Angela and I

Angela and I

Friday, December 22, 2017

2017 - Reverse Bucket List

2017 was, for me anyway, full of a lot of firsts. So I made a list of all the things I did this year that I have never done before (I WAS BOOOOORN TO DO...oh...sorry...).

KT’s 2017 Reverse Bucket List

This year I…

Performed in my biggest Shakespeare dream role - Ophelia in Hamlet.

Saw one of my best friends make his Broadway Debut.

Finally saw Walk Off The Earth live.

Wrote a novel.

Spent the summer teaching and playing with some pretty awesome kids.

Joined a band.

Learned to like my body.

Repaired my relationship with the gym.

Wrote enough songs for an album and started making one.

Survived a hurricane.

Played in my first ever ukulele festival.

Had the best birthday.

Went to California.

Put my feet in the Pacific.

Lived in a van.

Travelled across the country for my favorite band.

Met my favorite band.

I hope your year had some good moments, and if it didn't, there's always next year. Sometimes we have bad years, and that's okay! The cool thing about life is that it just keeps going. 2018, here we come!!

Peace, Love, and the Best of Times,

Friday, December 1, 2017

Everything's different, nothing has changed...

Every year I try to make some sort of post about the holidays, because I know how hard it can be to go to parties, see loved ones, and come home.  No matter who you are, the holiday season can be stressful.  There's an expectation of happiness and cheer and more often than not, it doesn't play out the way we want.  The holidays can be especially hard if you are struggling with food or body issues, and for me, December used to be my worst month.  For 5+ years, this time of year terrified me.  There are still some deeply ingrained, visceral moments of panic that I experience, even to this day, but luckily I am able to deal with them and realize they are irrational.  But it wasn't always that easy!!  

Having this perspective on the holiday season has been interesting to say the least.  Even before I was technically sick, this time of year was hard for me.  I lost my father when I was 12, and every Christmas after that was super tough.  My dad was such a big part of Christmas for me - dragging him out of his bed on Christmas morning, watching him intently as he opened his gift from me, staying in our PJ's all day.  Without him, nothing seemed right.  I would cry when I decorated the house because I knew no matter how hard I tried to perfectly place every ornament on the tree, nothing would be the same.  

I think that's a thing a lot of us suffer from this time of year - the high expectation and the rose colored memories of holidays past.  I know I always will.  That's a tough thing to let go of, and I think a lot of times that feeling bleeds over into how we treat ourselves and our bodies during this time of year.   So here are some more tips to get through this crazy time.  I know how hard it is.  

1. Traditions are cool, but they're not the most important part of the holiday.  As someone who literally has a disorder that makes me need to do things or else I'll have panic attacks (it's called OCD and it's somethin' else, people) I understand that this can be incredibly difficult to comprehend.  But, if you have to forgo some part of your holiday routine, you'll live.  Maybe you don't have the money to travel this year, or you don't have the time to bake cookies.  And that's okay!  Be kind to yourself.  It's a stressful time of year, and we can only do so much. 

2. Find a new thing to be excited for THIS year.  It might be Hanson's new Christmas CD or it might be new friends to celebrate with.  OR it might be a Christmas card exchange.  Travelling to a new place.  Decorating the house a different way.  It can be little or big, just so long as it brings you happiness.  Nothing will ever be the same as it was, because that is how life and time works.  So instead of bending over backwards to recreate a holiday that probably wasn't that perfect anyway, put your energy into finding new ways to cultivate joy. 

3. You DO NOT HAVE TO MAKE UP (or feel bad) FOR WHAT YOU ATE. I know I've given this tip before but it astounds me how every year I'll make some kind of post about this very thing, literally HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE will like/love/comment, and then those very same people are the ones making their own posts about feeling guilty about the cookies/drinks/whatever.  Food. and. guilt. don't. belong. in. the. same. sentence.  I don't care what you ate yesterday.  I DON'T CARE.  You're still a good person with good intentions and you're still my friend.  It's not a hard concept to grasp.  Look society in the face and put the cookie in your mouth and realize that you don't have to feel BAD ABOUT IT, JEEZ.  

4. If you need to take a break, that is okay!  If you're overwhelmed by everything going on, or your family is driving you crazy, or you're behind on shopping and feeling panicked, or you just feel bad thoughts creeping in, take a breather.  Use those healthy coping skills I suggested you develop and carve out an hour (just an hour!  you can still get everything done, I promise!)  to do some stretches, or work on your crocheting, or color in your adult coloring book, or play your ukulele.  

5. Share those beautiful gifts. Again, this is a repeat, but I think it's worth repeating.  Pick the thing the universe has given you that has nothing to do with your body or how you look or how much space you take up.  And it doesn't have to be some incredible talent, it can just be the fact that you can make people smile, or make someone feel good about themselves, or that you're a good listener.  Those are all amazing gifts.  You don't need to recreate anything that has happened before.  This moment is all we have, so use this moment to share your incredible capabilities with the world around you.  

I hope everyone has an amazing month!!  Be kind to yourselves, and one cares if you eat the cookie. 

Literally.  Not one single person.
I love you.

Peace, Love, and Rock n' Roll til New Years Night,

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

On The Road: EPCOT

You know...any sane, well adjusted, responsible adult would come home from an exhausting week long trip to California, get some rest, and continue on with their life.  But, I’m apparently none of those things and I’m definitely not a casual fan.  So three days after landing back in Tampa, I once again woke up before the sun to drive somewhere...for Hanson.

Every year, Hanson plays at the EPCOT Food and Wine festival as part of their Eat to the Beat concert series.  They play for three days (three short concerts each day) and they give a beer seminar the morning of the last day.  I went last year and it’s hilarious looking back on that experience compared to the one I had this year.  I wish I could tell that KT about the absolutely insane three days that she was going to live in a year.  But I’m getting ahead of myself!  

I scooped Sarah up on my way out of town and we made our way to Orlando.  We wanted to get to the park at 9am to secure our spots at the American Gardens Theatre.  EPCOT is a unique experience from any other Hanson concert because you get to sit in the venue when you get there instead of lining up for hours on end BUT you also have to leave your hard earned front row spot as soon as the first short concert ends.  So anyway, Sarah and I quickly learned the the back part of the park doesn’t open until 11am (last year I didn’t get to the park til about 2pm so I had no idea about this little detail).  So...we waited.  At this point, I had lots of experience waiting. My entire life for a week was waiting!  Bring it on!  

When the back section of the park finally opened, a crowd had formed and  a hoard of full grown women were running towards the venue so, as a person who is very competitive but only about very niche things (I don’t care who wins at board games but if someone in my gym class gets heavier dumbbells than me, you better believe I’m switching mine out) I started running too.  I’m not proud, but I also play to win.  We secured our front row, Taylor side spots and hunkered down for the relatively short wait (11am-5:30pm??  That’s nothing!).  Also, we were at Disney World!!  So there was food to eat, drinks to have, bathrooms galore, and if we needed to stretch our legs we could go visit Germany (okay that was just me, I LOVE GERMANY).

By the end of the three day extravaganza, we had our system down to an exact science.  On that first day, we met up with two of our line friends from St. Pete (Robin and Meredith) and ended up spending the whole trip with them.  The second day, I was NOT kidding around, and Meredith and I sprinted to the venue in order to get the best seats in the house (shout out to Jamarcus for getting me in shape!).  We knew what we needed to do in order to get in line for each mini-concert, and find the best seats, and haul ass after each set was done.  But when we weren’t running around like crazy people, we were hanging out with other fans who were doing the same exact thing as us, and laughing so hard it hurt.  

The third day brought the morning of the Beer Seminar, and let me tell you, this might rank as the single most craziest thing I have ever done for this band.  Sarah and I woke up around 5:30am (at this point my body was really not having it so I was trying my best to rally that morning!  Surprisingly, I felt much better after my morning JOG lol) and went downstairs to get breakfast for our crew.  We ended up having a breakfast picnic on the concrete outside the entrance to EPCOT, which was great because we needed to fuel.  I felt like the stakes were so high, did everyone.  It’s hard not to get swept up in it all.  Anyway, the seminar was held at the festival center and only the first 100 people to get in line were allowed in.  Even though someone tried to do the Hanson tradition of numbering the line before we got into the park, once the gates were open, it was every man for himself.  Trust me when I say that I wish this wasn’t what it was like in this fandom, seeing as we’re all in our mid-twenties to forties at this point, but hey, it keeps us young, right?  All four of us made it into line for the seminar after our nice, relaxing morning SPRINT.  The entire line was comprised of the people we had spent the whole three days with, but the insanity was worth it.  The seminar was awesome and we all got to have some individual time with the guys and get pictures with them.  Taylor remembered me from the California follow and was absolutely delighted to see me, which made me feel pretty cool, I’m not gonna lie.  He made sure I was going to be at the shows that night.  

Um...yeah, I was gonna be there.

The rest of the day was a delight, and I was once again reminded of why I love this band and the experiences they have brought me (or put me through, depending on how you want to look at it).  I was surrounded by people I met through this music, laughing so hard I was crying, spending the day at Disney World, coasting on the feeling of talking to the musicians that I admire the most.  So yeah, I had to run and get really hoarse and be exhausted and feel like it was a life or death situation when they opened the gates.  But...isn’t that what we’re all kind of wishing for?  A life that is exciting and risky and significant?  A life that brings you joy so big that you feel like you’re going to explode?  

All I know is when they started playing “Penny and Me” during the last concert of the night, I absolutely dissolved.  I know it was partly due to exhaustion, partly due to the overwhelming gratitude I felt, and partly due to the fact that now my autumn of Hanson was officially drawing to a close.  I cried so hard I almost choked, but that’s beside the point.  They always dedicate that song to the travellers in the audience, and I did my fair share of travelling this fall.  After Penny ended, they transitioned to “I Was Born” which made me weepy in a different way.  Taylor did an abridged version of his speech from tour, and I just stood there watching, tears in my eyes, soaking it all in.  

So, I guess I should probably wrap this up since I’m once again getting emotional.   This fall I did something I’d never done before, and I followed a band on tour.  It came with a lot of crazy and not so pretty experiences, but it also came with friends, memories, and definitely the best of times.  Hanson, I’ll love you til the end, forever and a day.  Thank you for everything.

Peace, Love, and MmmHops,

Thursday, November 16, 2017

KT's Favorite Albums of 2017

I thought I would take a break from all my Hanson content and talk about some other music for a while.  The year is winding down (how is it already November?!) and around this time I like to reflect on all the awesome things about the last lap around the sun.  I’ve done quite a bit this year, and like every year, I’ve listened to a lot of musc.  I’m constantly on a quest for new tunes to obsess over, so I present you with my top albums of 2017.  Aka, the year of the ladies.

10. Hopeless Fountain Kingdom - Halsey

This album was a surprise to me.  I love pop music and I love female artists and I’m done apologizing for that.  It’s my favorite genre and that’s it’s going to be.  BUT I had never really taken the time to listen to Halsey until my friend Ryan convinced me to listen to this album.   Ryan and I had just finished up a production of Hamlet (he was Hamlet and I was Ophelia) when he told me to listen to this album, so I was definitely in the right mindset when I finally downloaded the songs and listened to them.  I love a concept album, and one based heavily on Romeo and Juliet? Sign. Me. UP.  It’s not a complete retelling of the classic tragedy that we know so well, but instead Halsey’s own story, against the backdrop of the familiar tale.  

Listen if you like - Lorde, PVRIS, Tove Lo
Favorite Track - Devil in Me

9. Beautiful Trauma - Pink

I was a Pink fan in...well, middle school, honestly, and I remember listening to her first two albums and secretly liking them way more than Britney or Christina.  I’ll admit, she has been delivering incredible vocals and performances since day one, and I think that she’s incredibly consistent and criminally underrated.  This album is no exception.  She is such a force in the pop world, and I think this is her best album yet.  The vocals are killer, the lyrics are stunning and thought provoking, and it’s just a reminder that she’s still killin’ the damn game.  

Listen if you like - Kelly Clarkson, Christina Aguilera, Jessie J
Favorite Track - Beautiful Trauma

8. Harry Styles - Harry Styles

I could very easily make this a list completely comprised of female artists, but I really like this album so I’ll throw a boy into the mix.  I’ve never been a 1D fan (I respect them and I love that people are fans of them, I just didn’t have room in my life for another boyband), but as soon as Harry Styles’ dropped his debut solo album, I snatched it up as quickly as I could.  The reasoning is...very on brand.  I heard the pre-release tracks and I was immediately struck with how much the songs reminded me of Underneath (my favorite Hanson album), and how similar his voice is to Zac Hanson’s.  But seriously, he knocked it out of the park with this album.  His vocals are amazing and he totally proves his chops as a songwriter.  The album has sweet, intimate moments, as well as huge, sweeping declarations, and its sound is unmistakeable.  I am proud to be a relatively new Harry Styles fan!  

Listen if you like: Hanson, One Direction, Ed Sheeran
Favorite Track: Sweet Creature

7. White Out Conditions - The New Pornographers

Again, this album came recommended to me, this time by my friend Kyle.  I knew the album was out because I like this band, but it had slipped my mind (a lot of my favorite artists dropped music this year and I was distracted!).  I’m so glad I finally gave it a listen though, because I became instantly obsessed.  I think I’m a sucker for anything that really digs into tough or taboo topics (mental health, society, etc) while making the music itself sound like angels descending from the heavens.  The juxtaposition of the words and the music is so compelling, and the rich harmonies layered with synths and urgent rhythms make it a stand out record for me.  

Listen if you like: Neko Case, The Decemberists, Belle and Sebastian
Favorite Track: Second Sleep

6. Younger Now - Miley Cyrus

For someone who actually really enjoyed Bangerz, I was surprised at how much I loved this new record, but listening to it was like a breath of fresh air.  Obviously, I’m all about self discovery and working towards becoming a better you every single day...and you can just tell that Miley has gone through quite a bit of that in the past year.  One of the reasons I love female artists is because we so often get records like these.  Ones that say “I did the whole crazy girl, partying things because that’s what society told me to do, I got carried away, but here are some songs about what I learned.”   I don’t like that they are forced to fit into a mold, but I do love what comes when they break out of it.  

Listen if you like: Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, Taylor Swift.
Favorite Track: Malibu

5. Melodrama - Lorde

This album is one of many that was dropped into my lap at exactly the right time.  Isn’t it crazy when life does that?  It seems to happen more often than not, and this year I got quite a few “perfect timing” albums.  When this album first came out I was hopelessly obsessed with it and listened to nothing else for at least a week.  I was floored by how relatable the lyrics were, and it made me feel so much less alone and crazy than I had felt in the weeks prior.  This year has been the year of the ladies, but more specifically, the year of ladies who were fucked over and made to feel like less than they actually are, who came back and wrote some killer songs about it.  I have to say, I relate.  Again, we went from the reckless abandon of a teenager at house parties, to the grounded maturity of a young woman who experienced heart break and was left to pick up the pieces.  

Listen if you like: Halsey, Lana Del Rey, Marina and the Diamonds
Favorite Track: Supercut

4. Something To Tell You - HAIM

It’s no secret that I love sibling bands, and HAIM falls right under Hanson when it comes to my favorites.  These sisters are seriously awesome, and so incredibly talented.  I personally think this album blows their debut out of the water.  Again, the record itself came into my life at the exact right time (like...literally to the DAY, it was actually kind of spooky) and the lyrics once again made me feel like I was part of a club of girls who had experienced the same thing.  It’s all at once heartbreaking that these lyrics are so relatable and empowering.  HAIM mixes styles so effortlessly, blending rock and pop, and writing killer hooks that you will never get out of your head.  They weave in unexpected sounds and rhythms that leave you stunned and excited for more.  

Listen if you like: CHVRCHES, First Aid Kit, Lorde
Favorite Track: Little of Your Love

3. reputation - Taylor Swift
Any other year, this would probably be my undisputed number one pick, because as you all know I worship at the church of Swift.  But, this year of our Lord(e) 2017, I have to put it at number 3 ONLY BECAUSE so many incredible records were also released.  That being said, I could write an entire doctoral dissertation about this album (or any Taylor Swift album).  Do I think it can be compared to anything she’s done before?  No.  Do I think it’s the smartest and most compositionally sound body of work she’s ever released?  Yes.  Am I proud to be a Taylor Swift fan, one that is influenced and inspired by her every single day of my life?  Absolutely.

Listen if you like:  Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato
Favorite Track: Getaway Car

2. Rainbow - Kesha

I put this in front of reputation, because even I, a self professed Taylor Swift STAN, understand that a record about battling demons, breaking free of the cage, and emerging as something better, stronger, and more self aware is much more important than a record about being in love with a boy and drinking a lot of wine.  I’ve been a Kesha fan since the very beginning.  Seriously, since sophomore year of college, driving around Cincinnati with my friend Sam and listening to TikTok on repeat.  As you have probably learned from this list alone, I LOVE POP MUSIC, even mindless pop music, and Kesha was always one of my favorites.  But this album is something so much more than that.  I was absolutely floored by every single song.  It takes us a journey of...well...Kesha becoming her own hero.  And if you don’t think I’m an absolute sucker for that, well, then you don’t know me at all.

Listen if you like: Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Rihanna
Favorite Track: Rainbow

1.Hopeless Romantic - Michelle Branch

True, I waited three long and harrowing years for reputation, but I waited FOURTEEN YEARS for the next installment of Michelle Branch’s story.  Hotel Paper, Michelle Branch’s second album is one of my favorite records of all time (like, easily in my top three).  This girl is literally the reason I begged my parents to get me a guitar, and the reason I started writing songs at the tender age of 12.  I’ve survived on Hotel Paper since 2003 (with a little help from The Wreckers and a couple EPs) but when I heard that she was giving us a brand new album in 2017 I literally lost my damn mind.  And boy, did it deliver.  This album was released in April and I am still not over it.  It’s a brand new sound while still being undeniably Michelle.  I love every single track. It’s co-written and co-produced with her boyfriend, Patrick Carney (of The Black Keys) and I think that was a super smart decision on her part.  His musical sensibility breathes a new life into her already incredible songwriting, and makes it perfect for the 2017 audience.  I LOVE YOU FOREVER MICHELLE.  

Listen if you like:  Vanessa Carlton, The Black Keys, The New Pornogrpahers
Favorite Track: Fault Line

So there you have it.  If you’re still reading, wow honestly thank you for being interested enough in my blabbering about female pop artists to make it all the way through this blog post.  I would love to know what some of your favorite albums of the year were, and I hope everyone reading this knows that whatever music makes them feel alive is the right music!  There is no wrong answer.  

Peace, love, and don’t let the bastards get you down,


Monday, November 13, 2017

On The Road - Las Vegas

As soon as our camper van rolled into Las Vegas the morning of the 25th, I was hit with an indescribable sadness.  I knew that I would be seeing the guys in less than a week (at EPCOT for Food and Wine Fest), but it wasn’t really about missing the band.  It was about missing the insane lifestyle of following a band, and the memories you make along the way.  It was about the people I had experienced the whole thing with and the hours in line we had shared.  I was also strangely nervous about the show, seeing as the San Diego concert was so incredible.  But, I was (as usual) getting ahead of myself.  The Las Vegas show was one that I will never forget.  

We parked in the Mandalay Bay parking garage around noon and headed into the casino.  I had checked in with a few people already there, and confirmed that there was, in fact, a line inside.  When we finally found the House of Blues, we were greeted by a gaggle of girls who we now knew by name.  And so, I spent my first and only day in Vegas, inside a corral that the HOB staff had created specifically for Hanson fans.  Thrilling, I know.  

But, I wouldn’t have it any other way, and since we were in air conditioning and had easy access to bathrooms, food, and starbucks, the day went by in a flash.  The venue was pretty organized, and the lines were handled well (thanks in part to Stephanie, who I may or may not have deemed “line-mom”, HANSON YOU SHOULD HIRE HER).  We got into the venue (right in front of Isaac’s microphone, as usual), and were surrounded by people who had all made the same trek as us.  

The first...third?  Half?  Of the show was pretty emotional for me.  I was just so thankful for everything and how a little over a year ago I was in a fandom lull and for whatever reason, one night I was home alone and decided to re-watch Strong Enough To Break and there I was, going full speed ahead back into the life of a fully fledged fangirl.  This year has been insane in all the best ways, and I have this band to thank for that.  I cried during Go and SETB (no surprise there) and then straight up BAWLED during Wildflowers.  I was emotional, sure, but I was also really exhausted, and I always cry when I’m tired.  So...yeah.  

And then...the show got real silly.  As they were setting up for On and On, all three of them were whispering and suddenly, everyone but Zac was leaving the stage.  Taylor barely got “Zac is going to sing a song for you” before bolting offstage, and the rest of the band followed suit.  Zac was left alone at his center microphone, looking bewildered, but playing the intro to On and On and realizing that he was going to have to do the little Hnet speech himself.  There were clearly a lot of newbies and non-members in the audience, so Zac was having trouble getting people to participate in the call and response.  Honestly, I’m not even sure he “taught” it to us before launching into the song (I was also very distracted, laughing at the absurdity of the situation).  He said “I can’t hear you guys!”, and the group of us who had been there for the entire week decided to make up for everyone else not singing.  We basically just started screaming  the response, and dying laughing over it  (I distinctly remember sinking to the ground in laughter, and someone pulling me back up).  Hey, he asked!  No one else was singing!  We couldn't leave him hanging!

The band came back and I Was Born was great but...the lights went out and I guess distracted Taylor because he repeated a part of the second verse?  The night was spiralling into a very silly concert, but I don’t think anyone minded.  I didn’t, that’s for sure.  In fact, this is the exact reason why I love live music.  Ya gotta roll with the punches, and take everyone along for the ride.

By this point, I felt like the guys were playing the show for the 20-ish of us who were going absolutely insane in the first few rows.  The crowd as a whole was very chatty, and not super responsive, so they started making silly faces at us, pointing at us...Taylor came over to our little crew more than usual, and of course we went absolutely bonkers every time.  It was so...FUN.  It felt like a celebration.  

The encore was Man from Milwaukee and I’m pretty sure we all lost our damn minds.  

While San Diego was the best show of the tour, hands down...this actually might have been my favorite.  It was very special (and hilarious) in a totally different way.  It felt like a party, and even though I was completely exhausted at the end of it, I didn’t want to go home.  

But, I never really do.  

Peace, Love, and Zac solo shows,