By Katie Cardinal
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!