonight he chose a Beach Boys song and I was thinking – since he’s a Hanson fan and they have TWO Beach Boys songs on their Christmas album Snowed In that it was probably either Run Rudolph Run or Little St. Nick.  Turns out I was right and he picked Little St Nick but bumbled through it and while I don’t know how much more difficult it is to try and play something new and sing it even if you know it, I feel like if he was as big of a fan of Hanson and Christmas music as he says he is, it would be embedded in his brain like it is mine.  But I’ll give him a pass because you wouldn’t see me trying to play guitar to it.  He then asked for what other songs we would like to hear and said “I’m not going to fucking play them…” and that he was looking for ideas for the next night in Bethlehem and then was like “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem! I’m sure they’ve never heard THAT song before…” (but he did end up putting most of the called out requests into a medley during his encore which I thought was really cool!)

The biggest surprise (for me) was when he said he wanted to get serious, talked about looking at himself in the mirror and saying… “San Ta… I Want a hippopotamus for Christmas”  See, not knowing what was on the CD at all made this absolutely hysterical for me.  AND THEN HE PULLED OUT A KAZOO.  I mean, cmon.  Christmas song GOLD right there, Darren.

His encore was Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas with him at the guitar and then he encouraged everyone to get up for Christmas Dance and even taught us a 4 part dance to go along with it.

I think this is the most I have written about any one concert this entire year… but I definitely enjoyed myself and am now listening to the Christmas CD properly.  It looks like he did almost every track off of it with the exception of one. I’m hoping I get the chance to see Darren again soon, perhaps on Broadway!

Darren Criss Setlist The Ridgefield Playhouse, Ridgefield, CT, USA 2022

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