Monday, October 1, 2012

Concert tales, part 1: Garth Brooks & Michael Bolton

So, back in the early 90's, my then-best friend (who for the remainder of the story will be referred to as Susan) &; I spent a lot of time hanging out on the pro-wrestling circuit. (more on that another time)At the time, most shows were sponsored by the country radio stations in whatever city the guys were performing in, so of course country is what got played before shows & during intermission. I hated country music....well most of it. But then they started playing this song that never failed to crack us up when we heard it.

"Blame it all on my roots, I showed up in boots...."

Oh yeah. it didn't take us long to learn the words, and we never failed to sing along (loudly and usually off-key) whenver we heard it. In fact, we made a point of finding out who the singer was (Garth Brooks and if you didn't guess that between the lyrics and the title of this post, shame on you)  and buying his cassette tape. (like said, this was back in the Dark Ages- LOL) At first we only listened to that song, over and over. Then we got curious and listened to the rest of the album. And then we bought his next album.

Then, oh glory be, he released his concert schedule...we lived in Chapel Hill NC at the time, and lo & behold....he was coming to our town! We HAD to go, right? Right. Bought our tickets, told everyone we knew that we were going, and couldn't contain our excitement as the date drew nearer. Others did not share our euphoria. As you may be aware, (or possibly not, I'm not sure if it's come up in blog posts before) I am 6 ft of robustly curvy auburn haired biracial Amazonian goodness. While I get mistaken for Hispanic, Samoan, and other ethnicities, I can in no way be mistaken for white. Susan was an about 5'8, even more robustly curvy, darker skinned black girl. Her mother & extended family thought we were nuts. My family, when told our plans, just said "That's nice." Her family thought we were going into redneck hell and about to be lynched. (they should have seen some of the wrestling ahows we went to- we were in more danger there)

Off we went to the concert. I'm bouncing up and down in glee. Susan, whose mother had sent us off with an earful of dire predictions, was looking around the crowd, nervously. "Mickey," she finally whispered, "I think we're the only niggers here."


"Maybe this wasn't a good idea. I think we should go home."

"We paid a lot of money for these tickets. I AM NOT GOING ANYWHERE. I won't bother anyone as long as they don't bother me." (One of my life rules, as grammatically incorrect as it may be is "Don't start none, won't be none.")

She reluctantly agreed we should stay, and I promised we'd go if any trouble started. We got some odd looks from other concert goers, but nobody was first. After the opening act (Martina McBride on her first tour) ended, a drunk guy about 2 rows up turned around for some reason, saw us, and commenced to talking a whole pile of crap about "what niggers are doing here" and so on. Susan, who knew my temper, grabbed my arm and said "Ok, you promised, let's go."

Before I could say a word, the VERY large man behind us stood up. This guy was probably about 6'6, built like a linebacker, wearing a confedrate flag shirt, and even I was a little nervous when he first came in. He reached down, snatched the mouthy drunk out of his seat, lifted him to his eye level and growled "Those girls ain't bothering nobody. Now siddown and SHUT UP before I send you to the front row the hard way." (We were just below the nosebleed section) Not another peep was heard the rest of the show. I offered to buy the nice man a drink and he laughingly declined but bought US drinks and said if we were cool enough to be there, he was glad to meet us. He also walked us out at the end of the night just in case Drunk Boy loitered with intent. (He didn't)

The concert was great, BTW. Garth puts on a hell of a show. I've seen him several times since then.

The other concert Susan talked me into was Michael Bolton. I know I've mentioned my eclectic musical tastes. Susan didn't listen to quite the same range, but had some varied taste. Our birthdays were only a few days apart, and MB was playing in Raleigh the week before them. My mother bought the tickets for us as a present. Now, it may not be cool to be a Bolton fan, but I have to admit I like some of his early work. This was the Time, Love, & Tenderness tour.

So we went and were probably the youngest women in the section we had seats in. The place was a sea of estrogen. Bolton came on and put on a very entertaining show. then there was an intermission. as the break ended, music started and Michael could be heard singing...but wasn't onstage. Then all hell broke loose. He had a cordless mike and was walking through the crowd. The audience finally figured it out...right about the time he got to our section. 5 million middle aged women lost their minds and tried to cram themselves collectively into 3 rows of seats. MB realized he wasn't going anywhere anytime soon and climbed up on a chair to finish the song. "Georgia on my Mind", if you were wondering. The man was about 6 inches away from us. Sue was swooning.

I, on the other hand, was getting punchy becasue of the crowd pressing in on us. Throwing my hands in the air, I screamed at my friend "WHY did I let you talk me into this?!?" Wouldn't you know, Michael Bolton thought I was reaching out to him, so he grabbed my hand and held it through the rest of the song. Arrgh. Sue was pissed that it was me and not her.

What I didn't know was that a photograhper from the local paper was there and captured that stunning moment on film. I found that out the next day when several of my 'hipster' friends called me in hysterics, laughing because I was on the front page of the entertainment section holding hands with Michael Bolton. My mother called later to tell me that not only had she & Dad seen it, one of Dad's coworkers came up to him with a copy of the article and said " Is that your daughter?" My dear old Dad, without batting an eye, said "Does she have clothes on?" (another story to be explained later)

You can't take me anywhere.....

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