The premiere of “Sasparilla” over the weekend was a blast. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so welcomed by an ensemble. Here’s a brief summary of the weekend…

I arrived pretty late — 10pm central time — but that didn’t stop these three (Melody, Kathleen, and Jona) from driving 90 minutes from Beaumont to Houston to pick me up at the airport. And look at the sign they had! It’s a picture of a saloon!

After my flight (and their drive), we were pretty hungry. Fortunately, we found the best restaurant ever created. Yes, it’s a Long John Silver’s AND a Taco Bell — in the same building.

The sign in the middle asks, “Hungry?” How could I not be, when I find a restaurant with both tacos and fried fish?!

Sadly, by the time we arrived, they’d stopped serving the Long John Silver’s menu, but I was perfectly content with my “Mexican” pizza and soft tacos.

As if I wasn’t already feeling welcome, the music sorority made me a welcome package! Here’s what was in the bag:

(The Treo phone wasn’t included, by the way.)

The next morning, I arrived at Lamar to give a forum. Look what was waiting for me in the band room!

And on every bulletin board I saw, there were signs about the forum, etc. This board even has a printout of one of my blog entries!

And there was press!

Here’s Scott Weiss and the wind ensemble, getting ready to play “Sasparilla” for me for the first time. I was kind of nervous, but they look pretty laid back. (They were right; I had nothing to worry about.)

After rehearsal, about 20 people from the band went to Larry’s French Market and Cajun Restaurant. I had the buffet…

What really scared me was the crawfish. How could I eat something that looks so insect-like?!

I tried it, and I have to say, it was pretty tasty. It tasted a lot like lobster, or, as one of the musicians said, “like lobster — only cheaper!” I couldn’t describe it better!

Who’s up for dancing? After stuffing yourself with boiled shrimp and boudain balls, everybody loves to two-step at Larry’s. (Everybody but me, it turns out.)

The next day, it was concert time. Here’s Scott Weiss conducting the ensemble.

Here are Scott and I after the concert.

And here’s my biggest fan — John Weiss, Scott’s son. This guy was really smart and awfully cool — especially for a 6-year old! (Any kid who can sing “Redline Tango” to you after one hearing gets major points in my book.) John thought that the end of “Sasparilla” was maybe a little too loud…

To my surprise (and relief), “Sasparilla” got a very enthusiastic reception — including an immediate standing ovation at the end! Hee haw! The audio file is now posted, for those who are curious…

Thank you so much to Scott Weiss and all of the students at Lamar. Not only did everybody work extremely hard on the piece, but they all made me feel special and overly-appreciated. Now I’m spoiled!


Anonymous says

I had an absolutely awesome time hanging out with you this weekend--as I know others did. This new piece has been a blast to play, and I believe that many other bands in the near future (outside of the commission consortium) will enjoy playing it, too. Great job! :)


Daniel Montoya, Jr. says

We have a KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell in San Antonio!

Anonymous says

Hey John, I hope you had a great time here in Beaumont. You are truly a talented composer, and I had a great time playing Sasparilla! LOL also I apologize for not having the slightest clue to where IAH was and randomly driving around until I found the right drop off place. Let me and Kathleen know if you're ever going to be in our area again...we'll bring out the drinks and Apples to Apples again!

Michelle (lol "miss I need to get out more" =P)

Anonymous says

Sasparilla 9/11 Never Forget.

Jona Gilchrist says

Hey, John! I had such a blast hanging out with you this weekend. You are such a talented composer as well as a great person; a rare combination. If you ever get back down to this area, you be sure to give us a ring, and we'll pull out the Apples to Apples, go by the giant Albert Basket, and maybe find somewhere to hang out without smoking. Hey, and next time I may take you up on your offer....wink, wink. ;P I look forward to hearing/playing more of your pieces in the future!

Lisa says

J.C., I am so unbelievably proud of you!! I love hearing all of the adoring comments about you and your work!You are such a great talent...not to mention-the coolest and most amazing brother in the world!! I love you!! And I know that I have told you this before, but I want to tell you once more... you are my hero!!!

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