Runt Rant

30ish. Married. Educated. Foodie. 311 Fanatic.

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Rob Rasmussen – 311 Fan Spotlight – 2/23/15!

February 23rd, 2015

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Hey hey my excitable, awesome peeps! Guess what? It’s CRUISE WEEK!! Happy cruising to all of the lucky ones attending (myself included)! Let’s kick this week of awesomeness off properly by introducing you to another amazing fan – Rob Rasmussen!

Funny start to the story – Rob was not instantly into 311 when he first heard them! The first song he heard was “Down” and it was fellow fan Zedanko Earthling who introduced him to the blue album. “When I first heard ‘Down’ I absolutely hated it. The story of why is too complicated to go into here, but it actually had nothing to do with the music. It’s funny how our past experiences can shape our future opinions of things.” Fast forward a year to when Rob heard the song “Paradise.”  “I had just lost my job, due to reasons that were completely my own fault, and I was throwing myself a pity party when I first heard the lyrics to Paradise: “Everything you do, it comes back to you, whatever it may be.” Until that point, I had been a huge metal-head, and never cared much about lyrics, as long as the music melted my face off. When I heard the deep and intense lyrics to this song though, I was immediately hooked, and my appreciation for lyrical content and 311 has done nothing but grow ever since.”

“A relative noob” is what Rob considers himself when it comes to seeing the band live. Although he’s been a fan since 95, he didn’t get to see his first show until 2009. While he doesn’t have an exact count, he believes he’s in double digits at this point. Favorite event so far? “311 Day 2014. Hands down. Seeing a group of Excitables completely fill and take over Bourbon Street was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. The pure, concentrated positivity of that event changed my life forever!”

The song “Paradise” obviously holds a special meaning to Rob, but the songs “Still Dreaming” and “Creature Feature” also have a special place in his heart. Rob considers himself a person who puts a high value on originality and individualism so it’s the opening verse of “Still Dreaming” that rings true in his ears: “No, I’ll not renounce my views, do what others do. I’d rather drink the hemlock than be like you, to my soul untrue.”  Rob hasn’t always been the positive vibe merchant that he is now and he knows that his darker side will always remain in him a little, which is why “Creature Feature” means so much to him. “I wanna do what’s right/Be kind to every single body/Open up to light/Just let it flow through my body/But sometimes I’m unsure.” Rob knows it’s hard to stay positive all of the time, but you have to fight for it.

Childhood was not the best time for Rob. He went through a lot of pain and sadness. The only blood family in his life is his brother (who he said is awesome), so his friends have really become his family, especially the new ones he’s made through the awesomeness of 311. He grew up on the west coast in various places and said he hasn’t stayed in one place for very long. “I kind of just go where the universe directs me.”  Rob currently works at a credit union to fund his “growing 311 habit.” He is also in his second year of college, pursuing a major in English and Psychology.

Rob’s real passion though is writing. “My epic novel is currently about 80% finished and I have many short stories already done, but I’m currently working on one based on the excitable crew called ‘The Knights of Unity.’ I’m always looking for input so if anyone wants to give me some feedback, send me a message!”

Positivity is what helps Rob shine in a crowd and he says he is always trying to find the proverbial silver lining in everything. “I try to learn from my struggles and challenges by seeing them as opportunities to grow as a person and evolve into a better human being.” When I asked about any guilty pleasures, he had a great response – “I don’t really do things that cause me guilt.”

Any kind of music that makes Rob feel something is what he loves, so his musical tastes range all over the map. Some artists that he enjoys are Metallica, Green Day, Stevie Wonder, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Ice Cube, Willie Nelson, Aerosmith, BB King, Nirvana, and Soundgarden – just to name a few! “The list literally could go on forever.”

While the musician list might go on forever, his message to the guys of 311 does not:

“Thank you so much for continuing to inspire me and improve the quality of my life!”

To all the people that make up the awesome sea of 311 fans:

“To my clique that’s more like a family, I look forward to meeting and bear-hugging as many of you as I possibly can. If you see me on the boat, at a show, or just walking down the street, come say hi and share some positive vibes with me! Until then, remember that we are all children of the same universe, so love and care for each other as you love and care for yourself!    Peace Love Unity Respect.”

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Now you’ve all met Mr. Rob Rasmussen! If you meet him in person, give this awesome, positive guy a high five. Thank you for reading and thank you to Rob for sharing your tale!

If you are cruising, find Rob & I on the ship and say hi! Until next week…

“To all my friends, it’s not the end…the earth has not swallowed me yet!”

Much love – The Runt

Mr. Derek Hoover! 311 Fan Spotlight 2-16-15

February 16th, 2015

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Bienvenue my fellow 311 fans! As we inch closer to the next epic 311 event, take a moment to meet another awesome brodel. Here is the story of Derek Hoover!

His tale starts back when he was in the Navy. His friend Daniel Dussia was jamming the Grassroots album and the music caught his attention. “I started listening to him jam out and then the beats just hit me. I wanted to know more and listen to more.”

The thrill of seeing 311 live has caused Derek to lose count of exactly how many shows he’s been to, but he knows it’s well over 45 at this point. His first show was back in 1999 at the Boathouse in Norfolk, Virginia. His favorite show so far has been 311 Day 2004. “That was my first 311 Day and my wife Stephanie’s first ever 311 Day. The fans, the partying, the concert and reliving it all when I watch the DVD. It was an amazing time of my life.”

Derek is “42 years young” and grew up in Texas as an only child. He joined the Navy at the age of 20 and served a total of twelve years (six active and six reserves).  Attending two colleges (Virginia Tech and Tidewater Community), Derek earned his Associates Degree in computer graphic arts. He currently works for DMG Mori, a Japanese machining company, and has been there for four years.

Back in February 2013 Derek married his slinky Stephanie and they celebrated their wedding with a honeymoon on the third 311 cruise (the photo above was taken on that trip)!  They even danced their first dance as husband and wife to “My Heart Sings” and he said that song means the most to him now. He even had lyrics from it on his grooms cake. The couple has an 8 year old miniature poodle named Maui. Derek said of Maui, “Yes she has a mohawk and she’s my punk rock princess. All in all…life is beautiful!”

When not listening to 311, Derek’s eclectic musical taste and open-mindedness has him listening to a variety of other artists. Some of them include Beck, Incubus, STP, Full Service, Boards of Canada, Dirty Heads, Gwar, and Morbid Angel. “I run the full gambit when it comes to tunes. If it’s good, I listen to it.”

One of Derek’s dreams in life is to visit the Seven Wonders of the World with his beautiful wife by his side. As he worded it, he wants to “Visit” the entire world! Derek also loves to draw and do computer graphic artwork. “Just too bad my computer sucks lol.”  His guilty pleasure though is karaoke! “I’m a karaoke nut!” (Hopefully those of us attending cruise 4 can see some of this Derek!)

Derek would like to say a simple thank you to the band. “Thank you for changing my entire outlook on life and giving me an opportunity to pass positive vibes to all I come in contact with.”

His final words to all the awesome fans he shares his love for 311 with:

“I enjoy every moment being around my second family. I can not wait until I can sing, dance, and hug every excitable I know! 311×4.”

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That’s Derek’s story my friends. I hope you all took pleasure in reading it and that it helped pass the time on this Monday! My gratitude to you all for reading every week. Keep on rockin’ and spreading that positivity!

Much love – The Runt

311 Fan Spotlight – Donald Dlugos – 2-9-15

February 9th, 2015

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Welcome again fellow 311 fans! Another Monday has arrived, and so has the new fan spotlight. Let’s meet Donald Dlugos!

Corona, California is the setting for Donald’s first exposure to 311. It was a small club show during the Grassroots tour. “The mix of rap and heavy guitars had me hooked.”

Since that small show Donald has attended a total of 72. The two most memorable to him are 311 Day 2012 and then a summer show he attended in Vegas. “I went with Scott Rome. He hooked it up heavy. Such a fun time.”

“Beyond the Grey Sky” is the song that means the most to Donald, although his favorite lyrics from a song are, “Don’t let me down.”  When he’s not listening to 311 though he can be found jamming the band Between the Buried and Me.

Southern California is where Donald grew up and he’s lived there most of his life, except for a few years when he lived in Vegas. He has a major love for all things Star Wars and says its what makes him stand out among his group of friends. He even collects Star Wars action figures.

Donald used to play in a band that toured all over the U.S. “I’m a great guitar player. Been playing forever.” He has been in a bunch of bands and now is teaching his children how to play. “The love for music is huge in my home.”

When I asked Donald what he would say to the band or a member if he could he replied saying he would, “Tell Pnut to make it more tech.”  It’s a little inside joke they have had going for a long time. “We follow each other on Twitter and he always answers me back or hits me up about random stuff now and then.”

Now to all the fans out there that share the love for 311 he would like to say:

“See you all in 2016! Take care of yourself and someone else.”

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Now you’ve all been introduced to Mr. Donald Dlugos! Thanks for reading his story and for being the awesome people that you are! Keep on spreading the love and positivity. Until we meet again!

Much love – The Runt

 

 

 

 

 

BJ Amos – this weeks 311 fan spotlight!

February 2nd, 2015

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We meet again lovely excitable friends! It’s time to meet yet another amazing member of the 311 fan community. Here’s the story of BJ Amos!

The Grassroots album was what introduced BJ to the wondrous sounds of 311. A friend that he worked with put the album on and he knew instantly that he liked it. “Just the vibe I got from that album, I knew I’d always be a fan.”  Since the introduction he’s seen 13 shows including Red Rocks, Pow Wow, and 311 Day 2014, which he says is his favorite so far. “Just because of all of the fans from all over the world whom I got to meet.”

“Light Years” is the song that has special meaning to him. “It reminds me that no matter how crazy shit gets it’ll be ok in the end.”  Some of his favorite lyrics though come from “Brodels” – “I can’t hear you, like having phone sex with a deaf girl.” He says it cracks him up every time!

BJ is originally from Athens, Georgia (and he included ‘Go Dawgs!’).  He also spent a year in Alabama, but for two years now has called South Jersey home (about 10 minutes from Philadelphia).  He said he’s pretty lucky and never really has to pay for a 311 ticket. Why you might be wondering? His birthday is usually right around when they play every summer so he manages to get them as a birthday gift! “Except for Pow Wow and 311 Day.  Those took some change saving haha.”

Love finds a way into many fans lives because of the 311 community, and it found it’s way to BJ! He married his slinky Melissa on 1/13 and they have a baby that is due on 3/11! How cool is that?

Some cool facts to know about BJ: He can pick up pretty much any instrument and figure out how to play it very quickly. He also has a thing where if he goes to a restaurant and they have some sort of food challenge, he just has to do it. Guilty pleasure? “Watching shitty horrible old school B rated horror movies like ‘Night of the Lepus,’ a movie about giant killer rabbits.”  Some other bands he’s into include Tech N9ne, Hospin, Upon a Burning Body, and Trivium. He also mentioned he’s got a soft spot for old school 50’s and 60’s doo wop.

If he ever meets 311 face to face, he’d simply like to say to them, “Just keep the mad notes coming homies!”

To each and every awesome member of this fandom of 311 he has this message:

“Stay positive and love your life, from chaos comes clarity. It doesn’t matter how down you get, no matter what life throws at you, there’s always a way up and over any problem you may encounter.”

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Great final words BJ! Thank you all for taking the time to read his tale of his love for 311.  I love introducing you all to new people or having you read more about someone you’ve met!! Until we meet again, “Take on the love and the good karma!”

Much love! – The Runt

 

Introducing 311 fan Mr. Jay Crawford!

January 26th, 2015

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Another Monday is here my excitable friends and that can only mean one thing…tis the time to meet a new 311 fan! I know many of you are giddy with anticipation for the upcoming cruise (or trying to forget that you can’t be there) so distract yourself for a bit by reading all about Mr. Jay Crawford!

It was thanks to a friend of Jay’s that he was introduced to the sounds of 311, even if the first listen didn’t leave him completely hooked. He was at a small party and his friend put the Music album on. No one seemed into it and people actually asked him to turn it off. Then a week later Jay saw the video for “Down.” “Whilst in a medicinal state…and my mind was blown!”

The last show count Jay was at was 22…then he lost track after Vegas. However he does know which show out of he ones he’s seen is his favorite. “311 Day Nola 2014, because of the beautiful people that have now come into my life. But 311 Day 2012 two day set list was a monster.”

Everyone has that song that resonates deeply into their soul, and for Jay it’s “Strong All Along.”  “The riff, vibe and message have so much power in that song.”  His favorite lyrics are harder to pin down because he says they change pretty much every other day. When he answered this though his favorite line was, “Nothing to see shows over, people just move along.”

Jay doesn’t believe that everyone stands out from one another, he feels that 311 fans stand out from everyone else! Currently living in Cumberland, Maryland, he says he’s had a love of music since a young age. “I grew up listening to 80’s rap but MTV introduced me to bands like The Scorpions and AC/DC.” Once Jay heard Blood Sugar Sex Magic he said everything changed. “Seeing a band fuse two of my favorite genres kind of set me up for 311’s style.”  A little later on in life Jay introduced a friend to 311 and when he heard him sing, he was asked to join the friends band. “First day of practice, the bass player showed up with a 311 sticker on his bass amp, and we’ve played for 10 years.  With “Down” and “Homebrew” being two of our signature songs, we covered a total of seventeen 311 songs over ten years.”

You already know that Jay is into music and some of his other favorite artists include Tool, STP, Metallica, Led Zeppelin, Lenny Kravitz, Tribe Called Quest, Pink Floyd, Ballyhoo, and RDGLDGRN. He just recently found a new love in the RX Bandits.

Interesting fact about Jay – he played the viola until high school. Then in 2002 his home became the practice space for the band so when they weren’t rehearsing, he’d play around on the gear in the basement and ended up teaching himself how to play drums!  Jay also coaches baseball. He has three summer teams and one fall travel team. He’s also coached soccer since 1994.

When not busy doing the things above he occupies his time with the T.V. show “24,” anything Stephen King, and “Game of Thrones.” Unless it’s baseball season of course, then he says the Orioles, Giants and Dodgers own his life!

Jay’s simple message to the guys of 311 is this: “Thank you!” But to all of you magnificent people out there in the 311 nation, his note to you is this:

“Always have an open mind and an open heart and always …………..
fight like a girl!”

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That, my friends, is Jay’s tale of his life & love for 311! As always, thank you all for reading. You’re all the reason I do this! I’m happy to share your stories with the world and appreciate all of you who want to divulge them. Until next time!

Much love – The Runt

311 fan spotlight on Bob Barr!

January 19th, 2015

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Hello again my wonderful fellow fans of 311! Welcome back to another edition of the fan spotlight. This week we feature a guy that was nominated by his wonderful wife Jen. It’s time to meet Mr. Bob Barr!

From the very start of Bob’s life music played an important role. He was just around the age of 3 when he received his first album, Michael Jackson’s Thriller. It was also right around this time that his parents divorced and music became the thing he could turn to when times were rough. “As far as I can remember, music has always played an integral part in my life, as I was always listening to records, the radio, and yes MTV (remember when they actually played music???).” It was in 1995 that 311 made their grand entrance into Bob’s life when he heard the song “Don’t Stay Home” on the radio. “Immediately I was intrigued as the song demonstrated a style of music that had pieces of what I enjoyed from each genre, but seemed to flow in a way I couldn’t imagine possible.  A very short time later, the single and music video for “Down” hit the airwaves, and from that point I knew 311 was a band I need to seriously get into.”

Get into them he did.  Bob says his obsession became vocal in the summer of 1996 when he went to see the band live for the first time. “From there I made it known that 311 was no doubt my favorite band, and that it was all 311, all the time.”  His first show was a local radio event and the band only played for about a half hour but it didn’t take long for Bob to realize how incredible they were. One of Bob’s best friends Jim is also into the band and they’ve seen over 30 shows together, performed 311 karaoke together, and even covered songs like “Hive” and “Brodels” with Bob’s brother Joe’s band. Bob also has a crew of friends (they call themselves “The Perks”) that love the music and their bond grew because of the band. “Still working at the stadium throughout high school and college, I was able to get my friends jobs and we all worked together, which led to us reciting 311 lyrics and communicating out our obsession to anyone and everyone in our paths.”

Since 1996, Bob has seen 311 live 39 times and even has most of the ticket stubs to prove it. He’s been to the last four 311 Day events as well as seen shows in various states such as New York, D.C., and Virginia. His favorite event so far has been the 2008 311 Day in Nola. “I never knew what I was missing until I got there, and was completely overwhelmed by the 10,000+ guys and gals that were all together as one, celebrating not only the day (in this case the entire week), or the band, or the music, but the years of passion and devotion to the 311 “be positive, and love your life” mantra that we all adapted thanks to the message portrayed and lived by the 5 individuals who we have grown to admire.” Bob’s favorite regular tour shows include the Atlantic City show back in 2010 and his #39 show at the Tower Theatre in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. This was the area that all of “The Perks” met and grew up in. “Not only was it cool as hell to see Upper Darby on a 311 shirt, but the set list was absolutely incredible (opening with Welcome to Omaha Stylee to Do You Right AND no Amber!?!?!?!).  It was truly a show for the diehard fans!”

Bob was raised in two different states because of his parents divorce. South New Jersey is where he spent his weeks and attended school, then on the weekends he stayed at his fathers place in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Bob said that most kids would be upset that their parents weren’t together but for him it was a blessing. “If it wasn’t for them separating, I would never have met my best friends, including my wife – and I absolutely had the best childhood I could imagine thanks to those guys.”

Since Bob has been a fan of 311 for almost 20 years, he can correlate most moments in his life to their album releases. “I guess you could say 311 has always been “there for me” without even knowing.”  Bob said that as he grew and transformed it seemed that the music of 311 did the same. He met his wife Jen right around the time From Chaos was released, which he says was fitting for their relationship. They went through a rough patch but they saw things through and he said she’s been by his side ever since. Jen is also a fan of 311 and has seen them over 20 times at this point.

The album Evolver was released right around the time that Bob’s grandmother had a stroke, yet another major moment in his life. After she had her stroke she had a lot of memory loss and no longer knew who Bob was. “I was going through a tough time. I left my job that I loved going for a “more responsible” career with a mortgage company, broke up with Jen, and was dealing with the sickness and death of my grandmom.  With all this, I was abusing drugs and alcohol to deal with the issues, to the point where I was alienating the most important people in my life.  Evolver came out just when I needed it, not only as a distraction but a healthy alternative to dealing with the issues at hand.” The songs on the album helped Bob refocus his energy to a more positive path. He got back together with Jen, left the mortgage company, and ended up getting a full time job with a company in the sports and entertainment industry. “I got my life back together from a person and family standpoint.  A few months after getting back together, Jen became pregnant and the most amazing life moment I could ever imagine transpired with the birth of my daughter Samantha (undoubtedly a gift from my grandmom looking down on us).”

Bob is now married to Jen and has two beautiful children, Samantha and Robbie. He shares his love of 311 with the kids and they have their own favorite songs. Bob has even gotten his mom and stepdad into the band and they’ve gone to the last two 311 days!  Bob funds his 311 habit working at Aramark in the sports & entertainment division as the Director of Operations. He oversees the food and beverage operations and gets to travel all across the country supporting 600 stadiums, concert venues, national parks, etc. He’s even been able to meet some great artists such as Ozzy Osbourne, The Hives, and Bruce Springsteen!

Other bands that Bob loves are Pearl Jam (he has been into them ever since Ten was released), Grouplove, Cage the Elephant, Weezer, Rage Against the Machine, Foo Fighters, and a lot of other 90’s alternative. He also credits 311 for getting him into bands like The Urge, 2 Skinnee J’s, and RDGLDGRN. Something he says many people don’t know about him is he’s had to replace his 311 CD collection, not once, but twice!

“My first car was a 1990 Chevy Cavalier, a starter vehicle to get me to school and work in the late 90’s, nothing glamorous to say the least… but it was broken into while I was at work and my CD player and case were stolen, much to my dismay when I returned to my car!  About a year later, after I spent a great deal of time and money to replace my music collection, my car was stolen.  While my car was eventually located, of course – my “collection 2.0” was nowhere to be found.  Lesson learned?  Be thankful for digital media!”

Bob grew up bowling and participated in a league throughout his teenage years. In early 2002 he managed to bowl a “300” perfect game. “I was only the 7th person to ever bowl a perfect game at the bowling alley (which was over 50 years old).  It was a memorable experience I must say!  I haven’t been to that alley in years but I hear my name is still up on the wall – which is pretty cool.”  His current hobby, or guilty pleasure, is collecting posters and vinyl records. “However, I only collect posters from shows that I have been to.  I still have some work to do in completing both collections as it relates to 311 shows/albums, but I am definitely making progress, with owning all 4 311 Day show posters and some of the show-specific concerts as well.”

A great deal of thought was given to Bob’s answer for his favorite song. He chose “Eons,” saying it’s had the most impact on his life. “I literally get goose bumps every time I get surprised at a show hearing the initial guitar riff into “you got a wishing well within, that’s ready to begin…” and nothing beats singing along with “Nobody knows just what you’re battling inside you can hide” which I feel is an extremely impactful line that holds true for many of us.” He also said he wants to throw in the song “Do You Right” because it’s Jen’s favorite song, and she was awesome to nominate him for this spotlight. Bob’s all time favorite quote though comes from the song “Paradise” – “Music  what I need to keep my sanity.”  Bob said, “There is no doubt that music has been the medicine that continues to guide me through life’s daily challenges.”

Bob has yet to meet 311 but if he did he has this simple sentence to say. “Thank you for sticking together, never selling out, giving it all that you’ve got every time you hit the stage and studio, and for impacting my life for nearly 20 years!”

Now to the awesome fellow fans that are reading this, here is Bob’s message to all of you:

“I don’t think any of us thought that 20 years ago when we heard “Down” or “All Mixed Up” (or for those who were “lucky” enough to get into them in the earlier days) for the first time that we would have transcended as a fan base to the level where we are today.  Deep respect to those who have dedicated their spare time over the years to bring the 311 community together – between community chat rooms, online radio stations, social media groups, trading posts, support groups (and last, but certainly not least, the Runt Rant!).  Thanks to all of the excitable ones out there that keep us connected as a group and hold the keys that open doors to amazing events such as 311 Day, Pow-Wow, the Cruise, and having the boys just plain rock out every year (not just for an album tour like just about every other band out there).  Keep livin’ and rockin’, and I’ll see you all at 311 Day 2016!”

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That’s Bobs story my friends! I hope you were entertained, I know I was learning all about his love for 311! Keep on being the awesome people you all are and thanks for reading as always.

Much love – The Runt

 

 

Charley Kellum – this week’s 311 fan spotlight!

January 12th, 2015

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Hello my excitable friends and welcome to another edition of the 311 fan spotlight! Time to start the week right…let’s read about our fellow fan Mr. Charley Kellum!

Charley’s tale takes us back to good ole 1995 when a friend of his played a cassette tape of Grassroots for him. When Charley said he liked it, the friend threw on the blue album CD and that sealed the deal. “The beat of ‘Random’ really drew me in, then once I heard ‘Loco’ I was capital H Hooked! Chad’s drum work was so syncopated and amazingly tight. I couldn’t stop listening!”

Atlanta in 1997 was the first time Charley saw 311 live and since then he’s been to 10 shows. Last year he attended his first 311 Day and he was completely blown away by the experience. “Hearing ‘Damn’ live was one of my bucket list songs and I had just told someone I’d love to hear that or ‘Rolling.’ Then I heard the opening chords of ‘Damn’ and went ballistic!”

Favorite quote of Charley’s comes from the song “Homebrew” – “In the end, revenge sends ends to the defendant.”  Then there are multiple songs that mean a lot to Charley. He said “Beyond the Gray Sky” always makes him cry when hearing it live. Then the song “Hive” is the first song he heard them play live, so that will always have a special place in his heart. The prize for favorite song though goes to “Visit.”  “The message is great and that’s what I want to do. Visit the world with my time on this world.”

Charley grew up in a small town named Osage City in the state of Kansas (he said the population there is around 2300).  Then in 1997 he moved to Georgia shortly after the death of his mother. “For the next few years, 311 became my life and was my guidance through my pain.” Then in 2000 Charley joined the Navy to better his life situation. “I was broke, unemployed, and crashing on couches. The Navy changed my life.” From there he spent time in Charleston, S.C., Kings Bay Sub Base in Georgia, and then Atlanta where he recruited for 4 years. Charley is now out of the Navy and living in Statesboro, Georgia where he works for GA Power. “I am trying to earn a Reactor Operators license at a nuclear power plant.”

Music plays a special part in Charley’s life. He was once a Vocal Music Education major so he used to just sing at the drop of a hat. He even performed the National Anthem to open for Craig Morgan, and then sang it again a month later for a Christian Labor Day concert in front of 15,000 people! Charley is also super smart – so much so that he is a member of Mensa, the high IQ society. Aside from 311, Charley’s musical interests are quite eclectic. He loves Alice in Chains, Primus, Rebelution, Eminem, Ludacris, Pantera,  and Garth Brooks. “I love all music: rock, rap, and reggae take the lead though.” Guilty pleasure? “I love Sons of Anarchy!”

In 2012 at the Atlanta show meet and greet, Charley was lucky enough to tell the guys just how much they mean to him. He simply said to them, “Thank you for creating the music that has helped me through the darkest times of my life, as well as punctuated its celebrations.”

Now here’s Charley’s message to all the fans out there:

“To my beloved Familia, keep filling up venues and loving each other. Maintain the positivity and let’s keep it going as long as possible!”

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Thanks for reading peeps about another awesome member of the 311 nation! Keep that positive attitude flowing and spread it to those around you. Have a great week!

Much love – The Runt

First 311 fan spotlight of 2015 has arrived – meet Vanessa Sena!

January 5th, 2015

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Happy 2015 my excitable friends! I hope everyone has kicked this new years off with a bang and are taking it by storm! Are we all ready for the first edition of the spotlight this year? I hope so because here she is – Meet Vanessa Sena!

Vanessa gives partial credit of her 311 discovery to MTV. During an episode of Alternative Nation, they played the video for “Down.” That was her first exposure but it was later on during a car ride that she heard the Blue album in full and was completely drawn to them. “The vocal pairing between Nick and SA was unlike anything else but it was the rhythms that drew me in. From there I transitioned to 311 chat rooms, joined the message board (in 97-ish before it blew up), the mailing list and bought any album of theirs I could find.”

10 live shows are in Vanessa’s repertoire so far and she has a great outlook on the ones she’s been to. “It’s not 20 or even 100, but it’s more than never and that’s good enough for me.”  Of the 10, she’s been to 311 Day 2012 and 2014. However her favorite so far was the Pensacola show in 2007. “It had been 7 years since I had seen them and given recent changes I had experienced then it was instant water works as soon as the lights dimmed out. I felt such immense joy that night, I’ll never forget it.”

The prize for song that means the most to her goes to “I’ll Be Here Awhile.”  “It reminds me to remain strong and that there isn’t a thing I can’t overcome.”  Some of her favorite lyrics come from the song as well – “But I’ll see it through in time.”  Other favorite lines from other songs include “Like having phone sex with a deaf girl” (She says it always cracks her up) and then these words from the song “Simple True” – “I’ve got a working title somewhere and I know one day I’ll get there, I’m grasping here.”  These lyrics really resonate with her right now because while she isn’t where most people the age of 31 are, she says she’s still here and fighting her way through all life’s rings of fire.

It was back in 1983 that Vanessa entered the world, the daughter of two wonderful parents who are sadly both gone from her life at this point. Her parents met while her father was in the Air Force. It took some time in Thailand and some distance in between, but they finally made it to the U.S. where they married. Vanessa has two older sisters and spent most of her time growing up in Northwest Florida (Fort Walton Beach). When her dad retired from the Air Force, he took a job with a company that eventually relocated him overseas. When Vanessa was in third grade, she, her mom and middle sister hopped a plane to join him there, while her oldest sister stayed behind to finish high school.

For the next three years Vanessa lived in Saudi Arabia. She says that’s an interesting fact that most people don’t know about her and that it isn’t what people think. “The majority of people I came across were very kind and welcoming. I did wear an abaya to cover my clothes but never anything covering my hair or face. I missed having pork and some other American fare but with authentic shawarmas and Kinder eggs at my reach I forgot all about it. It was a very humbling experience and would happily relive that piece of my childhood again if I could.”

Unfortunately in 1995 Vanessa lost her mother due to health complications. At the young age of 12, she travelled back to the U.S. to live with her sisters in a home her parents built in Niceville, Florida, and she says yes it is a real place! She went through a tough time dealing with the loss of her mother and handling the normal teenage growing pains. “I wasn’t used to cliques, wore glasses and until then my mom dictated my wardrobe. As a result, I saw no better thing than being gone because I felt it was my fault somehow that all this bad had come about. It wasn’t until years later that I would come to terms with it all but even now I’m hard on myself sometimes.”

Vanessa didn’t immediately enter college after graduating high school, choosing to work and experience life a bit more before heading there. It was in 2007 that she began working on her BA in Business Administration with a concentration in Public Administration. She now really wants to end up counseling young kids and while her education has been put on hold momentarily, she does hope to finish that chapter in her life eventually. She is just getting ready to relocate to Washington state, so she can add that location to her list of cool places she’s lived! As for funding her 311 habit, she works just like most of us do. She said once she’s relocated, she knows she’ll find something to help her start saving for 311 Day 2016.

Most people don’t realize that Vanessa is actually half Thai. As for her guilty pleasure it’s pretty simple – “I love food. Eating it, cooking it, and admiring it in books and TV shows.  For instance, just after Thanksgiving I had the most amazing strawberry preserves at a local Phoenix eatery called Matt’s Big Breakfast. I shamelessly scraped the tiny round dish with the remainder of my home fries so I could eat the rest. It was that amazeballs.”

Vanessa also has an eclectic taste in music, which she credits to the influences of her father, mother, and sisters. Her dad was a Led Zeppelin fan, mom had an infatuation with Julio Iglesias, and her sisters listened to a variety of Hip-Hop, R&B, and Pop. Her playlist on her iTunes goes something like this (besides 311 obviously): Deftones, The Airborne Toxic Event, Andrew McMahon and the Wilderness, Incubus, Slipknot, Adele, Maroon 5, Tool, Foo Fighters, The Sounds, Coheed & Cambria, Taylor Swift, Minus the Bear, Justin Timberlake, Matt Kearney, Big Band Jazz, some Rap, straight up 80’s tunes and Rock Oldies.

311 came into Vanessa’s life at a time she needed some guidance the most, right after she lost her mother. So here is her personal message to them:

“Music and poetry became my escape and in my quest for something to drown out my sorrows, this band unexpectedly entered my life.  I would tell them thank you. Thank you so damn much for creating music together. You’ve opened my life to experiences I otherwise may not have had and I’ve met some amazing people in the process (including someone I’ve unexpectedly become fond of). If not for the countless albums and attendance at shows I don’t think I would’ve seen things through. In addition to everything else that keeps me held together, you five have aided me in seeing the positive in things and what I have to fight for. I love you all.”

Finally her message to the great people of the 311 community:

“No matter what our focuses, beliefs and opinions are in life those of you reading this very blog were brought together by this band and the brother/sisterhood most of us consider family. When I first became immersed in 311 groups I didn’t expect it to have an effect of this magnitude. Within months I found myself part of the Familia Secret Santa Gift Exchange then meeting some of your wonderful faces in New Orleans.It was while I didn’t bother to search for something that I was rewarded and I am forever grateful. I have found far more than just other 311 fans but genuinely kind people; friends. Thank you to everyone who has welcomed me with an open mind and an open heart. Remember to love yourself, respect others, live life to the fullest and for Pete’s sake don’t sweat the small stuff. Cheers and Happy New Year!!”

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Well said Vanessa! Thanks my friends in the 311 nation for reading and learning more about this awesome slinky sister! Happy New Year to all and may 2015 be full of positivity and prosperity.

Much love – The Runt

The last 311 fan spotlight of 2014- Meet Greg Keiling!

December 29th, 2014

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Hello again 311 community! I hope you all had great holidays, no matter which one you celebrated. It’s the last Monday of 2014 and that can only mean one thing…the last 311 fan spotlight of the year! It’s time to meet Greg “G-Dogg” Keiling!

Let us travel back to a time when record stores still existed. One particular store, which I’m sure some of us remember well, was Tower Records. It was in that store that Greg was exposed to 311 for the first time. “I was working in the loss prevention department in ’95 when I heard ‘Homebrew.’ Been hooked ever since.”

Almost twenty years later and Greg still loves them just as much as on day one. He’s seen the band live 22 times since then. Out of the 22, he says this past 311 Day in New Orleans was his favorite so far. “Made lots of new friends and saw the most epic 311 show ever.”

The song “Golden Sunlight” has special meaning to Greg since it reminds him of his friend Deora who sadly lost her life back in 2001. She was on United Flight 93 on September 11th – the flight that crashed in Pennsylvania. “Deora too loved 311. I actually saw them perform 2 days before here in San Diego at Street Scene. At the time, Deora was visiting our friend Aly in Jersey, then boarded flight 93 on September 11 bound for San Francisco. She was returning to school. Anyhow, I get happy tears when I hear ‘Golden Sunlight’.” Since it’s his favorite song, it’s no surprise that one of his favorite lines comes from it. “There’s a door open to walk through, all I want it, just beyond.”

Greg was born near College Park, Maryland, and lived there and then Ohio before he settled down in Northern Virginia back in 1976. In ’95 he relocated to Phoenix, Arizona. Then in ’97 he made his way to San Diego and has been there ever since. He funds his 311 habit working as a case manager for kids with developmental disabilities and loves what he does! Greg also has full arm sleeves which he says makes him stand out, especially at work. “I have full tattoo sleeves with lots of colors and a variety of stuff!”  While his tattoos may be large and clearly visible, his fear is a bit smaller on the size scale. “I am absolutely terrified of ants.”

Guilty pleasure for Greg is a vice I know many 311 fans love – Jagermeister! His first musical love came at the age of four when he first heard KISS. “I am primarily a metalhead at heart i.e. Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Pantera, In Flames, and local San Diego metal.” Greg also has a really great sense of giving and arranges benefit concerts in his local area (he’s even done some in Arizona).  “I have done 14 Flight 93 benefit shows and have raised close to $11,000 towards completion of the Flight 93 National Memorial. I’ve also facilitated other shows for breast cancer (my mom is at stage 4 and currently kicking it’s ass).” Greg has also orchestrated shows to raise money for child abuse victims services, tornado victims, and for the Dimebag Darrell Foundation.

Greg’s message to the members of 311 is a simple one – “Thanks for making me smile when I need it.”

To the members of the 311 fan community – “Thank you for being so amazing. When I hang out, rock out and party with you guys, I see Deora living in all of you, which lets me still have her. And for that, I am forever grateful!”

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Well my friends, that officially wraps up the spotlights for the year 2014. I hope you enjoyed reading about Greg and getting to know yet another fellow fan! I’d just like to take a moment to thank each and every person who reads these spotlights. You are all amazing people, and I know that because we all love a stellar band that guides us down a path of positivity each and every day! So thank you again…and as long as you keep reading, I’ll keep writing. Happy New Year all!

Much Love – The Runt

New 311 fan spotlight – Meet Mr. Jeff Seipel!

December 22nd, 2014

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Welcome back friends! Happy Christmas week! As we round down the awesomeness of 2014, lets take the time to meet a new 311 fan! This week we feature Mr. Jeff Seipel!

1995 was the year Jeff was introduced to 311 when a coworker tried to have him listen to the blue album. At the time though, it wasn’t the style of music that Jeff was in to. About a year later, a friend told Jeff he had to check out a certain drummer and “his amazingly unique snare sound.”  His friend played the song “Random,” and from there Jeff was hooked.

At 67 shows and counting, Jeff says he keeps track for two reasons. One, he loves music and going to concerts, and never could have imagined seeing one band this much. “There are some people who won’t attend that many concerts in their life, so I feel blessed to be able to do it. The last 4 years have been a pretty crazy string of travel and shows.”  His second reason – he has a goal to eventually hear every song 311 had ever recorded live. “I believe it will happen one day. They’re the kind of band that doesn’t record filler on an album. Everything is a viable live song, and they’re not afraid to try it at some point. Hearing “Dreamland” and “Will the World” at 311 Day this year blew my mind. It just goes to show you that anything is possible with them.” Jeff is under 10 songs now that he has never heard live. When I asked him which of the 67 shows is his favorite, he said it was way too hard to choose. “That’s like asking a parent to pick their favorite kid. I can’t do it.”

Jeff isn’t a lyrics guy. Being a drummer, he focuses more on the music than the lyrics in the songs. There are songs that he knows all the words to due to repetition. But to pick one that has resonated with him, it’s not solely based on the words. “I think it would be “Time is Precious.” The live debut of that song at 311 Day 2012 came one month to the day after I lost my mom to cancer. I don’t know that the meaning of it applies to losing someone you love and I’ve never taken the time to actually read the lyrics, but that’s what I take from it.” And while not into learning the lyrics like most, Jeff says one line that stands out to him is from the song “Brodels,” simply because he thinks it’s hilarious and would never expect to hear it in a song. “I can’t hear you, like havin’ phone sex with a deaf girl.”

Columbus, Ohio is where Jeff was raised by his parents, and his father was a huge musical influence on him. “His record collection reached upwards of 4,000 at one point and his CD collection today easily tops 2,000 now.” Jeff likes to tell people he grew up on the “good stuff” – Beatles, Zeppelin, Zappa, The Doors, etc. “My parents were kinda sorta hippies. Not fully living the lifestyle, but definitely the musical and recreational aspects of it.”  He was taught not to just take what music is on the radio as what he had to listen to and he looked beyond it to find different bands. At age 5 he had a guitar in his hands, but it never really stuck with him. It was Jeff’s sophomore year that he discovered the drums. “I switched to drums when the guys I was jamming with realized I was a better drummer than any of the guys we were “auditioning” for our half-assed attempt to play the talent show.” Then in his senior year he ended up with a new group of guys and they had a 6 year run in a band. While they didn’t make much noise outside of Columbus, Jeff says they, “Progressed immensely during this time and I’m really proud of the music we created.”

In 2001, Jeff moved to Southern California with his previous girlfriend. He struggled out there during the first year, but eventually landed a job at a start-up ecommerce company in Aliso Viejo. “I never could’ve imagined staying with a company this long, but it’s been 12 plus years now. I’m very blessed to have the job I do.”  It’s this job that enables Jeff to travel as much as he does to all the shows. He not only has five weeks of vacation, but he can pretty much work remotely from any location and he has.  “Airplanes, airports, ski lifts, concerts, hospitals, you name it. If I have internet connection, I can be online and working.”

About 16 years ago, Jeff became involved in hobby collecting the lapel pins that are sold in the merchandise shops at the Hard Rock Cafe locations. It turned into him traveling worldwide visiting locations and accumulating a collection of close to 6,000 unique pins. He’s been to about 80 different locations around the globe. He even met his previous girlfriend through collecting. Jeff says the community of collectors is somewhat similar to the community of 311 fans, but much more spread out around the world. Jeff says the pin collecting is really the foundation of his efforts and why he’s able to do what he does for the groups regarding merchandise. “I already have a system for handling stuff in volume like this, it’s just changed from pins to t-shirts and posters.”

When Jeff was a kid he was a huge LEGO fan, and he still is now and then posts photos of sets he buys now and then builds. “I used to build all kinds of weird stuff, including life-sized guitars that I would string with kite string to make them look more realistic.” He was also really into video games as well. His parents bought an Atari 2600 not long after it debuted, so he’s been gaming most of his life. His guilty pleasure though he says is snowboarding. As a kid he was really into skateboarding but never transitioned into snowboarding because of his location in Ohio. It wasn’t until he moved to California that he had the opportunity with mountains nearby. “I had a coworker who went up to Mammoth all the time, but despite my best, subtle (or not so subtle) hints that I wanted to go, he never invited me up. Thankfully Gloria was a boarder and soon after we started dating, she took me up to the local mountains for my birthday. All it took was one trip and I was hooked.”

Apart from 311, Dream Theater is Jeff’s other long time favorite band. “I’ve been a fan of them since the fall of 1992 when “Images & Words” hit. Amazing musicians.” His other musical loves fall all over the map and include bands like The Urge, The Cure, Dirty Heads, Meshuggah, Faith No More, Breaking Benjamin, and Steve Vai, just to name a few. As Jeff says, “I could do this all day.”

Jeff has been lucky to meet 311 and say these simple words to them. “Thank you.”  He said it may sound cheesy and simple, but it’s all he can really say. “Their music has been a part of my life for almost 19 years now, and I have some incredible memories, people and experiences in my life because of it. I was an aspiring musician at one time and looking at the way they’ve done things over the years, the fan base they’ve built, the lengths they go to to give their fans an amazing live experience, etc. its the model I would love to follow to build a successful music career.”

Now to all the fans out there in the 311 community, Jeff’s words are this:

“I think it would definitely to not be afraid to ask for something you want, need or think of. Just go for it. The worst someone can say is no, right? So just ask. You never know, the answer just might be yes, or open an unexpected door. You never know whats on the other side…”

There you have Jeff’s story my friends! I trust it entertained you and truly thank you all for reading these week to week. If you celebrate it, Merry Christmas to you. I’m sending every one in this awesome community much love & positive vibes this holiday season.

Much love! – The Runt

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