I never would have thought that 5 performances would have come and gone so quickly, but here we are the week after and I am left dumbfounded.
Before I go any further I want to just get this out there, I was… emphasis on that was… was not a big Garth Brooks fan before this last weekend came around.
Yes, when he was hitting his stride in the early ’90’s I was all about cranking up Garth and then we kind of went our different directions. He sang about all these wonderful sappy lovey dovey things… I was dealing with being an awkward kid who had a parent battling cancer. So I fell off the Garth Brooks band wagon and never really cared to back on… until now.
I have a colleague that has this funny thing he does where he asks me what is a concert that I really want to see… Well, there are only a hand full at this point and it’s for multiple reasons.
Back in 2005 I went to the CMA Music Festival in Nashville. If you ever get the chance to go, JUMP AT IT! It is an experience that as a country music fan that is irreplaceable.
This is basically a week of non stop music. You get up and go down to the river front stage and see “B list” artists perform, then you go to the big arena shows, where you see all your “A list” types and then you go to the bars at night, because you never know who will be dropping by to do a random session, in the bar that helped launch someones career. The year that I was there Brooks and Dunn popped up at a bar and Rascal Flatts did something similar. When I say you never know, you seriously never know what will happen.
Music flows through the streets of Nashville and it does a music lovers soul good. During this week if you are a fan club member for any artist you can pretty much count on a musical performance somewhere that is exclusive for fan club members. Wanting to test this theory out, I decided to become a Keith Urban “monkey”… I know don’t judge. It was the best $20 I have ever spent. The ticket got me into the Ryman Auditorium (the mother church of country music) and I got to watch Keith Urban play an intimate acoustic set for two hours. It still gives me chills, thinking about it. This is still one of my top 5 concerts of all times.
And what’s even crazier, is that my concert going isn’t just strictly country. I have seen the Eagles, Bon Jovi, BB King and a few other rockers who time hasn’t treated so well.
The thing these shows all have in common is I have seen first hand how music moves people. I have seen Rascal Flatts, cause people to leave an arena, with the combination of a little bit of rain; this one I’m not even slightly kidding about. I’ve seen Alan Jackson cause a stadium full of people to move with just a couple of chords (Chattahochie- I mean come on). I’ve seen a lot… More importantly I’ve met a lot of artists.
That’s the thing about this job. I get to see if these artists are as great as their music, and some of them still shock me. Like Brad Paisley. I met him twice.
The first time I met Brad Paisley I was so taken back. He had an odd meet and greet and did it after his show. So I sat through his show, and saw this bigger than life performance that he put on.
Let me preface this with I had been told that he was a shorter man. I had no idea, and then to top it off he came across as very shy to me, which floored me! How can a man that puts so much of his soul into the music he performs be shy?!? But it makes me love his music because it comes from such a genuine place.
Then there was the time that I met, Lady A.
This was early on in my career and early on in theirs. Charles Kelly is super tall. Like I couldn’t believe how tall he was, but the group as a whole was super nice. They loved talking to their fans, and their fans really enjoyed them. Lady Antebellum is still one of my favorite groups and I believe it all has to do with my backstage experience and seeing first hand how they handle their fans.
Then there was that time I met Alan Jackson.
This man is just a big teddy bear and I dare anyone to say other wise. He is humble, soft spoken and has one of those beautiful southern drawls that I am envious of.
Anyway you get the idea… I’ve met a few people.
Brad Mates of the group Emerson Drive
And then there was Jerrod Niemann. This meet and greet has a little story. Jerrod is actually a former South Plains College student and he was in the stellar music program that is out at SPC. There was a story that had been floating around that he had written one of the three songs that Garth Brooks had recorded of his while he was out at SPC. In fact he wrote this song for a song writing class and didn’t receive a passing grade. I regaled Niemann with this story and he laughed, because it was a way better story than how those songs came about. He was a great guy to talk to and the fact that he could laugh and say “I’m gonna steal that and start telling people that’s how that song was written, because its way more interesting.”… well, it made his meet and greet one of the more memorable ones I’ve been too.
I’ve even been given opportunities to meet some amazing sports stars. Steve Young appreciated that I was an Aikman fan and I remembered watching them battle it out on the gridiron. As for Kingsbury, he is one of the sweetest people I think I will ever have the privilege of meeting.
Then I got to meet Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood… Yup, that really happened.
I learned back in 2005 that every artist deserves to win you over in concert. There is just something different about listening to a sterile track off an album versus sitting in a show and seeing them live. I sat and listened to artist at the CMA Music Festival that I never would have thought I was going to enjoy. But I enjoyed them a lot and ended up following their careers and their music.
So when Garth came to town, I was going to give him the same chance. I didn’t understand why people were seeing him for the 20 plus time… When I thought about it, I wasn’t sure I loved any artist enough to see them 20 plus times.
So seeing that, I had to stop and ask myself, “there is a reason for this, what is that reason?”
I finally found out…
The Garth you see on stage is the Garth you get in real life. He is goofy and full of energy and truly loves his fans like no other artist I have ever seen. Kris Mason and I were backstage with Suzanne who named all the Garth Brooks songs to get to meet him.
Garth and Trisha were both locked into Suzanne and her husband and Kris and I were okay with that, I mean we are with the radio station, there is a point where this becomes just a job, but you know what… they were just as engaged with us.
We spent about 10 minutes just talking and that was before pictures were taken. I have never felt more valued by an artist than I did leaving the presence of Garth and Trisha.
Then came the show…
I heard Garth say that he was only going to play the old stuff. I thought well that’s good, at least I’ll know the words.
When the show started going I was screaming and singing along and had goosebumps like crazy. There were songs that reminded me of my early days, when I just started finding my own music taste. Then when Trisha took the stage… well, lets just say I called my fiance and sang him “She’s In Love With The Boy” after the show. Let’s talk about a cassette, yes, cassette, that got a lot of mileage many years ago.
I always laugh because no matter who you are a great show can turn a sober person into a wild child. Friday night I was that wild child.
In fact I enjoyed the show so much and had such an amazing experience that I went back Saturday!
I guess all of this was just to say, that I get it. I finally get why there are people talking about seeing Garth for their 20 plus time. If you can pull me back for a second show in a row… Well, your doing something right.
Which is why Lubbock, Texas loves you too Garth!