January 9, 2012 | Posted By: Liem Nguyen
Happy new year, everyone! Another exciting year has passed and yet again, it flew by faster than the previous year! It was a fun filled year hanging with friends and continuing to go to shows and meet all the artists I love and support. I foresee 2012 will another good year. I already have three shows lined up; one show for each of the first three months of the new year. Before moving on and looking forward to the new year, let's reflect on what happened last year to make it so special and memorable.
It was a slow start in the first month of January. Nothing really interesting happened until February came along.
In February, I went to the annual car show in Washington DC. This is a pretty important event for me because before my grandfather passed many years ago, he would always go to see the car show every year with my uncle. He would always bring me back car posters. I've never gotten the opportunity to go with my grandfather to the car show, and I know he enjoyed it ever year. For that reason, it is a way to remember him and pay his respects by going to the car show every year. I'm going for him now that he can no longer go to them.
February was also Chinese New Year, which is also known as Tet for Vietnamese people. Tet is a fun time to get together with family and relatives and wish each other a prosperous new year as well as pay respects to all my ancestors. Plus, it's always fun to receive and give out lucky money in red envelopes.
Rooftop Pursuit's first ever EP, titled under their band name, was released in 2011. I went to their show and was able to see them perform pretty much all their songs from their EP live. Their first single was "Why I Sing" and their music video was used to raise money for hepatitis B awareness. It was really great to see these guys progress over this year. They had Amanda Lee, AMP Movement, and a few other acts open for their release party in DC. They also had an EP release party up in New York City.
After watching months and months of Boyce Avenue covers on YouTube, I finally got to see them perform with Alex Goot opening up for them. After seeing them perform live and meeting them after the show, I started to listen more to their originals and really love their originals as well as their covers. At the show, I met Terri (also known as "Momma T"). She was one of many loyal Boyce Avenue fan and one of their street teamer. It was really nice to meet her and continue to stay in touch with her today. [Blog Write-Up]
A week later, one of my favorite artists, Kina Grannis returned back to DC to perform at Jammin Java for the second time. This time it was bigger than before, she had two sold out shows at the venue on the same day back-to-back. She had Jesse Epstein, also known as "Imaginary Friend" opened for her World in Front of Me tour. It was a no-brainer that I decided to go to both of her shows. The first show was dedicated to video recording, and her later show was dedicated to taking pictures. What made this show special is that (1) I had no idea Imaginary Friend was selling Kina's merchandise at the stand until he was he took the stage, and (2) Kina remembered me by face, name, Twitter username, and knew exactly how to spell my name! That was so impressive and what makes me even a bigger supporter. I gave her a picture of us from the show I saw her a year ago. After I left the venue, I realized that I forgot to tell her how to spell my name. When I pulled out the signed picture, it had her message with my name spelled correctly! [Blog Write-Up]
When May rolled around, there was a benefit show at George Mason called APAHM Festival which was to help raise money for Japan tsumani relief. This show may have one one of the longest shows I've ever been to. It was well over three hours long with a long list of local and more well known YouTube/independent artists. The artists that I primarily came to watch and support were JR Aquino, Kat Badar, Amanda Lee, Rooftop Pursuit, and Ivy Rose. I was very excited to see JR and Kat because JR wrote a song that I really like called "You and I" and Kat was a good friend of Cathy Nguyen who are both in a group called "Blyss". It was also the first time I saw Ivy Rose perform since their performance at the first annual Kollaboration DC talent show. [Blog Write-Up]
Several days later, I went to another show. This one was for Rachel Platten. I first saw Rachel perform last year at Jammin Java opening for Mikey Wax. She returned to Jammin Java for an unofficial album release tour. It was great to see her again. She remembers me from the previous show when I met her after the show which was remarkable because last time I didn't meet her after the show. She even blogged my video on her Tumblr. [Blog Write-Up]
Here comes summer! To kick off the summer on a good note, I went to Cancun for a family vacation for a week. Going to the beach is always relaxing and a great way to get away from stress and work. It was a great time to keep my mind at ease and a time to spend with family. As we get older, it seems like it is harder to find quality time with family. This vacation to Cancun was my third trip to there and this time we stayed at the Riu Cancun All-Inclusive Resort.
Later that month, I had another first time experience of something. This time it was the first time going to a shooting range to shoot a gun. I went with my sister and a few of my friends after we got a Living Social deal. Even after shooting a gun for the first, I don't think I'll be buying one any time soon. Shooting a real gun isn't as easy as it seems, but at least I can now say I've shot a gun.
July was a very active month for me. I had so many things going on in terms of shows I went to. I had a show every week and a half. The first show was a special free show that Amanda Lee had at St. Elmo's Coffee Pub during the fourth of July weekend. This free show was about an hour and a half long filled with performances of her originals and covers. She was even taking requests. For this show, I brought my mom along for the show to see Amanda perform. She enjoyed the show a lot. She later found out that Amanda's mom also works at Navy Federal. It's a small world isn't it? [Blog Write-Up]
For the 4th of July fireworks, I watched it in Fairfax near Fairfax High School. Yeah, we could have watched it in Washington DC, but it gets way too chaotic afterwards, so Fairfax it is. Fairfax threw a pretty good 4th of July fireworks every year anyways. My sister and I met up with a few of our aunts, uncles, and cousins to watch the spectacular fireworks to celebrate the United States' Independence Day.
The second show I went to that month was for He is We. The duo of Rachel and Travis is just great! I love all their music. Before watching them perform live, I liked a few of their songs, but after hearing them perform many of their songs off their albums, I just fell in love with their style of music. I was introduced to their music by Jaymie. Us Digbyholics have similar taste in music. [Blog Write-Up]
Later in the month, I was fortunate enough to win two tickets to watch an advanced screening of Captain America: The First Avenger for free in 3D. It was from a drawing that my sister signed me up for since I have a VISA signature credit card with Navy Federal. I love all the small perks that comes with this "black" credit card. It was the first time I ever got to watch an advanced screening before everyone else. Plus, it was a pretty good movie considering I'm not a huge fan of Captain America. I am now pretty excited for The Avengers to come out in theaters later this year!
The last show in July that I went to was for Jayesslee. The Korean twins made up of Janice and Sonia Lee, from Australia. It was their first time to DC. I thought I would never get the chance to see them perform live because they are so far away living down under. They came to perform at a free benefit show which got pretty chaotic. It was so crowded that people who came too late had to watch from the church's cafeteria and gym. They perform many covers that they post on their YouTube. It was a pretty good performance. I was just disappointed that I was not able to meet them afterwards during the meet and greet. There was noise complaint, so the church had to end it much earlier than expected sending many disgruntled fans home like me. I just hope they will be back again, so I can have the chance to meet them again. I'm a sucker for girls with Australian accents...! [Blog Write-Up]
In the middle of August, I went on a summit for work to New Orleans. I wasn't too fond of the location since I'm not a huge drinker but it was still fun. It was the first time I've been to New Orleans, so I got to see Bourbon Street as well as see how Mardi Gras would be like in the flesh. Walking through Bourbon Street late at night was smelled pretty horrendous. It smelled like sewage, alcohol, and vomit. Although, it was great to see colleagues I've worked with but only spoke through email and phone. It was good to put a name to a face. And I had the opportunity to go on a swamp tour to see alligators up close and personal. The food was pretty good too! The oysters from Dragon's Seafood Restaurant was the best in town and made sure I ate there twice.
Just less than a week after I returned back to DC from the work summit, DC encountered something that it hasn't had in the past thirty years that I've been alive. DC had an earthquake that rumbled across the east coast that measured a magnitude of 5.8 on the Richter scale. It was huge and made front page news everywhere since DC is not known for earthquakes. I was at work on the 9th floor of the 1101 K Street NW building when the quake hit, and my first thought was what was that rumble? I thought it was another terrorist attack because it sounded like a plane flying right above the building. Oh how I was mistaken... I look outside my cubicle, and I see all the windows from the building across from my office shake like it turned into liquid. I was so freaked out and excited about the whole ordeal and didn't know what to do. All I could remember was that we should be standing underneath a door frame. When the quake ended, we all went back to work, but I heard we were supposed to leave the premise after the quake--That didn't happen...
Near the end of August, Alex Goot returned to the DC area to perform, but this time, he came to headline his own tour with Tiffany Alvord and Luke Conard opening for the show at Jammin Java. Early on in the year, Alex came to open for Boyce Avenue with an acoustic set, but this time he came with a full band. I actually preferred his acoustic set more. [Blog Write-Up]
It has been ages since I last went to the Baltimore Aquarium, but a few of my friends, my sister, and I decided to go check out the aquarium on Labor Day weekend. I can't even remember when was the last time I went, but it did feel like it was a lot bigger back then. I know that Georgia has a much bigger aquarium, and hopefully, I can go there to see it one day.
Everyone knows that Marié Digby is my #1 favorite artist followed by Kina Grannis, and it is not by a big margin. Kina is almost tied at #1 top favorite artist. Marié released a new album this year called "Your Love" only sold in the Philippines. Even though it was only sold in the Philippines, I still wanted a physical copy. It was extremely nice of fellow Digbyholics Ayes and Jaymie to buy copies of the album, have it signed by Marié, sent the bundle of CDs to Jaymie in Los Angeles, then individually sent to other Digbyholics like me. Obviously, I paid for the CD and shipping, but for a couple of people to orchestrate this effort for people outside of the Philippines was extremely nice and thoughtful. Thank you to these lovely ladies and Marié for getting these CDs out to me and other fans and supporters.
The last show in September was for Priscilla Ahn at the IOTA venue in Arlington. Priscilla is an incredible artist who I fell in love with after listening to Kina's music. Priscilla's style of music is very acoustic and very mellow. She's well known for her "Dream" song which can be heard in many movies. The venue didn't allow people to buy shows in advance, so I got to the venue really early to make sure I was guarantee good seat and a ticket into the show. I got there several hours early after work. This show was so memorable because I was there before Priscilla got into the venue. When she arrived, I was able to get a picture with her before and after the show since I wasn't sure if she would have a meet and greet. I was also very surprised that it wasn't a sell out show, but it was just nice to have an intimate show with her. I was also amazed of how good the sound was at the venue. Priscilla's performance live was just as good or even better than her recorded voice on record. [Blog Write-Up]
Just like the Baltimore Aquarium, I haven't been to the National Zoo since I was a kid. In October, I went there with my sister and friends in the middle of the day. We were there for only a few hours since we got there late. Luckily, we were able to take some nice pictures of some of the animals before the zoo closed. Afterwards, we had Hot and Juicy for dinner in DC. They had some pretty delicious seasoned shrimp and crayfish!
In October, I was able to check off another person off my check-list who I wanted to meet and watch live. This month, Tyler Ward came to town with his Crew (Alex G, Eppic, and Jessica Moskaluke). Tyler and his Crew had such an entertaining show, but I was pretty disappointed that he wouldn't do pictures at the meet and greet after the show. Before seeing him perform live, I was only liked his covers, but he did perform many of his originals. I actually now like a lot of his originals too. [Blog Write-Up]
Later that week, I also attended the Korean Festival in Fairfax Corner. I went primarily to support Amanda Lee and Rooftop Pursuit. It was an outdoors event and show, so as the sun set, it started to get pretty chilly. During this show, I didn't do any video recording, so I decided to be their photographer for the day. I was running around trying to get the best angles and lighting for pictures. The only downside of the show was that the acts were not on schedule. This didn't work very well with me because I had to make it to a Halloween party right after their performance. Thankfully, they both took they stage in time, and I was able to run off to the party on time.
October is always my favorite month. Why? Because it's my birthday! This year is a milestone (I suppose); I turned 30 years old. I know many people say going 29 to 30 is just like any other year, and it doesn't feel any different, but I can't say I'm in my late 20's anymore. Anyhow, this year, I had dinner at Maggiano's with my sister and some close friends. These guys have been like family to me.
To make my birthday even better this year, many unexpected artists have wished me a happy birthday.
The last show was another free show that took place at Hard Rock Cafe in Downtown DC which is about 6 blocks away from my work. The show was for JoJo who was there for breast cancer awareness month. This is the same JoJo who sang "Leave (Get Out)". She was out of the spotlight for many years but, now, she's making a comeback with edgier style of music. This free show was in the middle of the day, so luckily it wasn't as crazy as it could have been if it was at the end of the day. Keshia, who's also a fellow Digbyholic, told me about the show, and I was pretty excited because it was a free show for a pretty big artist back at her day. To thank Keshia for letting me know about the show, I got her a signed single from JoJo. [Blog Write-Up]
This month was little Lexi's first birthday; Duc and Nerissa's baby daughter. She's the cutest baby ever! I was so happy and glad to be able to help them set-up her very first birthday party. She got so many gifts! I don't think I even had close to that much gifts for my first birthday.
There was only one show that I watched in November, and it was for one of the greatest local DC bands. I went to see Rooftop Pursuit perform at Ebenezer's Coffeehouse. This performance was different because it was an acoustic set with the band instead of their usual full band rock/pop style music. It was nice change to hear a softer side of their music. They also played a couple of their newer songs, "All I Need" and "Lights". Look out in 2012 their music video release of their next single, "All I Need". They were performing alongside with Micah and their friend Jae Jin, who also just release a Christmas EP about a month later. [Blog Write-Up]
And now, we bring on the last month of 2011. This was a huge and fun month. The last show I attended for 2011 was for the talented Amanda Lee. As many times as I've heard her perform live, I've enjoyed every show I have attended to help support her. She performed one of her newer songs called "Change". Hearing her perform new songs is always awesome! After the show, I had dinner with Amanda, her husband Posido, and her younger sister April since we all haven't had dinner yet. It was nice to sit and talk to Posido and Amanda outside out of venue scene. They are really great people on and off the stage. [Blog Write-Up]
Lastly, to bring 2011 to a close with a bang, I spent the last week of December, from Christmas Day until New Year's Day, in the warm city Orlando, Florida with my sister and friends. This vacation was by far one of the best trips and most memorable in 2011. We spend most of our time in Disney World with our 6 day hopper pass. We stayed at Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort where they had many heated pools and Jacuzzis, and even a lazy river! Since we went during one of the most busiest days of the season, the wait for shows and rides in Disney World were on average ranging from one to two hours. Crazy huh? We spent most of our time waiting in line for a ride or show.
The 1st day we spent our time at Magic Kingdom. On the 2nd day, we spend our day at Epcot. The 3rd day, we split up where half of us spent our time again at Epcot while the other half spent the day in Harry Potter World over at Universal Studios. During this 3rd day, we also planned on having a pot luck for dinner where we each cooked a dish. I kind of struggled to cook my pasta, but luckily I had some help! It was a relief to be done with the potluck! Everyone's dishes were really yummy! The first several days except for Sunday were pretty chilly where we had to wear our jackets even during the day. On the 4th day, we went to Epcot in the morning, then headed over to Animal Kingdom. The longest wait had to be for the safari which was at least a three hour wait. Thankfully, this day started to warm up, so we were able to come back to the resort a little earlier than usual since Animal Kingdom closes early. We had dinner at Giordano's deep dish pizza then returned back to the resort to cool down in the heated pool and lazy river.
On the 5th day, we spent our day at Hollywood Studios. On the 6th day and last day at Disney World, we spent New Year's Eve at Magic Kingdom. This day was so chaotic as the day went one. We got in Magic Kingdom at 8:30am and didn't make it back to the resort until about 2:30am. It was a crazy but fun day. Looking for a spot for the New Year's Eve fireworks at Magic Kingdom was insane but while worth it! I'm sure New Year's Eve at NYC is worse, but it seems like it was just as bad. After we checked out of the resort on New Year's Day, we spent a few hours for lunch at Downtown Disney before heading back to DC.
I was also able to capture a couple of videos from my vacation at Disney World from my new Canon 7D. One was a clip from the Osborne Lights at Hollywood Studios, and the other is for the finale of the New Year's Eve fireworks at Magic Kingdom.
So, that's pretty much it! A trip down memory lane for 2011. It was another great year to remember, but I am already looking forward to 2012. I just hope the prophecy for end of the world does not come true!
Thanks to those who actual read this long blog reflecting back on my previous year. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I experienced it!
And, thanks to everyone for making 2011 such a great year and this is what makes life worth living and exciting. Cheers to the new year! Cheers to more memorable events to come!