[This is Part 1 of our September 2017 BORN TO THE STARS USA TOUR blog]
Monday, September 11, 2017
The morning of September 11th was strange. As we were finishing packing for our 3 week tour, we kept thinking about 9/11. Watered the garden, fed the compost worms with banana peels and other fruit/veggie leftovers, did the laundry, made last minute travel arrangements and got the house ready for our friend (who was staying at our place while we're gone), all the while thinking of 9/11. That day in 2001 Nick and I were in our brand new one-bedroom Glendale rental, having just moved from Illinois to L.A.. Nick's mom woke us up when she called (from Illinois) to tell us the tragic news. The rest of the day we spent glued to TV, like everyone else in the world.
I kept thinking about 9/11 as we were doing all of the last minute things, hoping we'd remember all of the music gear, the merch, the clothes and everything else we might need on this tour. Too much stuff to remember. I think I had 3 "to do" lists laying around!
Funny note: we had ordered the BORN TO THE STARS tour posters. They came and were printed too dark, so the company had reprinted and sent them as fast as they could. The new posters were supposed to arrive in the morning. They didn't. But as we were leaving the driveway, the UPS truck pulled up and delivered the posters! It was a little miracle (and such timing!).
2pm: THE 415 MILE DRIVE TO PHOENIX, THE HEAT + PHONE PROBLEMS
It was 103F as we left our home in Valencia (Lake Castaic, to be exact). The damn heat stayed throughout the whole drive, which made it even more exhausting. But I was so happy having finally left on tour! All of the prep work was behind us, and my favorite part lied ahead: the tour itself! (including 5 shows opening for the incredible Beth Hart!)! I was chatting Nick's ear off and took this tired but happy selfie :)
About an hour into our trip, both of our phones stopped working. We could call and text, but couldn't do anything else. No Google Maps (my best friend while traveling). No email. No internet of any sort.
Thing is, we had just switched from AT&T to T-Mobile 3 days prior. [Why? Because T-Mobile has a great international plan. With T-Mobile, when we are in Europe, we will be able to use our phones the same way as in the US, texting and data plan-wise. It will be so helpful in October in Germany! Only the calls would cost a little extra, but who talks on the phone anymore anyway? :)]
Everything had been working fine until now. So we figured it HAD to be because of the switch. Meanwhile, for the rest of the drive, we were stuck without internet. You might think it's not a big deal, but to me it is. I get so much work done while Nick is driving. All of the travel arrangements, last minute tour details, replying to dozens of emails, social media posts and promoting the shows, navigating with Google Maps, etc. But I couldn't do any of it. I didn't even have the exact address of the hotel! Why would I need it printed out? It's on my Google Maps!
Spent almost 2 hours with T-Mobile phone support. They had no clue as to why this was happening. Waste of time. Frustrating. Tiring. The heat. The sun beating on my face. I know, first world problems, but when you pay money for service you (reasonably) expect actual service!
But right before the internet stopped working, I received the nicest message from a fan (thank you, Mike Samaniego & family) with this adorable photo, which made my day so much brighter:
We hit a ton of traffic on the way out of L.A.. Without Google Maps working, we couldn't bypass traffic. We were stuck.
Luckily, before the internet was off, I had found a cool place to eat. A local, all natural hamburger fast-food place (Farmer Boys in Indio). It was pretty good, like In-N-Out Burger but better. We normally don't even do fast food, but with traffic we were running late as it was. The rest of the drive was uneventful. Couldn't wait to get to our hotel.
11pm: ARRIVED AT OUR HOTEL, THE HISTORIC SAN CARLOS
So very tired. And all I really wanted was to bitch-slap T-Mobile (yes, the whole company, haha). And to shower. And maybe to have a drink.
But the moment we set foot in Hotel San Carlos we felt transported in time. And relaxed. The keepers of this 1928 historic boutique hotel are doing a great job preserving San Carlos and its spirit with loving care. The vibe, the decor (which features many original fixtures as well as historic photographs) let your thoughts take flight. I felt all of this the second we walked into the gorgeous (and air-conditioned!) lobby away from the 103F outside misery.
The nicest surprise awaited us: the management decided to upgrade us to a suite. The posh Mae West suite! Wow! (Thank you, Angela!!!)❤
We brought up all of our things, parked, and went across the street (the first place that looked best) to get a drink. Cornish Pasty Co. It was amazing! Their lower level basement bar had an old-time feel, and was quiet and beautiful. The wine selection was very good. Nick & I got a glass of wine each and a bowl of soup to split. But once we learned they had award-winning pastys, we ordered a couple to go for next day's breakfast/lunch. Holy moly, they were delicious!
Can you see the mist/spray in the photo below? Cornish Pasty Co. has those on very hot days/nights. Felt so good!!!!
After our wine/soup, we wandered the halls of our hotel, imagining the time when San Carlos had just opened its doors, the glamour and the excitement of the roaring 1920s. I put on the new dress I was going to wear for my show (to get used to it). I bought this dress for $20 - discounted from $100! - in Paso Robles in August, and had the local seamstress create 2 slits in the front to make it look a bit more "artistic/sexy".
Went to bed around 1:30am.
Tuesday, September 12, 2017
8am: WORK WORK WORK and WORK OUT :)
Nick was on conference calls all morning for his job, and I had to contact T-Mobile yet again. Plus, I had tons of stuff to catch up on (since I missed many hours from the day before). But I did spend 20 minutes working out at the hotel gym and managed to take this selfie without any injuries :)
1:30pm T-MOBILE TRIP
We had to locate a T-Mobile shop to see if they can help us (since phone tech support couldn't). And you know what? In a few minutes, they re-set our phone configurations and got our phones working! Wow!! Thanks, Desiree & Miguel!
4pm-8pm: LOAD IN, SOUNCHECK, MERCH SET UP, AND THE WAIT :)
Drove 4 blocks (yup!) from San Carlos to the VAN BUREN, the brand new (2 weeks old) lovely venue, unloaded the gear and found our green room. Sometimes on tour we get no green room at all and I have to do my makeup in the car or in the public bathroom (no fun). This time, I had a green room. Really nice green room, too! But no mirror. What? Had to do my hair and makeup in the backstage bathroom we shared with Beth Hart's band and crew. No big deal. Better than any public bathroom! :)
We talked to Beth (I love her so much!) and her husband/tour manager Scott, then met her crew and the Van Buren venue crew. Everyone was super nice and welcoming.
And here is the common room/green room for the whole band. Thank you, The Van Buren!
Set up merch (I am my own merch girl, haha) and met Beth's brother (who runs her merch):
After the soundcheck, there was nothing to do but wait (as always). Too hot to venture outside, not enough time to park/repark and go back to the hotel. I usually try to stretch, relax, come up with the setlist, think about what I'm going to say about each song, etc.
8pm-8:35pm THE CONCERT
The show was amazing. Beth Hart fans showed up early and gave me so much love and support. This was the first show ever that I publicly opened up about suffering from severe depression. I sang my new song BRING IT ON for the first time. The response was incredible. I was almost in tears (in a good way). It was magic.
Photos above by Barry Clayton.
8:35-11:30pm MARINA AT THE MERCH TABLE
The second I was done, I rushed to the merch table while Nick was taking the gear off the stage.
Photo by Barry Clayton.
I signed albums and posters and took orders via credit cards (on my phone via Square App). Took photos. People were amazing. My feet were killing me and I really needed to wash my face, but meeting the fans was so worth it.
Nick & I took turns watching Beth's show as we each manned the merch table. She is so amazing. Her performances are always powerful and moving. She has a way of connecting with her audience like no other performer I'd ever seen.
During her performance people would go use the bathroom or get a drink, see us, come say hi and often buy an album. So we stayed at the merch table until after the last fans left. It was 11:30 and we were exhausted. But happy :)
We took this photo with Barry & Linda Clayton, our dear fans/friends who drove all the way from Vegas to see us.
12:30am DRIVE 4 BLOCKS, PARK, SLEEP
Hung out with Beth and Scott and Beth's mom after the show. Left the venue after midnight. Showered and went to bed around 1:30pm
8am WORK WORK WORK :)
Got up early, Nick had to be on his conference calls for work, and I had a lot of things to catch up on. So many things to do, they all pile up while on tour.
Took these photos in our beautiful suite (loved the room, the decore, the bathrobes - everything!!!). I look so relaxed but I was delirious from being tired, haha:
Showered, packed up and left the amazing San Carlos Hotel at 1:30pm (yay for late checkouts!) and drove to Tucson.
To be continued :)
P.S. If you would like to stay in San Carlos, you can call the hotel directly and ask for Angela. Tell her you're friends with Marina V, Angela said she would be happy to give you a great deal!