One of my birthday presents was tickets for the three of us to a concert with some of my favorite 70s bands! It was fantastic – Orleans, Ambrosia, John Ford Coley and Player!





Leslie & the Lys, 2014 edition


The first time I ever posted anything about Leslie Hall was almost six years ago when I found her Gem Sweater website and I could not stop laughing. This lady in Iowa had found all these bizarre gem sweaters and taken a photo in each, with the same hair and makeup. The absurdity killed me. When I found she had a band (Leslie & the Lys) and they had a song about her Gem Sweaters, I thought it was even funnier. Hayley and I got the CD and played it all the time in the car.

Six months later, we saw they were on a national tour and as luck would have it, coming to play a show in Chapel Hill. We had a blast, met a bunch of great people, Hayley ended up on stage and even got to meet the band. We were hooked and have been going to their shows ever since – 2009, 2010, 2012 and then this week. It’s hard to explain how great these shows are – it’s part music, humor and performance art. It’s positive, the crowds are always so happy.

Over the years, we’ve gotten to know the band. We always arrive early because I want to get seats off to the side to keep Hayley out of the chaos. We’ve helped with set-up, brought them vegan goodies and had them ship stuff to us to resupply. But this time, we went a step further. Since they had a day off between their DC show and the Chapel Hill one, the band stayed with us for a couple of nights.

I recognize it’s a bit crazy but we’ve kept in touch for years and we knew they’d be great fun to have stay. Life is about experiences after all, right? Hayley was over the moon that they were all here. It was a little mindblowing, they’d given us a lot of laughs and music over the years – and here they were, their crazy van parked in front of our house. After buying more veggies and vegan stuff than I’d ever known existed for our six guests, we settled in for a lot of laughing, chatting, Netflix, making stuff with the sodastream and doing laundry. They really just wanted to relax and recharge. They were incredibly easy, funny and lovely house guests. Plus I love for Hayley to see creative amazing people following their passion.

So Leslie, Mona, Derek, Beth, Adrien and Kristen, you can come back any ole time. Hopefully we’ll see you in a year or so.

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Dark on Both Sides


Hayley spent two weeks at a great teen film workshop St. Augustine’s. 16 kids, a college professor and some of her students – they had access to the entire campus to shoot and the film department’s gear. They all really worked hard on stuff and I’m really impressed how much technical stuff they’ve done with sound, filming and photography.

Most of the time, she did still photography which can be used for checking continuity in scenes, transitions and for fun slide shows. She was lugging camera gear and her laptop all over the campus. She did makeup for a lot of the actors and then acted in one of the shorts.

In this one, she acted one plus did the makeup and blood. She doesn’t mind acting but the makeup and blood part was her favorite.

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Fleetwood Mac


We drove down to Charlotte to see Fleetwood Mac, one of my favorite bands. I’ve been waiting for Stevie Nicks to tour with them again and once she agreed, I knew we had to go. Initially we were going to have to go to Atlanta to see them but they added more shows and luckily Charlotte was one of them!

Weird night in terms of the protestors out front and the drunk girls in front of us but it was still a great show! My 70s super group list is almost done – Eagles, Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac, Doobie Brothers.

Lots more photos

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Mr. Barry Manilow


Jen from next door and I went to see Barry Manilow Friday night. Now please stop laughing and compose yourself.

I’m not a ‘Fanilow’ but I can’t help loving his music. Like Jen says, it’s basically the soundtrack of our childhood. You know you know all the damn songs too. It was a perfect setup – we had an awesome parking pass that let us literally pull up out front the PNC Arena and walk in, club level seats and then the show was just under two hours with no opening act.

Oh and free glowsticks! People you haven’t lived until you’ve held up a glowstick and sung I Write The Songs with Barry Manilow and 10,000 new friends. Or danced to Manilow singing Copacabana live. I’m telling you, BUCKET LIST stuff right there people.

It really was an amazing concert and he puts on one helluva show. We laughed, we got choked up, we sung all night. It was fantastic and bit hysterical too. We laughed so much a woman moved away from us. I prefer to think it was our laughter and not our singing but it could have been both that drove them away.

Manilow is about to turn 70 and holy mackerel, he still can sing and dance up a storm. He paces himself and changes to conserve energy when he can but he worked his rump off on stage. I can’t tell you how impressed and charmed we both were with him live. The man is one helluva showman and entertainer.

I was going to tape more but I was too busy having fun but I snagged one video at least, This One’s For You. The video screen was playing clips of him as a child with his grandfather.

Next up – Fleetwood Mac this summer in Charlotte with Jeff & Hayley. I’ve been waiting for Stevie Nicks to agree to tour again with Fleetwood Mac so I’m just over the moon for this show too.


The Biebs


Hayley and her friend Kiah went to the Justin Bieber concert in Greensboro. My dad got her tickets for Christmas. It was funny, my first concerts without parents were at that same Greensboro Coliseum (Prince on the Purple Rain tour, Police on the Synchronicity tour). My dad sat out there waiting and this time, I did the same – he even waited with me. I just had no urge to see that show – Bieber is fun but the hours of screaming for him, Cody Simpson and Carly Rae Jepsen (aka Call Me Maybe) were too much for me to contemplate.

They had great seats – lower level 10th row from the floor

Girls there.

View from their seats (they didn’t take this)

I love these videos because you can hear screaming like a crazy person, lol.

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John Ford Coley & Byron Hill


I am unabashed fan of 70s music and Friday night we headed out to Winston-Salem to see one of my all-time favorites – John Ford Coley. Coley along with England Dan had a ton of hits including Love Is The Answer, I’d Really Love To See You Tonight, Never Have To Say Goodbye Again, Nights Are Forever Without You and Sad To Belong to name a few. Love Is The Answer is my favorite song of all time so I was just thrilled to get to hear him live, even Jeff and Hayley were excited because they’ve listened to his stuff so much they love it too.

It was fantastic. Small intimate venue with John Ford Coley and an amazing country songwriter named Byron Hill alternating songs and stories – they were a great combo. We were 10 feet from the stage, got to talk to them, get autographs and take photos. As fun as hearing songs I loved from Coley, we were totally charmed by Hill who evidently has written something like 600 songs recorded by others, including 30 top-ten country songs. I’m not a country fan so he was new to me but he sang a number of his songs that went to #1 and I was downloading them by the end of the night.

John Ford Coley in concert from michelle hillison on Vimeo.

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Leslie & the Lys, 2012 super fan edition


In 2008 I posted about how funny I thought Leslie Hall was. She’d been an internet sensation with her hysterical Gem Sweaters Museum. CNN, Wired and others did stories on her fantastic band, Leslie & the Lys and their videos. (Now the humor of Leslie reaches even further that she’s regularly on the popular kids show Yo Gabba Gabba.)

A year later I happened to notice the band was playing in Chapel Hill and of course Hayley and I had to see that show. Not only did we catch the show, we got to meet Leslie afterwards. When they swung through in 2010, managed to visit with the band a bit before and after the show. I emailed with them every so often and Leslie even called Hayley on her 13th birthday.

This year, the band was back on tour again with opening acts Pennyhawk and Ramona & the Swimsuits. Since NC was about midway on their tour, they sent seven boxes of extra supplies to our house to resupply them. We loaded it all up in the jeep as lots of vegan goodies for the band and headed for their show. We hung out with them for about an hour before the show, helped unpack “merch”, Hayley got on stage to help with sound check and shared makeup with the band. They even hooked us up with tshirts. It was like we were roadies!

They knew we weren’t going to stay for the whole show since it was a school night so after the opening acts but before they went on, they got us from the audience and we took photos up in the dressing rooms. Then they brought Hayley up to dance on stage for a song. Both were unbelievably nice gestures.

Such a fun night!

More photos from this set:
Regular view (easiest to find one in particular or print)
Slideshow view (easiest to see them all)

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Clef Hangers!


We found out the Clef Hangers were coming to Raleigh for a show and we had to get tickets for us and some of Hayley’s friends! The Clef Hangers are one of the most recognized and honored collegiate a cappella groups in the county (you might remember Anoop from American Idol a few years ago – he was a Clef and they appeared on the show several times). We normally go see them on campus. They sing a wide range of stuff, some gorgeous vocal stuff but also some fun stuff – their versions of Africa and Carolina on my Mind are simply breathtaking and we also love their song Blue & White.

Cute girls:

In action

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Drag Bingo


We posted in February of last year about Hayley and I having an awesome time at Drag Bingo. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it is Drag Queens and Bingo, joined together as a fantastic fundraiser for the Alliance of AIDS Services. They alternate drag performances with a round of bingo.

We had so much fun we started going regularly, bringing our friends and making new ones there. It’s a great event, we sit with friends with kids too. We’ve run into others we know, friends, teachers, all sorts of families and people. It isn’t for everyone and maybe some people find it shocking that we take our friends but it’s never too young to teach tolerance and it’s a damn good fun time.

More photos from these sets:

>>April (slideshow view) (detailed view)

>>June (slideshow view) (detailed view)

>>Aug (slideshow view) (detailed view)

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