Thursday, August 16, 2018

Sharks in Tombstone

Get out of the water - the Sharks are coming! Swim like your life depends on it!

Sorry, a past memory of the terrifying blockbuster film, 'Jaws.'

Take a deep breath - we're safe because a great white shark isn't jumping out of the water. These Sharks are probably one of the most energetic bands we've ever heard. They performed recently for the Doc Holliday's celebration in Tombstone and this band is a little different from most others: the lead vocalist is none other than the very talented actor, Dennis Quaid.

The Sharks in concert in Tombstone
Quaid in Soul Surfer

No reason to run from this unbelievably talented band, the 'Sharks', with their lead singer, Dennis Quaid. Yes, the famous actor of such films as"I Can Only Imagine,' 'The Right Stuff', 'Innerspace', 'Wyatt Earp', 'The Parent Trap', 'Soul Surfer', 'Far from Heaven,' and that is just a quick list of  what this superb and diverse actor has starred in.

Quaid as Doc Holliday, 1994 - "I'll be your Huckleberry."

Dennis Quaid is talented - okay, we got it but to be the lead in a band? Come on? Really!

It is a fact but also a reality is the 'Sharks' are a real band playing great music that have entertained thousands of fans over eighteen years and still going strong.

How did this happen though?

Well, after playing Jerry Lee Lewis in the 1989 biography film of 'Great Balls of Fire', Dennis Quaid made himself a name among musicians. He acted the part of the darkly handsome man who liked to snap back his head when singing while pounding the piano with his boots. Lewis wanted to play 'his' music and the rest of the world could just sit back and enjoy or tune out.

Quaid as Jerry Lee Lewis - Great Balls of Fire!
Surprisingly, Dennis Quaid was intimidated when he actually met Jerry Lee Lewis, even though Dennis had a band called the Eclectics which performed in New Orleans and Southern California to positive reviews. He was a songwriter/singer/guitarist and enjoyed many a gig as a band.

Then again, you can't blame a young but up and coming star such as Quaid who was meeting a real life legend. Larger than life gods do intimidate mere humans sometimes.

His portrayal of Jerry Lee Lewis worked to rave reviews and in 2000 after being a guest on the Harry Dean Stanton Band, he was approached by one of the band's members who wanted to start up their own band.

Dennis had taken a decade away from his musical dreams to work on acting but the thought of his love of the guitar and lyrics was never far from this man's head.

Dennis, of course agreed.

The 'Sharks' were born and they went on a feeding frenzy entertaining people in small and large venues.

This celebrity is the real thing when it comes to being a band member
Of course, after meeting Dennis in Tombstone on Saturday morning, we did wonder if this was just a 'celebrity' pretending to be in a band.

It has happened.

But J and L had 'VIP' tickets to the concert and were totally wrong about the earlier thought. This is a hard core rock and roll band with Dennis as the lead singer.

Seven hundred guests held tight as the night screamed into Tombstone with threatening monsoon thunder and lighting but not a drop of rain fell on the hour and a half concert. The band played non-stop and the fans danced and sang along.

Concert in full force - the excitement is now in full force
A great evening was had for all.

Though in retrospect, Dennis seemed to have as much fun as the rest of us - his energy level was surprising from a man who had signed autographs, posed for photographs, been a judge in the 'Doc Holliday' look alike contest and just being a gracious person.

He was fresh and singing like he had just woke up from a restful snooze.  The 'Sharks' were amazing. This was no celebrity band - this was and is a band to be reckoned with. Talent and nothing less.

Of course, the band was nothing but awesome - no wonder this group has been around for almost two decades. The bass player, the lead guitarist (sorry, Dennis) and the drummer work with a synergy most corporations would love to have and they all keep an eye on the lead singer. Dennis has a habit of sometimes leaving the stage while playing guitar and mixing with the crowd and a riff there may have to be substituted to keep in tune.

Below are photographs taken in Tombstone of the band - Jamie James, Tom Slik, Kent Strange and Tom Walsh - of course the above photographs are of Dennis Quaid.

Questioning, with a 'star' playing lead may be harrowing but it all worked and the thunderous applause of the audience proved it.

And the energy continued as our gracious host celebrated after his concert with a party at the Crystal Palace for 160 of his closest friends. The events left us awed by Mr. Quaid's talent and his quiet, humble, gracious manner. A night we won't soon forget...and if you have the opportunity to see these sharks, go. You will not be disappointed...and you may find yourself singing along with your new friends.

J and L with Dennis Quaid
A discussion about Dennis's upcoming film at the after concert party
What's wrong with my corset?

J telling Dennis his new character needs more dimension

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Cycling Victoria, B.C.

Sometimes when out and about one must find a means of transportation. That was the case with J and L in the lovely city of Victoria, British Columbia.

The Emerald Princess dropped the explorers at the docks in the late afternoon, where, of course, that far north the sun is a friend until after 10 pm, so the afternoon was extended. The question was - do we walk and sight see or find another means of transportation?

Not the Emerald Princess - but sort of like disembarking in Victoria
Many fellow cruisers had arranged excursions and so they boarded buses and taxis. Others decided to just hoof it to town, a short twenty minute walk away. We wanted to explore. So when we spied a large white container at the end of the dock with dozens of bicycles for rent, we opted to roll through town. Victoria Bike Rentals had it all: twenty-one speed bikes, helmets, and even a small bag with emergency supplies. Of course, there was the mandatory item - the bike lock in case the intrepid peddler wanted to do some shopping, or perhaps take a pit-stop at a local pub, and still ensure the bicycle would remain attached to the post where it had been parked.

Ready to saddle up
Inexpensive way to travel - so we jumped on the leather seats and were on our way.

The afternoon was warm and we weren't entirely prepared. We had traveled to Alaska and expected nothing but cool weather. But late that summer afternoon, the temperature in Victoria was hovering around the mid-eighties. A heat wave had arrived. We were wearing jeans and long sleeved shirts.

John was awing and hoping not to get lost
After ten minutes, L was glistening and I was sweating as we peddled around the capital city of British Columbia, Canada. Perspiration or not, the city was stunning . The green trees, elegant homes and wide streets made cycling more than fun, but almost inspirational. Everywhere we looked there were sights which awed.

Laureen wondering where to ride in Chinatown
The city was named after the Queen of England back in 1843. Queen Victoria (actually Fort Victoria since it was trading post for the Hudson's Bay Company) and is the one of the oldest cities in the entire Pacific Northwest. The city boasts a population of nearly 400,000 and is growing. And it's easy to see why. Beautiful street after beautiful street met us as we peddled in the sunshine. Following a simple map given to us by Victoria Bike Rentals, we were able to make our way block after block visiting such sights as: the Government House, Craigdarroch Castle, Chinatown (which is the oldest in the west besides San Francisco), Butchart Gardens, Oak Bay Marina, the Empress Hotel, and more.

the Empress Hotel
Whatever means of transportation, it is imperative to get out and take a walk about, or in this case, perhaps a ride a about. It was more than memorable - it was a great way of taking an adventure in a short time and truly explore more of what is in our northern neighbors back yards, as it were. Faster than walking, we could cover more ground, see more sights. Slower than a car or bus, we could stop and soak in those sights, and speak with some locals. That is how we discovered Craigdarroch Castle, which, among its other claims to fame, served as the backdrop, along with Hatley Castle, for the blockbuster film, X-Men. As a matter of interest, Vancouver Island has served a the location for several major films, including both X-Men, Disney's Descendants, MacGyver, Outer Limits, The Man Who Wouldn't Die, Final Destination, Gracepoint, Emile, the Year of the Dragon, and White Chicks. As beautiful as this island is...we shouldn't be surprised.

Craigharroch Castle
But our highlight was when we stumbled unexpectedly, amid the company of flowers, trees and grazing deer, upon what is believed to be the world's second largest Totem Pole, situated in the Beacon Hill Park. Carved in 1954 by Mungo Martin, David Martin and Henry Hunt, it stands at an outstanding height of 127 ft and 7 inches. 

The World's second tallest Totem Pole

And isn't that what is important in life? Going out and looking for new adventures.

Fifteen miles and a couple of pubs later, we returned the bikes, retaining the memory of having a marvelous time with the sights we had seen.

A Totem Pole at the Government House showing perspective
A funny sidenote:  when we did return the bikes we were met by the owner, Ryan Oleschuk, who asked if we had stopped at a particular pub during our ride by the waterfront. Of course we did! It was a lovely late afternoon and after peddling it was time to cool down with a chilly libation. He agreed and then told us he had been worried since he recognized his rental bicycles as he drove by the pub and noticed the seats had been removed but the bikes were locked to a bicycle parking bar.

We had taken them off the bikes just in case someone may have wanted to 'borrow' them permanently, an old habit for former urban city-dwellers. He laughed and said that was the first time he had ever seen that done. J then advised Ryan that a seat had been stolen off his own bike once and he had to ride seven miles home standing up. He had learned that lesson the hard way.

Smiles all around - what a wonderful experience - visiting a beautiful city in a wonderful country and sharing stories.

Traveling is all about that. Go out and enjoy.

For further information for getting around Victoria, B.C. -