Old rock and rollers don’t die, they just go to Cleveland. Which is what I did recently to fulfill the dual bucket list entry of finally visiting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and, better yet, doing so with a teenage son who actually prefers The Beatles to the Bieb, Elvis over Eminem, and would rather pontificate on Pink Floyd than Pink.

He’s the kind of kid who once wore a different band T-shirt to high school for five straight days and came home each night thoroughly disgusted that most of his contemporaries could barley identify KISS or The Kinks, never mind knowing who The Who is, or realizing that the iconic red lips and tongue logo on his black T belonged to the Rolling Stones, not Dairy Queen.

So, kindred spirits we were, shuffling off to Buffalo from our Mississauga home late one afternoon in August (pausing there for lunch at the Anchor Bar, birthplace of Buffalo wings – another small b bucket list entry shamefully never accomplished in my lifetime) before making a hard right on the I-90 towards Ohio, home of a little slice of rock and roll heaven.

Brendan had even prepared a special rock and roll playlist for the excursion, which turned out to be about a five-hour drive from the GTA, including crossing the border (which elicited an enthusiastic “you’ll have fun” from the U.S. customs agent) and our lunch stop.

Everything was lining up for a great weekend, and the Hall didn’t disappoint, starting from its very first exhibit on the early influences of the genre – “The blues had a baby and they called it rock and roll,” a Muddy Waters quote informed us – and which also included gospel, country, folk and bluegrass.

“Look at this list of people, look at all this!” Brendan gushed before imploring me to take his photo beside a 1958 Fender Telecaster guitar that once belonged to blues legend Waters. “That was so cool, father,” he added as we moved into the hall after over 30 minutes in what was essentially its first room.

Following was a treasure trove of rock items, from displays of guitars and various instruments to a myriad of other artifacts, such as stage outfits worn by performers (like Elvis, Mick Jagger and Elton John), Jimi Hendrix’s couch, Johnny Cash’s writing desk, Bruce Springsteen song lyrics (“Born to Run”) and a John Mellencamp royalty cheque. We read a hotel phone message from Cat Stevens to Springsteen, and a letter from Charles Manson to the editor of Rolling Stone magazine.

Yet, for all the pop culture paraphernalia and interesting tidbits, and the underlying purpose to honour the accomplishments of the some of the best musicians of the past 60 years or so, the RRHOF is essentially a living museum (visitors might even catch a concert if they’re lucky) that documents the development of not only the soundtrack of a generation that continues today, but of a cultural force that helped change society.
Indeed, exhibits detail the rocky road of rock and roll to prominence, from fledgling protests branding it “pornography” and the devil’s music to a congressional hearing in 1985 on whether rock lyrics should be regulated.

The Hall’s host city gets its props in what is essentially a “Why Cleveland?” display that pays homage to city’s rock and roll roots, including disc jockey Alan Freed, one of rock’s early champions and whose name graces a working radio studio in the facility broadcasting satellite radio.

But the RRHOF is also a history of pop music itself, kept up to date with videos (a documentary on the TV show American Bandstand is a time warp chronicle of the latter half of the 20th century unto itself) and rotating special exhibits, such as the ones we saw on roots rocker John Mellencamp (including his foray into painting), and the 50th anniversary of Rolling Stone. And while acts from The Animals to ZZ Top certainly take top billing, hip hop is acknowledged and newer acts from Beyonce to Bruno Mars are referenced – though not to absolutely everyone’s approval.

“It really saddens me,” my son announced with gravitas upon our departure from the Hall after five hours, “that there is a Taylor Swift quote in here.”

But rock and roll continues to evolve, though as Bob Seger sagely sang, it also “never forgets.” 

Nor are we, having finally having answered the call of the Hall, ever likely to forget.

Trade Ticker

• Grand prize trips to Myrtle Beach and Washington D.C., including flights and hotels, are up for grabs for travel agents registered with Porter Airlines or Porter Escapes and making eligible GDS or web site bookings (flyporter.com/agents) by Oct. 31. Five weekly prizes of 25,000 VIPorter points will also be awarded…. In other Porter news, the airline reports it will start its seasonal service between Toronto and Burlington, Vt., on Dec. 21, just in time for the ski season; also, a holiday flight schedule on Dec. 20, 27 and Jan. 3, will be offered from Stephenville, Nlfd. to Ottawa and Toronto.

• For all new bookings of seven nights or longer at any Beaches resort for travel through Nov. 20, parents receive a choice of a complimentary offer of a private candlelight dinner, 30-minute couples massage, or Sesame Street Tuck-In for Tykes (for children 5 and under). The offer is also valid for Fall travel between Aug. 14 and Nov. 20, 2018 and 2019.  To be eligible for the free gift, travel agents must register their client within 72 hours of the booking at: www.beaches.com/fallintosavings-registration/
• Agents with clients planning on hiking Peru’s famed Inca Trail can secure permits 2018 now, reports G Adventures. There is a limit of 500 permits issued per day so booking early is critical. The tour operator has 29 itineraries in Peru that include the four-day hike up and down the trail. Prices start at $1,349 for seven days.

This & That

• The first of WestJet’s fleet of Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft has been unveiled by the airline. The sleek new Max, with a sky interior, features advanced technology winglets that help fuel efficiency. It is scheduled to take flight Nov. 9. Fifty of the 174-seat aircraft will be delivered by 2017…. The airline has also announced that it will begin operating daily, year-round service from Nanaimo Airport and Comox Valley Airport to Vancouver International Airport on WestJet Encore beginning Dec. 14.
• The Dominican Republic’s popularity as a cruise destination continues to grow exponentially. In the first half of 2017, more than 97,000 passengers arrived in Santo Domingo, double the year previous.
• Transat A.T. Inc. has announced the appointment of Annick Guérard as the company’s Chief Operating Officer, effective Nov. 1. In her new role, Guérard will head all of Transat’s travel operations, including the Air Transat business unit.
• Nathalie Tanious has been tapped to take over TravelBrands’ specialty brands, including Exotik Tours and Boomerang Tours. Tanious has been managing TravelBrands’ FIT, Sunquest and cruise divisions. (Nathalie.Tanious@travelbrands.com or 514-905-3699)
• We reported last week that Tanya Johnson, formerly of Royal Irish Tours, is the new eastern Canada sales manager for Bedsonline, an Orlando-based wholesaler offering the largest portfolio of worldwide accommodation, excursions and transfers exclusively for travel agents.” Her contact details are: tjohnson@bedsonline.com or 437- 983-1714.

Words of the Week!

“You’re still our No. 1 market, just remember that!”
- Linda Stilmann, Senior Director of Sales Travel Industry, Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, to a trade group in Toronto recently.
rock and roll hall of fame

Rock and roll, especially at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, OH., never forgets.

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