Sunday, March 15, 2009
The Kasim Weekend in Tampa
Well, it's been almost 3 weeks since CruiserMel hit the blog, with anything of interest or not. For the record, I've read the emails and instant message thingies and haven't been ignoring you guys, but I just haven't had the blogging mojo until today. What helped was having a bunch of free time and a late lunch that meant I didn't have to worry about what's for dinner, so I decided to read a few blogs and voila!, I found my muse to share and so - here we go.
Back at the end of February, I headed out to the airport to board a plane that would take me away from Dallas to some Tampa sunshine and the Kasim Sulton DVD Release Party that Doug & I (RundgrenRadio) had worked pretty hard to produce. It's always simultaneously tense and a relief when you're a day away from a gig and the outcome is totally up to the Gods as to whether this thing will come off with or without a hitch.
I knew when I got a gander of the pilots on my first Southwest flight that all would indeed be golden, because the two pilots were scrumptious. I mean - omg, if I could've ordered one of them from the flight attendant with my free drink coupon, I certainly could've died happily in a plane crash and still been saying "Kasim, who?" Nah - but if you'd seen these two, you'd be rushing the cockpit in your fantasies as much as I was. No doubt.
We'd booked a bunch of hotel rooms with a typical Tampa hotel right across the street from our venue. Convenient wasn't the word - it was closer to walk than to drive to the place, which meant lots of adult bevs would be consumed and Doug & I were diggin' that concept as part of our venue rental involved a certain guarantee of alcohol and food sales. When we went to the venue to check it out, we were pleased to hear the manager had waived that requirement since we were bringing so many folks to his place. Nice dude. Of course, he knew we'd far exceed any minimums - but he was cute and I figured he was probably flirting up to me. Natch.
We got all checked in at the hotel - but only after looking at dozens of rooms (okay - about 5) with beds so concave anyone, not only a princess, would feel a pea lurking beneath the mattress. Actually, the hotel was very cool as every single room had a view over Tampa Bay, known for it's glorious sunsets. It served us quite well. Nicely done.
After having a pow-wow with Doug about last-minute party plans and picking up Mrs. Doug at the airport, we suffered through a 6 mile goof by the GPS which took us across the longest bridge to nowhere, a certain redhead who needed to pee, and a near-empty gas tank, we found our way to the restaurant where we would meet Kasim, Carrie and Dave, the other producers of the DVD taped last March in Atlanta. We had to snicker because they'd waited for a table for about an hour and we skated in just as they got seated.
By the time we made it back to the hotel - many of our guests had arrived and there was a party-a-goin-on in Carrie's room. I got to see many of the folks who had been at the taping a year earlier as well as I got to meet some new friends who wanted to get out of the cold that the northeast has punished them with this year, as well as to see Kasim in a dinner-club setting the next night. We had an awesome group, I tell ya. There are pics galore on Facebook and MySpace, but I left my camera behind that night so I could truly relax and be photographed embarrassing myself. You can check some of them out here, if you must.
I'm not sure what time I hit the bed that night - but it was some glorious sleep and not a pea in sight.
The next day a group of us went to Whiskey Joe's for fish tacos (grouper, yummm) and what would turn out to be our last few hours of sunshine on a deck that is probably best visited at sunset. No lie - if you go to Tampa, you must hit this spot and let me know if that's true. Anyway, Joe had a fish tank in the foyer that mesmerized me for some reason. There was this fish that was totally flirting with me. Totally. He was so cute, I gave him star billing in this post. Ain't he cute?
That afternoon, we headed to the venue to decorate before Kas' sound check and found the place awaiting our arrival. B helped me execute some pretty cool table centerpieces while Doug hung giant facsimiles of the DVD cover behind where Kasim and Jesse Gress would be performing. It looked so nice. Hell, were we really doing this? And was it looking this good? Hell to the yeah! G was tweaking sound equipment and by the time Kasim arrived, we were about ready to go whore-up for the party which would start an hour later.
Here's what we saw when we arrived. Dammit! We missed Tina's baby shower! But what we were most pleased about was that they had spelled Kasim's name right. Oh and that they mentioned our party in the first place.
The people poured in, the drinks started flowing and Kasim arrived for a little pre-dinner mingle with the peeps. He's incredible with the schmooze. He was tired and not at all used to having to mingle before a gig, but he was a sport and people loved getting autographs and their photos taken with da man. He adjourned just as dinner was being served, to a place where he obviously channels the angels and their voices. All in all, the dinner was pretty yummy, considering this place was cooking 100's of meals for the wedding reception and quince (15th bday celebration for the Hispanic crowd) going on all at the same time. And just as we were finishing our UNBELIEVABLE chocolate cake slices, Kasim and Jesse arrived, all shiny and fresh for a night of celebration and music - unparalleled in a Kasim solo show, in my opinion. He was stellar and told some brand new tales and brought out some material that no one had heard from him before. I so wish we'd made another DVD that night. (Just kidding, to my fellow producers...I wouldn't wish that investment of time and work on anyone more than once!)
After the show, Kasim and Jesse signed more autographs and Doug & I let out a big sigh of relief as we'd racked up another home run in our stable of RundgrenRadio hosted gigs. And if we had thought Friday night's party at Carrie's room was rockin' we were so wrong when we arrived at her room on Saturday night. Even Kasim joined us, which was either him expressing his adoration for us all or his resignation to the fact that no one was going to get a quiet night's sleep anywhere in that hotel.
When the sun came up on Sunday - oh wait - it didn't come up; instead, Tampa was cold and rainy and miserable. A huge snowstorm had blanketed the eastern quadrant of the US from Birmingham and Atlanta all the way up the eastern seaboard, so some of our guests had to scramble for flights and/or another night at our hotel. Though I'm sure it was a hassle at the time - all have reported that they eventually made it home and are warm and cozy in their memories of a fantastic time with their friends, old and new. Awwwww.
And if you haven't gotten your copy of the DVD - you can order here. Four stars, I promise!
Here are a few pics from the gig. Peruse at your leisure.
The DVD cover and poster for the evening:
Mr. Sulton channeling the angels:
Jesse Gress joined Kasim on stage for a few songs:
A very tired CruiserMel and Kasim smiling at the success of the evening:
Kasim and a very proud Doug: