Friday, August 29, 2014

So you wanna be an ALLSTAR? My interview with Sean Hurwitz, lead guitarist for Smash Mouth

So you wanna be an ALLSTAR? Just ask Sean Hurwitz, lead guitarist for Smash Mouth, how it's done. Last summer, I was at Wolftrap, reliving my 90's dancing days, listening to Smash Mouth play. I was front row left and my immediate view was the energetic guitarist. He seemed to be having the time of his life and the crowd picked up on it. You couldn't help but jump up and down to mimic's Sean's dance moves. I was a hot, sweaty mess after that show. I remember wishing I'd wore waterproof mascara when I looked at the after concert photo of us. After the show, we had a chance meeting when he hopped off the stage, to greet the fans. We said hello and snapped a photo and I asked if he was on Twitter. We entered the cyber friendship world and throughout this past year, I've followed his musical journey and became a newbie fan of his. In March, he sent me cyber cheers when I attempted to run my first 100 Miler, well, because, that's the kind of guy he is.

Saying hello to Sean Hurwitz, after he hopped off the stage at Wolftrap, Under The Sun Tour 2013

In the Fall, a friend of mine who is a bus driver for musicians, went on tour with Smash Mouth! What are the odds?! Their tour included a stop in DC but another chance encounter wasn't meant to be. I had to run a 50 miler race at 5am the morning after the concert. I flirted with the idea of trying to see the show, to say hello AND attempt to run a few short hours later, but knew that 50 miles was going to suck the life out of me. I saved my energy so I could cross the finish line.
I held out hope that maybe the Under The Sun Tour would circle back around next summer. And my wish came true! The Under The Sun Tour 2014 featured Smash Mouth, Uncle Kracker, Sugar Ray, and Blues Traveler. The tour wrapped up earlier this month but made magical music, across the country for 8 weeks this summer! Stay tuned for announcements about the possibility of a 2015 Under The Sun Tour. For the past two years, the show has featured popular 90's bands with a variety of musical talent that has the crowd out of their seats and dancing the night away!

Smash Mouth Rockin Innsbrook After Hours, Glenn Allen, VA ~ Under The Sun Tour 2014
I contacted Sean about interviewing him for my blog when I found out he was going to be making a stop in Glen Allen, VA, at Innsbrook After Hours. I was intrigued by his energy, showmanship and dedication. Nothing was set in stone for our interview. It all happened haphazardly. I was thrown for a loop when he responded to my message about meeting up, with "How about now?" But this is what Sean does best, he takes the time to meet his fans, to respond to the press and to be active on social media. When I arrived at the venue, he greeted me and my friend with a friendly hug. My friend said she would meet me later and we said our goodbyes. My interview with Sean was informal and we decided on a random spot to chat. It was where the tour buses were parked and bustling with activity but none of that mattered. We made the most of the situation, sitting outside at a plastic table, underneath the summer sun, sipping bottled water, and casually chatted for over an hour!

And this is the rest of the story...the part where you get to read about Sean's amazing life, his career goals and his charity work. I think I became his Number One fan when I learned about how he is giving back to the community.

A soulful Sean Hurwitz, lead guitarist for Smash Mouth, Under The Sun Tour 2014,
Innsbrook After Hours

I started off with the simple question of "tell me your life story." Sean was born in Israel and his family still lives there. He taught himself how to play the guitar at age 13 and fell in love with music. In his homeland, he played with well known musicians but Sean knew there was more he could achieve with his musical career. His talent was his one way ticket out of a war torn country. And here he is now, achieving the American dream. Sean spoke about the possibility of being drafted for the Army and made a decision that would change the course of his young life. At the mere age of 23, he picked up and said goodbye to his family and came to America. He was an aspiring musician with a strong desire to succeed. He had very little money, a guitar, an amplifier, and settled in LA.

Sean spoke about playing covers in various L.A.venues as he patiently waited for his spotlight in the music industry. With excitement in his voice, he spoke to me about his first "big break" while living in America. After arriving in America, Sean began playing gigs with original bands and became familiar with the L.A. nightclub scene. Then, in 2008, good karma floated his way, after playing the cover "Breathe" by Anna Nalick. Two days later, he found himself in a L.A. studio, auditioning to play guitar for her promo run. Sean got the job, and he was given the opportunity to go on tour with Anna Nalick.

Sean found himself in the studio again, after he received an invitation to play lead guitar on the Smash Mouth Iraq/Kuwait tour in February 2011. His hard work and determination, landed himself anther gig with the popular 90's band and Sean was extremely grateful for the opportunity. However, he had one challenge. The tour started right away and he had 4 days to learn how to play 23 songs, with little time for rehearsing. I get the impression that Sean likes challenges thrown his way so it didn't surprise me when I didn't detect an ounce of nervousness, as he explained to me, how he was thrown into this opportunity. If anything, there was a sense of gratitude for allowing the Universe to pave the way for his successful musical career.

Sean Hurwitz and Steve Harwell, having fun "Under The Sun Tour"
July 2014, Innsbrook After Hours

Sean has continued to be the lead guitarist for Smash Mouth since 2011. He is also the guitarist for Chris Wallace and Kelley James and has played with Judith Hill (The Voice), Ferras and many other talented musicians in the music industry. Sean has also proven himself to be a successful co-writer and producer. When I asked him about writing his own songs, he said his preference is to collaborate with other musicians and enjoys the creative process.

What's next on the list for Sean after Under The Sun Tour 2014 wraps up?  This Fall, he will continue to tour with Smash Mouth. You can check out Sean Hurwitz upcoming shows to find out if Smash Mouth will be playing in your City. The band will also be promoting a Smash Mouth live recording album. As for individual projects, Sean is excited about having the opportunity to work with a "boy band, from the Netherlands, called Main Street." The song is already recorded and will be released this Fall. Stay tuned to hear Sean's musical talent on this song!

Sean believes in giving back when he is in a position to do so. His most recent charity projects will tug your heartstrings. When the band was recently in New Jersey, he donated two autographed guitar's to the non-profit organization, The Project Matters Sean contacted the agency and signed on to donate his time and expertise to mentor fellow musicians. To read more about this charity and Sean's involvement, follow this link: Sean Hurwitz brings his expertise and generosity to The Project Matters He also recently filmed a video segment for the non profit, Smashing Walnuts A non profit based in Middleburg, VA, dedicated to "Cracking the Cure for Childhood Brain Cancer."

Whenever I am impressed by one's individual accomplishment's, I must ask them "Who inspires you?" Sean first replied with the classic musicians, such as "Tom Petty, Eric Clapton, and Pink Floyd." His modern day inspirations include the bands, Fall Out Boy, Foo Fighters, and Butch Vig, the drummer from Garbage, who is a world renowned producer. His everyday, Rock-n-Roll hero is someone he met when he was an employee at the Guitar Center in L.A. in 2003. Sean vividly described the first time he saw Phil X at a show. The band playing was "Powder" and Sean was enthralled by the guitarist. He made a lasting impression on the young musician from Israel. Shortly after arriving in America, Sean watched this Rock-n-Roller, light up the stage, as his thoughts raced "and this is what I'm up against." At that moment, Sean made the realization that he had fierce competition in the music business. When Phil X walked into the Guitar Center, not long after the show, Sean knew that the guitarist looked vaguely familiar. What was it? And then he realized it was his guitar hero without spiked hair. Sean, a true opportunist, immediately made a connection with the musician and they are still friends today. Randy Cooke, who just finished up The Voice Tour, is another individual who continues to inspire Sean. Sean met Randy about 8 or 9 years ago when Randy was playing with Phil X. In true Sean style, Sean made a lasting impression and Randy is whom recommended him for the Smash Mouth Iraq/Kuwait tour.

What goals have been scratched off Sean's "to achieve" list? All of them. Every single one. Except to be a millionaire. But I'm certain that he will accomplish this goal too. During our conversation, he explains how he is open to new opportunities and new goals but is grateful for the amazing opportunity with Smash Mouth. As one can imagine, being on tour can be difficult, having to spend so much time away from home. Sean keeps a positive frame of mind and makes the most of each moment, especially when playing at a show. Sean loves to interact with the crowd and truly enjoys meeting his fans. He stays healthy by trying to work out daily, consuming (mostly) healthy food and avoids caffeine and alcohol. Sean remembers his roots and all that he has worked for. He continues to climb up the ladder of success with his strong work ethic and motivation to continually work on his musical skills. He believes that no matter the age of who he is working with or meeting in the post show crowds, there is something to learn from everyone.

Sean loves to connect with his fans! Follow him on twitter and he may surprise you and reply to one of your tweets!

Follow Sean on Social Media:

Twitter: @SeanHmusic
Instagram: @SeanHmusic
Facebook Community Page: Sean Hurwitz
Website: Sean Hurwitz

Or after a show, say hello, ask for a photo, strike a pose, and ask for a signature guitar pick! Sean loves to post photo's with his fans on his website so make sure you send it to him via social media.

It was fabulously fun interviewing Sean and to learn more about this amazing, authentic musician! I look forward to continuing to follow his musical career and watch his list of accomplishments grow! He has me convinced that he will be a millionaire one day. "I'm a Believer!"

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Content in the OBX

Heavenly is becoming a common word in my vocabulary while vacationing in the OBX. All the things I thought I'd be busy doing, like running or writing or working, just simply wasn't happening as often as I thought. Instead, I slept in until 8:52am...don't ask me why I wake up at this time, every morning, without an alarm. Or why I'm asleep before the midnight hour?? For almost two weeks, I fall asleep without any plans for the next day. I wake up each morning and let the day unfold. It has been liberating. Almost as refreshing, as the sip of your first taste of a summer brew, after soaking up the summer rays.
My fast internet connection has also disappeared which has made it difficult to connect with the outside world. I am thinking that this is necessarily not a bad thing. I am painstakingly writing this post from my cell phone.
I have been forced to disconnect and engage with my family. We are going on almost two weeks of vacay. Sometimes too much of a good thing is...well, two weeks is a long time to be an a house unknown to you and you begin to crave personal space. I found moments to unwind, sneaking into the hot tub, after everyone fell asleep or running at the beach. Precious moments where I was free, to just be, with no expectations.
I have been keeping a journal, recording various thoughts or events that strike me in the most unusual moment. But that's what happens when you are still and in the moment and appreciating your kids laughter, or the sunshine that heals your body from pain, or in awe of an amazing sunset, or the fact you can run on the beach for 8 miles and smile the entire duration. 
I am so thankful and so grateful, for these last two weeks. It is exactly what my heart and soul needed. I am rested and ready to tackle the world again. Who knows what I can accomplish? The world is my oyster! 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Lyme Bites - Runner's World Cover Contest

This is a bare bones post. Telling it like it is. No sugar coating. Just real life, living with chronic Lyme disease, written by a Go Getter, Goal Setter, Dream Chaser, Fundraiser, Ultra Marathoner, and Lyme Warrior.

Just before the midnight hour, I took my pup outside and gazed above. I was in search of a shooting star but that search became short lived. There would not be a meteoroid show for me tonight with the significant cloud cover. I decided to call it a night. No time for star gazing. My pillow was calling my name.

But here I am, in utter silence, with my pup practically spooning with me (I know, he shouldn't be sleeping in my's tick season) but I can't say "No" to a snuggle pup. The hubby is in the Big Apple and I'm restless to write. It has been awhile. A LONG while. I have blog posts started but never finished. Reviews of events that are calling my name. Thoughts and ideas swirling around in my head.

I'm not so sure why I'm having this agonizing case of writer's block. I have plenty of material and inspiration, all around me. I honestly think I am fatigued and need a trip to the beach, where I can begin to heal from the exhaustion. I've been pushing myself really hard for awhile, gasping for air when there is a lull in the activity. My hubby often says "You don't have to do Everything." But if I sit, I become restless. It is difficult to focus. I am amazed at myself at what I do accomplish. But I can feel the lull of my body, veering towards the slow lane. If I ignore this signal and keep going with high speed adrenanline, I will crash and burn.

My everyday struggle with Lyme is tricky to talk about. I like to pretend that "I've got this" when half the time, I start a long distance race or a project, and I have no idea, if I will finish. I just have to Believe that I will accomplish whatever I set my mind to do. I suppose you could say that I am an optimist. I am defying all odds, running crazy ultra marathon distances, finishing the race (all races except for my first attempt at a 100 miler and stopped at 100K distance) remaining injury free, while battling chronic Lyme disease. 

My everyday chronic Lyme struggles, that I fight to overcome, include decision making, word finding, chronic fatigue, and following directions. My GI issues from the Lyme are getting worse too. My appetite has pretty much disappeared. My food intolerance list is getting longer everyday. I went to a party over the weekend and ate steak and vegetables. No Carbs. No Desserts. I took one sip of the wine and had to pour it out. My body wasn't having it. On my "good days" I manage my pain through running and exercise. However, after I have completed a long training run or long distance race, I have to prepare myself because sometimes I crash hard, which is known as "herxing" in the Lyme world. And then, I must rest.

Meanwhile, I am becoming more immersed in this whole Lyme disease underground world. It is fascinating. Hours upon hours, I soak up information to help me understand treatment protocols and the advocacy work that needs to be done. The Lyme disease underground world consists of medical research, protests, advocacy, and treatment. I've learned how Lyme literate doctors are being threatened to be sent to jail for treating Lyme patients, listening to infectious disease doctors openly talking about how the CDC is a government watchdog, carefully monitoring the treatment of Lyme disease patients, Lyme patients pleading for new treatment, or better yet, for a cure, when they have run out of options, and the Google search discovery of Lyme disease symptoms that is a mile long. 

The CDC just announced that there are ONE MILLION American's living with Lyme disease. This number is higher than the number of American's diagnosed with breast cancer last year! 

LYME DISEASE IS A PUBLIC HEALTH EPIDEMIC and the CDC has done nothing to change guidelines for treatment or  fund research for better testing or to find a cure. Meanwhile, one million American lives are slowly falling apart.

I have spontaneously found myself with tears recently. It was during random situations. Once, while driving home from the grocery store, listening to a poetic song. I was tired and had felt overwhelmed at all the decisions that needed to be made, as I passed each food isle. The second time was after dropping off my son, at the first morning of soccer camp, and not being able to find the camp right away. He was a half hour late. I think the tears arrived unannounced because of my frustration. I wish I was never late but I seem to have difficultly with finding new places and time management. Huge chunks of time escape me, no matter how many alarms I set on my smart phone. 

I am feeling the loss of who I wanted to become and realizing who I will never be. My dream was to be a clinical psychologist with my own practice. I had to compromise my dream because I couldn't take the GRE. I went to a graduate school that did not require the GRE and it took FIVE grueling years to receive my Master's in Social Work. And now, I will most likely never be a licensed social worker because NASW has changed the guidelines for accreditation. I have lost credit for all my 100 plus hours of supervision. However, I'm not sweating it. And I refuse to go back. The past is the past. I want to keep moving forward. I am currently studying to become a personal trainer. I have to recreate my life so that it will work for me and allow me to help others, as I battle this debilitating disease, day in and day out. 

This isn't a pity party. This is an awareness post to let others know that living with Lyme isn't easy. There is so much to work to be done. Most Lyme disease patients are too sick to advocate and are viewed by health professionals, as individuals needing mental health treatment, not treatment for the symptoms that have manifested from the Lyme disease lurking in their bodies, for several years. 

The CDC doesn't recognize the existence of chronic Lyme disease.

My daughter has Lyme Disease and I often wonder if I passed this on to her in utero? I'm certain my hubby has it too but he keeps testing negative. Our pup most likely has Lyme because we find a tick on him, at least once a week. I'm terrified of ticks and avoid grass, if, at all possible. I know it sounds absurd but Lyme disease is Everywhere! It's the ticks you don't see, that latch on to your scalp or on your back or behind your ear, that you must fear. We are now learning that mosquitoes, mites, flies, fleas, rabbits, rodents, deer, and birds all carry Lyme disease.

Do check ticks everyday! Wear insect repellant! Wear long pants, long socks and a hat, when you are in the woods or a grassy field! Have your lawn treated!  Do Tick Checks Everyday!!!

Simple precautions to fight back and keep your family safe!

Am I over reacting? I think not. My tears are not only for what my family and I have endured but for the many Lyme patients, and for so many friends, who are lost in the Black Hole. They are the ones who need the most Help. And they need Hope. This is where my running comes in. Every time I run, I think about that place of darkness, when I felt like I was dying and being treated like a guinea pig by the doctors. Not one doctor correctly diagnosed me, 19 years ago. If I only knew back then, what I know now. My mind and body wouldn't have to fight everyday. I might have been given the correct treatment and been cured.

I run to give Hope with those individuals living with Lyme disease and chronic illness. I run to help raise money to fund research for better testing and to discover a cure. I run to make a difference. It is my way of giving back to the community.

And this is what inspired me to enter the Runner's World Cover Contest! I need your help! The contest ends on 8/15.

 Please click here to vote!

You can vote everyday via computer or smart phone. I would love to have the opportunity to bring more awareness about Lyme disease and to give hope to those living with Lyme disease and other chronic illnesses. Thank You so much for your support! 

Peace, Love and Happy Running ~