You Made This Tour at Drexel: Dreams Come True!

So you know when you go to a concert, right? And you already love the people performing, but after walking away from seeing them live, you love them even more? But then you feel sad because you probably won’t see that same performer live again for a while?

That describes the experience that Hillary and I had last weekend, except that after seeing Kerrigan & Lowdermilk at Strath Haven on Saturday night, we got to see them at Drexel University’s Mandell Theater on Sunday night.

As such, it was pretty great. The auditorium at Drexel was a bit smaller than Strath Haven, putting us just a few rows from the stage with a great view. The night showcased the same New York-based performers, as well several Philadelphia-based familiar faces from the previous show. We were also introduced to several new talents, including Jennie Eisenhower (“Not Her Way”), Carly Brooke Pearlstein (“The Girl Who Drove Away”) and Danielle Herbert (“Freedom,” along with Kait Kerrigan), all of whom were FIERCE.

Speaking of which – we are so, so, so SO excited for “The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown” this summer at the Goodspeed, it’s unreal. While there’s a certain girl we’re hoping, praying, and crossing all our fingers and toes will get to play Sam, we’ll be taking a summer road trip to Connecticut no matter who is cast, windows open, singing like we’re rock stars, cheap rest stops and all.

MEGHANN FAHY. I mean, what?

Anyways, back to Sunday night at Drexel. While the lineup of songs was not extremely different from the night before (a few new songs, a slightly varied order), we certainly were not complaining. I really loved hearing Brian Lowdermilk sing the semi-autobiographical “The Bad Years”…it’s been a favorite since I first heard Jay Armstrong Johnson sing it (sadly, only via YouTube). We were also thrilled to hear Andy Mientus do “Barcelona, Cartagena, Anywhere” again after premiering it the previous night. It’s a gorgeous and haunting chronicle of a post-break-up reflection on now-forgotten plans to travel the world. Not to mention that, thanks to the story about Mr. Lowdermilk’s inspiration for the song’s melody, we’d spent the entire day on Sunday randomly bursting into song with “Tipsy Parsons….I’m walking past a bar called Tipsy Parsons…” Mr. Mientus also joined Mr. Lowdermilk towards the end of the night to perform a hilarious version of “Vegas.” The Celine-Dion-in-an-oyster-bubble subplot of the song always cracks me up.

Ms. Kerrigan also performed a song, “I’m Sorry,” which is one that’s really grown on me since I first heard it. It contains one of my favorite lyrics: “Love looked a lot like Huckleberry Finn,” referring to the freckled face of the song’s unnamed object of affection. I’ve also grown rather attached to “Avalanche,” another fairly new song that was performed several times in New York by Katrina Rose Dideriksen. While Ms. Dideriksen’s rendition was sheer power and belt, Kate Ferber’s more acoustic version seemed to me to focus more on conveying the tone of the lyrics, which helped me to appreciate the song in a new way.

Morgan Karr and Dee Roscioli both managed, somehow, to top their performances from the previous night, which kind of blows our minds. The notes that Ms. Roscioli hits in “How to Return Home” are simply phenomenal, and I’d love to hear Natalie Weiss, who can be heard singing the song on Kerrigan & Lowdermilk’s album (“Our First Mistake”), go for them someday. Mr. Karr has an incredibly unique sound with his falsetto, but on Sunday, he left his beautiful fluttery sound behind and went straight for the belt in “Two Strangers” and “Last Week’s Alcohol.” It was glorious.

At some point in the future, Hillary and I want to write a Carrie Manolakos appreciation blog, simply because she is phenomenal. Out of the embarrassing number of versions of “Run Away With Me” that reside on my iPod, hers is quickly rising in rank. I’ve always taken to performers whose voices sound like they’re on the verge of cracking, but don’t (I’m sure there’s a more technical term for that, but I have no idea what it is), and the quality of Ms. Manolakos’s tone definitely fits that category. Whether it’s rocking out to “In Between” or delicately beginning “Run Away With Me,” or even singing the works of other composers that we love, we’ll be following her future projects avidly from now on.

Now that you know our mad love for Mr. Karr and Ms. Manolakos, you can only imagine our response when Mr. Lowdermilk brought them both out on stage, along with Claudia Carlsson and Zachary Altman, to sing “Say The Word”….DIVA TAG-STYLE. What is “diva tag,” you ask? Only the best thing ever. Picture any number of performers standing on stage; the first person in line begins to sing a song. Whenever he chooses, he pokes the person standing next to him, and that person must pick up the song immediately. Praise the rain gods that YouTube exists to let us, and you, relive this epic goodness, because words can’t adequately describe how funny and fierce it was: watch it here. Highlights to look out for include Mr. Karr ending up with the line, “I want to be the girl there by your side” and delivering it with pizzazz, and a super-duper long belting section in which four fantastic performers alternated on an extremely high note for a long time. [Insert the awe of two musically-untalented girls here.] Ms. Kerrigan also got to join in, and almost had a few teeth taken out by the microphone.

It was really touching to see Kait and Brian get a little emotional as the set list wound down, and suddenly only “Run Away With Me” and “Holding On,” arguably the duo’s two biggest anthems, were left. As Mr. Lowdermilk stated, the past few months have been incredible. I can’t imagine how many new fans the duo has gained, and how many existing fans have become even more loyal after having multiple chances to see their work performed live – Hillary and I included. While Ms. Kerrigan and Mr. Lowdermilk shift their focus away from live concerts for the next few months in preparation for Sam Brown in August, we’ll certainly miss seeing such an incredible group of performers on “You Made This Tour,” but as previously stated, we are DYING to see their work staged in a more formal arena. Gah. Hitting two shows on two consecutive days was the perfect end to their album release celebration; not only did it result in a spiffy new profile picture for our blog, but also reassured us that as the world keeps turning and the earth keeps shifting, we keep holding on to Kerrigan & Lowdermilk’s music because it re-energizes us, makes us laugh, and inspires us beyond belief.

You Made This Tour - Strath Haven High School edition

In what may be the quickest turnaround time you will ever see on this blog, we present to you now a recap of Kerrigan and Lowdermilk's "You Made This Tour" concert, held tonight at Strath Haven High School in  Wallingford, PA. We wanted to get this post out fast because, in addition to being irrationally excited about only having to drive 20 minutes instead of 2 hours to see Mr. Lowdermilk, Ms. Kerrigan and all their fantastic friends perform their music, we also wanted to give all of you who live in the Philly opportunity a heads up that there will be another concert tomorrow night at Drexel University at 7:00 pm in the Mandell Theater. If you can get there, get there. If you can't, don't worry - there will be another recap from that show as well.

As for this show, performers ranged from some of our favorite Broadway performers (Morgan Karr, Andy Mientus, Dee Roscioli, Kate Ferber, and Carrie Manolakos) to a youth choir (The Strath Haven Silvertones) to students, friends and mentors to Mr. Lowdermilk and Ms. Kerrigan themselves. We were (of course) blown away by all the performances, and offer a recap with commentary below.

The show opened with one of Kerrigan-Lowdermilk's more recent songs, "In Between," sung by the incredibly talented Carrie Manolakos and Andy Mientus and accompanied by The Strath Haven Silvertones. It was a great arrangement of the song, and singing about love and springtime always seems fitting when the season itself is (hopefully) right around the corner. Next up was one of our personal favorites, "Two Strangers," performed with brilliant clarity by the amazing Morgan Karr and again accompanied by The Strath Haven Silvertones. Mr. Karr is one-third of the trio that performs the song on Kerrigan & Lowdermilk's album Our First Mistake, and hearing him once again perform the song live was great. Mr. Karr's amazing falsetto gives us chills, and everything about this song is just beautiful.

The third performer to take the stage was Brian Lowdermilk himself, singing the admittedly quasi-autobiographical "The Bad Years," which in my opinion is one of the most humorous songs in their catalogue. Despite his protestations that he is an awful singer, Mr. Lowdermilk did just fine, and Ms. Kerrigan, Ms. Manolakos, Mr. Mientus, Mr. Karr, and Ms. Ferber all provided backup vocals and harmonies on the number. This number was followed by another favorite, "Say the Word" from the Kerrigan-Lowdermilk musical The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown (which, btw, is playing this summer at the Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut. We're so excited, it's not even funny). It was sung by an old friend of Mr. Lowdermilk and Ms. Kerrigan, Liz Seymour, who had a beautiful voice and completely captured all the angst and longing that comes with being a teenager.

Kait Kerrigan then took to the microphone, accompanied by Ms. Ferber, to perform the adorable "I'm Sorry," a tune about unrequited preschool love. After that cuteness, Mr. Lowdermilk and Ms. Kerrigan introduced a brand new song (10% of which was written the night before) called "Barcelona, Cartagena, Anywhere." It reminded Michelle strongly of Dashboard Confessional (that's a compliment) and was a melancholy song inspired by a recent breakup (and a bar called Tipsy Parsons, which Mr. Lowdermilk found inspirational while creating the melody. It's catchiness then infected Ms. Kerrigan, who  put lyrics to the tune. Also, the two of them are delightful storytellers). It was sung beautifully by Andy Mientus, and I certainly hope to hear it performed often at future concerts. After that, Dee Roscioli proceeded to blow us away with a powerful rendition of perhaps my favorite Kerrigan-Lowdermilk song (although it's so damn difficult to pick just one), "How to Return Home." It's an incredibly poignant song, especially for college students, and Ms. Roscioli's voice is simply phenomenal.

Another friend of the composers, Marcus Stevens, performed two songs - "The Ballad of Coral Cove" and "Sadie," the former of which was written by Mr. Lowdermilk and Mr. Stevens, the latter one of Kerrigan-Lowdermilk's more recent songs. Interestingly enough, Michelle and I had planned to see Mr. Stevens perform the role of Jamie in a production of The Last Five Years in Media, PA (we've wanted to see it staged for years), but college craziness prevented us from doing so. As such, it was a nice surprise to get to see Mr. Stevens perform. Morgan Karr then returned to finish out the first portion of the set with "Last Week's Alcohol," another of my favorite Kerrigan-Lowdermilk songs and another song from their album (the album version is sung by Matt Doyle). It is always amazing to hear different performers sing these songs because they all bring something incredible and unique to the piece, and this was no exception.

After a brief intermission, the second set opened with the adorable "My Party Dress," sung here by Emma Hartley, one of Mr. Lowdermik and Ms. Kerrigan's students from The Young People's Theatre Workshop. Ms. Hartley was cute as a button and both acted and sang the song wonderfully. The audience (and Mr. Lowdermilk and Ms. Kerrigan) were in stitches with laughter. She was then joined by other students from The Young People's Theatre Workshop who Mr. Lowdermilk and Ms. Kerrigan have worked with to perform a song they wrote this summer called "Up and Down." The song was about the existential crisis of an elevator, and it was fantastic. I was a fan, and the melody was incredibly catchy. Two thumbs up. Up next was a mentor to both Mr. Lowdermilk and Ms. Kerrigan, Claudia Carlsson, who sang a gorgeous version of "Five and a Half Minutes." Michelle and I both love that all the women we've heard sing this song (Katie Thompson sings it on the album) have such rich, full voices that sound simply incredible interpreting the song's brilliant lyrics.

After that stirring performance, another friend of Mr. Lowdermilk's, Zachary Altman, performed two numbers, "Rise" (a soaring song about Henry IV, in Northern Ireland, in the 1970s. The word "shite" was used. It was delightful) and "Not a Love Story" (performed on Our First Mistake by Kelli O'Hara). Mr. Altman is an incredibly trained opera singer, and his voice was perfectly matched for both songs. I loved his interpretations of them. The next song was the hysterical (and curse-laden) "Vegas" performed with enthusiasm by Andy Mientus and Ryan Nelson (another pal of Mr. Lowdermilk's). I really enjoyed this song when it was performed at earlier "You Made This Tour" concerts, and it was just as entertaining here. Who doesn't love a song that chronicles the imaginary shenanigans of two drunk frat boys? Nobody, that's who.

The final three songs of the night were sung by three fierce women. First, Kate Ferber performed a fantastic, acoustic version of "Avalanche," another one of my new favorite songs by Kerrigan and Lowdermilk. While Katrina Rose Dideriksen belted the crap out of this song at earlier concerts, Ms. Ferber's version was a more restrained (but still belt-tastic), stripped down version of the song that worked well in the intimate setting. And then... awesomeness happened when Carrie Manolakos returned to center stage to sing perhaps the most well known Kerrigan-Lowdermilk song, "Run Away With Me." Our love for this song in all its incarnations is well documented (a previous post contains a list of all the performers we hope to one day see/hear sing this song), and while Ms. Manolakos was not on that list, she certainly should have been. Michelle and I are currently in love with her voice, thanks in no small part to the fact that she appears on nearly all the CDs of up and coming Broadway composers, and has performed at previous "You Made This Tour" concerts and Jonathan Reid Gealt's show in February. And was in Things to Ruin. Basically, she's awesome, and her performance of this song was fantastic. It was the first time I had heard a female perform the song (not counting the version by The Spring Standards that appears on the album), and it was just fantastic. Everything about it was perfection, and Mr. Mientus, Ms. Ferber, and Ms. Kerrigan provided wonderful harmonies. For the last song of the evening, Dee Roscioli led the entire company (and the audience, which included Michael Arden - so we're totally counting that as us singing with him. Okay? Okay.) in a rendition of "Holding On," which has become an anthem of sorts for the tour. Like the rest of the evening, it was freaking fantastic. I love the way the simple refrain builds into this incredible anthem about overcoming obstacles and living life in spite of its challenges. After the hectic few weeks Michelle and I have had, it's message was much needed and uplifting.

It all made for an excellent evening of music, and don't forget - you have one last opportunity to catch the "You Made This Tour" tomorrow night at 7:00 pm in the Mandell Theater of Drexel University. Don't miss it!