Asher Brown

Asher Brown is a trans folk singer/songwriter based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. He graduated from Berklee College of Music. He is available for hire as a wedding musician, private event guitarist, or singer/songwriter. 

www.asherbrownmusic.com

facebook.com/asherbrownmusic

Seven Days In

   Disenchantment Bay, Alaska - May 28th, 2018

 Disenchantment Bay, Alaska - May 28th, 2018

Wow. Alaska. I hope I never wake up and see this view without the same sense of wonder I feel now.

Icy Straight Point, Alaska - Monday, May 28, 2018

 

   Totem Pole, Icy Straight Point, Alaska - May 28th, 2018

 Totem Pole, Icy Straight Point, Alaska - May 28th, 2018

I had a late morning training followed by an early afternoon set, so I only had about an hour to explore Icy Straight Point, or Hoonah, Alaska. So far, though, this has been my favorite spot. Hoonah is a tiny community on the edge of nothing - true, rugged Alaska. The people in this community make their money from fishing and tourism. Because it’s so remote, all the cruise ship excursions require another boat ride, leaving the actual village pretty sparse. There are several hiking trails deep in the woods and a kayaking spot that I can’t wait to explore next week.

I had three sets this day, and singing this frequently started to wear on my voice. Fortunately I’ve turned a corner and am now singing better than I ever have, but I felt the tiredness that day.

Juneau, Alaska - Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

 

   Juneau’s Welcoming Committee

 Juneau’s Welcoming Committee

Juneau, Juneau, Juneau. The best day I’ve had for as long as I can remember. This was my first day off, no trainings or sets, and we were in port from 7am to 9pm. I spent the entirety of that outside on (mostly) dry land.

I met with local shop owners, who directed me towards the only music store in the area. After walking around town for an hour I bought a joint ticket for 2 hours of whale watching followed by a shuttle to and tour of the Mendenhall Glacier. I’m so glad I did. I’ve had a fascination with the ocean world and marine life since I was little, and whales in particular have always resonated with me. We had the perfect weather - 50s and sunny (yes, temperatures in the 50s is considered summer weather here). Within 10 minutes of getting out into the area, we saw our first whale. I watched this with the wonder of a little kid. And then more whales came. In total, we saw 9, and the guide was stunned. At one point we had 3 circling the boat. Legally the boat must be 100 yards away to give the animals space. But then one breached directly behind us, maybe 50 feet. We watched this animal swim around us closer than most people ever get. I’ll never forget this experience.

 

  Humpback Whale, Juneau, Alaska - May 29th, 2018

Humpback Whale, Juneau, Alaska - May 29th, 2018

The shuttled pulled up the Mendenall Glacier Park, and we were immediately given a full view of the glacier. Now that’s a shock. This is unobstructed terrain, a window into Earth before humans came along. I talked with the park rangers and got their recommendations for the best trails. I ended up taking the longest and most difficult hike, which was a gorgeous sight and great workout.

This glacier is retreating at a rate of 6 inches per year. Coming face to face with the impact of global warming was a punch to the gut.

 

  Mendenhall Glacier, May 29th, 2018  

Mendenhall Glacier, May 29th, 2018 

I got back into town and willingly got lost in Juneau’s side streets. I stumbled into an outdoors store, and treated myself to a pair of waterproof hiking boots. After getting my shoes soaked at the glacier from Alaska’s notorious on-again-off-again rain, this was an investment for my future adventures this summer.

Then I had the best meal of my entire life. I got fresh Alaskan crab, and man, that was a feast. Worth every penny. I’ll be back to this joint every time I’m in Juneau.

 

  Tracy’s Crab Shack - Juneau, Alaska, May 29th, 2018

Tracy’s Crab Shack - Juneau, Alaska, May 29th, 2018

I finished off the day with an Alaskan beer on the dock, watching the sunset over the ship. I don’t forget how lucky I am.

Skagway, Alaska - Wednesday, May 30th

I didn’t have much time to explore Skagway this time, but I look forward to coming back around for this. Skagway is known for the Gold Rush - you know, the Klondike one. I went for a long walk through town and enjoyed seeing original wooden homes from the 1800s still in working condition. Passengers told me they met Alaskan Dog Sled pups, and I will most certainly check that out next time.

Today I had 4 sets - a long, long day. But something magical happened. After being behind a microphone so much recently and feeling more at home on the ship, I felt a change. I became a performer instead of a musician. I really let loose on stage and the crowd absolutely loved it. My job is to play background music while people pass by. But I had the rooms packed, people stopping in their tracks, and people hollering applause after I was done with each song. I was asked to play an encore. I felt on fire. I think that’s why I came on this trip - to find my performer side, and I think it found today. All of my inhibitions and insecurities as a musician fell away and I just had fun. Real, present, invigorating fun.

Hubbard Glacier, Alaska - Thursday, May 31st

 

  Hubbard Glacier, Alaska, May 31st, 2018

Hubbard Glacier, Alaska, May 31st, 2018

I set my alarm early for this. Today is the last day of this cruise, and we finish it by cruising past the Hubbard Glacier, an otherwise inaccessible area. Even then, many days it is unpassable with the ice chunks in the water, and is often seen at a distance of 1 mile. We got very, very lucky today. The captain got us up close and personal - a mere .25 miles away from this beauty. It went quiet as this glacier came into view, and then there was an audible gasp.  I could hear the crackling of the ice in the water, and we saw small avalanches of ice break off and smash into the water. On the way out of the passage, we saw a sea lion dip its head out of the water and slide over a sheet of ice.  

 

   Yakutat Bay, Alaska - May 31st, 2018

 Yakutat Bay, Alaska - May 31st, 2018

   Yakutat Bay, Alaska, May 31st, 2018    

 Yakutat Bay, Alaska, May 31st, 2018

 

As we were sailing away, the captain came on the speaker and told us, “On days like this I am reminded of something my father said to me when I was complaining about a small problem - ‘Is this going to matter in 5 years?’ I realized that it would not. But days like today, sights like this, these are the moments that will matter for the rest of your life.” (Yes, we have a profound captain)

He’s right. This will matter for the rest of my life.

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-Asher 

Ketchikan

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Ketchikan, Alaska - May 27, 2018 

Ketchikan, Alaska. Our first port. It’s only been 4 days since I started this journey, and yet I feel like I’ve grown into another person since last Thursday. I flew from Minneapolis, MN to Vancouver, Canada on the 24th, my first time out of the country. This was mostly unremarkable except that their money is a new material that deters hard use, that is, unless you bend it in half. That is frowned upon - as I discovered when I pulled a creased bill from my wallet to pay for my dinner. The more you know.


On the 25th I caught the 7am shuttle from the hotel to the cruise ship. There were roughly 25 other crew members joining the Celebrity Millennium as well, all of them seasoned to the cruise ship life except for myself and one other guy. Pulling up to the Millennium, I had a rush of nerves. I knew this was where I was supposed to be in this moment. All of the setbacks and hard work towards getting here were proven worth it when I saw this massive ship that I now call my home. It took 2 hours for us to board. We went yet again through customs and security, and had the crew medical team look over our already approved medical forms before we could step foot on the ship.

I should mention that during all of this, it wasn’t the standing in lines that got to me. It was carrying my duffel bags. I read somewhere on the internet (never trust the internet) that I should purchase duffel bags because suitcases won’t fit under the crew bed - nope. Never again. I will be purchasing suitcases before my trip home to save myself the sweat-inducing, back-breaking pain of carrying all of my life in two bags without wheels.


That evening I was shown around the ship, and got settled in. The person who had my cabin before me trashed it - grime and wrappers and trash and old, unwashed clothes strewn about. It wasn’t until 9pm that someone could come clean it. This was a good moment to practice patience - all I wanted after 2 days of travel and lines was to close the door to my private space, take a shower, and take a nap.


Other crew members commented that I was handling the motion of the waves well for being a first timer. I thought so too. But that night the captain picked up speed drastically to get us to our first port in time. I fell asleep feeling my stomach churning from side to side, in sync with the swaying of my cabin.

 

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Deceptively Calm Water - Prince of Wales, Inside Passage

Saturday, the 26th, I started right in. It was a sea day, so all the guests were restless and needed something to keep their attention in between the buffet, the casino, and the shopping. I had 3 sets, at 3 different venues in the ship. I also had several hours of safety training that was less than exciting. But the anxiety in me paid close attention because, in the event of an emergency, I wanna, ya know, not drown. I started my first set with a nice sweaty glaze from motion sickness.


Today I had an early wake up call to meet with US Immigration, as we were re-entering the country through the Inside Passage of Alaska. I am still figuring out time zones, and ended up waking up at 5am instead of 6am. Something felt eerily still when I woke up, and I realized we had docked at Ketchikan, Alaska. I headed up to Deck 4, the outside deck, and was met with an up close view of my first land in 2 days. I was off the boat just long enough to hand Alaskan authorities my passport and browse one shop,  and then jumped back on board to start 3 back-to-back sets at the busiest cafe on board.



Ketchikan was dreary and misty and chilly and everything I hoped it would be. I can’t wait to swing back this way next week and get a chance to really explore the town. Ketchikan is the Alaskan town most known for Totem Poles, and I hope to have time to see their museum dedicated to this.

Overall, I feel really settled in for only being on the ship 3 days. I’ve gotten lost more than I count below deck in the crew areas, but hey, most Americans should be walking more. It was strange being so far out at sea that we were disconnected from land, including all internet/cellular service. It felt…. nice.


I’ll be updating more as internet allows.


And now, I’ll end my blog with a section called “Passenger Quotes.”

You should be on America’s Got Talent. What’s the worst that could happen?”

“Do you know any John Denver? I love John Denver.”

“You should go on America’s Got Talent.”

“Ok listen dear, I’m three sheets to the wind, but that was lovely.”

“Have you considered auditioning for a talent thing?”

 

 

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