Our 21st anniversary trip began at around 8pm when Wendy, my favourite in-laws and I arrived at LAX in Los Angeles. Just to be clear, only Wendy and I had an anniversary. And just to be clear again, Lisa would have been included in the favourite in-law thingy but she chose to stay home and teach school instead. Lets move on. I secured our rental vehicle using some kind of ATM machine at Alamo car rentals and off we went to explore the streets of LA.
Luckily I had the forethought to bring my GPS (and consequently saved us $14.95USD per day!). We arrived at the hotel without incident (ok maybe a few u-turns but that’s no big deal) settled in and went out for diner at a nearby restaurant.
The next day Maureen, Barb, Wendy and I went out exploring. Rob stayed back at the hotel to nurse his horrible cold. He was in rough shape. Maureen and Barb went shopping in Little Ethiopia and Wendy and I went to the mall. Yes, I said that right. We went to the mall. We weren’t there very long. Wendy wanted to pick up some clothes for the concert. I thought well why didn’t you pack some clothes and it turned out she did but they just weren’t good enough. Okay, I’m kidding a bit. Wendy wanted to pick up a skirt and pants she had tried on in Bellingham the week before. That store happened to be relatively close so we got it done.
Once we were done at the mall, we checked out the area around the El Rey theatre. I wanted to see what the parking situation was like. It looked good, as long as we got there exactly at 7pm – when parking was allowed on Wiltshire Blvd. We then went and picked up Barb and Maureen in Little Ethiopia. It turns out their shopping excursion was a bust. Barb suggested we head to a little restaurant in Santa Monica, so off we went.
We ended up having lunch at a fancy little hotel restaurant on the beach. Barb and I had some yummy fish tacos and fries. Wendy had soup and Maureen had a gallon of wine. Just kidding. I can’t remember if she ate anything. Lol.
After lunch we took a stroll in the heat and walked to the pier where, as it turns out, it is the end of Route 66. Kinda cool.
It turns out that Barb had an ulterior motive for going to the Santa Monica pier. She is a huge fan of the Sharknado movies and was hoping to pick-up some kind of movie memorabilia on the pier. She was shit out of luck. The only thing resembling Sharknado memorabilia was a little shovel with a sharks face on it. After grabbing some obligatory ice cream and milkshakes We then made our way back to the hotel through the crushing LA traffic – and I thought Vancouver traffic was bad. Holy shit. Anyways, we finally made it.
We should have had enough time to freshen up and head to the concert venue but…The best laid plans…….. Despite my plan to arrive at exactly 7pm to take advantage of free parking, it didn’t work out that way. Only three people were ready on time. I won’t mention any names, Wendy and Barb, but it threw a little wrench in my plan. We were only 20 minutes late but there was no parking to be found. We ended up taking advantage of the valet parking service at the venue.
Thanks to Wendy, we managed to get VIP passes and reserved seating for the venue. Yay!!! I will let Wendy explain the details behind that. There was a little Mexican restaurant attached to the El Rey theatre. I decided to take advantage of that and had 4 more delicious tacos for dinner – 2 chicken, 1 beef, 1 shrimp. They were awesome! We sat at our table and waiting for the show to begin.
The opening act, Hunter Sharpe, started their set at around 8:00pm. They were surprisingly pretty decent. The band was tight. They played what I can only describe as a cross between Texas blues and Seattle grunge. I liked it. It turns out that their regular guitarist, who happens to be Charlie Sexton’s son, recently broke his wrist so they had to find a quick replacement. Luckily they did. It looked like the kid hadn’t eaten in years but he could sure play the guitar and was able to bounce around the stage along with everyone else, so I guess he wasn’t that hungry. I only mention Charlie Sexton because he was Doyle Bramhall II’s partner in the Arc Angels – a band that was kind of big in the early 90’s.
Finally, the main event.
Once Hunter Sharpe’s equipment was removed from the stage, Doyle Bramhall II and his band started their set. He started off with I Wanna Be, a classic from his album Jellycream. It was great and kept getting better from there. He played a bunch of my favourite songs as well as 4 new ones. I sang along with every song and just made up words for the new ones! At one point during one of the songs, Doyle let the second guitarist take the guitar solo. The guy was just ripping it up and playing his heart out. The problem is, he was in the wrong key and it sounded horrible!! (At least to me, I don’t think Barb, Maureen, Wendy or Rob even noticed). Anyways, Doyle kept playing rhythm on the other side of the stage and was trying to get the guys attention. At one point, it sounded soooo bad that Doyle just started laughing. He finally got his attention and took over the main guitar part. I thought it was pretty funny. Anyways, the show went on without a hitch and it was just fantastic. It was made even better with the VIP experience. Thanks to Wendy.
Once the show was over, we started to get herded towards the doors. I can’t remember how, but we found out that Doyle was going to come out and do a bit of a meet and greet with the fans. So we stuck around. Sure enough, Doyle came out and started shaking hands and taking pictures with people. Soon it was our turn. Wendy explained who she was and introduced me. I chatted with him briefly and had my picture taken. He then said that he had to continue the meet and greet but would like us to stick around so he could talk some more. How cool is that!! So we did.
While we were waiting I did my normal thing and checked out everyone in the crowd. Well to my surprise I spotted one of my favourite comedians and host of the podcasts The Bryan Callen Show and The Fighter and The Kid. His name, of course, is Bryan Callen. Duh. I walked over to him and introduced myself. We talked and joked around for a bit. One of his friends, Anthony Tambakis (the guy who wrote the movie The Warrior), was calling for him. Callen responded “Hey! Gimme a minute. I’m being recognized here!” We had a good laugh at that. I got my picture taken with him and chatted a bit more. He was just as genuine as he comes across on his podcast. He couldn’t have been a nicer guy.
When Doyle was all done, he got snagged by Rob who asked him to sign our “Table reserved for” sheet. It was a nice 21st anniversary gift. Thanks Rob! Doyle then came over to us and I got to chat with him a bunch more. It was awesome. What a night. I was so happy I got to see him live and then meet him. Wow.
We got back to the hotel safely, took a bit of a nap (my back and leg were so sore, I barely slept at all) had breakfast and set off for the airport. That was our 40hrs in LA in a nutshell.