A Relaxing Stay in Mason Before Chicago

Hi y'all, During our time spent in Michigan, my Grandpa Mel and his wife Kathy as well as my Uncle Johnny and Aunt Rebecca, shared several meals with us, played video games, while Mark and Brodie played foosball and ping pong in the downstairs gaming room.

Before leaving to Chicago on June 2nd, we ate waffles and eggs, said farewell to the family, and went to interview Alicia Nuccilli and her mom in Southfield, Michigan.

There they shared many wonderful stories about their musically talented father, Ed Nuccilli, who made an impact on the Detroit music scene for many years. We were glad they were able to give us so much rich information in addition to a couple CDs Ed recorded with all original tracks.

After the interview we drove by Baker's on 8 Mile where Ed and the Plural Circle Big Band had played for many years. We filmed a shot of the club, gassed up the van, drove through burger king, and made our way to Chicago--a 4 our drive from where we were.

We arrived just in time for the start of game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final. Luckily we found this Bar & Grill that had TVs and good food where we hung out for the first two periods.

At the end of the second period, we walked down the street to where Mark's buddy Patrick lives (where we were staying), and we greeted him, brought in our stuff, and watched the third period on Patrick's TV.

Just like game 1, game 2 went into overtime and the Kings were able to dig out another victory. I screamed when Carter got the game winning goal and it slightly startled everyone else in the house.

The next day, we filmed the Chicago Grandstand Big Band at this renowned club called Fitzgerald's where several movies have been filmed. Before the set, we interviewed Bill Gilardon, the band leader.

It was a really good turnout at Fitzgerald's and their screamin' band played three full sets until 9:30pm, and we were really fortunate to catch this band so last minute as we did.

Stay tuned for more updates from the road as our trip winds down to the west coast!




Vince Giordano, then off to Michigan

Hello! Sunday May 27, we woke up in Brooklyn after sleeping in the van, went to a coffee shop nearby in Williamsburg called, "Modern Spaces" and played some Foosball before actually starting the day.

We took the L subway line to Manhattan, and our first stop was the NHL store on 6th Avenue. Brodie bought a hat, and the we headed to the World Trade Center downtown. After walking around near the 9/11 Memorial, we trekked to the Staten Island Ferry, and after the two-hour round trip, we were completely beat.

It was a unanimous decision to go back to the van in Brooklyn to decompress and take care of some business. We went to a cafe called "Ella" on Bedford Avenue to dump footage, charge batteries and get some food. Meanwhile, there was a Zombie Apocalypse on Bedford as hundreds of people wearing brutal costumes and face paint walked past the window of Ella.

After the cafe we dropped off most of our equipment at the van on Kent street, got back on the subway, and made for Manhattan once again. We made our first stop at the famous Birdland, hoping to catch some more live jazz. Unfortunately, a huge crowd and massive amount of reservations made it impossible to enter. After at least twenty minutes of standing in the rain making no progress in our line, we left for another Jazz club a few blocks away called Iridium, where Les Paul used to play every week before he died.

It was nearly eleven in the evening, and we barely made it for the last song of the last set at Iridium. Fortunately, we were able to get a table and hear the music for free since the waiters were closing out everyone's tabs. After the set, we sat there and realized it was getting relatively late and we wanted to get a good nights sleep before our big day with Vince Giordano in Manhattan.

In the morning, we woke up drenched in the poorly-ventilated van due to the humidity. We got up, put the GoPro on the roof of the van, and drove into the city over the Brooklyn bridge on the way to our hotel, which we had only booked for one night (in Times Square). One block before the hotel, we were stopped by a group of cops who were doing "vehicle checks" and asked what we were up to with our strange van from California and the camera on the roof. We told them and they let us go, and a block later we turned left on to Broadway to find our hotel, the Double Tree by Hilton. I checked in while Brodie and Mark waited in the van out front.

We weren't sure if we were going to be able to check in that early (12pm) since check in wasn't till three, but luckily they had a room for us on the 13th floor. The concierge gave me three keys and three freshly baked chocolate chip and macadamia nut cookies. We inhaled the cookies, unloaded the van, looked for parking, and found a spot right around the corner near Little Brazil.

It was special treat having a hotel which was so well kept with so much space and power outlets. We were truly spoiled for the twenty-four hours we stayed there.

After showering and getting changed, we went down to 42nd street to get some papaya dog (cheapest best meal in NYC), and after we ate, we met with Shawn from the Escape Camper Vans, who happened to be in the city at the same time on business. He gave us our current copy of the registration, and also told us he'd give us a huge discount on the van.

It was almost four o'clock so we got into some nicer clothes at the hotel and got prepared for the interview and show at Sofia's where Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks were playing (they play at Sofia's every Monday & Tuesday night).

At five, we arrived at Sofia's and talked to a nice man named Mel who works at Sofia's restaurant. He asked us about our project and he was happy for us young guys to be doing something so great for the music. Interestingly enough, our cinematographer Mark crossed paths with him no less than two more times during our NY stay. He was extremely hospitable as we waited for Vince downstairs.

Around 5:15, we met with Vince and saw the downstairs area where we'd soon be doing the interview as well as where we'd be filming the band later that night. He gave us a great interview and shared a great analogy of good music and good food, and how younger generations only try the candy and doughnuts--a interesting point I hadn't thought of.

The downbeat was at eight, and we filmed the first two sets, which contained such rich and wonderful charts backed by passion, professionalism, and energy. Everyone at Sofia's clearly enjoyed the performance, including Liza Minelli and Michael Feinstein, who I spoke with briefly in the dressing room after the first set. It was a real privilege speaking with them as well as all the guest appearances Vince had play with the band from the crowd. He had a guest singer, two guest pianists, and a drummer all chime in on different parts of the first two sets.

Once the gig ended, we packed up our gear and brought it over to our hotel and relaxed for the rest of the evening. We woke up relatively early in the morning (5/29/12) thinking that we had a complimentary breakfast, but we were wrong. It wasn't till after we finished our Grade A buffet breakfast that we realized our food was $91. Oh well, it was too late to do anything about it then.

We checked out at 12pm and drove back to Brooklyn where we knew our car would be safe to leave without getting any tickets or have any question of safety. On the way back to the spot in Williamsburg, I purchased tickets on my iPhone for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. Brodie and I were really excited that we were going to be able to witness some history, especially on the East Coast.

Back in Brooklyn, we literally parked in the same spot where we were a couple days earlier. It was another relaxing day as we went back to Modern Spaces played Foosball for three hours, went in a record shop, then went down by the water and threw a tennis ball around. Looking at the sky, it appeared that there was a huge storm coming in, so we prepared and got some long sleeves ready.

Later that night, we ventured back to Manhattan via subway to grab an exterior shot of Sofia's which we had neglected when we filmed Vince. It was absolutely pouring when we got off the subway, and we were speed-walking to Sofia's so we wouldn't get drenched.

When we got there, Mark got a few different angles then we went back to Brooklyn. Back at the van, around 1am, I got a call from Vince Giordano saying that we had left our Polaroid camera at the gig on Monday night. He asked if we were still in town, and fortunately we were, so the next morning when we woke up, we drove over to his house in Coney Island.

It truly was a happy accident that we left our Polaroid at Sofia's, because if we hadn't, we would have missed out on some very important footage at Vince's house; it also gave us a reason to go to Nathan's Famous hot dogs to get some lunch.

We made our way back to our spot in Williamsburg once again, and Brodie and I had to get changed before we left for the hockey game in New Jersey. Around 4:15, we got on the subway, changed trains at the WTC Path station, then got to Newark around five. Meanwhile Mark explored Brooklyn, ultimately catching an excellent funk show at the Brooklyn Bowl.

Brodie and I picked up the tickets from the StubHub employees at a Best Western right down the Street from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. We hung out in front of the arena until the doors opened at 6:30pm. When they let us in we got some food, then walked down by the glass and waited for warm ups to start. I captured some great photos during warmups and were accompanied by fellow Los Angeles Kings fans.

After warmups, we made our way up top where our seats were. Luckily, we were sitting next to three other Kings fans, so that made us a bit safer in the sea of redness.

Once the third period ended 1-1, I felt like I was going to have a heart attack because it is the most stressful part of playoff hockey. Up to that point only one Devils fan had screamed in my face, and I knew I would be in a world of hurt if the Devils scored in overtime.

Thankfully, about eight minutes into overtime, my hero, Anze Kopitar scored the game-winner on a highlight reel goal to finish game 1 of the Stanley Cup final. Outside the Prudential Center I saw Luc Robitaille, Patrick O'Neal, and all the other main announcers for the NHL.

Mark picked us up in the van right off of Mulberry street, and we hopped in and started our 11-hour drive to Detroit. Brodie drove the first leg, Mark did the second, and I picked up on the last one. By the time we got to my grandfather's house in Mason, Michigan, we were all as delirious as we'd ever been. We finally got some good sleep and slept for twelve hours last night.

Today (6/1/12), marks the 28th day of our trip, and tomorrow we will meet with Alicia Nucculi whose father was heavily involved in the Big Band scene.

Happy first day of June!


The Big Apple

Howdy folks! We are now in New York City and extremely excited to be here!

On May 24th, we ate at Attman's deli, hung out in the inner harbor in Baltimore, and reconvened at Mark's sister's house before we left for Philadelphia.

Right before the Maryland border we were pulled over by a state trooper after going through a toll booth. We were really prepared this time as we filmed the incident on the GoPro as well as the Canon 5D.

The officer gave us some grief about our rental agreement and threatened to send Mark and myself to jail because the van rental company, 'Escape' did not properly put the other drivers on the agreement. Luckily, the officer let us go with three written warnings. It was "Christmas in May" according to the trooper.

When we arrived in Philly, it was about midnight and our first stop was Geno's Steaks, which was really tasty - we agreed it was better than Pat's directly across the street. Shortly after eating, we drove around downtown then fell asleep in our van (in an Acme parking lot where other campers were parked, so it was an ideal place to be stationed).

In the morning, we walked around old city (Philadelphia), then recuperated at Mark's friend Casey's apartment. In the evening, we went over to his friends place and had some good homemade BBQ and played "Cornhole" (much like horseshoes).

Queens, New York was our next stop, so we left Philly by 9:30am to give us enough time to make it to John Fedchock's house by one. Fortunately, we didn't hit any traffic and made it to his place with time to spare. John gave us a really personal interview and spoke of his travels on the road with the Woody Herman band in his last years, as well as his New York and international gigs.

After the interview, we ate at Carnegie Deli, walked around central park, and met up with my good friend Jason who happened to be in NYC on vacation. We spent the rest of the night with him and his friend who lives in Brooklyn.

More to come soon!! Please help spread the word about our kickstarter!!!




The Usual Suspects

Bo Jackson, bandleader of The Usual Suspects in Atlanta, GA coordinated an event specifically for A Marvelous Era in the Georgia Tech Student Center where many young people came to dance and listen to big band tunes for over three hours on May 18th, 2012. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_T-eZBihD4&feature=youtu.be