Gloriana at the House of Blues in Boston, MA

Best impulse ticket purchase ever. Friday, March 29th – Gloriana at the House of Blues in Boston, MA.

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I won’t lie – I had only heard one song by this band prior to the concert. The day before the show, my friends and I met up to head to the Brendan James show in Londonderry, NH. Right before leaving, we decided to check if there were four tickets available for Gloriana the next night. My three other friends loved the band, and I figured why not go! We were disappointed to see that there were only sets of two available on the House of Blues site. However, we checked StubHub, and several people were selling tickets. On StubHub, people are allowed to mark up the prices on tickets. So, we ended up paying a bit more for general admission floor tickets – a fee we were willing to pay since we were so last minute!

The day of the show, two of my friends were working in Boston and were going to meet us at the venue. My friend and I wanted to get to the House of Blues early to ensure a spot close to the stage. Doors opened at 7 p.m. and the show started at 8 p.m. We arrived in the city at 6 p.m. thinking that was enough time to be in the front of the line… nope. There as already a huge line formed outside the House of Blues.

Parking was, surprisingly, very easy. We parked at a parking garage that was right down the street from the venue for only $15. As we approached the line, our hopes for any spot near the stage started diminishing. The line was very long, and we still had time to kill before the doors opened. As we waited, security guards checked our IDs and gave people over 21 a bracelet to purchase drinks.

As the doors opened at 7p.m., we made our way inside the House of Blues. We walked straight to the stage, where we ended up getting a fourth row spot… much better than we thought! The House of Blues is a beautiful venue. It is typically general admission for the first level, while the second level has both standing and seating. Three bars line the opposing sides of the stage, which made the wait time for drinks very short. I have been to a few concerts here, and each time I have had a very good experience.

Gloriana had two opening acts. Chase Rice, a country music singer/songwriter who was previously on the show Survivor, was supposed to open, but for some reason, was unable to make it. The opening acts were horrible – so horrible that I can’t even remember their names. The first was a young girl who had performed on The Voice or some other musical television show. The second was an older band that played REALLY old and REALLY horrible songs. It seemed like these opening acts were on stage forever. I was second guessing my decision to come to the show…

Finally Gloriana came on stage and the night turned around.The country band from Nashville, Tennesee consists of three people – Rachel Reinert, Tom Gossin and Mike Gossin. Previously the band had four members, but Cheyenne Kimball, the fourth member, left the band a few years back. They really got the crowd going instantly, which was a feat in itself after the horrific opening acts. I was impressed with not only Gloriana’s performance but their powerful voices. I instantly became a fan.

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Some of my favorite songs of the night were “Wanna Take You Home,” “Sunset Lovin'” and “Gold Rush.” Their music encompasses a lot of their personal journeys as artists traveling the world and balancing relationships. More background information on the band can be found at http://www.gloriana.com/bio.

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After the show, the band met with fans who were purchasing CD’s or shirts. They were autographing things but were not allowing pictures as there were so many people in line. My friends and I were some of the first people to reach the table, and the band members were all extremely nice and personable. Overall, fun experience – great venue and fun atmosphere!

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Brendan James at the Tupelo Music Hall in Londonderry, NH

On Thursday, March 28th I was able to see Brendan James, singer, songwriter and piano player from Derry, NH, perform. Amazing acoustics filled the room as Brendan sang his soulful music to a packed house of approximately 200 people.

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Brendan James is a 33 year old artist who is originally from Derry, New Hampshire. His music career really began to pick up after he attended college at the University of North Carolina. He has written four albums, including The Day is Brave (2008), Brendan James (2010), and Hope in Transition (2012). He also has a new album called Playing Favorites which was just released in early March.  He has opened for many popular artists such as The Fray and is currently on tour.

The venue was extremely unique. As my friends and I pulled up to the Tupelo Music Hall, we all exclaimed, “This is IT?” It was an old, while farm house that had been transformed… on the inside… to a music hall. Parking was free as we were directed onto the grass in the backyard of the old house.

The Tupelo Music Hall is unlike other venues in many ways. The venue is BYOB –  beer and wine only. When bringing in alcohol, you must show your ID at the door and pay $3 per person. They also have a “Drinkery” downstairs where they sell beer, wine and light snacks. My friends and I decided to check it out prior to the show. Racks of wine, fridges full of beer and tables assorted with crackers, nuts and other munchy snacks were splayed throughout the old basement of the house.  The store was small enough to be run by one person, and the cashier was very friendly and eager to help us find the right beverages.  The music hall offers plastic cups, but if you’d prefer to drink out of a glass, you are allowed to bring your own. As we checked out, the lights and power flickered, pausing our transaction. The cashier merely looked up to the sky and yelled, “Samantha!” At first, I thought she was speaking to a coworker; however, she continued to inform us that the old house was inhabited by a ghost child named Samantha who actively made appearances, especially in the basement. We were a little freaked out!

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We made our way to the actual venue through a door on the side of the house. As we walked in, Brendan James was immediately at the door to the left greeting people and chatting. It was great to quickly meet the person we were going to watch perform. Brendan had grown up in the area and had many family and friends attending the show. It was unique and nice to see Brendan interacting with the crowd prior to his performance.

As we continued walking in, there were two people sitting near a stand checking for people’s names and checking ID’s if you were carrying in alcohol. Another way the Tupelo Music Hall stands out is that there are no actual tickets for performances. Rather, they print out a list with the buyer’s name and how many tickets he/she purchased. Checking in was very quick and hassle free.

The room was a small room compared to other venues. For the Brendan James show, rows of chairs were set up; there were no assigned seats, and as we arrived close to the start of the show, we ended up with seats near the back. There really wasn’t a bad seat in the house, though, as the atmosphere was very intimate. The Tupelo Music Hall has other seating charts for different artists, so if you are curious before attending an event, check out their website at tupelohalllondonderry.com.

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We hadn’t eaten dinner as we had all some straight from work, so we were happy to see a small food bar serving some hot foods. The menu changes daily. Burgers, chicken tenders, salads and dips were among the food items of choice for that night. Within our group, we ordered the chicken tenders, pulled pork sandwich and warm brie dip/garlic cheese with crackers. Prices were reasonable and the food was okay. It would have been much easier to eat if we had a table; instead, we balanced plates on our laps.

Prior to the start of the show, we decided to check out the merchandise table. We were pleasantly surprised to see that Brian Jarvis, another New England up and coming artist, was opening for Brendan James. We were excited; we had seen Brian perform previously as an opener for Sister Hazel, and I knew I enjoyed his music. As the lights dimmed and the crowd began to cheer, we quickly made our way back to our seats.

One thing I do not like about this venue – NO FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY! Because of the lighting, this made it almost impossible to take decent pictures. So, I apologize for not having many.

Brian put on a great performance. While playing his guitar, Brian showcased his new album Beautifully Broken which was released in February 2012. It mainly surrounds the very quick passing of his father and captures the true, raw emotion of heartbreak and loss. Despite the seriousness of many of his songs, Brian also was very comical in between songs, cracking jokes to lighten the mood.

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When Brendan James came out on stage, the room went wild. Brendan immediately walked over to his piano and began playing. Brendan sounds exactly the same as he does on his CD. This is a feat not many artists can accomplish. Brendan was very personable as he performed, chatting with members of the crowd and telling personal stories in between songs. I personally loved how Brendan had a unique story to fit almost all of his songs; for me, this made the music all the more relate-able.

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Though I loved all of Brendan’s songs, my favorites were “Stupid For Your Love,” “The Fall” and “The Lucky Ones.”

After his performance, Brendan walked through the crowd to the merchandise table, stopping to chat with family, friends and fans along the way. My friends and I made our way to the back room where we got to chat with Brian Jarvis and get a picture together. On our way out, we were lucky enough to grab Brendan to chat about the show and take a picture.

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I really loved how down to earth Brendan seemed, and I loved seeing him perform. His next upcoming show in New England is June 28th at Cafe 939 in Boston, MA.

Tristan Prettyman at the Brighton Music Hall in Brighton, MA

Raw emotion and truly heartfelt lyrics encompassed the stage at the Brighton Music Hall on Friday, March 15. Tristan Prettyman, the 30 year old singer/songwriter from San Diego, California, put on a great show for a sold out house.

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Tristan’s music is very easy to relate to as her songs surround events that have actually happened in her life – from surgery to a difficult breakup with her fiance. I had only just recently started listening to Tristan’s music when I learned she was coming to Brighton. Tickets were inexpensive, and I had never been to the Brighton Music Hall.

The Brighton Music Hall is in a great location with many restaurants within walking distance. Tavern in the Square is right across the street, offering American food. They also have a large parking garage in the back. My friends and I were dropped off, but if we were to drive, parking would not have been impossible.

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The music hall itself is an intimate venue. Holding up to 476 people, the hall is general admission only. With two bars, one in the front and one in the back, getting a drink was never more than a five minute wait. Drinks were very reasonably priced; a glass of wine was only $5. Near the back bar, they also have a small room with pool tables, giving an option of entertainment as the artists set up or change sets. They also offer a coat check for only $2 which came in handy with the unpredictable New England Weather.

The show opened up with Anya Marina, a 36 year old singer/songwriter from Portland, Oregon. Anya was a great performer – very comical, interacting with the crowd in between each song. One of her more popular songs is “Satellite Heart” which is featured on the Twilight: New Moon soundtrack. She currently has three albums out, including Miss Halfway, Slow & Steady Seduction: Phase II and Felony Flats.

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After a short intermission Tristan Prettyman came on stage and began performing right away. Amongst the many songs Tristan performed, my favorites were “Love, Love, Love,” “Say Anything” and “I Was Gonna Marry You.” Tristan and Anya also performed a few songs together. The duo was very entertaining.

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As I mentioned previously, Tristan really incorporates her personal experiences into her music. Tristan was engaged to her long time boyfriend, Jason Mraz, when he called off the engagement, leaving her incredibly hurt and feeling lost. She explained to the audience that through her music, she was able to heal from this experience. According to her website, tristanprettyman.com, she even questioned if she wanted to continue pursuing music at all! But, music ended up being her outlet, as she saved all her emotions for her music.

After the show, I was disappointed that Tristan did not come out to meet fans and sign autographs. Especially at smaller venues like the Brighton Music Hall, I have almost come to expect it! Anya, however, was at the merchandise table selling CDs, taking pictures and signing autographs. We ended up buying Tristan’s CDs and Anya’s CD, Felony Flats.

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I really enjoyed seeing Tristan Prettyman perform live!

The Tom Dixon Band at Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill – Foxborough, MA

Free concert? Live music? Huge Bar? Any music lover would be extremely enthusiastic about these qualities at a venue. At Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grill in Foxborough, MA, this is a usual occurrence. For me,  it was a unique experience.

Last Saturday I was able to combine a great atmosphere with a great band – The Tom Dixon Band – for a GREAT experience. The Tom Dixon Band is a local country band that performs around the New England area, playing their own music as well as cover songs. I had run into their name via friends, and I had previewed a bit of their music. When I found out they were coming to my area, I immediately marked my calender for the event. Overall, I was thrilled with the combination of soulful, country music, amazing crowd interaction, and unique venue.DSCN1933

Prior to this event, I had attended Toby Keith’s once before in 2012. The song “I Love This Bar” by Toby Keith fully encapsulates the atmosphere of the bar.  I remember my amazement as I walked into the bar/venue. Not only was there a huge guitar shaped bar that allowed for ample access, but at the end of the bar was a huge stage for live performances! As an avid country fan, I knew I was in my element. I had never been to a bar that also truly focused on live music as their niche. Yes, I have been to places where live music is a plus, but at Toby Keith’s, that’s one of the main reasons to attend!

I knew I wanted to see a good up and coming band at this venue. When a friend mentioned that The Tom Dixon Band was to perform in mid February, I gathered up a group of friends, and we set out for the event.

We met up at Toby Keith’s around 8:45 pm.  Parking was extremely easy; there is free parking available alongside the entire Patriot Place. When we walked in the front door, there was a $5 cover charge… which isn’t much, considering you will be seeing live music for hours on end!

The Tom Dixon band was to perform at 9 pm, so we had a few moments to spare. We approached the bar, which, to my surprise, was not too long of a wait for a drink, and all order beer out of a mason jar based on the atmosphere. Country bar, country music, country drink…? Why not! These extra large beers were priced at $10/each.

We ran into a friend of mine who had seen The Tom Dixon Band perform previously, and he hinted that as soon as the band came on, people flocked to the stage. With only a few minutes to spare, we made our way up to the front to stake our ground.

As soon as the band came on stage, excitement and energy poured throughout the entire bar/venue. From the first song, it felt as though we were at attendance of a legitimate country concert that could cost a lot of dough! The Tom Dixon Band’s energy was astounding as they got the crowd dancing and singing right off the bat.

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The Tom Dixon Band performed many famous country cover songs such as “Cruise” by Florida Georgia Line, “Toes” by the Zac Brown Band, and “Honey Bee” by Blake Shelton. Alongside their cover songs which were a major hit amongst attendees, the band also played some of their own songs off their own album.

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I had a lot of fun at the show; I did, however, wish that the band played more of their own music. According to the band’s website, tomdixonband.com, Tom, the lead singer, has opened up for many major country artists such as Eric Church, The Zac Brown Band, Sugerland, Kip Moore and Alan Jackson.  With these credentials, I was really hoping to come across a new song or two that I could share.

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The Tom Dixon Band was full of energy and definitely put on a great show overall. Their energy was contagious as they spoke to the audience in between songs, and they seemed to really amp up the crowd’s attitude, creating a really fun environment. I loved the venue and really liked the artist.

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Ryan Montbleau at Club Passim in Cambridge, MA

I was introduced to Ryan Montbleau’s music about a month ago through a friend. He writes for a local online magazine that showcased the top twenty up and coming artists to watch in 2013 in the Lowell area. As I viewed the article and previewed the music, I was liking a lot of artists, but not feeling that connection to most of the songs… until I clicked on Ryan Montbleau.

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The 35 year old artist is a local from Peabody, MA. Soulful, hip and relatable, Ryan’s songs instantly grabbed my attention. At first, I was unsure how to categorize his voice, as I thought it was extremely unique. I instantly fell in love with his music and knew I had to see him perform live.

I found out that Ryan was to perform solo January 28, 29 and 30th at Club Passim in Cambridge, MA. He usually tours with his band, the Ryan Montbleau Band. I was looking to go to the Monday show; however, as I purchased my tickets the day before, I didn’t really have much of a selection. Both the Monday and Wednesday show were sold out, and the Tuesday show had only general admission tickets left! If there’s anything to say about selling out a venue… I knew he must be really good live. I happily purchased two tickets to the Tuesday night show for me and a friend for $30 each.

My friend had never heard of Ryan Montbleau, but as I was ranting and raving about how good his voice and lyrics sounded online, she happily agreed to go. We rushed to Cambridge straight after work. Parking was pretty easy to find. There was a parking lot right across the street from the venue that charged $20 for 2 hours or more. It’s great to have close parking to a venue, especially in the city where finding street parking is a nightmare.

The venue itself was nothing like what I expected. We actually walked by it at first! We were both anticipating a venue like The House of Blues or The Paradise Rock Club; however, Club Passim was actually a very small venue where “tickets” are actually seats at four person tables, and general admission is actually seats along the side of the room. People with seats at a table could order dinner and drinks from Veggie Planet, which was connected to the venue, while general admission could order drinks. If you’re by any means claustrophobic, I would not recommend going to an event at this venue. Tables and chairs were all very close together, making it hard for even the waitresses to maneuver throughout the room.

My friend and I got there much later than we would have liked. We were pretty much setting ourselves up for sitting somewhere near the back. But, when we turned the corner into the venue, there were a few seats up front available to the side of the stage. We were very happy to score these seats, but if we had to sit anywhere else in the room, we still would have had a great view as the venue was so small.

After a few minutes, a waitress came over to take our drink order. Drinks were fairly reasonably cheap, as a glass of wine was only $6.50. We scanned the food menu just to see what they offered, and everything is vegetarian. Many things looked delicious, such as their nachos with cheese dip and pizza. I’d like to try this venue again sometime and purchase tickets at a table to try the food.

This was Ryan’s second night performing at Club Passim. The night before, he did not have an opener. However, this night he did – Lyle Brewer. I hadn’t done any research on the opener, and was surprised at what we saw. Lyle is actually the lead guitarist in the Ryan Montbleau Band. He played his guitar solo for about a half hour.

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After a quick break, Ryan Montbleau and two of his band members – Lyle Brewer on guitar and Matt Giannaros on the bass – ventured through the crowd of people to the stage. He walked up through the side where my friend and I were sitting and commented, “Nice seats.” I said we were excited to see the show, and the trio took the stage.

I was anticipating Ryan to be performing solo, so having a few members of his band there was a nice surprise. Although I do enjoy acoustic shows, I also love having depth to the music.  The trio played for quite some time until Lyle took a break, leaving just Ryan and Matt on stage. After a few more songs, Matt took a break, leaving Ryan playing acoustically.

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I personally really love Ryan’s music. As I said previously, I was having a hard time generalizing it, but after talking with my friend, we decided that he is (in our opinion) a mix of Michael Buble and Gavin DeGraw. Ryan has that old school feel to his vocals and rhythm as in Michael Buble’s songs while attaining the upfront uniqueness to his voice as Gavin DeGraw. While I didn’t feel the same amount of crowd interaction as I have felt at other shows, Ryan truly came across as a “real” human being. He wasn’t only putting on a show, but he was singing and feeling his songs, giving commentary in between. The emotional connection seen on stage while Ryan as singing his songs was priceless.

Ryan mentioned that he had been pursuing his music career for ten years. While he isn’t extremely well known, he did make it known that he is so grateful for all his fans and feels at home whenever he performs in the Boston area. It was apparent by the huge smile on his face when the audience was singing along to his music.

While Ryan performed many songs Tuesday night, some of my favorites were The Boat Song (Stages: Volume II 2009), Songbird (Heavy On The Vine 2010), and Yeah Man (For Higher 2012). The band comically ended the performance with the statement that they were just going to stand off to the side… as the entire audience cheered for an encore. They happily returned to the stage and performed a few more pieces, including “Egg,” a comical song literally about different ways to cook and eat an egg.

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When the show was over, Ryan made himself available close to the exit for autographs, photos and/or just mere conversation. Many people waited to converse with the artist. Ryan was very personable, talking with my friend and I and taking a photo together. After our meet and greet, my friend and I each bought one of Ryan’s CD’s which were available for purchase for $15. Needless to say, we listened to them on our drive back home.

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Overall, my first experience at a Ryan Montbleau show was an extremely positive one – small venue, front row seats, amazing vocals and lyrics. Despite the fact that Ryan hasn’t made it as “big” as other artists in his ten year music career, I’d say he’s doing pretty well for himself. I would absolutely attend another Ryan Montbleau show.

*Photos for this event aren’t of the best quality as flash photography was frowned upon!

Krista Angelucci at Garcia Brogans in Lowell, MA

Who is Krista Angelucci? Until just last month, I had never heard her name. However, I am very happy I stumbled across this talented artist.

Krista is a 24 year old up-and-coming pop-country artist from Billerica, MA. I found out about her through a friend who is friends with her PR person. According to her website, kristaangelucci.com, Krista has sang the national anthem at many major events and has opened for many big time performers such as Lee Brice, Big & Rich and Hunter Hayes.

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I had heard that Krista had an upcoming show on December 11, 2012 at Garcia Brogans in Lowell, MA and decided to go. Unfortunately, I got there about halfway through her performance. From what I saw, I knew I was already a fan.

When I recently heard that Krista was to perform again at Garcia Brogans this past Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 8:30 p.m., I was extremely excited. I made sure I made it there early in order to get a good seat right up front. My friends and I arrived around 6:30 p.m., and there were only a few people in the bar. We ended up scoring the table right in front of her mini stage… claiming front row, per the norm.

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As we ordered dinner and drinks, Krista and her friend Skyler Clark-Hamel, who was accompanying her acoustically, were setting up and doing sound checks. The duo performed a few cover songs that instantly grabbed people’s attention. Their first song concluded with an round of applause from people who mostly came to just grab a bite for dinner and were pleasantly surprised by the live entertainment in front of them.

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Prior to the event, Krista had been walking around the bar saying hello to familiar faces and introducing herself to others. Alongside her talented vocals, Krista also has an outgoing and friendly personality that seemed to allow her to connect to many of the people in attendance. A table had been set up next to the entrance to the bar with T-Shirts, koozies, buttons and CD’s, all for purchase. My friends and I were checking out the merchandise when Krista came over and began chatting with us. As it was nearing show time, she promised to chat more when she and Skyler took a break about halfway through the show.

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I knew I would love the music; my friends, however, were happily surprised as they immediately fell in love with Krista’s voice. Alongside many cover songs, Krista also performed some of the songs off her album Like It Or Not. The first was “Like It Or Not,” a song about the ending of a relationship Krista was once in. It has great lyrics that are easy to relate to. Skyler also performed some of his own songs; I really enjoyed his music, as well.

Around 9:45p.m., the duo took a break to reconvene with family, friends and fans in the audience. Many pictures were taken alongside autographs of CD’s and pictures. One of my friends and I decided to purchase Krista’s CD for $10.  The CD consists of six songs, including “Like It or Not,” “Get The Girl,” “C R E E P,” “Trouble,” “Sunset”  and “Like You.” My favorites are “Like It or Not” and “C R E E P.”

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Krista and Skyler captured us all in conversation and were happy to take photos with us. Crowd interaction is so important to so many music lovers (especially myself!), and it’s great to see up and coming artists value it as much as Krista and Skyler did.

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The duo sang many more amazing cover songs after the intermission. One of my favorite moments was when Krista dedicated her song, “C R E E P” to a fan in the audience who was having a bad night. The song erupted smiles all over the bar as it depicts the single girl’s life going out to a bar and dealing with getting attention from… well… creeps!

Unfortunately the show was on a Tuesday night, and many of us had to work bright and early Wednesday morning. When we got up to leave, Krista and Skyler both made it a point to say goodbye and thanked us for coming to their event. Overall, I was very happy with the experience. I’m excited to see what Krista Angelucci comes out with next and where her music career will take her. In my own personal opinion, I foresee a very successful and prosperous future! She absolutely has what it takes to become a star.

Upcoming Show: Kris Allen at The Flying Monkey in Plymouth, NH

I was just invited to go see Kris Allen, former American Idol winner (2009), on Thursday, April 25, 2013 at The Flying Monkey in Plymouth, NH. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. His hit song, “Live Like We’re Dying,” has been played on many radio station across America, and he has been rising in popularity since his stardom on Idol.

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Not only are our tickets already purchased, but they are in the SECOND ROW! We were also lucky enough to score backstage passes and a meet and greet with Kris!

Great pictures and commentary are sure to follow this concert! Tickets are still available at http://www.flyingmonkeynh.com.