Tag Archives: super bowl

Here are some shots from the game and etc...

Casey playing Raymond James Stadium

First, Here is the whole picture of me playing my "solo show" at Raymond James Stadium. Somebody pointed out that I could say I opened for Bruce Springsteen. (I don't have to mention the fact that there was a seven-day lapse between our performances.) Photo by George McPherson.

The Pirate Ship in Raymond James Stadium

This is the stadium about a week before the game. Notice the big Buccaneer Pirate ship has all it's Buccaneer sails replaced with NBC sails.

Outside Raymond James Stadium

This was my view of the side of the stadium as we were waiting outside during the first half of the game.

Bruce Springsteen on piano

It was hard to get good pictures of the show. I was way at the back of the crowd---which was exactly where I wanted to be---but it does not make for good photography. Here's Bruce on top of the piano near the beginning of the show.

Casey during halftime show

Self-portrait: Casey with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. 😉

Raymond James Stadium

This is what the audience looked like. All the ticketholders get little flashlights in their seat-cushion goodie packs.

Bruce and Stephen

These are a couple of the best shots---love the jumbotron! Here's Bruce and Steven Van Zandt.

Little Stephen on Jumbotron

And here's Little Steven saying "It's Boss time!"

Cap Spence

Cap always ends up signing at least a couple t-shirts for the volunteers. They are so inspired by him and his leadership. This year he got some really, really good homemade candy (white-chocolate covered Golden Grahams, pecans, cashews, and almonds) a t-shirt, a hoodie swestshirt, and a very nice poem. And probably some other stuff I just don't know about.


Caution...this is very long. I'll post some pictures soon.

So. Gameday. Holly, Bryan, Ashley and I, along with Cap’s son Benjamin, drove to the University of Tampa, where the volunteers were parking and loading the busses, around 11 a.m., making our usual Starbucks stop along the way. There were people there who had organized everything and set everything up, so all we had to do was put up our couple of little signs and wait for our people to show up. There was a long walk from the parking lot to check-in and about halfway through people started telling us that the parking lot was full and they were parking Wal-Mart and worried about getting towed. As sorry as we were to hear that, there was nothing we could do about it. The people in charge of parking did make some calls—to Wal-Mart for example, and made sure the cars would be OK.

After check-in the vols all gathered in a large gym. In addition to our 450 stage crew there were 2,000 field cast, so it was pretty chaotic. One of the folks in charge of the cast made the announcement that they were not allowed to bring their cameras or cell phones with them and that they had time to take them back to their cars. Unfortunately, some of our stage crew thought that that also applied to them, so they walked back to their cars and were not back by the time were loaded our busses. Actually, we only left three people behind, and they caught the next wave of cast busses, but it made some of our vols a little frantic.

We rode over to the stadium, where they held us on the busses for about 15 min before letting us off, because the magnetometers were too busy to let us through. When they finally let us get off, we made our way through the craziness outside the stadium about 30 min before the game started. We took the vols to gate S2, which is where we’d been instructed to go. Holly was at the front, I was at the rear, with Ashley somewhere in the middle. We wound our way back and forth through the line—like at an amusement park, or airport security. Holly got through with some of the people at the front of the line, but somewhere in the middle they started turning people away, saying we were going through the incorrect gate and that we had to go down to S3. Total confusion.

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Casey HenryWell, today is it: Super Bowl XLIII. We've been preparing for the last three weeks and it all comes down to a twelve minute performance this evening. We had yesterday off to rest up and recover from the production party on Friday night, which was at a bowling alley. Cap went in to make sure the monitors on the stage, which blew out after the rainy dress rehearsal, got replaced and hooked up. They are all good to go.

The weather is beautiful: sunny and around 68 degrees for the high. It will be colder than that for the show, which is at approximately 7:45 p.m. after a 6:30 p.m. kickoff.

We all are wearing our game day black shirts and it is highly unlikely you'll see any of our crew on TV. Some of our volunteers are right down in front of the stage, though, so they may get a brief appearance on screen. I'll have plenty of pictures to post in the next day or two and I'll give you a full report of how everything went as soon as I can.

Casey HenryYesterday---dress rehearsal day---we were hoping to get away with a few showers, but instead it pretty much poured from 2:00 on, all during the time we were checking in our volunteers, moving the stage onto the field, and running the show. It was a constant battle to keep the water off the stage, fought with squeegies, leaf blowers, and towels. But the band did their whole show in the rain, instruments and everything, three times through. I don't see how in the world they can do that, having the instruments get wet, but they do.

It was a full dress rehearsal, so the band wore their show clothes, and we had the field cast (the kids that run screaming onto the field and gather around the stage being the audience). These fans, including some of the people on our stage crew, are so crazed that they had to put security people down there in with the kids (OK, really they're not kids, but mostly adults) because they are afraid there will be a huge crush at the stage and someone will get hurt. Since it was raining, the field stayed tarped the whole time, to protect the grass. As there always is during these kinds of events, there was a lot of standing around for us and the volunteers while the TV people do whatever it is that TV people do.

They were very strict about cameras. They allowed NO pictures to be taken, and the few people they did catch taking pictures, they dealt with. I know they deleted the pictures; I don't know if they threw the people out or not. So, I won't be posting any dress rehearsal pictures. But I do expect to be able to get some on game day.

It is still raining today, which does not bode well for the pre- and post-game dress rehearsals scheduled for this afternoon.

Casey HenryYesterday was definitely the most exciting day so far here in Super Bowl land. For the first time the band came and rehearsed inside the halftime tent with full sound, lights, and cameras. As you may know there is a lot of secrecy surrounding the halftime show. They don't want anyone to know in advance what the stage will look like, or what songs are going to be played, so that it will all be a big surprise on game day. But I'm pretty sure, what with the rehearsal being so loud as to be audible to everyone within a quarter-mile radius, that the songs aren't secret anymore.

They rehearsed for a good four hours. I watched for a couple of them. They kept turning the air conditioning off in the tent, since it was so loud, then turning it back on again in between run-throughs so we wouldn't all bake. But it was pretty steamy in there.

We saw the security guards really crack down on one guy who had his phone out taking pictures. They honed right in the instant they saw him and took his phone away. I think they gave it back, but I'm sure they deleted the pictures.

I'd never seen Bruce Springsteen before, nor any of his band, so it was neat to get to see them. He rehearsed all-out, and it will be a very good show. Someone reminded me that one of the guitar players was on the Sopranos, which I had forgotten. I'll have to pay more attention today and see if I recognize him.

We had a volunteer rehearsal last night and it was the first one for which the stage carts were loaded down with all the band gear, so they were considerably heavier than previously, especially the one with the grand piano. I think we put eight extra people on that one to help push. Some of the volunteers somehow knew that the band would be rehearsing that day, so they came four or five hours early and sat outside the security perimeter, listening to whatever music wafted to them through the air. Hard core fans, these.

Today is basically just like yesterday, and then dress rehearsal is tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Last night: Casey Henry solo show in Raymond James Stadium (that's a 68,000 seat venue).

Casey Henry playing Raymond James Stadium

OK, technically there were only about 500 people in the place at the time (mostly the stage volunteers, various production crews, and the security folks), and I was filling time while the volunteers were sitting in the stands and the lighting and camera people and producers were looking at the stage through the cameras, but it sure sounds good, doesn't it?

Kristin Scott Benson and Casey HenryLast night we ventured away from our hotel compound to the Manatee County Fair, south of Tampa. I'm working on editing the interview I did with Kristin Scott Benson at IBMA after she won her Banjo Player of the Year award and I had gone to the Grascals website to look for something and I noticed they had a show listed in Palmetto, FL. I consulted Google Maps and found that it was only 45 minutes away from our hotel, so I rounded up some folks to go with me, and we headed down.

Cap Spence accompanied me, as well as Tony Hauser and Tony Menditto, who also work on staging for the halftime show. The fair was a good old county fair with games where you can win big stuffed animals, rides, livestock, and an entertainment stage, which is where we headed. This was the first time I've gotten to see Kristin play in her new gig with the Grascals. She's been with them since November and has really settled into the job well.

The Grascals Kristin Scott Benson

Kristin had mentioned that one of the things she really had to work on when she got the job was playing fast, since the Grascals have some truly blazing tempos. Well, she's worked out that aspect just fine, and really turned in some killer breaks, especially on the fiddle tune "Bonaparte's Retreat," played out of D position.

Terry Eldredge, Kristin Scott BensonJamie Johnson, Terry Smith, Terry Eldredge, Kristin Scott Benson

The band played for a good 90 minutes and on their last number, "Orange Blossom Special", they donned baseball caps and told the crowd they were going to throw them out to the kids at the end of the song if they gathered down front. Well, not only the kids gathered in front of the stage, everyone else did too, standing and clapping right in front of the band, which gave a great energy to the song.

Grascals with Crowd

After the show was over a large crowd gathered around the record table to meet and greet, buy CDs, and get the band to sign posters. Kristin was talking to a young girl, probably about 13 years old, who said she was a Murphy Method student. Kristin said that Murphy's daughter was here and looked around for me. As it happened I was standing right there and talked to Emily, who has been playing about 4 years and has several of the DVDs. Her younger siblings also play and she shows them things. I told her that's exactly what Murphy did---teach her younger sisters how to play.

I also ran into Alice Chadwell, an old friend who used to live in Nashville but moved down to Tampa several years ago. I'd forgotten she lived here, but it was a great surprise to see her and get to meet her mom.

On the drive back to the hotel we listened to the Grascals newest album, "Keep On Walkin'", which is great. The Tonys Hauser and Menditto enjoyed their venture into the bluegrass world, and I really recharged my battery by getting to see my friends and enjoy a night of top-notch bluegrass.

Casey HenryWednesday night was our second volunteer rehearsal on the practice field beside the stadium. Our volunteers are the stage crew, tasked with assembling the stage on the field in the three or four minutes after the first half of the game ends, and then disassembling it and getting it off the field before the second half starts. The stage is built in many different sections on wheels, called carts. In the rehearsals leading up to the game we work on getting the time for putting the stage together down from the 20 or 30 minutes it takes the first time, to our 3 or 4 minute goal time.

The weather was cold and windy and for our comfort, Cap asked our crew guys to put up a tent to shelter us from the wind. They put up a pop-up canopy and enclosed three sides with thick black plastic. They even put a little space heater in there for us. Below are a couple of pictures of the volunteer coordination team in our little hut:

Volunteer Check-in January 21st, #2

Ashley Kecskes, Bryan Ransom, Holly Silber, Casey Henry

Volunteer Check-in January 21st

This year's volunteers are extremely enthusiastic. In the cold night air they all wanted to put the stage together four times instead of the scheduled three. After I check in people there is not a whole lot for me to do during the practice, so I get to eat supper (one of the boxed meals we get for the vols at every practice---sandwich, chips, pickle, cookie) and watch the spectacle. At the end of practice they bring the carts back and "put them to bed" in the tent inside the halftime show compound. After practice we on the crew can generally be found in the hotel bar discussing what does or does not need to be changed about the stages, banjos, guitars, seaweed, Captain Morgan's vs. Sailor Jerry, feminism, adult movie shoots, and squirrel catapults.

And yet, the next day we're all (kind of) bright eyed and (relatively) bushy tailed and (somewhat) ready and rearin' to go to work to make it the best halftime show ever!!

Casey HenryI'm here in partly-sunny, fairly-chilly Tampa, FL, working as the assistant volunteer coordinator for the halftime stage crew for Super Bowl XLIII. This is my second Super Bowl, my first being last year in Arizona where the New York Giants won an amazing victory over the up-to-then undefeated New England Patriots. (I actually had to look that up because I couldn't remember the two teams. I'm so not sporty.) Tom Petty did that halftime show. This year it is Bruce Springsteen, and very much excitement surrounds the fact of his performance.

My job as volunteer coordinator consists mainly of assisting the two other vol. coordinators (checking people in to the practices, punching holes in and alphabetizing waiver forms and putting them in binders). You'd think this job would be terribly exciting, but for the most part there is a lot of waiting around. It's the same way in all of show business. I was interested to get to observe one of the Tom Petty band's practices last year, when they were running through their show on the stage in the practice tent so that the camera people could plan out their moves. To my surprise it was just as boring as watching ANY band (that you're not in) practice.

To be sure there are some very exciting moments. Like when we run onto the field right after the first half of the game ends, assemble the stage, and get to be on the field during the halftime show. That's pretty darn cool. But the part that has happened so far---one practice with the halftime volunteers---not so thrilling. We have a great group of volunteers this year, though. There are a bunch of hardcore Springsteen fans, including a Canadian and couple guys who came all the way from Finland! That's dedication.

We hope that their dedication continues throughout tonight's (outdoor) practice when the temperture is forecast to be in the low-thirties. Brrrrrr!

Not much banjo pickin' here so far. Cap Spence (our boss) brought two banjos and I brought my fiddle. One of the other guys has a guitar, and somewhere among the hundreds of other people working on this huge show is another guy who plays banjo. Of course, last year I flew all the way out to Arizona with my banjo and we didn't get to pick once! That's how it goes sometimes. We can only hope to do better this year.

Casey HenryI wanted to draw your attention to the fact that I updated the Workshop page on our website, so all the camps that I'm going to be at this year are listed now. The one coming up soonest is in March, in Delaware.

I also wanted to share this amusing thing that happened in a lesson today. My student was just playing her warm up song, "Banjo In the Hollow," naturally, when we noticed that her fifth string was buzzing. I attributed this to the weather, which has turned quite cold in the last couple of days. Turned out the string was buzzing on the ninth fret spike. I suggested that she just put the string under the spike for the time being and re-tune the string. But she wanted to fix it, so when simply pushing the spike down didn't work she looked in her purse to find something to use. She came up with her mascara. So she used her mascara to hammer the spike down enough that it wouldn't buzz. I love the idea of using mascara as a tool to work on your banjo!

One last note: I leave tomorrow to fly to Tampa to work as a volunteer coordinator on the Super Bowl halftime show. The guy who hired me for the job last year (this is my second Super Bowl), Cap Spence, is a banjo player and Murphy Method student. I'll be sending some updates of what is happening down there in the two weeks leading up to the big game, so stay tuned!