November 12, 2021
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
The Paramount Theater
Check out the TOUR page for all venue and ticket information for upcoming dates.
There are specific venues and towns I am always delighted to see on our tour schedule - each sometimes for their own particular reasons. The Paramount Theater in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is one of them. The biggest thrill for me on tour is thinking of all my heroes who have graced this stage before me or will be following in my footsteps once we depart for another town. When I arrived at the venue, I saw that 'Kansas' would be performing the following night. I grew up on their music and would have loved to have stayed for an extra evening to see their show, or at least get a T-Shirt. Speaking of T-Shirts, I did come across a few boxes of 'Kansas' T-Shirts that the band would be selling the following evening. Sadly, there was no one there at the time to sell me one.
The Paramount is an exquisitely beautiful theater, and I am proud to be able to perform there. In 2007, it was almost destroyed by a major flood so to see what they have done with the restoration is absolutely breathtaking. But like many other theaters and venues in which we perform, it is in a town that holds a history for me, where I get to see some old friends and fans. Through the many years of traveling with A1A, I have had the pleasure of meeting many people and developing close friendships and fan-based relationships. Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is one of several towns in Iowa like that, so I have been looking forward to this show.
Since I left Atlanta for this tour, I had not seen my girlfriend Kathy Mullen, so I have been excited to have her and her best friend Libby Lystiuk as special guests at our show. Most of you know Kathy through her years managing A1A and her nonprofit, Mullens Miracles. If you are unfamiliar, I ask you to please check out our website at www.mullensmiracles.org. Kathy and I founded Mullens Miracles after her only son, Eric, took his life in 2018. By the grace of God, and through the miracle of organ donation, Eric was able to save five lives and help many others. Tonight was going to be extra blessed for one of Eric's organ recipients, Greg Murphy, would be meeting us for dinner, accompanied by his very pregnant and lovely wife, Brittany. Being in the presence of organ recipients like Greg and hearing their stories and being so close to them is extraordinarily moving and wonderful. It makes you realize how lucky you are and that you should never take life for granted. If you are not an organ donor, I encourage you to be one, and please check out our website at www.mullensmiracles.org.
In addition to Kathy, Libby, Greg, and Brittany, I was looking forward to meeting up with my old friends Doug Rassler and Ed and Julie Nealson of The Isle of Iowa Parrot Head Club. We all met at a lovely restaurant before the show to eat. It was called Pub 217, and the food was incredible, as was the company. Special thanks to our friend Randy Havlik for organizing the dinner. It was especially great to see Doug. Doug was the leader and frontman for a very successful Trop Rock band called 'The Cedar Island Band' for many years. Due to health reasons, he has recently retired from the band, but he is doing well. Doug has a unique and special place in my heart, for he hosted one of the very last house concerts that Hugo Duarte and I ever gave as The Frozen Gringos back in 2013. But the most treasured memory I have of Doug is that one cold, snowy afternoon in 2013 when he took Hugo and me to visit The Field of Dreams, where we tossed a baseball around in the snow and walked through the frozen, dead cornfields for hours.
Seeing Ed and Julie was fantastic, and it was great to catch up with them also. I will share a hilarious tidbit about Ed and me. The last time ABBA MANIA played The Paramount Ed happened to video our last song of the evening, which is, of course, 'Dancing Queen.' As we were taking our bows to a standing ovation, I spun my lovely wife, Amy, around onstage, lost my footing, and we both fell to the ground. Oops! Nope..not in the script! Being the klutz I naturally am, everyone got a huge kick out of it, and it was the source of much laughter and ribbing for the rest of the tour. I have posted the whole YouTube video below for your enjoyment. Naturally, I was hoping that since we were laughing about it again and we were back at The Paramount, we would not be repeating that performance. Believe it or not, later that evening, when I spun my wife, Hana (Amy was unavailable this year) around after our performance, I almost tripped and fell again! I must admit that it was on my mind as I took her hand and gave her a whirl. That was most likely what did it. Fortunately, we got out of the spin OK, but it was a close call. Aside from that, the only downside of the evening was that the showers ran a lot of water from the stall into the dressing room floor. So those who chose to take a shower went through a substantial number of towels.
It was a freezing evening, so after dinner, we ran back to the venue just in time for the curtain call. We gave a fantastic performance, and I got to hang out some more with Kathy and Libby afterward. It was wonderful seeing everyone and knowing that we gave an excellent show for them all to remember. But as it always does, our time ended too soon, and we had to say goodbye just before our tour bus once again drove off into the dark, cold, midwestern night in route to another adventure.