Joshua Tree NP, LA Area Beaches & America’s Got Talent Appearance
(April 23rd-29th 2014)
My band Beach Avenue was contacted by a talent scout working for NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” to fly us out to Los Angeles and perform for the judges at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. Getting to bypass the initial tryouts, play our original music on the show and get a free trip out to west coast was hard to turn down! The first afternoon there consisted of us getting all checked in and finding out what our schedule would be like for the next two days. They wanted to do some interviews with us backstage in the green room areas for possible use on the show and then had us walking up Hollywood Blvd for some b-roll footage with our instruments. It was pretty wild to be backstage at such a high level production with people of all different backgrounds around us, including dancers, magicians, comedians, and other randoms that couldn’t have been any further from our musician roots. The next morning we reported back to the backstage production area of the theater to do some more interview footage and I had to go down behind the stage to make sure the drums were setup to my specifications. I couldn’t see out into the crowd but could hear them cheering for some of the acts going earlier in the day than us. Finally when it was our turn to head down the three of us stood backstage having no idea what to expect when we walked out there. Then right before it was our turn with cameras rolling, host Nick Cannon came over to introduce himself to us and we had a little small talk back and forth. He then gave us the cue to head out on stage to be greeted greeted by 4,000+ cheering fans and the judges (Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Mel B & Howie Mandel) sitting there in their seats as we walked out to our marks. Quite the surreal experience to be standing out there being a part of something like this and despite one of the most beautiful women in the world sitting there (Klum) I could only stare at Howard Stern haha. They asked us who we were, where we were from and all that basic stuff before telling us we’re ready to see what you guys have. The exciting part about the whole thing was that we were allowed to play our original song “Coming Your Way” and not just having to play a cover song. It couldn’t have gone any better with the crowd getting involved and loving the song, to two of the judges giving us a standing ovation and subsequently all 4 judges unanimously putting us through tot he next round. Quite an experience that I will never forget and the chance of a lifetime for a lifelong musician like myself.
Deciding to make the most of our time out there we planned on staying an additional 4 days to first explore the beaches around Los Angeles, including Venice Beach, and drive along the Pacific Coast Highway to Santa Monica & Malibu. Venice Beach is definitely more of a touristy spot with the infamous Muscle Beach area, skatepark and stretch of vendors selling a variety of items, but still a cool spot to check out and enjoy a sunset. Our day ended here with a perfectly clear bright blue sky and colors on the horizon as the sun dipped below the ocean. We began our next day a bit late after a bit of partying the night before to celebrate our AGT appearance and headed out a bit further towards Santa Monica. Although still touristy by the well known Santa Monica Pier, with it’s boardwalk & ferris wheel, it begins to feel more scenic as you make your way towards Malibu on the Pacific Coast Highway. It’s such an incredible drive with the Pacific Ocean crashing on one side of the road and completely opposite mountainous views on the other side. We spent the end of the day in Malibu at Leo Carrillo State Park & Beach taking in some breathtaking views as golden hour approached before turning into another incredible sunset. Our singer Nick had to fly back the next morning unforauntely and couldn’t stay for the next part of the adventure, but guitarist Nick stayed with me to finish off our West Coast trip with a bit more adventuring.
A few hour drive from Los Angeles brought us to Joshua Tree National Park in Twentynine Palms, CA. It’s such a unique area in that it’s this desolate desert, but has such an amazing vibe unlike anywhere else that I’ve ever been. You feel like you’re on a totally different Mars-like planet when you’re standing out there in the middle of nowhere with these wild trees all around you. They seem like a creation straight out of a Dr. Seuss book! We spent the first day there driving through the park to just take in the scenery and get our bearings. Decided to end our day at the Cholla Cactus Garden, where a variety of these Cholla cacti reside in a concentrated area. Unreal to watch the sun go down and then see an infinite amount of stars appear in the sky without the interference of any light pollution like we have here in the Northeast. That night I would attempt astrophotography for the first time and get a crash course in having no idea what I was doing ha. But just being there in this moment was more than enough for me and I love learning by trial & error so I had zero complaints. The next day we adventured more in the park, including a 3 mile round trip hike out to this hidden oasis featuring a collection of palm trees wrapped around a rare spring in the middle of the desert. To end our last day in Joshua Tree I decided to walk out into the desert to get in position for sunset and another attempt at shooting the night sky. It was amazing experience all around for my first time visiting the park and I came home with some great shots as well.
I enjoy New England living but a trip out West to California is always a good way to change things up for a week. One of my best friends Eric lives right in the heart of Hollywood so always an added bonus to catch up with him when I head out there too. Already thinking about where to head the next time I venture out this way!