311 Fan Spotlight – 12/11/17 – Amanda Cusanelli!

Welcome back awesome people of 311 nation! Another week, another fan spotlight! This week let’s meet a personal friend of mine, Amanda Cusanelli!

Like many in the 311 fan nation, hearing the song “Down” on the radio is how Amanda first heard of 311. She instantly loved it. “They had a sound I wasn’t familiar with and it drew me to them. I loved rap but this was different…and I liked it more.”

While she doesn’t keep count of the exact number of shows seen, she knows it’s somewhere in the 40 range. First show for her was in 2006 at the Nissan Pavilion in Bristow, Virginia. Favorite event so far though? The second cruise, followed by Pow Wow. “Everything about the second cruise was amazing.  Great artists, great friends; good times all around.  I also really enjoyed PowWow.  The line up was perfection even if the sweat and dirt was less than desirable.  I did not partake in camping… I had my own princess hotel.  This was also the first event where I began to meet people and form lasting 311 relationships.”

Song that means the most? It’s hard to choose. But the first two that came to mind for Amanda were “Visit” and “Unity.” Music is still her favorite album. Favorite lyric? “Welcome to this groove’ describes who I am and the life I lead. I’m always singing and dancing wherever I go.”

Maryland is where Amanda was raised, which gave her lots of opportunities to hear live music as she grew up, being so close to both Baltimore and D.C. She also traveled to Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York quite often for it as well. Music was an important part of her life from an early age. “My earliest memories of music were always with my father.  He had a state of the art stereo and was always listening to it.  He would let us kids each pick a CD and he’d shuffle them in his CD changer.  He would quiz me on artists, song names and albums on trips in the car.  He also took me to every concert I wanted until I was able to drive myself.  This is where my love of music comes from.” In 2014 Amanda moved to Saint Louis, Missouri, where she continues to see as many shows as possible.

Amanda has a very cool story to tell, and I’ll let her tell it in her own words. “In 2011 I met a teenage boy who had recently survived a horrific life changing accident while trying to fix up his house. I couldn’t believe the maturity and positivity he exuded after all that had happened. After learning more about this amazing spirit I realized he lived in a very dire situation with several members of his family. I asked for the assistance of a local production company and together we pitched his story to Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.  We succeeded and were able to gift the family with a brand new home.  The show even painted all the houses in the neighborhood and installed a community garden.  Still the proudest moment of my media career.”

Unique attribute? “I can sing/recite any song after hearing it a couple of times but I cannot remember song names if my life depended on it.” Guilty pleasure for Amanda – Boy bands…all of them. “They are a part of me; deal with it.” Second favorite band for Amanda is Candlebox. Other than that she loves KoRn, Billy Talent and Three Legged Fox. “I have a very eclectic taste in music and it’s extremely difficult to pick favorites. I’ve been to shows as obvious as 311 and as unexpected as Engelbert Humperdinck.  I will also go to any live performance. That includes theatre.”

Amanda’s message to 311 – “Thank you for taking me on this wild ride as we visit the world.”

Her message to all the other 311 fans:

“To all my friends: I’m glad you know me. To all my future friends: You’re welcome.”

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That everyone is Amanda’s story! I’m proud to call her my friend, she is a ton of fun and full of positive vibes. Keep an eye out for her at shows…look for the tattoo on her wrist and you’ll find her! Until we meet again.

Much love – The Runt

311 Fan Spotlight – 12/4/17 – Jessica Pursley!

Welcome back Excitable 311 nation! This week we feature the other half of a dynamic duo in the fandom of this band. Let’s meet Jessica Pursley!

Jessica was only 11 years old when she first heard the magical sounds of 311. She was at her friend Tony’s house and it was him who really got her into music of all kinds. He had an awesome sound system in his room and had just gotten a copy of Grassroots. Jessica went over to check it out. “I remember Homebrew started playing and within the first few seconds I had to know who the heck these guys were. We listened to the entire album and I can say that is the first time music really “hit” me. Even though I was really young, I was in awe. Then Tony mentioned he also had another album ‘Music’. We listened to that too, and I knew I was hooked. For good. Their style was just so unique. It was like nothing I had ever heard before.”

How many shows has Jessica been to? “Since Sean said his count is 15, that would make mine at 14. Haha, I don’t really keep track of that.” While she may not keep count, she does remember the very first time she saw them – Halloween night 2001 at the Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles with Alien Ant Farm as the opening band. “I had to beg my parents to let me go, I was just about to be 17. Me and Sean had known each other about 8 months. It was my first concert ever. We were at the very top, only one row behind us…allllll the way in the back, and we still left that place soaked in sweat from rockin’ out the entire time. It was everything I had imagined, and so much more! That was the beginning of my love of live music.”

While she said every show is special to her in one way or another, her favorite event so far was 311 Day 2016 which was her first. “This one was incredible for SO many reasons. First, we had just learned about the Familia and the amazing community of fans and when we got to Nola it was mind blowing. The energy. The unity. The LOVE. I felt at HOME. That trip was life changing for me in so many different ways. I will never forget the streets of New Orleans just exploding with 311. There was the music, every place you went was a 311 song playing. Every where you turned was a smiling face so ready to give you a hug or a high five. Singing at Bandstand until I had no voice left at all. But the absolute, 100% best part about it all was the family we now have. The people we have met, the relationships that have been formed, the memories that have been made and have yet to be made. This is the stuff life is all about!”

The hardest question that Jessica had to answer for this was what song means the most to her. “Their music, as a whole, has grown and evolved with me over the years. It is continually changing and is relevant at different times. Their lyrics have helped me through so much! Lyrically there are a couple that come to mind though.’Sun ComeThrough’, ‘Don’t Dwell’, and ‘Use of Time’. Songs I love to just lose it and rock out to are ‘Existential Hero’, ‘Brodels’, ‘Livin & Rockin’ & ‘Get Down’. Before 311 Day 2016 I started a Twitter campaign to get C.U.T.M. played. No luck. That is the song I want to hear most live. 311 is the soundtrack to my life, and has been for over 20 years, each of their songs mean something to me.” As far as lyrics, she said she is still a person who studies the lyric books when a new album comes out. A few favorites over the years are “There’s much power in anger, but loves the bigger banger,” “Do as you will, do as you wish, follow your bliss,” and “Be positive with love, just see the good in everybody.”

Palmdale, California – about 60 miles north of Los Angeles in the desert – that’s where Jessica grew up. She said her family means everything to her and that they have the best time when they are all together. “One of my favorite memories from my childhood is how we would have “Rock out Sundays” my Dad was only off work on Sundays and he would wake up, put one of his vinyl records on (which was probably Tesla, or Queensryche, maybe the Scorpions or Stevie Ray Vaughn..) I guess you could say my Dad is the reason I love my music loud! Lol We would have family rock out sessions often. Even cleaning the house with my mom on Saturdays, we would put on some Fleetwood Mac or Supertramp and our cleaning turned into singing at the top of our lungs into whisk microphones while playing our broom guitars.”

Jessica never really had plans of leaving Cali, but then she met Sean and they began dating. When he decided to move to Colorado, Jessica took a giant leap of faith and went with him. “I was only 18 and the first couple of years were a rough transition for sure, but I knew I belonged with Sean. Now here we are, 15 years later, married with two awesome kiddos! I have recently decided to follow my lifelong dream of being a teacher, and am a full time student at Colorado Mountain College. Both Sean and I feel that Rifle, CO is most definitely NOT our forever home, but more of a place we have landed for a bit to further our careers. Once I get my degree and Sean has his electrician license we will be ready to move on to bigger and better places!”

Something people may not know about Jessica is that she LOVES to dance. “As a kid I danced from the time I was 3 until I was about 14. My family came into financial issues and I couldn’t go anymore…but it was my happy place for many years. I still love to dance. Another fun fact…my younger sister took me to my first rave two years ago on New Years Eve in California (Countdown to NYE) and it was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. So. Much. Fun.”

Jessica’s passion to help people is what she said is a unique attribute for her. “I don’t have a lot to give monetarily…but I have found I am getting really good at setting up efforts, whether it be a raffle to raise funds or creating a lyric calendar or fun sunglasses to get donations coming in. Just in the past few years, we as a community, have been able to assist fellow fan members who have had house fires and lost everything, to getting a Christmas tree for someone in need, to helping someone get out of a potentially dangerous situation, to collecting school supplies for less fortunate kids, and going to help feed the homeless and share some smiles. I have found my heart is literally exploding with love and I have to share it, in any way I can!”

Guilty pleasure for Jessica is the T.V. series Teen Mom. “I have literally watched it from the VERY beginning. I am obsessed lol. Another guilty pleasure, and Sean can vouch for this, is 3 a.m. cheeseburgers and / or chili fries!  Theres just something about some hearty junk food after some drinks and rocking the F out! Its become an after show thing now…it all started at Krystal’s in Nola. Alison and Kris…you know what I’m talkin’ bout! Hahahaha.” As far as musical loves, Jessica has a pretty wide range of interests which include mostly everything except Country. “Some artists I love are: Fortunate Youth, Stick Figure, Passafire, Nahko, Soja, Rebelution, The Green, Tatanka, Iya Terra, old school No Doubt, The Expendables, Josh Heinrichs, RDGLDGRN, Sublime, The Beastie Boys, There are even some EDM DJ’s on my list, and of course the old school hip hop and rap…. My list could literally go on and on. Music is life to me, if the lyrics speak to me or theres a good beat to get down to…I dig it.”

As far as what Jessica would say to 311, she has pondered this many, many times. She has yet to have the opportunity to meet them, so she thinks about what she would say to them often. She said she would simply tell them, “Thank you for the music, the lyrics, the positivity and love, and all the amazing memories, but most of all….thank you for unifying this family of fans to which we all belong ♥.”

To all the other lovely fans, her message is this:

“To all my friends, its not the end…the earth hasn’t swallowed me yet!” To those of you I have the pleasure of meeting, or sharing in a hug or smile, or just plain rockin’ out together…I LOVE YOU!!! To those I still have yet to meet…I can’t wait!! Thank YOU all for your part in my journey.  Keep Livin’ & Rockin’ my friends!! XOXOX”

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That concludes the story of Jessica Pursely! Thanks Jessica for being a part of this fun and for all those that read her story. You all are the reason I keep going week after week. Thanks for being amazing!

Much love – The Runt