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Crossing the pond...

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  • Jun 21, 2010
    Crossing the pond...

    It's 2:55 and I must go to bed.  This will be a quick blog.  

     

    Going to London last week was a blur, a very fun blur.  Like Christmas morning as a kid except there weren't any presents or Christmas trees or my sister in London.  Despite the unforgiving time change, weak dollar, and unrelenting schedule, we had a great time performing alongside Welsh mezzo-soprano opera phenom Katherine Jenkins.  This young woman can SING and is a huge star in the UK.  The National Symphony Orchestra that backed her put out some amazing sound and were lovely people.  "Lovely," by the way, only comes across well when it's spoken by the British; definitely not in blog form.  They say "lovely" about everything in the UK.  Oh, this is your first time performing in England?  How lovely.  You all were mates in university, yeah?  That's lovely.  You need me to help you find an iron ten minutes before you go onstage so your suit that you've had rolled up in a garment bag all day looks somewhat presentable in front of a thousand potential new fans who may or may not judge you on your appearance alone?  Of course I'll help you, love.  (ly)

     

    The Brits realize the average American tourist in their country is somewhat to definitely dumb.  We walk around thinking that just because our countrymen won the war back in 1776 that everyone in England drives on the wrong side of the road and puts a u where it doesn't belong, like in colour, honour, flavour, behaviour...  You know these words when you see them and your brain's all like "Whoa! What's that u doing in there?"

     

    Maybe that's too harsh of a word, dumb, but when you have to paint "LOOK RIGHT" and "LOOK LEFT" on the crosswalks so people (i.e. us) don't get clobbered on the street while on a late-night mission for a kebab, you are obviously the brighter of the bunch.  As a tourist, you don't think about it until you come to your first intersection on foot and "pull an American," as we came to call it, soon realizing why the giant block letters of warning are at your feet, staring up at you blankly as if to say "May want to look the opposite way than you're used to, chap."  I often pulled an American despite my best efforts to look out onto the traffic contrary to my natural tendencies and was struck (figuratively) by how forgiving - perhaps gracious is a better word - a particular FedEx driver was to me.  He probably thought I was an idiot as I half-trotted half-scooted across the street, waving at him while mouthing the words "Sorry, thank you, my bad," but the shorts and DSW flip flops I was sporting in the 50 degree weather (or whatever that is in Celsius) probably gave that away before me narrowly escaping blunt force trauma to the noggin.  

     

    We had a day off the day after arriving in London and did all the touristy stuff - Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Parliament, Trafalgar Square - which was really cooler than it was cheesy and touristy (chouristy).  I'm a nerd and like that kind of stuff, though, but I digress.  The coolest and most random thing of the trip, however, happened while Seggie, Tyler, Dan, and I toured Westminster Abbey, which I learned is not a place to ask someone "What's the deal with all these British people buried here?"  (That didn't happen; purely for comedy's sake.  I know you were concerned.)

     

    We split up shortly after entering the church and we've all got our audio guide doohickies up to ears listening to Jeremy Irons spell out the thousand year history of the joint, we catch up with each other periodically, catch each other up on cool tombs we saw, this lady and that dead guy (Geoffrey Chaucer, by the way, was a tiny dude), and we find ourselves altogether again in the section of the Abbey where many of the former organists, composers, and musical figureheads of England are buried.  As opposed to current organists, composers, and musical figureheads of England that are buried there.

     

    People, we're talking the likes of George Frederick Handel (the guy who, despite being dead for a long time, still somehow makes people across the world stand up spontaneously anytime his "Hallelujah Chorus" is performed, lucky bloke).  

     

    Ralph Vaughan Williams, the guy whose song about a zither or a maiden or something I sang in Solo & Ensemble contest my sophomore year of high school.  Not really up there with Lennon & McCartney, but I thought seeing Ralph Vaughan Williams' marker on the ground was cool.  (Reason #417 why I'm a professional a cappella singer...)

     

    Edward Elgar, the gent who composed that catchy "Pomp and Circumstance" tune that engrained itself into your brain when you crossed the stage at graduation and shook your principal's hand, right before each of your 340 classmates did the same thing and you had to sit around for an hour because you're the third of the A's, waiting...

     

    waiting...

     

    still waiting...

     

    where are my parents sitting?  

     

    waiting...

     

    humming along like a soulless cyborg to "Pomp and Circumstance" and waiting for Steve Zimmerman to FINALLY get his diploma so you could stand, turn your tassel, chuck your mortarboard into the air, and give high fives and hugs to people that you never hugged or high-fived in the hallways but that's OK, that's what you do at graduation.  

     

    Anyway, we're hanging out and up walks a gentlemen who quietly pardons himself for interrupting (it's a church after all) and asks, "Are you guys from the States?"  We answer yes, we are from the States.  He proceeds with "Do you sing?"  Weird follow-up, side glances are exchanged, yes, yes sir, we are singers indeed.  And then this guy (Tom was his name) drops the bomb on us and ends his line of questioning with "Are you guys in Straight No Chaser?"  

     

    Amidst a small collection of graves in the nave of Westminster Abbey of all places we get asked if we're in Straight No Chaser.

     

    A small old woman in a flowing green velvet robe stepped aside from the tour she was leading and shut my jaw for me. 

     

    "Yeah," Tom says to me, "I thought it was you when I heard you talking about Pomp and Circumstance.  I recognized your face from "The Christmas Can-Can" on PBS.  My wife and I saw you guys at the Midland Theater in Kansas City in April.  I play your albums all the time in my office."  He said it like hearing this wasn't going to be the most memorable highlight of our trip.

     

    Again, we're in Westminster Abbey.  It's our day off.  We're sightseeing, taking pictures, trying unsuccessfully to calculate currency exchanges in our heads, that kind of thing.  This was very, very odd to all of us.  (Except Isaac Newton, who looked up his nose at us, ho-hummed at this chance meeting playing out on top of him, and rolled back over smugly.  Smarty pants with your apple and all.  Ooh, gravity.  Whatever, man.)

     

    We met Tom's wife, who couldn't believe it (neither could we), and well-wishes of safe travels, enjoyable visits, and see-ya-next-time-we're-in-Kansas-Citys were soon exchanged.  I still can't get over how crazy meeting Tom and his wife was.  (If you two are reading this, you made my trip.)

     

    So much for a quick blog.  If you'd like to see the pictures I posted on Facebook, SNC 2010 Pt. 2 and 3 are the names of the albums.  It's now 4 AM.  What am I doing up?!  Sorry, future self tomorrow morning.

     

    Remember, kids, PLEASE, next time you're in the UK, keep an eye out for FedEx trucks driving on the wrong side of the street, don't stand on Charles Darwin's grave (you never know what your future kid may turn out to be), and remember that all those people sitting in the dark that you sing for every night on tour may actually remember who you are now and then, even if they saw you in Missouri in April and you're in Westminster Abbey in June.  

     

    Now, isn't that just lovely?

     

    Cheers, mates!

    Ryan

     

     

     

    41
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Ryan_5's picture
on 21 June 2010 - 4:20am

It's 2:55 and I must go to bed.  This will be a quick blog.  

 

Going to London last week was a blur, a very fun blur.  Like Christmas morning as a kid except there weren't any presents or Christmas trees or my sister in London.  Despite the unforgiving time change, weak dollar, and unrelenting schedule, we had a great time performing alongside Welsh mezzo-soprano opera phenom Katherine Jenkins.  This young woman can SING and is a huge star in the UK.  The National Symphony Orchestra that backed her put out some amazing sound and were lovely people.  "Lovely," by the way, only comes across well when it's spoken by the British; definitely not in blog form.  They say "lovely" about everything in the UK.  Oh, this is your first time performing in England?  How lovely.  You all were mates in university, yeah?  That's lovely.  You need me to help you find an iron ten minutes before you go onstage so your suit that you've had rolled up in a garment bag all day looks somewhat presentable in front of a thousand potential new fans who may or may not judge you on your appearance alone?  Of course I'll help you, love.  (ly)

 

The Brits realize the average American tourist in their country is somewhat to definitely dumb.  We walk around thinking that just because our countrymen won the war back in 1776 that everyone in England drives on the wrong side of the road and puts a u where it doesn't belong, like in colour, honour, flavour, behaviour...  You know these words when you see them and your brain's all like "Whoa! What's that u doing in there?"

 

Maybe that's too harsh of a word, dumb, but when you have to paint "LOOK RIGHT" and "LOOK LEFT" on the crosswalks so people (i.e. us) don't get clobbered on the street while on a late-night mission for a kebab, you are obviously the brighter of the bunch.  As a tourist, you don't think about it until you come to your first intersection on foot and "pull an American," as we came to call it, soon realizing why the giant block letters of warning are at your feet, staring up at you blankly as if to say "May want to look the opposite way than you're used to, chap."  I often pulled an American despite my best efforts to look out onto the traffic contrary to my natural tendencies and was struck (figuratively) by how forgiving - perhaps gracious is a better word - a particular FedEx driver was to me.  He probably thought I was an idiot as I half-trotted half-scooted across the street, waving at him while mouthing the words "Sorry, thank you, my bad," but the shorts and DSW flip flops I was sporting in the 50 degree weather (or whatever that is in Celsius) probably gave that away before me narrowly escaping blunt force trauma to the noggin.  

 

We had a day off the day after arriving in London and did all the touristy stuff - Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Parliament, Trafalgar Square - which was really cooler than it was cheesy and touristy (chouristy).  I'm a nerd and like that kind of stuff, though, but I digress.  The coolest and most random thing of the trip, however, happened while Seggie, Tyler, Dan, and I toured Westminster Abbey, which I learned is not a place to ask someone "What's the deal with all these British people buried here?"  (That didn't happen; purely for comedy's sake.  I know you were concerned.)

 

We split up shortly after entering the church and we've all got our audio guide doohickies up to ears listening to Jeremy Irons spell out the thousand year history of the joint, we catch up with each other periodically, catch each other up on cool tombs we saw, this lady and that dead guy (Geoffrey Chaucer, by the way, was a tiny dude), and we find ourselves altogether again in the section of the Abbey where many of the former organists, composers, and musical figureheads of England are buried.  As opposed to current organists, composers, and musical figureheads of England that are buried there.

 

People, we're talking the likes of George Frederick Handel (the guy who, despite being dead for a long time, still somehow makes people across the world stand up spontaneously anytime his "Hallelujah Chorus" is performed, lucky bloke).  

 

Ralph Vaughan Williams, the guy whose song about a zither or a maiden or something I sang in Solo & Ensemble contest my sophomore year of high school.  Not really up there with Lennon & McCartney, but I thought seeing Ralph Vaughan Williams' marker on the ground was cool.  (Reason #417 why I'm a professional a cappella singer...)

 

Edward Elgar, the gent who composed that catchy "Pomp and Circumstance" tune that engrained itself into your brain when you crossed the stage at graduation and shook your principal's hand, right before each of your 340 classmates did the same thing and you had to sit around for an hour because you're the third of the A's, waiting...

 

waiting...

 

still waiting...

 

where are my parents sitting?  

 

waiting...

 

humming along like a soulless cyborg to "Pomp and Circumstance" and waiting for Steve Zimmerman to FINALLY get his diploma so you could stand, turn your tassel, chuck your mortarboard into the air, and give high fives and hugs to people that you never hugged or high-fived in the hallways but that's OK, that's what you do at graduation.  

 

Anyway, we're hanging out and up walks a gentlemen who quietly pardons himself for interrupting (it's a church after all) and asks, "Are you guys from the States?"  We answer yes, we are from the States.  He proceeds with "Do you sing?"  Weird follow-up, side glances are exchanged, yes, yes sir, we are singers indeed.  And then this guy (Tom was his name) drops the bomb on us and ends his line of questioning with "Are you guys in Straight No Chaser?"  

 

Amidst a small collection of graves in the nave of Westminster Abbey of all places we get asked if we're in Straight No Chaser.

 

A small old woman in a flowing green velvet robe stepped aside from the tour she was leading and shut my jaw for me. 

 

"Yeah," Tom says to me, "I thought it was you when I heard you talking about Pomp and Circumstance.  I recognized your face from "The Christmas Can-Can" on PBS.  My wife and I saw you guys at the Midland Theater in Kansas City in April.  I play your albums all the time in my office."  He said it like hearing this wasn't going to be the most memorable highlight of our trip.

 

Again, we're in Westminster Abbey.  It's our day off.  We're sightseeing, taking pictures, trying unsuccessfully to calculate currency exchanges in our heads, that kind of thing.  This was very, very odd to all of us.  (Except Isaac Newton, who looked up his nose at us, ho-hummed at this chance meeting playing out on top of him, and rolled back over smugly.  Smarty pants with your apple and all.  Ooh, gravity.  Whatever, man.)

 

We met Tom's wife, who couldn't believe it (neither could we), and well-wishes of safe travels, enjoyable visits, and see-ya-next-time-we're-in-Kansas-Citys were soon exchanged.  I still can't get over how crazy meeting Tom and his wife was.  (If you two are reading this, you made my trip.)

 

So much for a quick blog.  If you'd like to see the pictures I posted on Facebook, SNC 2010 Pt. 2 and 3 are the names of the albums.  It's now 4 AM.  What am I doing up?!  Sorry, future self tomorrow morning.

 

Remember, kids, PLEASE, next time you're in the UK, keep an eye out for FedEx trucks driving on the wrong side of the street, don't stand on Charles Darwin's grave (you never know what your future kid may turn out to be), and remember that all those people sitting in the dark that you sing for every night on tour may actually remember who you are now and then, even if they saw you in Missouri in April and you're in Westminster Abbey in June.  

 

Now, isn't that just lovely?

 

Cheers, mates!

Ryan

 

 

 

Comments

Annie L's picture

LLH: Ditto! You echo what many other fans feel about SNC - if you've seen them perform live, you can't help but remember the performance; you hear their songs even when the CD isn't in the player; and you gush to your friends and other loved ones how much they too would love SNC. Ryan, and all of SNC - thanks for taking the time to share your writings, adventures, and thoughts with your fans - I know I enjoy riding along, and you are such a talented writer, TOO! :) No surprise! Thanks (reading this post a little late...)!
Millie's picture

Ryan, you are so funny and I love reading all your articles and I'm so happy that KC people met you in London, of all places. KC is a great place and all of us from the KC area are really looking forward to seeing you at The Midland again in October! Cheerio mate! Millie B. (Olathe, KS)
S. Brandon's picture

SheriS - thanks, I have Ryan's page; I was trying to help someone else find it. And FB is still a pain. ;-)
S.J.'s picture

If I could like your comment, LLH, I totally would. =) Agreed!
Kathy Mendoza's picture

Amen, LLH...amen!
LLH's picture

"..remember that all those people sitting in the dark that you sing for every night on tour may actually remember who you are now and then, even if they saw you in Missouri in April and you're in Westminster Abbey in June" Ryan - these people that you sing for every night, remember you all every time we play the CD, and sing the song in our head when we can't play the CD, tell someone new about the best concert we've ever been too and think about how much you all give to your fans and truly seem to enjoy every minute of what you do. Thanks for sharing all these wonderful moments!
Arely's picture

Very lovely! Thanks for the blogs, Ryan! You're the nicest/funniest guy :) Hope to see ya again when you come near San Diego! Have fun in Atlantic City! :)
SheriS's picture

S.: You aren't alone in trying to find Ryan's FB page. If he didn't post it on this blog, I never would have found it. I got two other pages of Ryan's but not the correct one.
S. Brandon's picture

Thanks for the link to your page, Ryan. Don't know why they couldn't find you, but FB isn't always the most cooperative of sites. :-)
notlimahjb's picture

My wife and I had the great pleasure of seeing you perform recently at the Hampton Court festival in support of Katherine Jenkins. Absolutely fabulous! Almost out shone our Katherine, but she has the looks as well as the voice. Both sets brought smiles to our faces despite the constant rain, but especially the Micheal Jackson performance. We hope to see you again this side of the pond, maybe next year back at Hampton Court (the sun does shine sometimes)?
SheriS's picture

Ryan, thanks for "friending" me so I could view your albums from the trip. Great photos and feel certain they will give you many hours of enjoyment as a wonderful reminder of your trip to England. Awesome scenery and just to be reminded of all the history--really incredible. Thanks so much for sharing with all the Chasers!
Kay Lynn Staudt-AuntKLS's picture

Thanks, Ryan!
RM270's picture

Thank you Ryan. Friend request sent. Looking forward to seeing the pics. Thanks for the blog post. I love reading about your adventures.
RebekahDMFB's picture

Thanks, Ryan! That does make things a little easier... :)
Ryan_5's picture

To those who asked about my Facebook page, you can check it out at http://www.facebook.com/ryanahlwardt. Hope this helps so you can view the pics of the UK trip!
Kathy Mendoza's picture

Very lovely short blog, Ryan. ;-) Thanks as always for filling us in on the happenings of you blokes. As always, I enjoyed every bit of it.
SheriS's picture

I tried to find Ryan's page on Facebook and came up with a couple of different pages. Not one had the "block" to friend. Rebekah, I understand what you are saying completely. I also got the same result as RM270--"not found". Guess I know why I don't do Facebook very much and really don't trust it.
RebekahDMFB's picture

Yes, that does sound right. I guess I felt a little funny adding him as a Facebook friend but I suppose I'm just shy like that... Anyway, thank you!
RM270's picture

Sarah Liz and S Brandon, I searched for Ryan, but it said not found. I even copied his name from the web site and pasted it on FB, cuz I wanted to make sure I spelled it right! I'd love to see the photos. Any other suggestions?
Shaina's picture

S, I think you're right.
S. Brandon's picture

Rebekah, are you already a member of FB? If not, you'll have to sign up. Then, search for Ryan Ahlwardt. Look for a block that says "add as friend." Click on that. When he has a chance, he'll accept; then you'll be able to see his photos. If anyone knows that isn't right somehow, please feel free to correct.
Sarah Liz's picture

Minda and RM - as S stated, Ryan has them posted on his Facebook account. Specifically, the photos from the UK are in the albums "SNC 2010 Pt. 2" and "SNC 2010 Pt. 3" Definitely worth a gander :)
ChaserJulie's picture

Ryan, It sounds like you had a smashing good time across the pond, old chap! It's lovely that you and the lads have returned to your native land and have made it straight away to the eastern shores of Atlantic City. Pip, pip. Cheerio!
RebekahDMFB's picture

Great post, Ryan! It’s still surprising to get such detailed accounts of your tour and I can only say thank you for taking the time to share (especially so early in the morning). It’s good to hear you had a great time in England! I’ve always wanted to visit the UK but that won’t happen for a long while yet. I’ll probably "pull an American" more often than I want but it sounds like they’re use to it… Anyway, welcome back to the States and thanks again for the “quick” blog! Would someone be willing to tell me how to find Ryan’s Facebook page? Please and thank you?
Shaina's picture

I'll bet you're really kicking yourself now for staying up until 4am! Even *I* wasn't awake that late (without the time difference), and I'm on the other side of the coast! I kid, I kid. Glad you had a great time, and thanks for that little play-by-play of your meeting with Tom. Sarah made it known to the Twitterbugs, and I thought that was pretty cool! What are the chances that you'll see someone that saw your concert in the States in London? Awesome coinkydink. Oh, and I feel your pain about graduation. I was the third person to get my diploma, not because of my last name, but because I was singing the national anthem and the powers that be decided to put me after the valedictorian and salutorian in the front row so I could get out easily to sing. Luckily, there were only a little over 100 of us. But still. I can't promise that I didn't yawn about 20 times. (End of rant) Love your blog posts and photos; thanks for posting!
Tina C. dappleddakota's picture

Oh, lovely! :) This made me laugh! And I loved the FB pictures!
S. Brandon's picture

Photos are on Ryan's Facebook page. And they *are* lovely. Truly. Thanks for the great writing, as usual, Mr. A. :-D
RM270's picture

Thanks Minda, I was going to ask the same thing! I'd love to see them....where are they? Thanks guys
Minda Ramsey's picture

Sarah Liz, I'm having trouble finding the photos Ryan referred to in his blog. Since you saw them, thought I might ask you where to find them. Thanks in advance!
SingForMe's picture

WELCOME HOME! Thank you for staying up beyond late and keeping us posted as we love reading about all your travel adventures! Here's to a quick recovery from jet lag. Thanks again and welcome home!

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