Yesterday, we departed our friends in Evansville and head north through Chicago to St John’s Brebeuf in Niles, IL. As we’d were pulling in to the parking lot, the older boys started telling the younger boys, “this is THE church.” Interesting story, several years ago when the choir was on tour in the Las Vegas area, we were hosted at a Presbyterian church in Henderson,  NV. The music director at the church was Marek Rachelski. We had a great stop. A few years later, I received an email from Marek, saying he had moved to Niles and would love to have the boys come some time.  Well, we have now been to St. John’s on three different tours. We are hoping maybe some time we can stop in during the regular choir season instead of in the summer on tour. Anyway, St. John’s has become known as THE church not only because of the acoustics and design of the sanctuary but because we get to see Marek!

The concert went great. By the end of their singing, the Choirboys were receivingnhoots and hollers from their audience for a job well done. Off to do tour jobs and enjoy some refreshments and then they retired for the evening to their host families.

This morning we had some extra time before heading to Six Flags in Gurnee. So, what else would we do but have a suitcase check. The prefects worked to be sure all the suitcases were in good order before we boarded the bus and started making our way toward Six Flags.

Having already doused the boys in sunscreen, upon arriving, we divided into several groups according to which rides they wanted to go on (i.e. extreme rides, medium rides and smaller rides). After about and hour a rains trom moved close enough to cause the rides to shut down due to lightning. We decided to take advantage of this down time to eat our lunches. After lunch we divided into groups again. This time one option included the water park. We ended our time at Six Flags with some shopping.

‘We departed the amusement park and began our journey to Portage, WI. Here the boys enjoyed dinner at Dino’s and serenaded their servers and restaurant staff before retiring to their hotel room for the night. They are now all fast asleep for the final stay before being able to rest in their own beds tomorrow evening.

We are very excited to be heading back to Minnesota tomorrow after a great 16ndyas on the road meeting people from all the different stops and sharing our music with audiencesof all types. Tomorrow night, of course, we share our music with our favorite audience, our family snf friends. Hope you can join us at 7:00 pm at St. Joseph the Worker, 7180 Hemlock Lane Northe in Maple Grove.

Here is one last episode of Jake and Braeden’s vlog. Enjoy.

To be continued…

On day 13, which was yesterday, we made our arrival in Evansville, Indiana. This is the home of one of our choirboy’s grandparents. The boys unload at the bus and we were greeted with a wonderful home-cooked meal. Halloween dinner, the boys prepared for their concert. The boys performed very well learning themselves a standing ovation.  Following the concert there was a reception with cookies and ice cream. The boys left their host families and they were off for the night. (This is typically where I would insert pictures from our concert, however, I have forgotten the camera on the bus.)

Here is the vlog for last night.

 

This morning, the boys arrived back at the church, readied themselves for the church service and then enjoy the pizza and ice cream for lunch. Halloween lunch you’re off for a pool party. It was a beautiful day to be out in the sun and in the water.

During one of our breaks from swimming we had mail. I also took some time to interview Heaston, the last of our first year tour boys.

The boys took to the water again and some went out to play volleyball and ultimate frisbee. We are very grateful for the hospitality of Mr. and Mrs. Hall. We wrapped up our time with a dinner of fried chicken, Mac-n-cheese, baked beans, fruits, vegetables and salad. Then, it was back to the church to meet our host families.

We leave you this evening with one more episode for Jake and Braeden.

To be continued.

Last night we got to bed early as we were waking the boys at 5:30 this morning. My apologies for not getting a post up.

Yesterday was a fun and relaxing day. The breakfast area at the hotel was very small so we had the boys come get their food and return to their rooms to eat. After a quick bite to eat we were on our way too Cajun Encounters for a swamp tour. We briefly stopped to pickup some bug spray at the recommendation of the hotel staff. We arrived and all the boys got a bracelet, which indicated the boat they would be on. We were divided into two groups. Once we boarded the boat we were zooming away down the river. Those boats can really cruise. Our tour guides gave us the history of the area, how the river is formed, the different vegetation we’d see and the impact of Katrina on the ecosystem. We learned a lot about swamps, deltas, and the bayous. Along the way, the tour guides stopped to “play” with the alligators.

 

After seeing much of the river vegetation and wildlife, it was off to the gift store. We then headed back to the hotel for a rest period. The boys were getting awfully tired and needed to catch up on some sleep. After rest period, we headed over to Cracker Barrel. Due to a late breakfast and the need to get in an early lunch, we arrived around 3:00 p.m. The service was great and so was the food.

 

With full bellies we were off to our concert at First Presbyterian Church in New Orleans. The audience was small but appreciative and the boys gave the best concert of tour. We were able to broadcast a portion of the concert on Facebook Live so check it out on our page.

we drove back to Slidell, where our hotel was, but stopped off for ice cream before heading to our rooms. It was a good day.

This morning, as I said earlier, we woke the boys at 5:30 so we could be on the road by 7:00.  We stopped at Beignets at Lait and then hit the road.  We were making good time, stopping for lunch north of Jackson, MS. We devoured our lunch and hit the road. We were on a time mission to get to the performance venue early. Well, that came to a sudden halt when one of our drive axle tires gave out. Charlie managed to get us to the next exit where there happened to be a repair shop. The first shop had only one tire and, due to tread and other tire related things, we tho9ught we’d need two. They made a call for us and we were off to shop number two. Upon arriving, the manager looked at the tires and determined one would work well. Within 35 minutes, they had the tire changed and we were back on the road.

Back on the road, we were a few hours from Memphis. We made good time. Stopped for dinner at Cici’s Pizza Buffet and then to the church. St  John’s  a beautiful church with great acoustics and the boys filled it with their beautiful singing.  The audience was very happy and asked some good questions. For this concert, as for the one last night, we didn’t have just homes so the feel after the concert is more steady and calm and not so rushed. Tonight we listened to smooth jazz while we journeyed to our hotel.

Grant and Tristan are gathering the Choirboys’ gray concert pants and washing them this evening. Tomorrow, we don’t have such a loner drive so the morning will be a little calmer.

Here’s the latest installment of the Jake and Braeden vlog.

 

To be continued. . .

 

 

 

 

Choirboy fans, so sorry for missing a blog post last evening. Turns out a little piece from inside my computer is missing and my computer will not charge. I am using a different laptop tonight, so we are in good shape.

On Day 9, the boys started the day off with a deluxe breakfast on the 11th floor of the Best Western overlooking Corpus Christi Bay. We then loaded up the bus and started toward the Houston Area. We stopped for lunch at one of the boys’ favorite restaurants, Cracker Barrel. The restaurants are always in disbelief when I come in and say I have a party of 31. We make it very easy for them and, in the end, we received several compliments about the boys, the way they handle  themselves, and their manners and behavior while at the restaurant. Even other patrons in the restaurant will stop to comment. This is something we’ve come to expect, but do take in and enjoy the moments when the boys are excelling at what they do.

We continued down the road to the Houston Space Center. This place was packed and, due to rain, the tram tour was backed up for a while. We decided to let them explore the main building in pairs and then we lined up for the tram ride our to Rocket Park and the Mission Control Building.

After the tram tour, we had a little more time to explore before hitting the gift store and then heading back to the bus. We had just a short drive to the hotel where we ordered up some Papa John’s and hit the pool.

Cole, Archie and Henry decided to try out the hot peppers that come with the pizza. We all retired for the evening. The boys were tired and needed a good night’s rest. We even let them sleep in until 8:00 a.m. this morning.

Rising late for breakfast, we boarded the bus around 10:00 a.m. When I checked out, the front desk clerk said she didn’t even know there was a group in the hotel, let alone a group of boys! I must say, the Choirboys do a great job in hotels. They are quiet and courteous to the other guest and respect that they are not the only ones in the pool or in the hotel. Great job, gentlemen!

We headed toward Louisiana and faced the increasing humidity and heat. Oh, boy! It was a tough one. The A/C lasted most of the trip and then it just gave up. We drove for awhile until a quick stop at a truck stop. This allowed the boys time to cool off and switch seats. We reset the bus computer and the AC was back to running. The rest of the ride was much more comfortable. Along the way, we stopped for lunch at a Jack in the Box and then stopped at a Louisiana Visitors Center. The boys serenaded the staff with a song before heading to the alligator viewing area. We saw two of the three alligators and several turtles. Chris H. gave us a lesson on the type of turtle and that it was an invasive species.

We made it to our hotel around 8:30 p.m. Ordered up some Popeyes chicken and now the boys are in their rooms getting ready for bed. Tomorrow we will head to the swamp tour, sight see near Jackson Square in the French Quarter and hold a concert at the First Presbyterian Church in New Orleans.

 

Have a great night!

 

Today was a day all to ourselves. We had our own schedule and our own list of things to do. Our first stop was the USS Lexington, a retired WWII aircraft carrier. The Choirboys divided into three groups and each ventured off with their own tour guide.

After learning all about life aboard this carrier, we stopped off at the gift store and then headed for lunch at the original Whataburger.

We then headed back to the hotel to change into our swimsuits and drove to Mustang Island to go swim in the Gulf of Mexico. The waves were big and the wind was quite gusty, but the boys endured and had a blast splashing in the wave and swallowing salt water.

We spent a good 2-2.5 hours at the beach.

Earlier in the day we called in to Joe’s Crab Shack, which is right across the street from our hotel, to let them know we’d like to come for dinner at 7:00 p.m. It has become a tradition for the Choirboys to each at Joe’s each time we are in Corpus Christi. After swimming we rode back to the hotel, showered and changed into our nice clothes for dinner. We walked to Joe’s but when we arrived they said they couldn’t seat us for 2 hours. That would have put us at 9:00 for sitting down to order. We quickly came up with a second option, and boy were we glad we did.

We found an awesome steak and seafood restaurant called U&I. The food, no kidding, was the best food I and many others there had ever eaten. After a special song for our Margarita Mommas and Dos Equis Dads (this is an event where parents can pay to gather for some socializing during tour and the boys made a video to send to them, as well as call for a live video feed – parents present could see the boys but not the other way around) we enjoyed, burgers, steak, fish, shrimp, calamari, homemade bread, salads, soups, mozzarella sticks, fried pickles and so much more. The wait staff was amazing and the food, again, was phenomenal. To thank the staff, the boys sang another song for them before departing.

Wewalked back to our hotel. Before bed, the boys gathered to chat about tour and turning the corner. Tomorrow marks the mid-way point of tour. We handed out loads of mail and the boys held their second vote for Choirboy of the Year.

They are all tucked in their beds now, sound asleep. We have a fairly early morning tomorrow. But, before I doze off, here is another episode of Jake and Braeden’s almost daily, daily vlog. Enjoy!

 

To be continued…

 

 

 

Thank you all for your patience. I know you are anxiously awaiting the blog to see what type of things the Choirboys have been up to. It’s been a busy couple of days, so let’s journey back to Saturday morning…

The boys met back at St. Thomas Aquinas around 9:00 a.m. They were very appreciative of the later morning arrival time and the fact they did not need to bring all of their bags with them. After all had arrived, we boarded the bus and headed to the Carpenter’s home, just a few minutes from the church. Upon arriving, the boys headed to the backyard where Evan led them in a quick practice of the Ave Verum chant they needed to sing for Sunday’s church service. He did a good job with them going over notes and words. Charlie and Mr. Carpenter tended to the bus. As you may recall, the AC does not like the heat and humidity of Texas. Charlie had an idea that perhaps the condenser unit was clogged. He pulled the bus up to the driveway and used a power sprayer to clean it out. He said there was quite a bit of dust and dirt that came flowing out. We crossed our fingers that this might solve our AC problem.

The boys, waiting to get into the water of the pool began to realize something as we talked through the day. You see, we had them come dressed in their swimming suits and pack their shorts and polo shirts for later. One Choirboy came to me and said, “Aaron, I think I forgot my…” I knew exactly where he was going. And, yes, about 10 of them forgot to pack their underwear. Those boys, before jumping into the pool, had to phone their host families to ask if they would bring a pair to the Carpenter’s home. Of course, the wonderful host homes we had, delivered them all and into the pool all the boys jumped. They had a great time splashing and sunning in the overcast skies.

When the boys started getting hungry, Mr. Carpenter started up the grilled and made us up some burgers and hot dogs. Mr. and Mrs. Carpenter put out the spread for the boys, but before they go there food, we sang happy birthday to Caleb M. and Anthony.

 

After filling our bellies full of goodness we were ready to head to the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library. Once we arrived the boys were allowed to walk the library with their partners.

They completed their discovery mission and did some shopping in the gift store. While we were waiting in the atrium one of the volunteer greeters approached me and said, “This is one of the best behaved, finest group of kids I’ve ever seen come through this library. Thank you for whatever it is you are doing with them.” He mentioned a few of the other volunteers throughout the museum had said the same thing. Way to go, gentlemen! The boys gathered their things after shopping and couldn’t help but notice the wonderful acoustic space of the atrium. They asked if they could sing. I inquired at the information desk and they said, “Absolutely!” The boys got into their formation and sang the Ave Maria. You could’ve heard a pin drop in the room. People came from inside the library, from the gifts store, everywhere and stood to take in the wonderful sound of the Choirboys. When they completed their last chord, the place erupted in applause. These are some of the best moments of tour.

Back to the church we drove. When we arrived, we headed to the church to practice a bit. Our host families then treated us to an amazing potluck.

We wrapped up dinner, headed to change and offer a great performance to a wonderful audience. Those photos are on my other camera, however. I’ll try to get some posted to Facebook soon.

The boys retired to their host homes, but only after I heard compliment after compliment from their audience. The stop in College Station was a bit unusual in that the boys were able to meet and stay with their host homes before their performance. This creates a bit of a bond with their “family”. I even heard from one family that they just had such a sense of pride in the boys they hosted when they saw them singing. They felt so honored to have been their “tour” family for two nights.

This morning, Sunday, the boys had an early morning church service and, again, followed it with an amazing meal put on by the church’s Knights of Columbus. Before they ate, the boys sang a song for the men since many of them were unable to attend the concert the evening before.

We loaded the bus and had a quick garment bag check and then we were on the road again. Destination – Corpus Christi, TX. Heading further south we stopped in La Grange, TX to eat lunch. After lunch we popped in a movie, Rogue One, and the boys relaxed for a few hours.

We arrived in Corpus Christi, checked into our hotel and headed to dinner at the Golden Corral. On our way back, Charlie dropped us off at a beach area near our hotel. We walked the rest of the way making a few stops to listen to the waves and enjoy the breeze coming in off the water. It was a great walk and a beautiful evening.

The Choirboys have now fallen asleep and will continue their adventures tomorrow with a trip to the USS Lexington and then swimming at the beach. Check back in tomorrow to hear about our day. In the meantime, enjoy this new episode of the Jake and Braeden almost daily, daily vlog – a Seagull Production.

 

 

Good evening all you good and faithful followers of our Tour Blog! We hope you are enjoying hearing about the Choirboys’ journey and adventures.

Today was mostly a driving day. The Choirboys awoke from their slumber and headed to the glorious breakfast at their hotel. They devoured as much as their bellies would hold and it was off to the next stop, The Sixth Floor Museum, in Dallas, TX.

As we departed Ardmore, the temperatures continued to rise and, unfortunately, our poor, 20 year old bus can simply not keep up with the heat. It was a good thing we were on road early so the AC didn’t have to work as hard. With the great navigational skills of Grant, we got Charlie to a good parking space on Houston Street near the museum. The prefects ran over to Subway to pick up our pre-ordered box lunches and return to a very happy group. We ate our lunches on the bus before heading to the museum for our scheduled tour time.

The museum has to be one of the best museums I have ever taken the boys to while on tour. Each Choirboy received their audio device and head phones and headed up the elevator to the 6th Floor, the floor where Lee Harvey Oswald fired the shots that killed President Kennedy in 1963 ( or did he?). The conspiracies abound still to this day of how and who was involved in this assassination.

 

Following the 90-minute tour, we walked to the grassy knoll and then to the gift store to purchase a few things that would remind us of the tour and the places we’ve visited.

Back on the bus, we drove in near Dealey Plaza and traced the path the motorcade took that fateful day in Dallas. Then, on to the interstate we zoomed looking for a place to fuel. We made it a few miles down the road before our AC decided to stop working. It just doesn’t like this heat. This didn’t seem to phase the Choirboys as we fueled and cooled at a truck stop south of Dallas.

We journeyed to Waco, TX where we found an In-and -Out Burger and inhaled some burgers, fries, soda and shakes. We returned to the bus, where the AC had resumed running. We made our way the 90 miles to College Station, TX and to St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church where we were met by our host families, a giant Texas flag and a great big HOWDY Y’ALL). The boys quickly met their host families and they were off for the evening.

Around 11:00 this evening, I received the highly popular vlog from Jake and Braeden. Check it out:

Tomorrow the boys will gather for a pool party and cookout before heading to the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library followed by a concert. Check back in tomorrow for more updates.

To be continued…

Today was a “drive” day for the Choirboys. We gathered back at St. Joseph’s in Shawnee with full bellies from breakfast, smiles on our face and a new 10 year old. Happy birthday, Caleb! The first task this morning was for the bus crew to clean the bus. Believe it or not, these boys with angelic voices can some time be a little messy. The bus crew will certainly back me up on this. As the bus crew tackled the picking up of trash, empty water bottles and sweeping the bus (Heaston even sprayed the seats with Fabreeze), the others waited in the shade. Once the bus was all clean and smelling fresh, the Choirboys loaded the bus and off we went.

 

We traveled a bit before getting on the Kansas Turnpike and continuing our journey south and into warmer weather. The temps climbed into the mid-90’s today and the humidity levels are climbing, too. We stopped of EZ GO #75 near Belle Prairie to re-fill our tummies with the wonderful bag lunches from the church and host families. Then, onward toward Ardmore, OK.

 

We arrived at our hotel shortly before 5:00 p.m. The Choirboys were hot and hungry. Right across the street is a Pizza Hut, so we let the boys cool off a bit in their rooms and then walked to the Hut. Of course, we made sure the boys had a salad bar to make a nice salad. As you can see, some like their salads and some tolerate them. Then, pizza for all! We devoured nine pizzas and several orders of cheesy bread. The wait staff asked the boys to sing, so we gathered toward the front of the restaurant and sang Bonse Aba for them.

 

Back to the hotel we went to change into swim suits and hit the nice, fresh pool for an evening swim. We divided the boys into two groups, as the pool was not very large. The younger boys got to swim first and the older boy had no problem waiting their turn as they retreated to there rooms to relax for a bit.

Now it is getting time to call it a night. Tomorrow we stop at The Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas and then on to College Station, TX.

 

Oh, wait! Jake and Braeden wouldn’t want to disappoint their fans two nights in a row. Here is there latest episode of their almost daily, daily vlog.

 

Here’s a link to the Journal Express article in Knoxville, Iowa following our concert on June 17 – article

To be continued…

The Choirboys returned this morning to St. Thomas More Newman Center on the campus of the University of Missouri (Mizzou). There host homes raved about them, saying things like, “the most gracious gentlemen” and “such a joy to have them stay with us.” Some hosts mentioned, “It amazes me how much they eat.”

 

After saying goodbye to our host families and closing up the bays, we were one our way to a quick stop at Walmart to pick up some water and then a stop to fuel the bus. Louis was fortunate enough to learn how to was the windshield on the bus to keep Charlie happy and able to see well.

Now we were on our way to the National WWI Museum and Memorial. Before our tour, we found a park and enjoyed lunch together. We met our tour guide, Tim, right inside the doors of the museum. We gathered in an area where the floor was glass and below it was 9,000 poppies representing the number of soldiers lost in WWI. From here we watched a movie introducing WWI, who was involved and how it started. Tim then took us room by room through the museum where the boys saw made up trenches, real tanks and artillery, uniforms, helmets, and much more.

The boys also had the opportunity to go up in the tower for a stunning view of the area.

Following the tour, the Choirboys went shopping, boarded the bus, and we were off to our next stop at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Shawnee, KS. The church here had been recently renovated and was absolutely beautiful. The acoustics were well designed and favor the singing of these boys. It is always interesting to see the boys’ reaction when the first hear their sound in a well designed venue. They definitely knew they didn’t want to waste the chance to make beautiful music in this space. Some of you were able to join us on Facebook to hear the first four songs of our concert. Just a little teaser to show you what a wonderful job all the Choirboys are doing.

After another standing ovation and applause until the last boy had left the building, the boys got to their tour jobs, which is getting better. Their current time is just a little over 16 minutes. The first goal of tour is 15 minutes! They joined their hosts and enjoyed iced tea, lemonade and cake before they were off for the night.

Well, doesn’t look like we’ll have a new episode of Jake and Braeden’s vlog, so, I guess that’s good night. We have a long drive tomorrow (over 430 miles) to Ardmore, OK where the boys will have the night off. I am thinking there is swimming in their future as long as journals are current and letters have been turned in to be mailed.

 

To be continued…

 

 

Mornings just don’t get any more beautiful than the sun shining, dew glistening of the corn plants and boys who are bouncy like Tigger on an adventure to find Winnie the Pooh. The church hosted the boys for a breakfast of blueberry, chocolate chip and plain pancakes, sausage patties and links, cheesy potatoes (left over from dinner and requested by the boys), fruits, and some pastries. It was delicious. After breakfast, we traveled to the Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum. Here, the boys talked with one of the drivers and learned about owning your own team and how much it costs to own a few sprint cars. They went up into the tower (six stories high) and saw the suites, which rent for $25,000 per year and then got a tour through the museum where the learned about how the car design has changed through the years. Did you know sprint car engines cost around $45,000? When we all completed the tour, the Choirboys sang a song for the staff and then commenced their purchasing for the first gift shop stop of tour.

 

The officers got the lunches off the bus and we enjoyed some social time and eating in a room at the museum.

 

With Knoxville being within driving distance of Elk River, the pastor is hoping we can return sometime next season to offer a concert and sing at some church services. Of course, we would love to be able to this and build the connection between the LOLCB and First United Methodist of Knoxville.

 

We boarded the bus for our 4 hour drive to Columbia, Missouri. While on the bus, under the leadership of the older, more experienced Choirboys, many of the boys spend time reviewing some of the music. The drive went by quickly and it was time to kick into action again with our new community at St. Thomas More Newman Center in Columbia. We were greeted by Kelley and Trent who showed Braeden and Anthony around the facility. When we make a stop, the head chorister and assistant head chorister go into the facility with the prefects and I to see the areas where we will sing, eat, and change. They then go out to the bus to instruct the Choirboys on what equipment needs to come in with them and where they are to go when they get inside. I must say each day the boys get better and better and completing their tasks in a timely fashion.

 

After getting everything in place, we gathered for a dinner of grilled hamburgers and hotdogs, fruit, chips and cookies. The boys devoured all the food available to them. These are some growing boys!

 

We’re trying something different this year. After dinner, instead of heading to rehearse, the boys are changing into the concert uniforms first. Then, they rehearse for a bit. It seems to be working fairly well and the boys seem more prepared and less rushed for their concerts. After rehearsing a few of the boys hand out programs and greet their audience while the others gather in the dressing room and spend quiet time preparing for their performance.

 

The space was a wonderful one in which to sing. It really supported the boys and offered them a great chance to improve from the previous evening. I must admit, the boys sounds extremely good tonight! I am very proud of the work they have done and their audiences have been very appreciative, as well. The boys received yet another standing ovation needing to bow three times before they walked off stage with the audience still on their feet and clapping. There were even some cheers both before intermission and at the conclusion of the concert. The boys were feeling pretty good about their performance.

 

For all of those following us on social media, there’s a pretty good chance we will be FaceBook Live for a portion of tomorrow night’s concert. Watch our FaceBook page for details.

 

Well, the boys are off at their host homes. We will anxiously await their reports in the morning as to who had a better host home. Until then, we leave you with yet another vlog post from Jake, Braeden and Louis.

To be continued…