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graceGrace's Tour Blog

by Grace Stumberg

Australia/New Zealand - 2015

Tuesday, October 20, 2015
ASB Theatre
Auckland, New Zealand

The last one! We were pretty tired from all the travel and shows in a row. While I was getting off the elevator I rolled over this well-dressed man's shiny shoes with jeans suitcase and looked up in horror at him, and he was emotionless. I thought, hmm, that's odd. After I left Joan's room I saw the same man in the corner of the hall reaching behind his ear and another guy tapping on a door and running. Again I just headed to my room and thought, Hmmm.... Then my phone goes off. It turns out they were inspecting Ian's guitar case or as I'm sure they thought, "firearm case" - haha. It was just a guitar! It turns out the Prime Minister was in the building on that day, so I guess they were just being extra careful with security.

Maggie Gerrand, our wonderful promoter of the tour, took us out to a group dinner at the Oyster and Chop where we ate the best steak and fish ever! I highly recommend it. It's one of those places that serves you just the right amounts, instead of over-filling you. After that we went to an Irish bar for a night cap and back to bed for a nice day off. :)

The next night Joan, Jason (our sound engineer), Maggie and myself went to see Neil Diamond. It was pretty fun! Afterwards we went back to bed to get ready for the last show of the tour!

This night was special because we planned an end of tour prank. At the end of Gabe's solo, Blair and Liam shot Gabe with confetti cannons and it went all over! Haha - he didn’t see it coming and it was great. It actually looked beautiful on stage. It was a wonderful finish to a great tour.

Thanks, Australia and New Zealand, and all the hardworking team for making it a successful tour. See you next time!

Saturday, October 17, 2015
Michael Fowler Centre
Wellington, New Zealand

They call it "Windy Wellington." Well, that's for sure! This was one of the most crazy airports to fly in and out of. You’re tossed around all over the place in between cliffs and ocean. We flew in just for the day of the show, so unfortunately we didn’t see much. I've got to say I’m feeling a bit better about flying this tour though!

This concert was absolutely amazing. The people were shouting out things left and right and singing along to just about everything. This night was also really fun because Joan and I did the song "Do Right Woman." Dirk played the piano while Joan and I swapped verses and harmonized. Though we had only rehearsed it just before the show, we pulled it off! :-) The crowd loved it.

Thank you, Wellington, you really were a spectacular crowd, and I can’t wait to get back!

Thursday, October 15 and Friday, October 16, 2015
Isaac Theatre Royal
Christchurch, New Zealand

Welcome to New Zealand! The place where it takes you seven hours to get through security - Haha. Though the airport wasn’t fun, the rest of it was. We stayed at The George Hotel in which each of our rooms were gifted with small teddy bears. It was right across the street from a beautiful green park. A lot of this city is still being rebuilt from the horrible earthquake they suffered 5 years ago. But it is still beautiful. Joan, Emma, and I visited a tattoo parlor and got our Maori tattoos. Joan already had one, but had it touched up. I had chickened out last time, but didn’t this time! Emma got one on her shoulder. I'm really happy with the way mine turned out. Maori tattoos are beautiful. They encompass family, prayer, wishes, and spiritual journey. Truly a beautiful work of art! We were all happy with our results.

We did a double night of shows in Christchurch. These nights were special because we introduced a new song to the set - Purea Nei, a Maori song that we dedicated to our friends who gave us the Maori tattoos. It was a smash hit!

Monday, October 12, 2015
Festival Theatre
Adelaide, Australia

It was chilly here! On the first night we went to one of Blair's favorite restaurants called "British India." Quite a name, right? Their business logo was also a pineapple. The food was great!. Classic Indian style with a bit of a British pub twist. Highly recommended. After that we went out dancing. I tried to get the old game of not moving a limb going, but when I walked up to a group of people and asked if they wanted to play a dancing game, they said "No, actually we don’t." Hahaha. At first I felt hurt, but then I just laughed and continued dancing with our crew. Their loss. :) When I returned to my room there was a giant moth who had moved in. I couldn’t trap it and I didn’t want to kill it, so I didn’t sleep too well that night!

On the show day we really had some fun. We introduced a new twist to the show which involved everybody! After the regular set, Dirk started to play piano and I came out and began to sing the Dirty Dancing theme song "Time of My Life." Emma, Blair, and Liam danced with Joan! The reason we did this was because when we weren’t performing at the theatre, Dirty Dancing was! It was a pretty fun last minute thing to pull off and the crowd absolutely loved it.

Saturday, October 10, 2015
Convention Centre
Cairns, Australia

When we landed, Cairns reminded me a bit of Rio, or Vegas - in that a naturally beautiful place was lathered with casinos, souvenir shops and shopping malls. No matter what time of day it was, the streets were loaded with drunk and homeless people. There was something very energetic and fun about this place, but also very tiring. We decided to make our own fun by staying in, having a drink and playing some poker. I lost right away, but still hung around painting toenails - Haha.

The next day we went out snorkeling and scuba diving! The boat ride out there was pretty fun. We stood on the very front holding onto the railings, being tossed up and smashed back down. At one point we were all hanging onto each other to take a group photo when the boat went up on a wave and dropped down. We all screamed instantly, and then laughed once we regained balance. I have to say scuba diving is pretty scary, but amazing. First you put on a wet suit which is like wrapping yourself as tight as you can with plastic wrap. Now, try and breathe, and move your body... Then put 4 square weights around your waist. Then put on a heavy jetpack, over your plastic wrap, and your weights, with an oxygen tank. After that, try and stand up straight in the water while wearing shoe fins. THEN submerge yourself into water while chomping down on a plastic bit breathing in and out, worrying about if you’re going to get water in your air tube or goggles while you’re submerged. Ready?! Okay, we're going for 30 minutes where the sharks live - haha. It was beautful under there, though. The fish come right up and say hello, and the colors of the coral are astounding. I'm glad I got over my terror and went!

The Convention Centre show went very well. Joan decided to throw "Me and Bobby McGee" in there at the last minute, so I had to instantly try to remember the words. Luckily, they came to me just as I took a breath in to get something out - Haha! For days after the show we all still felt like we were on a boat. It was an absolute beautiful blast!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015
Queensland Performing Arts Centre
Brisbane, Australia

We stayed at a hotel just across from the Botanical Gardens. The guys were at a studio again the next day, so I went to go sing on some more stuff. It was so much fun! Everything came out sounding great, and again it was nice to get out of the hotel. Afterwards we visited this really awesome old school cocktail bar called the Grisham. I highly recommend it if anyone finds themselves in Brisbane.

The next day we played the QPAC concert hall. I remembered this place as well! I thought the sounds of this room on this night was absolutely exceptional. Joan thought so, too. During the show I fell asleep on the floor. It was that part of the tour where you are just beat! It flew by and afterwards we packed up to head off to Cairns.

Sunday, October 4, 2015
Entertainment Centre
Darwin, Australia

Again, everyone's like, "Why Darwin?!" I knew this place because it's where Steve Irwin the Crocodile Hunter was from. Everywhere you go there are signs and gates that tell you not to go in the water because you may be attacked. It was absolutely scorching hot here and loaded with HUGE bats, which I actually find to be super cute. On the first night there was a band playing downstairs and since it was right below my room I decided to go down alone. I had a couple of beers and made friends with some people traveling on the sea studying the ocean floor. They go at it for 4+ months at a time. I couldn’t imagine being gone for that long bobbling on a ship. They do love their work, though, so I guess that's all that matters!

The show day was pretty good. We ate at one of the most amazing Thai/Indian restaurants for dinner that I have ever encountered. After that dinner we were all remarking on how we weren’t going to be able to do the show because we were too full. We did however manage to make it! On this night Joan (just before dinner) said, "Hey Grace, you’re going to play guitar on 'Dixie,' so I had to learn it really quick before the show, but I did it! It was really nice to play and sing. Having the guitar in front of me just feels nice. I kind of let go of the nerves or something. It's my comfort blanket - haha. Luckily there were no Croc attacks during the show! Just some poor kid afterwards trying to hop a barbed wire fence and getting stuck with it between his legs - Now that was a horrible sight to see!

Thanks, Darwin, for being a very fun and interesting place! Would love to come back sometime.

Saturday, October 3, 2015
Fremantle, Australia

Beach day! Emma and I took an Uber car out to the beach where we watched people throw themselves into the waves. There were so many people, and seagulls attacking an empty box of french fries screaming at each other like little children, so we didn’t stay too long. We met Blair for some lunch and he informed us that on his bike ride he was attacked by magpies again! We did do a lot of walking and talking, though, which was nice. After that we went to a party at one of Dirk's friends. His name is Lucky Ocean, and he is an astounding lap steel and slide guitar player. A few other musicians, as well as all of Joan's crew, were there. John Butler also popped down and we all played together. About 8 of us in a circle while people danced. As the night went on people thinned out, but the music didn’t - we still kept playing. I played some of my songs, and it was great to hear what other people played on them! Liam also played some songs, and we sang harmonies. We got Emma on the percussion! It was great. She was shaking eggs and playing washboard type instruments and a cajon - haha - she is a natural! She’s going to take drum lessons now. :) The party was a great release. It was nice to be in a space, literally a space. Especially one that is not a hotel room or a concert venue. Of course, we could throw jam parties in hotel rooms and even stay late after the concert or go in early, but there's something about being in a space outside of all that, that is extremely rejuvenating and grounding. Thanks, Lucky, for the party and the wonderful day off!

Thursday, October 1, 2015
Entertainment Centre
Bunbury, Australia

Before we even got to Bunbury, everyone was asking why we were going to Bunbury. That right there makes you raise an eyebrow. When we arrived I thought it was a lovely small town! Just on the edge of a chunk of water, the weather was nice and the sunset was beautiful. Yes, it was a small place, but I tend to favor those. They are easier to digest and just be present in.

The concert hall was covered in signatures from various acts and artists that rolled through. They even had a fish tank just on the side of the stage! It's been a while since I've watched some fish swim around, in and out of their little castles. Sometimes it's the little things that can bring the utmost of happiness while being on the long woven travel road. The concert went very well. Some people drove all the way from Perth and Fremantle to attend the show. One of those people was John Butler (if you don't know him, check him out at the John Butler Trio website). Pretty cool to think he was in the audience while we were performing! You could tell that some of these people have been dying to see Joan for years and were glad that she came all the way to Bunbury to give a show. After the show, we piled back into the car and drove back to the hotel, awaiting another day off tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Perth Concert Hall
Perth, Australia

The weather was gorgeous! Nice and sunny with a warm breeze. Our hotel was right across the street from Little Creatures brewery (which is a popular Australian beer brand), so on the first night we had a go! On the way back from the brewery we went through a playground and we all decided to conjure our inner child! I successfully completed making it across the monkey bars, which I must say, is not as easy as I remember it being. I dare you to try it! The whole gang - Joan, Gabe, Liam, Emma and I - climbed to the top of a jungle gym and took a picture. It was nice to play! The next day some of us went to the beach which was gorgeous but the water was still cold. I was wondering why there were so many dogs, and it turns out it was because I was on the dog beach - haha. I stayed. It was nice to see the little furries chase the seagulls.

The next day was showtime in Perth! I remembered this place as well from the last tour. We didn’t really spend time here because we drove down from Fremantle and back. It was a very typical show day: arrive, unpack, soundcheck, dinner, show and then back in the bus to head to the hotel. The show was wonderful, though, with quite an energetic and warm public. Thank you, Perth!

Sunday, September 27, 2015
Theatre Royal
Hobart, Australia

Tasmania is pretty much as low as you can go before hitting Antarctica. It was hilarious to picture myself on the map there while people are existing on the other side. It really is a HUGE world. The weather was chilly with some hints of rain. It was a fisherman's sort of town, with lots of ships docked and people eating their fish and chips at a place called The Drunken Admiral. On the first night we visited a pub and enjoyed some killer beers while doing some people-watching. After that we set out to watch the "Footie" match - Is that how you say it? We made a friend who we hung out with the whole night who explained what footie was and how excited he would be if Melbourne won. I enjoyed watching even though it's a sport I’m not too familiar with. Those guys have guts! After the match ended the place we were at turned into a dance night. The DJ started playing music, and so naturally Emma and I got up there and dragged Liam, our tour manager from Australia, up there, too. People all around were watching You could tell they wanted to join in, but were too scared. Eventually some people got up, and we played a dancing game where you had to pick one part of your body you couldn’t move until the next person said so - haha. Some girl came up and lifted me up by the ankles trying to spin me around but dropped me on the floor. I didn’t see it coming and thought it was absolutely hilarious. I will never forget it, and I don’t think anyone else will either!

The show in Tasmania was awesome. It was in the smallest, cutest, oldest theatre in Hobart! The crowd was very receptive and warm, and Joan had a lovely time. I would love to spent a little bit more time in Tasmania next time. :) Thanks everyone for attending the show!

Thursday, September 24 and Friday, September 25, 2015
Hamer Hall
Melbourne, Australia

I remember this being one of the most freezing cold cities that we visited on the last tour. It was still pretty cold and rainy this time around, too. I remembered the venue quite well because the last time I was there working and tuning guitars I was messaging with my best friend back home. She told me that she was pregnant during the show, so I'll never forget that! I even had a dream the night before that she was. I'm telling you, when you are connected with someone it doesn’t matter how far away you are, you’re still connected!

The shows went very well at Hamer Hall. Some people attended two nights in a row, and Joan had lots of guests visiting backstage after the show. On the days off I visited a recording studio called Tender Trap Studios to lay down some vocals on some songs that Dirk and Ian were working on. It was a lot of fun and the songs were beautiful. There's nothing better than someone giving you a killer microphone, some lyrics, and saying "here…take this verse and on the chorus stack some harmonies"! We had a lot of fun and it was nice to be able to hear each other's music and creations outside of what we normally do. It was a blast!

Sunday, September 20 and Monday, September 21, 2015
Sydney Opera House
Sydney, Australia

The hotel here in Sydney had a wonderful breakfast. I spent most of my time exercising, reading books and watching entire seasons of Forensic Files just before bed. Let me tell you, if you want to have interesting dreams make sure you do the same! I have to say there was something comforting about being in the same place you’d already been before (as we were 2 years ago). It felt like saying hello to an old familiar friend and watching how they’ve changed and how you changed since the last time you met. I remember when I first started singing with Joan I felt like a small mushy pea on the big intimidating stage of the world renownwed Sydney Opera House. It was much different this time! The shows were great. Joan performed a popular Australian song called "Solid Rock." She spoke the lyrics in poetry form while Gabe (her percussionist son) played the didgeridoo. It was a really cool interpretation of the original song! I highly advise you all listen to the song and keep the fight against this whole "pave paradise and put up a parking lot" thing.

Thanks, Sydney, for welcoming us with open arms yet again. See you again sometime soon!

Thursday, September 17, 2015
Royal Theatre
Canberra, Australia

We were all pretty wiped from our 14 hours and more of travel. As some of you may know, my nickname is vampire because I never sleep. That was not the case here! It was pretty difficult to try and stay awake past 8pm speaking for myself.

Canberra, you are just as I remember you! Cold and windy with a lot of hidden gems. Here I experienced my first Grill’d, which I learned is an Australian chain restaurant with "healthy burgers." Blair (our tour manager) introduced me to it. I'd definitely go again. The chips are where it's at. We stayed in a pretty neat hotel that had it's own bookstore. I bought a couple of books, one on the heart chakra and another called "Resonate" which is all about learning to find your voice and using it to effectively communicate with others. This ranges from a simple hello to giving presentations as well as singing on stage. The voice is used for so many things! It made me realize when I am most comfortable. Often people say that I am very quiet, that my voice is soft and shy in nature. Then I get on stage behind a microphone and start tapping into the sounds and vibrations of music and it pulls the bigness out of me. I'm louder, more confident, tapped into something deeper. It's pretty interesting to think about. Why don’t I talk the way I sing? Why don’t I sing the way I talk? Should they be the same? And why does one come through clearer than the other? Well, thats why I bought the book! At the end of reading it though I just realized some things are better learned then explained. :)

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