Here’s my photo journal of my time in Boston celebrating Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars. The event itself was a sold-out-smash filled with rocking music, incredible surprises, and a guest list that sent me over the moon. Surrounding that, I had the time of my life in the same city where my Benjamin lived and worked.

I admit to siphoning a few photos from my friends’ Facebook posts. I hope no one minds! I was too hyper and/or forgetful to capture all I wanted. Photographers include Joe Milliken, Natalie Gaber, Kurt Gaber, David Curry, Eric Barao, Ralph Fatello, Peter Van Ness, Denise Fields, Christine Coughlin, and Mike Baratta. I appreciate you all!

Okay… here we go!

01

Leaving for the airport Wednesday night, my daughter Liz surprised me with some encouraging words and sage advice. Oh, and snacks, too. Such a sweet kiddo!!

On my way to the airport I stopped to pick up my new business cards, featuring a great design by @night_spots. I love them!

02a

Arrived Thursday morning, got my rental car and made my way to the hotel, where I was able to check in early. First thing I did? Got Turbocharge plugged into the big screen and mourned the fact that one of my heroes, David Juskow, wasn’t coming to Boston. I also found out that I was going to miss seeing my dear friend, Dante Tomaselli. I had to take a few minutes to absorb those disappointments. I showered, changed my outfit, and painted my toenails before meeting my dear friend, Nicole, for the first time! I wish I had snapped a photo of us when we first met; we were both so very excited! We talked a mile a minute and had to explain to the waitress why we still hadn’t decided on our orders when she came by for the umpteenth time.

03
L-R: Joe Milliken, me, and Nicole Wong

After a brief but tasty lunch and chick chat, I headed back to the hotel to meet Joe, and then guess what? Nicole treated me and Joe to an elegant dinner at The Top of the Hub! What an amazing time we had! The conversation just flowed as we talked about Boston, the book, and the pros and cons of letting our kids play sports. We missed out on most of the view as it was very foggy outside, but we hardly cared, we were enjoying each other so much. The one blemish on the evening was that Nicole’s love, Mike, couldn’t come due to an unexpected meeting at work. Fortunately, I knew I would finally get to meet him on Saturday night.

06
L-R: Eric Green, Joe, and me

Fat and sassy from our scrumptious dinner with Nicole, Joe and I met filmmaker Eric Green (writer and director of the documentary Live on the V: The Story of V66) at The Pour House for drinks and an interview for Eric’s pop culture blog. It was an honor for me to hang out with him, and we all had a blast! We chatted for a bit, recorded the interview between him and Joe, and then chatted some more. He is so interesting, intelligent, and funny, I felt like I could have talked to him forever.

07

Friday morning was busy with visiting and prep, but in the early afternoon Joe and I were able to find the former location of The Rat (before determining that we were at the wrong location for dinner with Judith Orr. Haha! Luckily she wanted to change restaurants anyway, so it all worked out.). As you see, I’m wearing my red pants in honor of Ben.

08
Inside Eastern Standard

Inside the Eastern Standard there is a very cool poster commemorating the former Rat venue. It was a surreal feeling to be standing on the ground where so much rock-and-roll history took place.

09
L-R: Me, Judith Orr, and Joe

Joe and I enjoyed a yummy dinner at Bertucci’s on Friday night with beautiful Jude and her sweet friend, Christine. We shared stories and laughs and lots of huckleberry taffy, and it was really a precious time for me. I like Judith SO much; she’s hilarious and open, and such a happy person. I had hoped to get together with her at least one more time before I left but aside from seeing her at the book event, I wasn’t able to meet up with her again; time just got away from me. She lives in my timezone, though, so I’m optimistic we’ll see each other before too long.

10
L-R: Joe, me, Alan Fields, Dave Curry, and Kurt Gaber

After dinner we headed back to the hotel in time to catch the screening of Turbocharge with this group of crazy kids! I never get tired of watching this hilarious film. I couldn’t help but miss David Juskow, though; he had been wavering on whether to come to Boston to join us for the weekend but in the end, he just wasn’t able to make it. Still, our little group had a great time hanging out together (Alan’s wife, Denise, was there, too; she took the pic for us).

IMG_6658.jpg
Me and Dave… oh, and the Marriott dudes.

Thank goodness my podcast partner-in-crime and I met for coffee in the mornings so we could make time to act like ding dongs. Dave and I found ourselves going separate ways much of the weekend so it was great to have that daily check-in. I am eternally grateful for our easy, funny, relaxed friendship. I don’t know what I’d do without him! 

11

On Saturday morning during coffee, Dave invited me to head to Rockport with him, Kurt, and Natalie, and I convinced Joe to come, too. I’m so glad we went! Here I am outside of David Robinson’s shop. We parked nearby but the place was closed when we walked past, darn it! Oh well. It was a beautiful sunny day, and I was eager to explore the area and see what Rockport was all about.

12

Boats aplenty at Rockport Harbor!

13

Lots of cute art galleries, jewelry shops, candlemakers… and a stinky lobster place! Haha!

14

Stopped to enjoy the street action with Olive and Ash, the ‘brother and sister Juggle Crew.’ Heck yeah! I have a soft spot in my heart for kids who take the initiative and put effort into carving their path.

15

The view of the Atlantic Ocean from Bearskin Neck.

16

The view of Back Harbor.

19
Natalie Gaber and me

Perfect day! Kurt’s wife, Natalie, is an absolute treasure. She’s so patient with all of us Cars fans and always has her camera snapping away for us. She’s witty and observant, and so very kind! It was a treat to hang out and do some casual shopping with this sweet, quiet, lovely lady.

20

Rockport is such an adorable little town. We walked out to Bear’s Neck and back, grabbing some yummy ice cream on our return stroll. Mine was chocolate peanut butter. Mmmm!

21
L-R: Kurt, Joe, me, and Dave

There’s just never enough time to spend, you know? But I am so grateful… It’s amazing to me that I have actually met these amazing friends in person, and on multiple occasions! I truly love these guys (and Nat, too, who is behind the camera!).

22
Do I even need to label this? David Robinson and me. ❤

So, when we walked back toward the car and passed David Robinson’s shop, guess who was sitting out on the porch, shooting the breeze with friends? That’s riiiiiiight! THE David Robinson! Dave, Kurt, and I all tell the details of this ultra-cool turn of events on episode 55 of the NiGHT THOUGHTS podcast, but suffice it to say, I was so very happy to spend time with him. And he remembered meeting me in Cleveland! It still makes me all quivery with delight to think about it.

23
Me, David, and Joe

Though we knew beforehand that David would be coming to the book event with friends, it was great for me and Joe to confirm plans with him in person and make sure he was all set. I know Joe really enjoyed getting to connect with him, too, since it had been a few years since he interviewed David for the book.

20190706_205318

This is the beautiful piece I bought, a necklace handmade by David Robinson.

24

A sample of David Robinson’s favorite music. Can you even imagine how cool it was to talk tunes with him like just a bunch of friends hanging out? I mean, when we first came upon him my knees were weak, but by this point I was pretty relaxed because he just put us all at ease. I don’t think it was until we were buckling in the car to head back to Peabody that the full force of happiness really hit me again.

25
L-R: Dave, Joe, me, David, Natalie, and Kurt

We spent about an hour and a half enjoying David’s company. He was kind, cool, and funny, and said very nice things to us (and yes, his hands were warm!). Terrific memories with some of my favorite people in the world.

26

The event poster outside of 9 Wallis. I’m pretty proud of my design, if you don’t mind me saying. I’m thankful to Joe for giving me so much creative freedom, and for my son, Nick, who pulled Ben out of that Robert Post photo for me. Since it’s about 3 feet high and on stiff signboard there was no way I could fly it home with me, but Joe’s holding mine with his. Yay!

27

Our little merch table. I love the items Joe and I put together. We’ve got a few leftover; we’ll be making them available for purchase on Facebook.

28

It was an honor to have the incredibly talented Kathy Sullivan join us at the party, and we were thrilled to have her set up her fabulous artwork, including two amazing portraits of Ben… and a third one that I didn’t know about yet. I’ll definitely do a separate post about her just for this blog, but I did have the pleasure of interviewing her for an SRO article and writing an abbreviated review for my sister blog, Read~Rock~Review.

29
Brett Milano and Joe Milliken

Many of you might know of Brett Milano from The Cars’ final interview in 2000, or from the liner notes he’s penned for a couple of the band’s post-heyday releases. He is also a long-time journalist and author of four music-related books, too! The moderated discussion he led with Joe to kick off the night was a nice, relaxed conversation. These two were great together! Our dear friends, The Covinos, filmed this part of the show and I’ve uploaded it to the book’s YouTube channel. Link below!

DR with MIS.jpg
L-R: Bob Heazlit, Matt Fuller, David Robinson, Danny Ayala, Lars Altvater, and Noah Patera

Before Moving In Stereo took the stage, I had the privilege of introducing them to David Robinson in the green room. Again, he was so low-key and funny, and took his time chatting with everyone, joking around, and wishing them luck. David’s girlfriend, Nancy, was so sweet, too. I wish I had thought to get a picture with her. As a side note, before I escorted David and Nancy back to their seats I did show them my Panorama shoes — David loved them!

31
L-R: Noah, Bob, Matt, Danny, and Lars

Moving in Stereo – The Ultimate Musical Tribute to The Cars! These guys rocked the club for 75 minutes — and I do mean ROCKED. I received so many compliments from people during and after the show about the band’s performance, not just from Cars fans, but from Ben’s family and friends as well as from the other notable musicians that were in the audience. I’m so proud of our boys!

32
Bob, Matt, and Danny

The whole band delivered a high-energy, tight, magnetic show!

33

Powerhouse trio!

34

I was totally taken off guard when Joe called me up on the stage before the band’s encore, and even more surprised when he revealed for the first time publicly how I came to be involved with the book. I’m not always aware of my facial expressions; thank goodness David Curry reminded me to SMILE.

35

Joe had a special gift for me as his way of thanking me for my dedication to the book project. You can’t imagine my shock and pleasure when he presented me with a stunning portrait he had commissioned from Kathy Sullivan just for me: our beautiful Benjamin from Musikladen. My sweet friend, Nicole, was in on it, too, and knew it was coming, so she captured it on video. Check out the link at the end of this article!

36
Benjamin Orr by Kathy Sullivan, 2019

Kathy Sullivan’s remarkable portrait. And see the purple wave of spirit and stars behind him? It’s a beautiful inclusion of the ‘sweetpurplejune’ connection. This treasured gift moves me every time I look at it, which is about 100 times a day.

37
Nicole and me!

Me with my beautiful and treasured friend, Nicole! It was a dream come true to finally meet her face to face after nearly three years of social media connection!

38
Me with Brett Milano

I was thrilled to meet and spend time with author Brett Milano, whom I have long admired. I even remembered to have him sign my copy of his book, The Sound of Our Town.

39
Me with Hirsh Gardner

I’m afraid I was a little starstruck when I saw legendary drummer and producer Hirsh Gardner making his way across the venue. What a treat to meet him! And he was nice enough to rock out with me and even share his yummy drink. Haha!

40
Me with Eric Barao

I’m sure I took singer/songwriter Eric Barao by surprise when I leapt into his arms as soon as I recognized him; I was just so happy to finally meet him in person! I feel like I’ve known him forever. And what a good sport he was to bring Ric Ocasek’s jacket for me to try on! LOL

from tracey 4
L-R: Diane Page, Judith Orr, and Kris Orr

It was such an honor to have these three ladies in attendance: Diane Page, Judith Orr, and Kris Orr. Such precious women in Ben’s life, and so instrumental in helping Joe tell Ben’s story. I was thankful to spend time with Diane and Judith but unfortunately I didn’t get to formally meet Kris. Please excuse Kurt’s photo bomb. LOL

41
L-R: Becky Broderick, Marla Blazer, Joe, me, and Kim Murphy

Hanging out with the Babaloo girls, Becky, Marla, and Kim! These ladies came from the far corners to celebrate Ben with us and I’m so thankful!

42
Me with Ralph Fatello

I had the pleasure of connecting with The VINNY Band frontman Ralph Fatello during the planning stages of this event, and I went right down the rabbit hole! His music is great, his photography is stellar, and he is such a kind and gracious man. The icing? He invited a couple of his very good friends to join him and his wife to our little party, and boom! David Robinson was on the guest list! Thank you so much, Ralph!

P.S. Ralph told me after the event that the vibe and venue has inspired him to start planning for something he’s put off for far too long: A reunion of The VINNY Band! Active between 1976 and 1984, The VINNY Band was an all-original group that played extensively in Boston and New England, and toured through South America and the Caribbean. All of their recordings were produced by our very own David Robinson. Follow them on Facebook to make sure you don’t miss the details!

43
Me, Joe, and Paroo Streich

It was such a delight to finally meet Paroo, and she was kind enough to share her beautiful story about her encounter with Ben. SO precious!

44
Kurt and me

I’ve been social media friends with Kurt for so long I feel like I’ve known him all my life. Still shaking my head that we’ve met in person as often as we have — three times now! Just can’t decide if I think of him as my big brother or as my little brother. Haha!

45
L-R: Bob, me, Matt, Joe, Danny, and Lars

We love these guys SO much! Hard-working, hard-rocking, and some of the kindest and funniest men in the business. And the BEST Cars tribute band ever! Moving In Stereo was the perfect choice to join us in celebrating Ben in Boston.

46
Joe, David Robinson, and Ralph Fatello

I was completely aware of the magnitude of this moment for Joe. Incredible. Plus I also love that David is examining Eric Barao’s new solo CD and that he has a print of Kathy Sullivan’s portrait of Ben. Ralph Fatello on the right adds even more coolness to this already epic photo.

47
Me with Peter Van Ness

So thankful Peter Van Ness, the owner of our venue, 9 Wallis, took a chance with this greenie and our little show! He rolled the dice, showed me the ropes, and kept me laughing. I think we’re both pretty happy with the results! Thank you a million times, Peter; so grateful to call you my friend!

48
Me with Vicki Van Ness

Hostess-with-the-mostest, Vickie Van Ness! From crowd control to keeping track of my tab, Vickie kept everything running smoothly all night long! And I think she’s the one that invented the drink special for the night. It was called The Drive, and it was dangerously delicious!

49
Joe and me

As many of you know by now, working on this book has been a life-changing experience, on so many levels. Editing, proofreading, publishing, marketing, organizing events… I’ve learned so much and had so much fun! I’ll forever be grateful to Joe for letting me in on this project, and for sharing Ben with me in a way that no one else could.

50

My sense of style: Ocasek jacket and Panorama shoes. Still hyper and happy at the end of the night. It took me a few hours to come down from the adrenaline high.

51

On Sunday I headed back to downtown Boston to try to capture the views that I missed on Thursday night. From the observation deck at the top of the Prudential building, there are the city blocks where they lived and worked… Ben, Ric, David, Greg, and Elliot making the music that changed my life (and many others’) forever. Boston will always have a precious place in my heart!

52

So many greats have walked in and out of that school, including our own Elliot Easton and Greg Hawkes.

54

The ultimate rock-and-roll hotel! Unfortunately the Cars room was occupied and I was unable to tour it, but still a very cool place, nonetheless. Next time!

55

On the Verb’s wall of famous patrons….

56

There’s Greg! Can you find him? I am determined to stay here at least one night in my life!

57

Another Cars mention on the wall of The Verb Hotel.

58

Goodbye, my beautiful Boston! I hope to see you again! ❤

A couple of extras:

Here are those YouTube videos of the book discussion and Joe presenting me with my special gift. Enjoy! ❤

And here’s the link to the podcast episode where I give more deets of the trip:

Advertisements

14 thoughts on “Boston in Pictures

  1. This was an outstanding weekend! So many memorable moments ❤ The Boston event was really the best of the three. The venue was so cozy & intimate, yet filled with lots of people who knew Ben from his years in Boston & VT. I enjoyed chatting with Eric Barao and meeting Judith briefly. (I must tell you, however, that when I see/hear her referred to as "Jude," it's a very surreal experience, since my family and several old friends have always called me "Jude.") Moving In Stereo was exciting, even better than they were at the Cleveland event. ❤ My only regret…..well, actually 3 regrets: (1) that you were so busy we didn't have any time to visit, (2) that I didn't meet David Robinson, (3) that I didn't get a picture with Joe to commemorate my Trifecta! We'll just have to do it again. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So glad you had such a good time! I wish we could have spent time together, too, and I’m so sorry you didn’t get to meet David! I’m so thankful you were able to come, and I *so* appreciate that you gave up your seat for me to use! I, too, am hoping for another event to unite all of us Cars/Ben fans! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dearest Donna,
    So lovely to be able to read this and look at the wonderful photos and it is such a lovely gift for someone who would have LOVED to be there that night and was unable to do so and thanks to all of this can share in the joy and love that was obviously felt on that event and the days around this time.
    I love your portrait gift, what a beautiful piece of art and I love how Kathy added the purple to this in honour of your blog and page name, so clever. I also love the necklace you bought from David Robinson. A question if I may , with monitors you cannot be sure, it shows on mine as cream or off white ceramic beads and such glorious indigo coloured beads and also on the pendant so it shows it as a violet blue colour which of course would make sense that chose this for yourself for the song Indigo / Wake Me Up (Sweet Purple June <3) . Totally love the necklace, such amazing jewellery. It must be so special to wear this original piece of jewellery by David Robinson. I am so thrilled for you.
    With hugs from Tasmania,

    Tia xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your sweet words, and for reading through my article. Such precious memories to me are a joy to share. Yes, you are certainly correct about the colors. It’s funny; it was a team effort in picking it out. Joe, Kurt, Nat, and Dave Curry all weighed in and loved it, too. We all knew it was perfect for me! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dear Donna,
        Reading your words are always such a pleasure as you have the gift to make the reader feel they are there with you and for someone who was desperately wanting to be at this special event and city, this was a real treat ❤ How lovely that your friends helped with the advice with the necklace , it shows they know you well and is there any doubt that this colour is indeed perfect for SweetPurpleJune ? I look forward to ( perhaps on your Facebook page) a photo one day of you wearing this special necklace. Warmest regards , Hugs, Tia

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Really enjoyed the blog. Any chance you will re-connect with Judith Orr for some fun, heart-warming, charming, lovely, stories about Benjamin? I am sure just standing next to her sent you into the stratosphere!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I did not know about the podcast interview. Thank you for the link. It was a really nice interview! It would be great if the other exes (wife, fiances and girlfriend) would give similar interviews.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Dear Donna, I love that podcast episode so much, have re listened to this a lot, especially when I was in need of a pick me up as it makes me smile as she was so lovely, sparkly in your great interview. Judith was so generous in what she shared about Benjamin and her love truly shone ❤ I know loads of us fans would love to see another interview with Judith Orr 🙂 Sorry if I sound greedy but what Judith shared was so special and new for us fans and it is so rare that we hear something new. I still smile when I think of Bucky and the cookies and also the swimming pool. Such a lovely story about how Benjamin taught his puppy to swim and how as an adult dog he behaved like a puppy when Benjamin held him in the water to show Judith how he taught him. I think this story showed such deep love for pets and anyone who ever loved a pet surely felt this was true gold ❤

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s