Sorry I never got a chance to finish the rest of my journey at the CMA Music Festival. It was so busy and I was so tired the last few nights, I never got a chance to do it. As soon as I have time I'll write some up and either put it on here or on my Keithaholic blog!
Anywho, back to more important things. Two days ago I got a call from Vicky saying that Craig Morgan and Blake Shelton would be playing at Meadowbrook, and that she had a code where I could get tickets for free...only having to pay the $8 handling charge per person. Having seen Craig Morgan in Nashville and ABSOLUTELY having him knock my socks off, I thought the concert would be a good idea....even though I didn't think I knew many of Blakes songs. So naturally, I called Sydney and we found some 22nd row tickets for the concert - FOR ONLY $16!!!
Last night we departed the Cardinal household around 6:10 to head straight to Meadowbrook. Thankfully it was kind of sprinkling when we left so we didn't hit a ton of motorcycle week traffic. Upon getting there, you KNOW that Sydney and I weren't going to sit in our 22nd row seats...I mean COME ON, that's so far away! We had looked online before going and knew that the venue hadn't really sold ANY tickets in Section A Row 12....so that was our goal. Without a problem we got some GREAT 12th row seats just before Craig Morgan hit the stage. BOY WAS HE FANTASTIC. As Sydney and I are going crazy, we realized that we're the ONLY TWO standing up and singing in the whole entire place...aka, we're awesome! At about his second or third song a security guard came over and tapped me on the shoulder. I definitely thought she was going to tell us to sit down, but instead she offered me TWO meet and greets with Blake Shelton!!! YIPPEE!!! We were a little sad that we wouldn't get to watch all of Craig's performance..but I mean COME ON, A MEET AND GREET?!?!?!
So we got in line for that and got to take a picture and get an autograph from Blake. He was a LOT nicer and funnier than I had expected, and I can definitely see why Miranda Lambert dates him :)
So we finished up with Blake and made it back to our 12th row seats in time to see like 4 or 5 more of Craig's songs - simply amazing! After that we got a little snack and some drinks and returned to our seats for the "Big Show." Little did we know that it was Blakes BIRTHDAY that night! Why the heck is he working on his birthday? Anywho...Blake came on and was really great! He was super funny and they had a birthday cake and everything for him on stage.
After the concert Sydney and I were walking out and I noticed a kinda creepy guy with a black hoodie on totally like staring at us. I actually said to Sydney, "This guy is creeping me out." After lurking behind us for a bit, he came up around in front of us and said, "I don't want to creep you ladies out, I just didn't know if you wanted to come out back in a few minutes to party with the band." After firing him with questions we said we had to go to the bathroom, then meet him over in the back. After about a 2 second conversation, we decided we were DEFINITELLY in! We were givin VIP passes and went out back. We talked for a quile to the MANAGER named Kevin, then were escorted into BLAKE"S BUS!!! No lie...we were WITH THE BAND!
Entering the bus we not only found Blake Shelton, but Craig Morgan as well! Sydney and I were SO excited inside, but definitely had to act cool. So yea, I threw back a few beers (yuck..I have a headache as we speak) with Craig Morgan and Blake Shelton...WHHHATT?!?!?! We then had a dance party with everyone in the band..it was SOOOO much fun! I honestly cannot believe what luck we have some times!! We partied til about 1:30 in the morning, then decided we better leave so we'd be ready for school/work this morning. So crazy, so awesome, so...us!
Oh, btw...I already had 34th row tickets to the CMA music festival for next year if anyone else wants to go!!!
The point of this post is to share this adorable audio clip of Anna counting, but I just have to say that Angie is the best... and I am slowly turning her into a dork like me.
I have been super busy lately getting ready for this conference we are going to next week in San Antonio. So tonight Angie took Anna upstairs to give me some peace and quiet while I was downstairs getting work done. When they were upstairs, I got an email from Angie (via her iPhone) with the subject "My baby's smart!" and then attached was this audio clip.
Anna definitely is smart and absolutely adorable... she obviously gets both from her mom... the dork. :p
Ever since Anna was born, I have been dying to take her to Fenway. The perfect opportunity finally posed itself on Saturday, so we jumped at the chance to partake in the 2009 Northeastern University Family Day at Fenway.
Northeastern is a sponsor of the Red Sox and I'm sure that partnership is somehow responsible for this family day. Anyway, the tickets were only $7 for adults and children were free, so it was a no-brainer.
I am SO glad that we went. We showed up right at noon when the gates opened and we pretty much had the place to ourselves.
They had a free photo station set up where you'd pose in front of a green screen and then they'd put your photo on a ticket (pictured right). They actually gave us four printed tickets and that was probably my favorite part of the day because it's such a cool keepsake.
After getting our photo taken, we meandered around for a while and the two big hits of the day for Anna were CoCo the monkey and Wally the Green Monster.
CoCo the monkey (pictured left) was awesome. This little monkey was trained to do everything from catch and throw a football to dunk a basketball.
Anna thought CoCo was one of the coolest things she's ever seen. She would squeal and laugh when he'd jump around and throw the ball. It was so cute.
It probably costs a pants-load to get CoCo to come to a private party, but I got the guys card anyway and we'll see. I can't really see anyone, young or old, not getting a kick out of this little guy. He was pretty neat.
After CoCo, we walked over to get our picture taken with Wally. When we approached the "Green Monster", Anna wanted NOTHING to do with him. She was clenched to my arm so tight and didn't even want me to bend down so we could talk to him.
So, we didn't get the perfect photo op, but Angie snapped this photo at right that pretty much says it all.
Immediately when we walked away, however, it was like Wally was Anna's new best friend. She kept on saying his name and pointing to the direction where he was stationed. So, we had to make a few trips back and forth to see Wally.
Anna is still enamored with the big green fella and I'm sure that this blog post will get LOTS of hits by me alone as I'll have to pull it up a few times a day to show Anna this photo... I actually just printed a copy of it for her to avoid having to have it on my computer screen all day :)
People started to file into the park as 1 p.m. approached, so we jumped in line to get our photo with the 2007 World Series trophy and then we were going to leave to avoid the crowd. Before we could wrap up the photo-op though, Anna had clearly had enough.
It was time for her nap and she wanted to go watch people play Wii Baseball while we were in line, so the photo of us with the trophy is pretty comical because Anna's crying. I'm sure when she's older she'll spin it that those were tears of joy for experiencing Fenway for the first time, but we all know that wasn't quite the case.
Notice the airbrush tattoo that she has on her left leg... it's little paw prints.
Anyway, the day was so much. We love nothing more than taking Anna to new places and showing her new things. She's such a curious little sponge these days and the cutest thing ever, so her reaction to everything makes us so happy.
I'm sure that the NU Family Day at Fenway will be an annual rite of passage from this year on.
Hey Ya'll! Sorry I didn't get a chance to post yesterday. CJ and I were way too tired to do anything when we finally came in from the rain last night, so this will be a recap of both days.
OK, so on Thursday the Music Festival actually began. Knowing that there is a VERY slim chance that you'd get to meet the artists at the "fanfair" exibit, we decided to go to the Riverfront for a day of concerts. First up was going to be Gretchen Wilson, so oh my goodness was the line long! When the gates open it's all general admission so people just start running. It was absolutely hilarious. Since CJ and I were about 200th in line we didn't get the best seat in the house, but it was definitely a good spot. About 5 minutes before Gretchen was to hit the stage, a guy came on the stage to say that there were severe thunder storm warnings and that everyone had to go take cover...meaning the people that had their FRONT ROW seats had to lose them (kinda stupid if you ask me). As everyone is filing out the rain came, and boy was it CRAZY! I've honestly very rarely ever seen it rain that much in my life. Unfortunately as the rain came, CJ and I had been separated, so we met up under this little tent at the Riverfront. After discovering that I HADN'T lost my new pair of cowboy boots, we were actually in perfect position to go back onto the field. Since everyone else had taken shelter in the surrounding restaurants we got back to the Riverfront stage first and were FRONT ROW!
So on to the concert. As ya'll know, I'm a HUGE country fan and an even bigger concert fan. Unfortunately in the past I was never really interested in seeing Gretchen Wilson in concert for one reason or another. After yesterday, my opinion has COMPLETELY changed. Gretchen absolutely rocked the stage....it was so amazing. Her voice is SOOOO much better and more powerful in person it's absolutely ridiculous. She played her biggest hits and a few songs from her up and coming album that's due out in the fall.
After Gretchen, Phil Vassar took the stage. WOW he's amazing! For those of you who don't know, Phil actually plays the piano and is absolutely phenomenal. His energy and ability to get the audience involved has actually placed him as one of my top 10 performers I've ever seen in my life. He was great, very engaging, and definitely took down the house.
Following Mr. Vassar was Mr. Cutie Patootie himself, Chuck Wicks. As usual Chuck was looking fiiiiiiiiine and sang a few of his hits including "Stealing Cindarella" and "All I Ever Wanted." I mostly liked when he did his NOT as well known songs...because I looked like the super fan who knew all the words!
As Chuck departed the stage a few bands came on that I didn't really know a whole lot about. The Randy Rogers Band was good...a little too redneck for me though. James Otto was wonderful. I take back the comments I made about him sounding like he sang with marbles in his mouth. He had a lot of energy and was absolutely HUGE in person!!! Next were the Bellamy Brothers...a older (but still a goody) band. Following them was Heidi Newfield who sings the new Johnny Cash tune. The final person we watched at the Riverfront was Diamond Rio. Originally I was only going to stay for a song or two of theirs and go meet CJ, but when they started playing I Just couldn't get enough of them. I had forgotten of all the great songs they had both written and played and was simply in awe.
After the RIverfront concerts CJ and I walked around for a bit to find a bite to eat. Unfortunately we stumbled upon this very local bar that had a lot of regulars in it. We figured they'd be pleased to see people for the festival and that out of all the places we chose there to eat, but boy were we wrong! The people were rude, they wouldn't let me order my sandwich without coleslaw on it, and the food was pretty awful. I left hungry and grumpy and will NEVER go back there again.
Ok, so after dinner we made our way over to LP Field to get ready for the BIG night of concerts!!! Brooks and Dunn kicked off the night, playing for about an hour or so. I had never seen them before and was actually a little disappointed with their performance. They weren't has in touch with the audience as I had expected and simply sounded just like they normally do on the radio - nothing special. Following Brooks and Dunn, Reba took the stage. Unfortunately she only got through about two or three songs when a guy came on the stage and told everyone they had to take cover because a terrible storm was coming through with a potential of a tornado. We all headed under the stands and waited and waited and waited. Unfortunately the rain held out for a good hour and a half, meaning they could have gotten in most of the concert. Cj and I were super bummed because Dierks, Brad, and Rascal Flatts were supposed to perform that night! We ended up leaving the field around 11 when it started pouring because we had heard they didn't allow music to be played at the field after midnight. Unfortunately, after waking up the next morning I found out that they all DID go on stage at about 1 in the morning and played for an hour and a half. Each artist did 3 or 4 songs and I'm so incredibly bummed that we missed it...there's always next year, right?
Friday, June 12
This morning we woke up early again to make our way to the Riverfront. The line today wasn't nearly as long as it was yesterday, considering there weren't as big of stars as Gretchen Wilson taking the stage. With that said, I had way more fun today at the Riverfront than I did yesterday. Opening the show was The Oak Ridge Boys. Unfortunately one of their lead singers wasn't able to sing for the concert, but they still totally rocked it. I had no idea some of the songs the had written and played. Man are they old -- but they TOTALLY stole the show, it was simply amazing.
After The Oak Ridge Boys, American Idol's own Bucky Covington took the stage. He was awesome and COMPLETELY full of energy. He was the only artist all day to sign and give away the guitar he had played to an unexpected fan. He aimed to please the audience, which is GREAT and very impressive for a new and upcoming fella.
After Bucky was Aaron Tippin. Little did I know that he was into body building - he looks great for an older guy! The best part of his show was when he took out this wrapped up object and put it on a stand at one end of the stage and connected a hose to it...which ran to the other side of the stage connected to an air compressor. At the end of his first song he unveiled his "misery" object and it was none other than a TRAIN HORN!!!!! Evan would have been so proud. It was SOOOOO loud and so amazing. I think the people in his band wanted to kill him because he kept on doing it, but I thought it was absolutely amazing.
After Mr. Tippin were a few groups I hadn't really heard much about. Love and Theft is a new up and coming band of 3 guys. They were really good for their own songs, but actually messed up the words to a Johnny Cash song, which instantly made the audience completely hate them. Next was the Honky Tonk Tailgate Party including Trent Willmon, Jeff Bates, and Mark Wills. They were a little too far out their for me, but man did the Nashville fans worship them!
Next to hit the stage was Peter McWhirter, the Telstra Road to Tamworth Winner of 2009. As you know, I'm a little partial to Australians as it is, and he is NO exception! I loved his style, his music, and his attitude. I guess he's really big in Australia right now and is trying to make it in the U.S. doing country music just as my man, Keith Urban, had done. I highly recommend you check him out!
As soon as Peter left the stage the Riverfront started to get REALLY busy! After about 15 minutes Eric Church hit the stage. For those who don't know Eric Church, he actually looks a LOT like Dave Haywood from Lady Antebellum, only about a foot taller. He definitely was playing for the audience, and everyone was just sucking him right in.
My favorite performer of the day was Mr. Craig Morgan. Being a former member of the U.S. military (in active duty for 10 years) this man was in shape! Daaaammnn..and the pants he was wearing were probably the best pants I've ever seen in a guy in my whole entire life. This guy was absolutely CRAZY! In the middle of "Redneck Yacht Club" he jumped OFF THE STAGE and into the crowd (very Keith Urban-like). He sang to some ladies like 3 feet away from me, signed some autographs, and just blew everyones' minds. When he returned to the stage he climped UP the staging off the side and just sang his brains out. I had liked Mr. Morgan from before, but now I must honestly say he's my third favorite performer I've EVER seen, behind only Keith Urban and Dierks Bentley. He knew how to rock and he knew how the thrill - simply amazing!
After Craig Morgan we stuck around for a few of Randy Houser's songs, then made our way over to LP Field for the night. Upon entering the stadium CJ and I got a little bite to eat. I made the mistake of getting the stupid giant turkey leg and no lie, I don't think it's possible to have a turkey with a leg that big. It was great, but waaaaay too much food for me to handle!
After the singing of the National Anthem, Luke Bryan hit the stage and absolutley rocked out. My favorite part of his performance is when he sticks his hair up and sings, "I was Elvis rockin on the bar..." He's so cute and just has such a great personality that it's just so fun to watch him. Follwoing Luke was Little Big Town. I had seen them a few weeks ago when Sugarland couldn't open for Keith Urban his second night at Mohegan Sun, so they filled in. They were pretty good, though I definitely feel the field setting is a little too big for them and their voices for the time being. Next was Lady Antebellum - my favorite! I was a little ticked off because the sound was off on Hilary's microphone, so much to the point where you couldn't even hear her at all. I hate when technical difficulties occur and they just don't bother fixing them. Thank the heavens I'm a die-hard Lady A fan, so I was good just singing all of the words to myself, but I feel like if they had fixed the problem other people would have liked and respected them a LOT more (as they should).
Following Lady A, Rodney Atkins took the stage. He is one fiiine gentleman with some absolutely amazing songs. I love how he sings mostly about America and the pride Americans have for our country. He did a fantastic job up there in his bright orange shirt and I am definitely looking forward to seeing him again sometime soon - more toward home if he comes around.
Next was Jake Owen. He's a super cutie patootie, even though I only knew like one of his songs. He came out rocking in a VERY Texan red shirt which actually matched my velcity red Mazda 3 quite well. I think I might have to get his CD so I can learn a few more of his songs.
The Zac Brown band then rocked LP Field!!! Zac was so humbled by everyone knowing the words to his song, it was absolutely fantastic!
Ok..I'm getting tired so I'm going to wrap this up!!!
The final two performers were Jason Aldean and Kid Rock (the suprise guest). I absolutely love Jason Aldean anyways, so it was no surprise that everyone was left with their jaws wide open when he left the stage. He's such a rocker (with a very creepy band, I might add) and totally just kicks the crap outa his audience. Kid Rock was a bit much for me, but he did a fantastic job. My favorite part was when he sang "Picture" and MARTINA MCBRIDE came out to sing it with him! She JUST came out for that ONE song and blew everyone away.
Simply amazing..fantastic night! It's now 2:45 in the morning..and I need to get up at 7 for more concerts - EEK!
Greetings from Nashville, everyone! CJ and I embarked on our twenty-plus journey to Nashville yesterday morning after finishing packing and hitting up the gym. I left my house around 9 am, putting me at CJ's around 10:30. After having a pee break and switching things from my Mazda into his Mazda, we were on our way...and it actually wasn't that bad! CJ was a trooper and actually drove the WHOLE WAY. I know, he's crazy..but I guess I did the same thing when Sydney and I went to Virginia two weeks ago. Anywho, we made pretty good timing and after a 4 hour nap at a truck stop and figuring out we were actually in CENTRAL time now, we made it to Nashville, Tennessee at about 9 this morning.
Fortunately, we decided to try to check into the front desk a little early and it actually worked out for us! They had no one staying in our KOA "Kabin" the night before, so we were able to quickly check in, take some showers, and head off to downtown Nashville. As hard as it is to believe, Nashville is even MORE beautiful than I had remembered. Mom, Dad, and I had visited Nashville when I was in the fifth grade and I absolutely fell in love with it. Now that I LOVE country music (or maybe am now willing to admit it) it makes the experience THAT much better.
So we went downtown and the first thing we came across was a vender on the street selling photographs. Big pictures, small pictures, signed pictures, framed pictures...they had it all. Thanks to CJ I found two really cool pictures of Keith that I bought for only two bucks each! After that we went to the famous "Ernest Tubb Record Store" just to look around and to say we had been. After walking up and down the streets a few times we found this awesome place selling cowboy boots - BUY ONE GET TWO PAIR FREE! Obviously I thought his had to be too good to be true, but it wasn't! I was shocked...and I think CJ knew he had a WHIIIILLLEEE to spend in the boot store with me :) After looking around for a bit we decided to go to lunch and come back to look some more.
We knew we didn't want anything too fancy for lunch, nor did I want some super greasy food, so we ended up at this little place called the "Big River Brewery." It was very cool inside and had a cute little porch for us to sit out on. Our server was very hilarious (and very gay) and our food was absolutely delicious. CJ got meatloaf with green beans and white cheddar mashed potatoes, while I got a half of a turkey sandwich, green beans, and one of the best soups I've ever had in my entire life. It was called beer cheese soup and oh my goodness was it good!
After eating we went back to the cowboy boot store where I bought my three new pair of cowboy boots! I may have spent $300 on them, but it was totally worth it in my book. I'll definitely have the boots for my entire life, and I got them in a variety of colors - brown, black, and mint green!
After picking out my boots we went to the car to drop them off, then decided to take a few minutes to check out the "kick-off parade" on main street. We got to see all kinds of artists including Rodney Adkins, Kellie Pickler, and Bo Bice. One of my favorites was when Jeff Burton went by and I was like the ONLY fan that actually knew his name...I know, I'm awesome.
After the parade we decided to make our way to the line for the Alan Jackson concert. We had heard through the grapevine that Alan Jackson would be providing a FREE concert at the Cadillac Ranch beginning at 8, but that 1,000 bracelets to get in would be given out at 4:30. Having seen the line being formed earlier in the morning we didn't have high hopes for getting in. However, after seeing a little spot of opportunity to jump in line, we just could no refuse the chance! Unfortunately, I'm the idiot who didn't put on sun screen this morning cuz it was cool out and paid dearly for it! We had to wait in line over 6 hours to finally get to the front of the line, only to discover all the bracelets were gone and that we could wait until 8 to try to get in, but there where no guarantees. Then all of a sudden a little angel of hope came out of the Ranch. He came right over to me and said, "Hey, do you have a bracelet to come in?" Shocked, I said "NO!" and the guy gave me a fanclub bracelet he had in his hands! I was so excited I was about ready to cry, but unfortunately had to leave CJ in my dust. I had a good feeling Cj would be able to get into the Ranch before the concert and just could not let this opportunity slide by.
After going in and leaving CJ outside, I sort of began to freak out. I called Mom and Sydney to try to figure out what I should do...both of which recommended I wait it out to talk with some cowboys to try to let CJ in. After talking with a lady at the door, I realized that they probably weren't going to be letting any more people in and that I was probably going to have to leave because there was no way I was letting CJ loose in Nashville on his own. Then, my little prince charming came back! The same guy that had given me MY wristband said, "So, are you with someone tonight or what." Me, of course, was like "OMG yes, he's out there in the black cowboy hat!" Without a bad of the eyes the guy looked right at me and said, "Well I can tell how much this means to you and your passion for music, and I'd much rather you be able to stay than me, so I'll go give him my bracelet so you two can enjoy the show together." I nearly started crying!!! What an AWESOME guy let me tell you!!! Him and the girl he was with BOTH left so that CJ and I could enjoy the show together - a TRUE southern gentleman!
So the show started at 8 and before too long I was like the third row from the stage. Alan was awesome and played for just over two hours. He seems so genuine and really is just a "country boy." He played clips of all of his hits and definitely made the tears roll down my face for "Where Were You." His voice was simply amazing and he just seemed so humbled that people would wait in line to see him ALL DAY in the scortching sun. The concert was FANTASTIC and a great way to kick off Country Fest!
CJ and I are just chillaxing in the cabin now...need to get some SERIOUS rest before tomorrow's activities!
OH, and as a sidenote, someone saw Keith Urban shopping in the mall on Monday in Nashville --- AHHH!!!
The excitement that Angie and I had from purchasing our new iPhone's on Sunday nearly turned into a disaster on Monday.
While up in NH for the day on Monday, Angie came across a news story saying that Apple was releasing a new iPhone on June 19 and that the current iPhone's would be reduced in price by $100.
When Angie told me the news, she had this look of complete panic in her eyes. Knowing Apple though, I didn't worry.
I calmly picked up the phone and called the friendly customer service desk at the Apple Store on Boylston Street where we purchased our phones about 24 hours earlier. The chipper coed on the other end ensured me "Don't worry. You can either upgrade to the new iPhone for free or get a refund for the difference."
Phew... dodged a bullet there. I would've been pretty upset if after waiting over a year for my Verizon contract to expire, I would've been a day early on getting either a $100 cheaper iPhone, or more importantly a new upgrade.
The new iPhone 3G S, which we'll get in our hands on June 19, has a bunch of cool new features from the iPhone 3G that we bought on Sunday. The best new feature (for me) has to be the fact that the camera on the iPhone will also be able to take, edit and upload video directly to youtube. This is huge, not only for me, but for all of you out there that follow The Cardinal Blog.
Last night we took Sammy to a Worcester Tornadoes game for her birthday and the occasion also marked Anna's first baseball game.
The forecast was calling for rain pretty much all night, but we decided to roll the dice and brave the elements. It ended up being a great decision because by the second inning the slight drizzle had subsided and it turned into a nice night.
I actually snapped this photo of a pretty cool sunset. I know it looks like a Rotman's ad, but it was still a neat scene.
Mike and the ready-to-pop Jamie (she's due June 12) joined us at the game last night and we had a blast.
I spent the first few innings following Anna around the park... all she wanted to do was walk around. But, I was able to persuade her to sit down for a while with a box of popcorn. She was great all night and thought the post-game fireworks were "cool".
At first, Sammy didn't seem to be that excited for our "surprise" for her. But, as the game played out she really had a good time. Minor league games are awesome and I definitely want to get out to a few more.
The tickets were on $6 and parking was $3, so it's definitely an affordable night out for the family. Beers were about $5/each, but that didn't stop me from having my fair share... had to prepare for today's pub crawl!
After a weekend that featured much more work for me than I was expecting, I decided to take Monday off for the most part and make it all about Anna.
We got up in the morning and went to the Kelleher Field Park in Marlboro. I had driven by it before and it looked pretty legit, so we had to give it a shot.
Anna immediately wanted to go on her staple playground attraction, the swings, but then venture outside the box nad went to new heights, literally.
She got her first experience with a teeter-totter. Anna and another little girl offset each other nicely and really got a kick out of going up and down with one another.
After that, in somewhat of a shocking move, Anna was able to climb all the way up and then went down a HUGE slide. Seriously, the slide was more than double the size of the biggest slide that she had ever gone down before.
The feat of getting up the courage to go down the slide was impressive, but what made me more proud was the route she had to take to get up there. There were small steps, big steps and a little ladder. It was a good showing on her part.
The first time she went up, I followed closely behind her, thinking that she'd need my help, but Little Miss Independent never looked back and actually went down the slide before I could run around to the bottom to "catch her."
I guess all I'm good for these days is driving her to the park and changing her diaper. What the heck.
In unrelated news: I have added a search field and RSS feeds to the side of the blog. I know a lot of people swear by the RSS feeds and the search field is most likely only handy for me, but enjoy!
What do you get when you give two crazy girls a few tickets to a Keith and Dierks concert in Roanoke, Virginia? One hell of a road trip and memories that last a lifetime...
Sydney and I embarked on our Virginia road trip around noon-thirty on Thursday afternoon. Knowing it would take a good 12 or 13 hours to get to our hotel, we packed the car with snacks, turned on our trustworthy GPS (Maggie), and put the pedal to the metal. With the windows down, country music blaring, and laughing 'til we nearly peed our pants, we made GREAT time!
Only stopping two times on the way, we arrived at the Roanoke Inn Civic Center just around one on Friday morning. Being the skeptics that Sydney and I both are, we were a little weary to check out our room. We got an incredible rate of only sixty dollars a night and figured there HAD to be cockroaches somewhere! After stripping all three layers off the bed, searching the drawers, and running the water we were pretty comfortable in our new home for the next two days. We did a little jumping around, some unpacking, then went to bed to prepare for the Big day!
The true excitement for Sydney and I began Friday morning when we woke up and realized we'd be seeing my two favorites - Keith and Dierks - THAT NIGHT! We got dressed (me in my keithaholic shirt, of course), did a little planning for the day, then went to scope out the Roanoke Civic Center. Fortunately our hotel was not lying and we were literally within walking distance of the place. Sporting the velocity red Keith-Aholic mobile, we made our way to the Civic Center to do a little exploring.
Obviously we were like 9 hours early for the concert and people thought we were CRAZY. The cool part was that we were literally the only ones around so we got to check out Keith and Dierks' trailers and also where the crew members stayed. Walking around the place we just could not wait to get inside, so we decided to check a few doors. Wouldn't you know some set-up guys left them UNLOCKED! Naturally, we went in!
We got to see the crew setting up the entire stage before the seats were even on the floor, and I was able to take a few pictures (albeit blurry ones because I was shaking with excitement) of the whole process. After snooping around for quite some time we decided to explore the beautiful city of Roanoke and to kick it at a T.G.I Fridays for lunch. After stopping at a few thrift shops and looking everywhere for a Goodwill to find some cheap cowboy boots, we returned to the Civic Center for some more fun!
Unfortunately we got caught sneaking around the place while Keith was doing sound check (which was AMAZING) and were instructed to wait in the lobby. There we met this guy named Chris who was a member of the Keith Urban Verizon Wireless crew. He was super nice and definitely gave us the inside scoop about Keith and his production. After talking with him for a while, he went out ot the bus and Sydney and I turned around to find none other than Brian Nutter on his cellphone!
For those of you who don't know Brian, he is Keith's right hand man. He's been in Keith's band for nearly ten years and is the guitar/banjo player that LOVES to taunt the crowd during the show. We waited for a bit for him to get off the phone, then went over to him. He extended his hand to me and said, "Hi there, what's your name? I'm Brian Nutter." Of course, idiot me goes, "I KNOW!" ... classic Katie moment. He was honestly one of the nicest people I have ever met. HE talked to Sydney and me like he was just one of us going out an doing his job to put the food on the table. He talked about his house that's for sale, how much fun he has on tour, and just about anything Sydney and I brought up. The cool thing was that Sydney and I told him how we were looking for a Goodwill, then he went on his phone. Originally I thought he was texting someone until he goes "Oh, well there's a Goodwill located at 1493 Main Street." HE WAS LOOKING UP THE GOODWILL FOR US TO FIND!!! How incredible is that?! Next thing we know it he's talking on the phone asking the Goodwill how late they were open until that night so Sydney and I could sneak out and go before Dierks hit the stage. Just proving how awesome Brian Nutter is!
After our celebrity encounter, Sydney and I went outside to scope out the trailer area. By then a little crowd of about ten people had formed, all hoping to meet Keith. After a little while of waiting out walked Brad Rice - ANOTHER member of Keith's band! Could our luck possibly get any better?!?! Brad came out just to talk a little and take a few photographs. I was more into talking with him so I didn't bother being the crazy fan who demanded pictures with everyone.
Rumors were going around saying that Dierks had been in his Jeep cruising around the area with a backwards baseball cap and earphones in. They tired to yell at him to get him to come over, but he must have been listening to the music too loudly to notice. Then, the moment of truth came ... DIERKS! Like we were just a bunch of his friends, Dierks came strolling over to the crowd to get to meet everyone, sign some autographs, and take a few pictures. I nearly died! For those of you who don't know, Dierks is my #2 man! Dierks is one sexy sexy man, let me tell you! He came over with his raspy voice and just talked to everyone, shared some stories, and smiled - A LOT! Sydney and I both got our pictures taken with him and he signed our CDs ... and also a little poster for my friend, Chelsea, cuz she's a Dierks Nut!
So, Sydney and I got to meet Dierks, Brad, and Brian all before the concert - YIKES! As it started to sprinkle a little we decided to go back to the hotel for a bit to get our country gear on. While waiting at the trailers we had met this really nice guy named Rusty. He was a member of Keith's crew and was all about helping Sydney and myself out. During the show he would be the camera man RIGHT in front of the catwalk and encouraged Sydney and me to try to get to the front right when the lights shut off. Rusty noticed my "keithaholic" shirt I was wearing and said he'd be sure to look out for us. With that said I absolutely HAD to keep that shirt on for the concert. On our way back to the stadium, Sydney and I were ready to go - cowboy boots, snazzy outfits, and anticipation!!!
We were still about an hour and a half early for the concert, so we went back over to talk to Rusty for a bit. At that time Rusty had gone into the bus, so we opened up the window and we talked to him and another crew member for a while. The funny part was that as we were talking, I noticed that a guy with a REALLY nice camera was pointing his lens our way. As Sydney and I went to the car for a bit the guy came over and was actually a reporter for the Roanoke Times! He asked me a few questions about my car, how far we traveled, how many KU concerts I was going to, and about my attire. He told us to look at the Roanoke Times in the morning.
With about an hour until the concert, Sydney and I made our way into the stadium. There was a little confusion with the tickets, but we finally made it. Our tickets weren't quite as good as we had expected, so we knew we had to sneak to the front. By the time Dierks came out we were directly at the end of the catwalk - PERFECT seats! Dierks did an AMAZING job and actually came out and sat at the end of the catwalk RIGHT in front of me to do a song - he's so dreamy! Thankfully Sydney and I were able to stay up front for a few songs before the big bad security guard came out and made us move back to our seats. Dierks had a flawless performance and definitely blew the audience away. Sydney and I quickly went to the bathroom and got a water and were finally ready for Keith!
Having been to two Keith concerts already on this tour, I know he usually hits the stage at nine. This time, he came out early! At about 8:45 the lights went out and the music began - IT WAS KEITH TIME!!! HE came out more gorgeous than ever! Sydney and I were going NUTS, but were simply too far away. We snuck our way up about 8 rows and enjoyed the show. When Keith made his way through the crowd to do his three songs on the mini-stage, we were RIGHT THERE. I got to touch Keith on his way to the stage, and had only ONE lady in front of me for his performances. I got some REALLY great pictures and actually made eye-contact with him - I'm surprised I didn't turn to stone!
Keith was in a fantastic mood that night. He was energetic and fun and just wanted to have the best show for his loving audience. I must say, one of my favorite parts of the entire show was when Keith got Dierks back on the stage, introducing him as one of his "best friends and neighbor" to do a duo of "Take it to the Limit." They were FLAWLESS. I called Dad during this song so he could enjoy it as well. It was simply amazing how awesome Keith and Dierks got along and it was great to known that my two favorites are bests. The funniest part of their performance together was when Keith was teasing Dierks about having the words written on his left forearm with a sharpie because he couldn't remember the entire song. Sure enough, it was true! The two were laughing so hard they could barely finish the song.
After that performance Keith carried on his merry way thrilling the audience. Though it's not my favorite song on Defying Gravity, the performance of "Til Summer Comes Around" was out of this world. Not only did Keith sound like an angel, he did an incredible guitar at the end that seemed to last a good seven minutes. I Love when eh does that because it shows all the men in the crowd that all of us ladies aren't just in love with him because of his looks and voice, but also because of his techniques!
My favorite up-beat song Keith does is definitely "Kiss a Girl" because the crowd gets so into it. During that song, as you can imagine, I was completely rocking out. Sydney and I had secured a spot in the seventh row when a camera guy came out right in front of us. I was too into the show and rocking out to notice that the guy was actually RECORDING us! I, personally, was a little ticked that the camera guy was obstructing my view of Keith, but apparently they showed us on the big screens for quite a while. Sydney got a text from the guy we sold our other tickets to saying "OMG...you guys were on the screen!"
After a brilliant encore and being COVERED with confetti, one of the greatest nights of my life had come to an end. I was so exhausted from the concert and jumping around it wasn't even funny. We hung around the Civic Center for a little while, went to a gas station for some food, then went back to the room to crash.
In the morning we kind of thought it was our duty to find the Goodwill since Brian Nutter had looked it up for us an all. Unfortunately we got a little lost, then went we finally found one, there were no cowgirl boots in sight. As we were driving around, we got to a stop light and heard a guy behind us in a truck yelling. Apparently he had been following us for a little while, and yelled to us, "Did ya'll know you were in the newspaper this morning"" Sydney and I looked back to see probably the most beautiful southern gentleman I've ever seen in my life who noticed my Keithaholic mobile and figured it had to be us they featured in the Roanoke Times that morning. Sydney and I raced to the store, and sure enough, we were in the paper! With a picture of us talking to the guys on the bus, the article was all about us and how we drove down from NH just to see Keith. The guy talked about my "cherry red Mazda 3" that drove 13 hours to the concert and how I was a "more active fan" going to 6 Keith concerts this tour. In other words, we're famous.
The e-mails have been coming in from people in monkeyville notifying me that I'm a Roanoke celebrity! Needless to say this was definitely the best road trip I've ever had and one of the best days of my entire life. Thank you, Sydney for coming along with me. And that you, God, for turning my grey skies blue ... I really needed this!
Anna had quite the action-packed weekend and has proven that she's clearly a weekend warrior.
On Friday, we headed up to New Hampshire and had a quiet night at my parent's house, which was really the calm before the storm for Anna.
Saturday brought the aforementioned birthday bash for Andrew at Tiffany and Pete's in Northwood. Anna loved the cardboard school bus, fully equipped with steering wheel and windshield wiper, playing in the sand with Natalie and picking up and eating candy from the pinata.
One of the funniest things of the day came during the pinata breaking. Uncle Matt held Anna while she took a few "swings" at busting the ball open, which was cute. But, what was hilarious was when the ball was broken open and the candy fell out. Anna had to be directed to pick up the candy and she then proceeded to put the candy back into the broken pinata. She obviously doesn't grasp the concept of candy yet, otherwise she would've been hording it in her bag like the rest of the kids were doing.
After she gathered her fair share of candy, most of which will be eaten by Sammy, I opened up a little candy bar for Anna and she was off to share it with everyone. She had one of those little Hershey's bars and walked around with Auntie Carol to give about 10 different people a "bite".
On Sunday, Anna got two special treats.
First, Papa took the tractor out of the garage and took Anna for a ride around the house. Anna was content sitting on his lap and cruising around.
She doesn't really get too excited when she does something new for the first time. Instead, she just kind of sits back and takes it all in. So, the fact that she was rather mellow about the whole thing leads me to believe that the next time we're up in NH that she'll freak out when she sees the tractor. As Anna was wrapping up her tractor ride, Uncle Matt came over and brought Bauer to visit Anna. Bauer has got to be the most well-behaved dog I have ever been around.
Anna had a good time throwing the ball to Bauer. One time when she threw the ball, Bauer nearly took it out of her hand and bumped into her. Anna caught her balance nicely, but the look on her face was priceless.
We wrapped up the day yesterday by just hanging out with Meme and Papa. Anna definitely got the princess treatment all weekend long and it was so great, as always, to hang out with my family.
We are all psyched for our summer vacation together this summer. Hopefully Anna's weekend warrior skills will carry over to a fun-filled week nicely.