Close Encounters of the Country Kind

No other genre of music respects their fans like country music.  For 4 days in June country music fans come to Nashville from all over the world.  Seriously, from all corners of the world.  I’ve met people from Australia, England, Canada, and Germany.  Each year some of the performers schedule fan club parties for their fans where they get together in a club or theater and do a small private show plus a meet & greet where you can have a picture taken with them.

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Each year I’ve tried to go to a fan club party for different artists.  The way CMA does it is through a lottery.  Most of the big name acts don’t hold get togethers anymore due to the large size of their fan clubs.  This was the first year I received an invitation to go to a Kellie Pickler Fan Club Party.  Finally I get to go to one!!  Her latest album, 100 Proof garnered all kinds of praise from Billboard, Rolling Stone Magazine and other industry publications.  Unfortunately it didn’t get much airplay due to the fact her record label dropped her right as it was released.  She has been all over TV lately for her win on Dancing With the Stars.  So on Friday afternoon we needed to be at The Stage, a local honky-tonk on Broadway, between 4-5 to get a wristband that would guarantee a spot inside.  So off we go to get in line when just as we approached the line it started to just pour.  I mean a heavy rain that soaks you.  We were not the only ones there too.  There was a long line huddled under umbrellas and the doorways of other bars trying to stay dry.  Finally we made it inside by around 4:15 or so.  Kellie wasn’t going to perform until 5:00 so we had to stand for 45 mins.   Well my back wasn’t cooperating.  I had to find a stool.  Off I went to sit against a wall on my stool while K and L (friend) stood up at the front of the stage holding a place.  Thankfully 5:00 arrived and here came Kellie Pickler down the stairs and making her way to the stage.  The place was full, I’d say about 150 people total, and we were all waiting to see Kellie sing.  We were not disappointed, she sounded great and she is so adorable.  She ran through many of the songs on her album plus some of her earlier hits.  When her show was over we lined  up to get our picture taken with her.  We each had a quick minute to say hello and then smile for the camera.  This was a fun experience, but all the standing and waiting for more than an hour makes me think I may not do it again.  I guess it depends on who it is.

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The next close encounter was with a group sitting in front of us each night at LP Field.  It was three generations of women sitting together with a young man who we think was the young daughter’s boyfriend.  The older woman we affectionately dubbed “country rockin’ nana”.  This was their first trip to Fan Fest.  So each night these women would sing along with all the performers.  The young daughter knew the words to every single song!  I mean all the songs by all the artists every night.  She also had hand motions and was very dramatic.  Her mom was great as well.  She kept hugging her mom and they would sing together too.  But “rockin’ nana” was the star.  She was dancing and singing and trying to sing when she didn’t know the words.  The second night of the show she showed up in a cowboy hat with little lights around the brim.  See…

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Saturday night she showed up wearing little tiny red Solo cup earrings.  I kid you not, they had CMA in sparkly letters.

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So I’ve saved the best close encounter for last.  As I mentioned before, I’m a huge Brooks & Dunn fan, or should I say Ronnie Dunn fan.  I love following him on Facebook because of his opinion on all kinds of subjects, but mostly the state of country music and some politics.  He really interacts with his fans.  He also posts the most amazing sunsets from his place in Santa Fe.  When I found out that he was going to be on The Close Up Stage on Thursday for a Q & A on his photography and music career I made sure to get there early for a seat.  If you recall from a previous post he took over 5th & Broadway to sing his new songs.  Thankfully he talked about what he did Wednesday night and how he pulled it off.  From what I can gather “his people” and he decided to just do a flash mob/gorilla style take over of downtown Nashville.  They took over the second floor area of Rippy’s BBQ and set up his band.  They didn’t get any approval from the city at all.  They projected “Who is Ronnie Dunn?” on the side of Tootsie’s and the roof of the Ryman Theater.  He was so amazed that they actually pulled it off.  My dear friend Deb was there as well watching the interview.  She’s the one who is a freelance producer.  She has made connections with many country music artist’s publicists.  She is friends with Ronnie Dunn’s publicist and came up to us after the interview to inform us that we were going to meet Ronnie.  WHAT!?  OMG!  I was stunned and then nervous.  We walked around behind the curtain next to the stage.  RD was signing autographs and taking pictures with fans to the side of the stage.  Finally he came back and we were introduced.  Man is he tall!  He was so gracious and kind to take the time to talk with us.  As I moved up to have a picture taken with him I mentioned that one of  my favorite songs of his is, “Johnny Cash Junkie-(Buck Owens Freak)”.  He laughed and said that he performs it in his shows now.  I think I really surprised him with that song choice.  However it opened the door for Kevin to mention that he worked for Buck while we lived in Bakersfield.  It was as if a veil was lifted and he became more animated in sharing stories about Buck.

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We’re still waiting for copies of some pictures taken by a photographer there.  Meanwhile these will do.

I can’t thank Deb enough for arranging the introduction.  A special thanks to Leigh and Ebie as well for finding time to let us say hello.  Deb, I owe you big time!  🙂

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