I'm b-a-a-ack!

Part One: Good Times

Oh, there you are. More importantly, here I am.


To get started, I wanted to post this Shinedown song, Unity. Probably again. It's no doubt been posted here before. To me, this song brings hope. . .and courage. . .

and. . .possibility.


(Sigh) So, here we go.


The Guitarist had been released only a couple of months before my husband, Jeff, retired from his career as an engineer. He'd been looking forward to retirement for a long time. Not because he didn't like his job. He did. And both of us loved his co-workers and being back in Charleston, but he had gotten thirty years in, and was old enough to retire. Also, his fourteen-year-old donated kidney had reached the beginning of the end of its lifespan. He knew dialysis was in his future, hopefully followed by another transplant.


In January, we joined our ShipRocked family at Port Canaveral, Florida for our fourth live music, rock and roll extravaganza asea.


As you can tell, it was an all-star cast of great rock bands from across the globe that many of you have never heard of. Some of the bands had been on ShipRocked before and we were excited to see Seether again, P.O.D., Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society, Red Sun Rising, Aranda, Like a Storm and the others we'd seen before, including the all-teenage girl band, David Ellefson-managed, Doll Skin. They were young but they could ROCK!! The Stowaways are members of other rock bands who come together in a rotating cast of fun for their sets. I was excited to find Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal in that cast of characters in 2018. Since I mention him on the Acknowledgements Page of The Guitarist, I wanted to present him with a copy of the book, but I had no idea if I'd get the chance.

Ryan Williams of Red Sun Rising with Jeff and The Party Leg
Ryan Williams of Red Sun Rising with Jeff and The Party Leg

The "Party Leg", as always, was a big hit. With stickers from the likes of Crobot, Red Sun Rising, and Five Finger Death Punch, not to mention the various and sundry Charleston-area pubs and food trucks, it was always fun to get a picture with one of the artists. It started in 2017 with Crobot's Brandon Yeagley and Jake Figueroa holding the leg for a pic. We were comfortable asking them because we'd seen them play small venues in the Charleston area several times. To the right, here we see Red Sun Rising's Ryan Williams being a good sport and playing along. We later found the whole band in the ship's lounge and got another shot, but it's not as good as this one.


Wow, going through all these pictures sure brings back the memories. Good ones. Because we left from Port Canaveral, the theme of the trip was outer space. R2D2 made an appearance and an impression on everyone. He was so cute. It took us a while to figure out his "handler" was about fifteen feet behind him, manning the remote control behind his back. People were dressed as all sorts of extraterrestrials, Star Wars and Star Trek characters and just plain aliens of all sorts. We did not dress for space night, but Jeff was prepared for plaid night. Being the total slacker I am, I opted for a flannel shirt. Yeah, that was difficult. (eyeroll) But months before, Jeff ordered two kilts from somewhere and was looking forward to wearing at least one of them. This is one of my favorite pictures of him. I bought him the shirt, "Real Men Wear Kilts" and the knee socks. He was such a hoot.

The ports of call for ShipRocked 2018 did not particularly excite us. We'd been to Nassau, Bahamas once before, and going to the beach at Half Moon Cay, we felt, would be dangerous for a man with a prosthetic leg. If a grain of sand happened to get trapped between his skin and the plastic form of the leg, it could cause an ulcer that would be bad news. So we stayed on the ship, which turned out to be a lot of fun. We played Cards Against Humanity with some others who stayed aboard. Politically incorrect, but we almost hurt ourselves laughing our guts out.


When that was over, Jeff and I stayed on the main deck. The soft-serve machine was nearby and the few people left aboard made it a quiet moment to relax. On my way to the restroom, I caught sight of Bumblefoot speaking with another fan near a doorway. I rushed back to our table to retrieve the copy of The Guitarist we had been carrying in the backpack, "just in case". Once his conversation was over, he turned to me and I was able to tell him how much I enjoyed his solo guitar work, then presented the book to him. He was very humble and gracious, as they all have been, but don't you know, I never even thought of getting a picture of him holding the book. Ohh, you know. Hindsight, 20/20, and all that. I was thrilled nevertheless.

Corey Taylor and Stone Sour, 2018
Corey Taylor and Stone Sour, 2018

After dinner and Stone Sour's emotional tribute to Linkin Park's Chester Bennington, Jeff returned to our cabin for the night while I stayed on deck to wait for a recent acquaintance who had gone to get money for two copies of The Guitarist. It seemed like he was gone for an inordinate amount of time, but the weather was nice, I got the chance to catch up with members of our ShipRocked family I hadn't yet seen, and people-watching was at its finest.

Me with Like A Storm's Chris Brooks
Me with Like A Storm's Chris Brooks

I enjoyed the view as Chris Brooks of the band Like A Storm approached my location walking from one section of the ship to another. His journey was interrupted directly in front of me by a fan who kept him in conversation for a "minute" as the cool kids say these days, meaning the exact opposite. Gifting a book notwithstanding, I'm not one to boldly ask an artist for a selfie, but after they had been standing right there for probably a half hour, I gathered the nerve to do just that. Truthfully, Chris may have been grateful for the chance to escape his longwinded fan, but I'm not one to judge. Hahaha! What a great smile he has.



Stay tuned for Part Two: Between the Good and the Bad





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