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How To Be a Great Fan

Months ago I wrote a blog about How To Support Your Band and I was pretty content after I did.  Maybe even a little smug. I felt pretty darn good about giving some solid tips on how to help out those hard working musicians in their quest to become the next big thing.  Since then I’ve wondered why some super-talented favorites (cough, cough Dreamers, Coast Modern) aren’t picking up traffic at a lightning pace like they deserve.  They’re creating solid music, pounding the pavement on tour, being adorable in fan pictures, and engaging regularly in the Twitterverse.  And while they’re picking up a steady following along the way, I worry the world is still missing out.

Sure, some of it is luck where Oprah picks them as her favorite thing.  Lightening in a bottle if they’re featured on a crazy video that goes viral.  Or maybe they scored a deal with the Devil? Obviously Twenty-One Pilots must have sold their souls to go from people saying “Twenty what?” to sold out stadiums seemingly overnight.  Since there really isn’t a way to quantify selling your soul, I’ve tried to look a little harder at what works towards a band’s success.  After considering the band’s efforts, I turned the microscope onto my brethren — Fans.  And when I did, I have to say I saw some apathy and selfishness.

Don’t get me wrong out there, Fans.  I love you.  I love you like no other kind of love in this world.  You have a passion so deep the darkest oceans can’t compare to your band commitment.  However, what do you do with this love?  Do you picket the streets with their new album release?  Cold call strangers to try out their latest single?  Stand outside the local mall and hawk digital downloads?  Nope, I didn’t think so.

That’s the thing.  As fans, we bask in our own love.  You may tell friends in passing they should give your new band a shot.  You might even put a sticker on your car and get a question or two at the gas station that you happily answer with over-information.  But we rarely step outside our comfort zone to really support the bands we adore.  Maybe we’re scared. What if they get so big they won’t love us back? Oh, dear fan, that’s a risk we all take.  And honestly, it will happen.  But our selfishness shouldn’t stop us from helping our favorite musician taste success.  (Hint, this is how more music gets made.)  Or maybe it’s because we feel too small to really make a difference.  We don’t have the same platform when we only have 72 Twitter followers.  (Hey if you’re on Twitter, congratulate yourself.  Bestie still can’t figure it out.)

You’d be surprised the difference you can make when you really put some work into it.  Don’t know where to start?  Here are some tips on how to help be a great fan to your band:

Tweet, Facebook, Instragram, YouTube, or Snapchat the shit out of their releases.

It doesn’t matter which social media platform you use, you’re reaching a wider audience.  Be creative.  Make up your own fan art to highlight.  Or if you lack creativity, share what the band’s putting out.  You may have an old acquaintance from high school who is constantly looking for their next favorite band.  They see your messages and give it a go.  Soon they’re telling their friends about it.  Do you see how amazingly influential you are already?

Get everyone you know, in every city, to see their show no matter what you have to do.

Okay, so some of your friends and family can be duds.  You hear their million excuses to why they don’t go out and know it doesn’t do any good to suggest they try something new.  Why not entice them to get out there?  I’ve been known to use a cookie delivery (with a treat for the carrier too) to get some people to shows in their area.  For support, they brought some friends of their own.  Four new bodies primed to be lifelong fans.  Not one yet has come back cursing my name.  In fact, most planned to check out the band again without prompting.

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How could you ever pass up the chance to see Nick Wold from Dreamers?

Buy all the merchandise you can stuff in your arms.

Who says you have to only buy a single shirt for yourself?  Your friends don’t have to attend the concert to be a walking billboard for the band.  Sometimes, a new item in their wardrobe encourages them to give the music a go.  They listen so when asked by a stranger about their cool shirt, they have a stronger answer than “Oh, I don’t know, I got the shirt from a friend.”

Remember folks, ticket and merchandise sales are some of the biggest money makers for the artists in this age.  The more coin you drop at their merch booth means more tunes your ears will enjoy in the future.

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BONUS:  Sometimes at the merch booth you get to see your faves like Luke Atlas from Coast Modern.

Tell every single radio station in the country how you love them.

Okay, so you’re broke and don’t want to sling any money when you can’t even afford to buy a large pizza for yourself. I get it.  Then let your fingers do the work by contacting your favorite radio stations to work them into the rotation.  With on-line streaming you can listen to any station in any state in this country.  Listener feedback is becoming a staple in creating station playlists.  The more you request, the better chance the station will pick them up.

Caveat: Don’t be a dick.  Don’t spam the station or tell them they’re stupid if they don’t love your band as much as you.  This will actually do your band a disservice and probably get you blocked.

Encourage friends to follow them on social media.

Yep, numbers matter.  The more followers on social media, the more seriously someone is taken.  People assume if fifty thousand other people like a band, they must be good.  If nothing else, media outlets will give them more credibility.  Encourage everyone you meet to like your band on the social platform of their choice.

If they’re the concert opener, talk to everyone in the place about them before they hit the stage.

I know this one takes some extrovert courage, but it pays off.  Most concert attendees don’t give too much attention to the opener even though every great band started there at one time. Instead, attendees check their phone, talk with friends, or get more drinks from the bar while they wait for the main attraction.  You get out there and pique their interest by telling everyone you came for the opener!  If you do, they may give your new favorite band a chance.  And that’s all you want.  Then your band needs to deliver, which you know they will because you love them.

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Look at all the lovely friends I made at the Coast Modern show. (Ignore the weird photography.)

I can hear some of you now, “But that’s a lot of work.”  Yes, it is.  But we’re talking about a band you love, right?  I ached for years as I watched how my favorites, The Airborne Toxic Event and The Limousines, worked relentlessly and baked a cookie or two.  But that was it.  And a band can only take working hard with minimal reward for so long.  Then they have to make decisions about whether the investment is worth the return.  Trust me when I say you don’t want your band to weigh out the pros and cons.

And before someone out there gets righteous — yes, I do these things.  If you doubt it, ask anyone I work with, see at a bar, or stand next to at a Dreamers or Coast Modern show.  I can tell you first hand there’s been a few new fans picked up here and there.  There are days where I think I’m not making much of a difference and other days I want to wallow in selfishness to keep them small.  Those are the days I crank up their songs, remember how they’re good people, and get off my ass to find them more fans.

This Album Does Not Exist

It’s finally here!  After a long wait and tons of work!  Release day for Dreamers!  Yes, all these exclamation marks are necessary.  I couldn’t be more excited (as well as the legions who love them) that their first full length album has been birthed into the world.

I was fortunate to see the gents Wednesday night for an in-store performance in Portland.  They stripped down a few songs into acoustic versions and WOWed  everyone, as they normally do with their live performance.  Come on with that Never Too Late to Dance.  Big heart emoji right there.  They were charming as ever as they signed posters, posed for pictures, and chatted with all the people who came out.

However, my 600 mile round trip had a second purpose.  I couldn’t let those nice guys have a huge celebration without cookies, could I?  What kind of fan do you think I am?  So without further adieu, I introduce the This Album Does Not Exist cookie.

Dreamers

I joked they went out to find the hardest image ever for their cover because they wanted to make sure I had to work for it.

No visit could be complete with Dreamers if I didn’t get a selfie with each.  They’re always too kind to put up with my picture addiction.

Aren’t they just adorable?  Now, head out there to buy their album, see them in concert, and shower them with love.

 

Kill the Boy BandCover Me:  I love everything about this cover.  The simplicity with the black background and the bold hot pink is killer.  (Pun intended.)  Even after you strip off the book jacket, it reveals a hot pint book binding and I fall in love all over again.  This cover didn’t have to draw me in because I was already in love with the concept when I read about it six months ago.  I’ve been waiting, and waiting, and waiting.

The Concept:  Four Mega-fans of the boy band The Ruperts get together to find a way into their sold out concert.  Their plan is to stay at the same hotel.  In a short time due to to coincidence, they end up kidnapping the least popular member of the band.  Things go from bad to worse when he ends up dead.

What is there not to love about this concept?  It’s all my favorite things in a nice little package.  Music? Check. Superfans? Yup. Hijinx to get close to their fave band?  Solid.  This concept had me months before it came out.  I couldn’t wait to read it, even before all the terrific reviews rolled in about this dark comedy.

The Peeps:  The main character never gives her name, although she’s made out to be the most sane in the group.  Don’t we all think that when telling our version of the story?  Each of the four girls are described well and have distinct personalities.  The same goes for the The Ruperts, even though they all share the same first name.  I most enjoyed Rupert the Juggler who ends up dying.  Sure he was a giant asshole when talking with the fangirls.  At least he owned it, which was in contrast to his band persona where he really couldn’t find his identity.

The Ending (spoiler alert!):  The story had nice suspense in trying to figure out what happened in the room when Rupert died.  Especially when our main character doubts her sanity and wonders if maybe she did kill him.  Hey, I think we’ve all been there when you get wrapped up in excitement, right?  I know there’s been some times I may have regretted my concert action the next day.  (For the record, no one died.)

The romance between the main character and her favorite Rupert (I think it was K, but I’m not sure any more) was cute.  Isn’t it every fan girl’s dream that when she does meet the object of her affection, he finds her charming, interesting, beautiful in her own way, and wants to continue to hang out with her?  Oh, just me?  I’m not sure this rings anything near reality because Mikel has yet to say anything about my charming personality or wanting to be BFFs.

The actual resolution to the murder mystery was a little flat for me, but I understand why it had to go there.  There were humorous parts to the book, but I wasn’t falling down laughing like I thought I might.  However, it’s still a solid, fun read.

What I Cooked Up:  Since I may know a thing or two about being a fangirl, even at my age, I wanted to incorporate how I appreciate my favorites.  It seemed only fitting to make the band into a cookie.  While I don’t really know what they look like, this was my interpretation.

ruperts

 

As you know when my fave bands go on tour, and I’m nowhere near one of their cities, my “fear of missing out” is off the charts.  Throw into the equation Coast Modern and my CoMo FOMO is off the fucking charts.

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It was only four weeks ago when I was at their show.

While I will have some shows coming up in the Fall when they open up for Temper Trap, I won’t be part of this tour with the Wombats that started in Milwaukee, WI for Summerfest last night.  So what do I do in these troubled times?  Give away cookies, of course.

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So how do you win this CoMo-licious stash?  It’s rather easy — turn your family, friends, and acquaintances into CoMo-sapiens.  Yep, I can do this to every word.  You’ll earn points for getting people to follow their social media accounts, buy their music, and leave reviews.

One point will be awarded for each social account they follow/like, three points for purchasing their three released songs, and three points for each review they write.

You’re probably asking “How will you know?”  First, I like to assume you’re honest.  Come on people, these are cookies.  Let’s not lose our integrity over a dessert.  However, if there is a question of legitimacy, proof will be requested.

Document how many friends did what in the comment section of this contest status for Delish or in the comment section below.  Please list out how many for each category so I know how many points to award.  Example: 5 Facebook “Likes”, 2 Twitter “Follows,” 10 friends bought the songs, 3 left reviews on iTunes.  Easy peasy.

The person with the most points will win and the cookies (more than pictured above) will be shipped to them.  Contest will end at 3:00 pm on July 23, 2016.  If I’ve forgotten something, feel free to hit me up. Good luck and share the #CoMo vibes.

It’s safe to say I haven’t kept up with the Pretending blog series very well.  The idea started after I had some conversations with some pretty kick ass women who were doubting their kick-assery.  Unacceptable.  I made the commitment to be brave and face off against some insecurities to help them see how amazing they truly are.  To be frank, I’ve really let them down in his effort.  Not only because I haven’t been writing about it, but more because I haven’t been living it.  So here I am, ready to be as vulnerable as I can imagine, and hope you will be kind.

We all have some crazy.  We’re human.  Made up of character rich flaws with unique coping mechanisms.  My demons always rise from self-doubt and worrying about ruining things I love.  The anxiety from it can engulf all my thoughts for days on end by over analyzing meaningless details.  Did that sideways look mean I said something stupid?   Did I come off looking too needy by sending a follow-up text when they didn’t text back in the first place?  Oh my God, what are they going to think after watching that five minute drunken snap story?   In a rational mind, I can see these aren’t that big of a deal in the scheme of life.  However, when I’m spiraling, my “crazies” hijack all rationality and tell me I have ruined something important.

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Towards the end of last year I struggled with finding a mental balance.  I fluctuated from experiencing fantastic highs on the good days to self-loathing lows when I made a simple mistake.  I punished myself for days by replaying what I saw as poor choices.  Each time asking myself how I could’ve been so stupid. Finally I got to a place where I didn’t want to hate on myself anymore.  I needed some help with perspective to bring my psyche back to an even kilter.

I talk to people every day about how it takes great strength and courage to admit when you need help.  I encourage them to seek assistance with others, even professionals, if they find their support systems aren’t providing relief.  I go on and on about how there’s nothing wrong with going to therapy; it’s just a sounding board to give you an unbiased  opinion.  But there I was, worried about letting anyone know I decided to go.

It wasn’t my first time.  I received great advice years ago and saw results in enhancing important relationships.  So why was it such a big deal now?  Maybe I worried people would think I should be lucky to have such trivial problems. Or  worse, maybe others will blow it out of proportion, which happens after your immediate family member commits suicide.  Even now I struggle to write the words with some fear there will be a perception assigned.

When I went, I confirmed one thing I already knew — I’m an “all or nothing” kind of person.  I want things to mean one thing or another.  Defined.  Judgmental. It’s a very difficult expectation to hold yourself.  What I learned was two things could be true at the same time.  I could be a good person and make a bad decision.  I learned the importance in trusting what people say and not always look for the “what did they really mean.”  Lastly, I got a most helpful “check the facts” sheet.  At those times when I start to awfulize a situation, I have to pull out a questionnaire and write down the answers.  A reality check, if you will.  What are other possible conclusions?  And what’s the absolute worst case scenario?  The process helps see the situation for the importance it should given instead of what my mind wants to blow it into.

The few sessions proved helpful to gain some tools I’d been lacking.  Because she was also an artist, the conversations included subjects around the creative process.  We discussed the benefits of meditation, finding the “wise mind,” and validating my own art.

So why would I share all this information about my mental health?  Something so personal and a topic most people are uncomfortable talking about?  Bringing this subject out into the light is the only way to change the stigmas.  Showing it’s okay to admit we have doubts.  Vulnerabilities.  Insecurities.  Flaws.  Crazies.  I do this to encourage you to share your struggles, appreciate these challenges in each other, and refuse to be embarrassed of what you battle.  Because even if we don’t believe it in the moment, if we want to change how people view mental illness, we need to pretend not to be ashamed of who we truly are.

 

 

It only seems fitting on National Selfie Day and Dreamers first day back out on the road playing Kansas City, I would finally get around to announcing the Dreamers selfie winner.  (The delay only had a smidge to do with the fact my computer died.  Let’s ignore this horror as I borrow a computer, shall we?)

Below are the entries and they are something spectacular.  You and Dreamers team brought your A-game with this competition.  I was torn between which one would take home the prize.  Here they are for your review:

Let me mention again how much I love Dreamers.  Who would put up with such craziness and participate in some of these killer action shots?  (Seriously, that one of Jacob looks like he’s going to kill someone.)

The winner will receive a little Dreamers prize package, which will include their choice of one of Dreamers’ favorite treats:  Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch bar, Pecan bar, or the S’more bar.  Yes, I ask them all the time which their favorites are because how else will I know what to make to win their hearts over?

In the end I can only pick one winner.

Whitney with Vampire Gizmo

There’s something perfect about this shot.  Maybe it’s because of the black and white effect or the fact she seems unphased by Mr. Wold’s craziness above.  Or it could be that rockin’ shirt he has going.  I just love it.

Thank you to all who participated and I hope you had fun along the way taking pictures with some of the coolest people.  Never fear, there will be treats again, I’m sure.

Meeting Coast Modern

After months of pining on Twitter for a Coast Modern show, I was graced with one on the West Coast.  Yes, I said the West Coast.  Since I live in a small town on the Southern Oregon border, travel is required for any band I want to see live.  And when we’re talking about Coast Modern I pretty much would’ve traveled anywhere along the Pacific Ocean to finally see them.

Last November when I submerged myself in all things Dreamers, I heard Coast Modern’s debut song Hollow Life played on Alt Nation.  It may show you how incredible it was because it was really hard to get in my head during that time.  Then a serendipitous moment hit when one of my new Dreamers’ friends, DJ Beauty, suggested I give it a go.

Mix a good song with a hella fun Twitter presence and you’ve pretty much landed on my Favorite People Top Ten list. While this new Coast Modern band was pretty illusive about releasing any details about themselves, they were responsive, charming and engaging in the Twitterverse.  It was easy to make a dance video of their song and include them on Twitter blasts.  They were even charitably understanding when I Snap Attacked them a couple times.  How could you not love them for that alone?  Now after months of gushing in 140 character-ed spurts, I would be able to see if they could live up to all the hype I created in my head.

I’m not going to play this down, I was pretty freaking excited.  I’d worked in a double concert shot by catching Dreamers in Fresno and then coming back up to Coast Modern in San Fran.  Could there have been anything better?  (Uh yes…you could throw in an Airborne Toxic Event or a Limousines show to completely blow my fucking mind.)  I knew catching Coast Modern in a small venue at these early stages was something special. I don’t think they’ll be this small for long with all the buzz going around.  However, that didn’t mean I would feel the love.  I have different criteria to be one of my fave bands.  Meeting them in person is requirement to determine if I can really invest my heart.

My Bay Area friend let me use her place to get ready while she worked and she even agreed to meet me at the show.  Taking Uber to the city hurts a bit.  The bill kills you until you consider the driving, the parking, and the needing to be completely sober.  Then the dollar signs don’t look so bad anymore.  Lucky for me, my Uber driver was a pretty nice guy.  After he complained about the company for the first fifteen minutes, he asked what I was doing.  Okay, my turn to put Coast Modern on blast and I did.  By the time he rolled up to my destination he promised me he would check them out and tell his son to do the same.

“You sure this is it?” he said when we both looked at a purple spray painted door with the address digits stenciled on the front.

“I think so?” And jumped out before he gave me some lecture about how a female shouldn’t go to shows alone.  And if you think I haven’t heard that story before, you have no fucking idea what it’s like to be a woman.

Two eager, fresh faced people stood by the wall.  (I named them #1 and #2, and yes, I called them those names all night.  Have you ever read this blog?  Everyone gets a nickname.)  I made sure they were going to the same show and I did actually have the right place.  They told me about the other band and I got in some more Coast Modern lovin’.  “I drove all the way from Oregon for them,” I said.  My mantra throughout the night.

I won’t bore you with details about walking around trying to find something to do until doors opened or my friend catching me Snapping a video as I walked across the street.  In the end, I stood front and center at that stage.  And then I kinda panicked.

For people who don’t use social media to death, it can make an awkward relationship.  I mean, can you even call it that?  Do we have a relationship?  I mean, maybe you recognize my Twitter profile pic.  Do I introduce myself as Susan or sprunty2000?  It wouldn’t be long before Coast Modern took the stage and I’d have to make eye contact with someone I’ve never met but know somewhat?  That’s when the worry started.  What if they have no idea who I am?  I mean, I told them I was coming.  What if they didn’t care?  Heck, why would they care?  Nothing is worse than trying to over-explain your existence.

My coping mechanism?  Meet people.  I grabbed some of the stickers from the merch table and made my way around the joint. I asked everyone who they were there to see and then promised them something special from the opener’s show.  They smiled, nodded, and agreed to give them a chance.  They got a sticker, I took their picture, and moved on to the next group.  Several asked if I worked for Coast Modern and I said, “Nope.  I just like them a lot.  I drove all the way from Oregon to see them.”

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These two dudes were my first victims. They were such sports, I really ran amuck after them.

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This was much prettier than the real gauges in his ear.

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It wasn’t long before I Got #1 and #2 on the bandwagon too.

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And these two? I just loved them. They posed for each other all night. One of my fave couples.

As show time approached, I worried more about how I was supposed to act.  Do I wave?  Pretend like I’m not the same person that blows up their Twitter feed with nonsense?  Should I try to act somewhat mature so they don’t ban me from future shows?  And what about pictures?  Should I take my million pictures?  Oh God, please don’t let my concert Tourette’s kick in and start barking out rando facts.  This was their IRL first impression of me and we all know you only get one chance.

Coast Modern walked on the stage and my worry amped to 11. (Yep, anytime I can get that Spinal Tap reference in a blog, I do.)  Lead singer Coleman seemed to half-smile when we made brief eye contact.  It was a half smile, right?  Was it recognition?  Maybe appreciation I traveled for their show?  Or maybe it wasn’t for me at all.  Maybe it was directed at Pretty Young Thing standing at my side.

They started with a song they haven’t released yet.  The vibe confirmed it was going to be a good show and I kept my excitement in check.  Maybe I could pull off being seemingly normal all night.  Then, they went into Guru and I was done.  Music has a funny way of doing that.  A familiar song you love and have played on repeat a million times lights up your soul.  The dancing started, the camera came out, and I recognized myself again.

Coast Modern killed it.  I mean, this wasn’t “Oh I’ve got dreamy eyes for this band and you can play all shitty for me to still love you” kind of show.  This was “people who didn’t know them were dancing their asses off” music being pumped out.  The show flew by so fast I was sad when Hollow Life closed the set.  How could it be over already?

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It’s really hard to choose one Coleman Trapp picture to capture the moment, but this picture calls to me.

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This one also has a je ne sais quoi to it.  I love it.

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That sound? It’s girls swooning everywhere for Luke Atlas.

The set ended, lead singer Coleman swooped up his set list, and they all darted off stage.  Not gonna lie, I think my hand might have been out thinking he would give it to me since I begged for one on Twitter the day before.  Sucking up my sadness, I looked down to grab any of the other ones.  They were already gone.  Snatched.  Vanished.  I died inside.  Pretty Young Thing offered me the one she held.  I declined.  She’d marked it with her lips before the show.  That was her memory on that set list.  I couldn’t take it no matter how selfish I wanted to be.

I was back to awkward “what happens now?”  P.Y.T. asked me to stay up front for the next band. I told her it’s a travesty to be a “Front” when you’ve never heard a song before.  I excused myself to slink back to the merch table to enhance my tee shirt collection.  Do the familiar.  Get my head back to reality.  I was there for a good concert and that’s what I got.

While worming through people, I ran smack right into Coleman.  Literally, I looked up from the floor and we were face to face.  All the worry, insecurity, and doubt choked off any intelligent thought I might have had.  This is usually when my Concert Tourette’s gets the best of me and I scream out something ridiculous.

I can’t remember who said “hey” first.  Don’t jump to any conclusions, I told myself.  It didn’t mean anything.  You just shoved your phone three feet from his face for the last forty minutes.  He’s probably plotting the quickest way out from this awkward interaction.

“Did you get your set list?” he said.

“Uh…oh no.  They were all taken,” I said.

“I saved you mine.  I’ll go get it.”  He turned to head backstage and in that moment I fell truly, madly, deeply in love with Coast Modern.  Because in that moment all of it was real.  Everything I wanted them to be was captured in that one thoughtful act.

Coast Modern only continued to impress when they talked with people, signed gear, and posed for pictures. They took the time to treat each person like a special snowflake. That kind of niceness I can’t resist.  I was hooked.  Done.  Completely smitten.  Forever loyal.

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Luke’s poses are like nothing else. He killed me with this, which led to taking thousands. You MUST get a picture with him.

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This is totally the international symbol of endearment and we should be Best Friends Forever, right?  No way Coleman could be implying “Hey crazy Susan, I’m kinda tired of this.”

I really can’t say enough about meeting Coast Modern.  The music was terrific.  Seriously, one of the best shows.  A good feeling party.  I could go to one every night to fill my spirit.  As for the gentlemen themselves, they were kind, funny, and genuine; the kind of people you want to get behind and wish wonderful things for.  It’s an experience I recommend everyone check out for themselves because it’s a rarity you get all this greatness in one package.