Raleigh (Show # 3)

At the Raleigh show, on Thursday, April 24, I met a bunch of very cool people, including three women who became my tour family. I am pretty sure that I will be friends with them for the rest of my life.

I actually first had contact with them online, through the by-the-seat-of-my-pants pre-tour “marketing” that I was trying to do for this website.

Liz found me through the Facebook group, “Calling All Bruce Springsteen Fans,” where I had posted about my journey and blogging plans. She emailed me privately to ask if she and her friend could catch a ride with me from Raleigh to Atlanta. They were coming from Israel for some shows. Of course, I said yes. I figured even if I didn’t like them very much, it would only be a 5 hour drive and nice to have some company and someone to split the gas costs with.

Brit responded to my post on The Promised Land that invited fans to get in touch if they were willing to let me interview them.  She came to this blog and filled out the contact form in the upper right. (A few people did, actually, and let me tell you that made me SO HAPPY.)

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So…it turned out that Liz and Maya got to Raleigh the day before the show. I ended up having dinner with them. From the start, we liked each other. Well, I liked them. I am assuming they liked me. We had burgers in downtown Raleigh at Chuck’s. [Short aside: if you go to Raleigh and you like burgers, eat here!]

The next day, I headed off to the arena to get my wristband but got sidetracked getting something to eat and seeing some waitresses I’d met (see this post for more on that synchronicity). So, I got there a little late and got my wristband, meeting Jackie the security lady in the process. She was very cool.

 

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Jackie, the security lady. Thanks for being so sweet and open to being in my blog. I hope you see that I finally wrote about you

By  the time I got my wristband, it was about 3. Brit and I had been texting and planning to meet, and so we did, in the parking lot. I interviewed her (such as it was) and photographed her.

Brit!
Brit!

More about the interview coming soon in a separate post. But we connected and had a good time talking, and by the time the lottery came around, although we were not together in line, I was texting with Brit as well as Liz and Maya.

The short story is that none of us made it into the pit, but we got in at the front of the rest of the GA section and I ended up with one spot on the second rail (at the “ramp stage” behind the pit section). Bruce can come down off the stage, around the side of the pit and up on that ramp when and if he feels like it. Although there was some jockeying for position, overall, everyone was sharing and talking, and we had a fine time meeting the people around us before the show started.  I was beginning to see that this happened before every show – and then the lights come up and everyone usually scatters, with or without a goodbye.

Raleigh was a great night. The show was good. Nothing spectacular, but Bruce was in his usual high energy form and we all were excited that he came to the back a bunch of times, and I even got to touch his leg a few times. Having him sing right above us was pretty spectacular and that night was the closest I had come to him yet. However, I don’t have any good pics of him from that show. I just hadn’t gotten the hang of shooting his fast action with the iPhone yet, plus when he came by, I just wanted to LOOK at him and soak him up. Not try to take pics.

It was also a sweet night because his daughter, Jess, was graduating from Duke and she and her friends were in the audience. Patti was with the band that night (I think it was the first show I’d seen her at this tour) and Bruce dedicated Growing Up to Jess, invited her friends to sing with him (what song was that?) and he danced with Jess on Dancing in the Dark. (Which of course bummed out all the women in the front who had hoped he would pick them for that special dance.)

Anyway…I’m not sure exactly how it happened, but at the end of the last encore (Thunder Road), the four of us didn’t scatter. Brit, Liz and Maya told me they had decided that the we should get wristbands as a group for the rest of shows we would all be at on this tour and see the shows together.  I was kind of surprised, because although friends had suggested that I would meet friends and travel with other fans on tour, I’m something of a loner and I didn’t really think it would happen. But I said that sounded good to me!

We left the floor and walked out together. It was like we’d been friends for years, even though we’d all just met and really didn’t know each other at all. Something about sharing this very specific love for Bruce and his music, and also something about the four of us and our personalities, made us just gel. It is something that often happened when I was younger, seeing Dead shows, or traveling. But now that I’m 50, it hasn’t happened in a loooong time.

By the time we got outside, I was exhausted. The three of them (young whippersnappers) wanted to go around to the back of the arena and see if they could catch sight of Bruce leaving the venue. I said my goodbyes, with plans to pick up Liz and Maya the next morning for the journey to Atlanta and to meet Brit and her husband, Chris, in Atlanta in two days for the next show. I told them I didn’t think they’d see him, but as I waved goodbye and turned toward my car, I thought to myself, “Oh, I bet they DO find him!” It turned out they did, and he waved at them as he got into a car and was whisked away. It felt like a shining omen for the rest of the adventure.

Liz, Maya and Brit, outside Raleigh right before they found the back entrance and got a wave from Bruce.
Liz, Maya and Brit, outside PNC Arena in Raleigh, right before they found the back entrance and got a wave from Bruce.

Catching My Breath

I’m back! I know the whole idea was to blog about my Bruce adventure while I was in it, but you probably noticed—that didn’t happen.

It turns out that seeing eight (yes, 8) Bruce shows means a hell of a lot of driving and not a lot of writing. Um, make that NO WRITING.

After my final show in Houston on May 6, I drove all the way to California. (So far, I’ve driven almost 7,000 miles since I left my house in Austin on April 14th.) Upon arrival in California, I started a mad schedule of work and socializing. I’m finally beginning to catch my breath – and am ready to blog again.

I still want to make posts about each of the shows in the order I saw them, including the adventures, the people, the energy…and what it has meant to me. But for now, I’m going to post some photos of my journey and of the band and leave the storytelling to the next post. I hope you enjoy and I am glad you stopped by to check things out here at my home on the world wide web.

On The Way to Atlanta

I am mid-adventure. Time for a pause. Time to give great appreciation to the mysterious force of synchronicity.

As I planned this trip, I followed my intuition to stay this past week Sunday to Friday in an Airbnb in Raleigh. It was near a Ruby Tuesdays. I’ve never eaten at that chain, but on night 1, I decided to go in for the salad bar. Yum. Nice waitress. Good lunch specials on menu. Next to a Starbucks ( my office on the road).

Day 2: I go in for lunch. Same waitress is there eating with friends and comes over. Very enthusiastic and friendly so I tell her of my adventure; give her my card. She thinks that’s pretty cool! Her name is Brittany.

Day 3: back for lunch; different waitress, very sweet also. When I leave, I drop my card with the cash payment before I walk out. Don’t say anything to her.

Day 4: eat elsewhere.

Day 5: it’s concert day. Gotta get to the arena to get that wristband. But decide to stop for a quick lunch at Ruby’s again. Think to myself, this is gonna make you get a higher wristband number and you aren’t gonna get in.

But I drop into intuition and get a hit–I need sustenance and I need to stop.

In I walk, get seated, it’s waitress number 2. She comes up with a smile, remembers my name and my order and says, “and you’re a photographer–I’m a make up artist.”

We talk. She is inspired, she says, by what I’m doing. Her name is Dorian. Like Dorian Gray, she says. You know who that is, right? I nod. If course, she says. No one around here knows who that is.

She tells me more: first generation American, her family is from Democratic Republic of Congo. Her father’s a professor and engineer. She has a college degree and studied theater as well as sciences (I hope I got that right-Dorian, let me know). She wants to do something more. She’s a single mom, though, of a 5 year old daughter. So she’s feeling a bit stuck at the moment.

But, oh, what a spirit shines out of this young woman. And she’s been inspired by my card. We talk about her going to LA, about a visit, a road trip, in our future together. I tell her, trust. Your daughter will grow. Things will change.

She goes off to put in my order and Brittany comes bouncing over. We chatter away, mostly she’s talking and I’m listening. She’s only 18. First job. Just graduated high school. She moved so much as a kid, she doesn’t want to to go anywhere. She wants to stay put, feel rooted. Fascinating contrast.

But she’s so happy to have met me. Somehow I’m giving something to her. I can tell.

It turned out that I did just miss the pit. But, I was right on the rail of the regular GA section, on the edge if the stage he runs around on and Bruce came by a lot. I touched him, he sang to us.

I know that my choosing that restaurant was important, and that stopping back in one last time was right. I don’t need to understand the way this Mystery works. I can just relax and trust it. I am committed to that. I will respond.

It was perfect. It always is.

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Bruce and the E Street Band – Charlotte, NC

Charlotte was an amazing show. Really. I’m still a newbie to Bruce’s shows (though I’ve been a huge fan since 1975) but even the old-timers apparently are saying it was kinda phenomenal. I’m not going to do reviews (not my thing) but I do love sneaking iPhone shots (while trying to be very respectful of those around and behind me). Although they are blurry, I think that they managed to capture some cool energy of the show. I hope you enjoy.

Charlotte Fans and Photos

The Charlotte show is a story best told in pictures.

I did interview lots of fans, but I gotta say – mostly it was kind of the same old story.  I don’t think I’m a very creative interviewer.

Taking photos is much more fun.

First I was in Fitzgerald’s, a bar down the street from the arena. There was a pre-show gathering there, the bar was blasting Bruce’s music and fans took over the joint.

So, we will start with John. I met him at the bar and he sold me my ticket to Raleigh. He’s from Queens and he’s been following Bruce part-time since 1979 and full-time since 2000. Charlotte was his 80th show.

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These three are friends of John’s from shows. Jennifer, Don and Joe. Shit. I’m not sure I got them in the right order. It might be Jennifer, Joe and Don. (Sorry, you guys!) They’ve seen Bruce a lot. Jennifer over 80 shows, Joe and Don around 120 shows each.

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They’re from Jersey. Can you tell?

Why do they like him? “He tells the truth.”

I went to the bar to order a burger (sustenance for the show) and started talking to these two.

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Are they the cutest couple, or what? Tom and Theresa Welty from Mound View, MN. All the way to Charlotte for a show.

Hey, Tom and Theresa – did you guys make it in the pit??

Then there was this tennis team:

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These guys were really cool and I enjoyed meeting them, although I didn’t know what to ask them. The whole interview things is challenging.

Anyway, they are, from the right: Rik (Netherlands), Matt (England), Henric (Sweden), Stanley (England), and Jack (Australia). They are so cute. Oh my gosh!

It’s their first time seeing Bruce. “Do you know his music?” Not really. But they were excited, and Rik’s PARENTS were sending him to the show for his birthday.

So, guys, how was it?

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Then it was time to go stand in the rain in the wristband line. Yeah. Really. Pouring rain. Falling off umbrellas onto the people around the umbrella. A personal waterfall for everyone.

But it was fun. I met Lisa and her family. They were behind me. I love them. I mean it. After 20 minutes, me and Lisa are like BEST FRIENDS! (Right, Lisa? You have to comment here so everyone knows I’m not making this shit up).

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Gorgeous family. I gotta say. (Apparently Tom Morello thought so also. But I won’t go into that story.)

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Are you still with me?

Lisa met David in Spain. Lisa saw Bruce in Spain. They all love Bruce. We all got in the pit. We were screaming and yelling – yahoo!!!! And then more standing in the rain, waiting to be let inside so we could go into the pit.

So, I talked to this guy. I’m sorry, guy, I didn’t write down your name, and I have CRS. (Do you know what that is? CRS. You know. Can’t Remember Shit) If you find this blog and see yourself here, will you please comment and tell me your name and I’ll edit this post.

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We had fun (well, I had fun —I am not sure he was enjoying my company as much as I enjoyed his, but he endured me). We talked about shows. Shows Shows Shows. Dead Shows, Jerry Shows, Bruce Shows. blah blah blah. Then the line moved and we went inside and I never saw him again.

Okay, people. Are you still reading and looking at pictures of people you don’t know? YAY.

It’s fun for me, anyway.

So, this is Ryan. He’s Bruce’s #1 Fan.

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I really liked Ryan. He was open and sweet. He is 24 years old. His parents turned him onto Bruce when he was like 8 or 9 and he’s “far surpassed them” in his Bruce Fan-ness. He’s an accountant. Go, Ryan!!

Right before the show started, I took Mitch’s picture. Mitch sounds and looks like someone I would have gone to college with at Stony Brook University on Long Island. He’s not, but shit, he should have been.

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And then there was the show. Bruce serenaded us —

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pole danced —

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And then we went home.

On the way, I took some pictures of my new friends from Spain and San Francisco.

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We wandered out in a group and they stopped to look at the Bruce paraphernalia table, because Marta and Magela were going home the next day.

While I was standing there, this sweet family asked me to take their photo with their phone. After I did that, I asked if I could take their photo with MY phone, and put them on my blog? They were rather startled and a bit more impressed than perhaps the situation merited. I love that they said yes, and one of the women held up my “followingbruce” card that I gave them.

2014-04-19 23.41.06 Martin FamilyCome ON! How can you not love these people. The Martin Family!

Thank you all, fans and friends, for getting excited when I told you about my blog, for willingly letting me take your picture and for the fun of talking Bruce.

Please let me know you stopped by – like this post, leave a comment, email me through the contact form. If you like what you read, please tweet about it, share it on FB, generally send people this way. The more it grows, the more it will grow.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to post a gallery of my somewhat fuzzy but still pretty cool shots of the shows, including some video clips.

Thanks for stopping by. See you in line!

 

This Couple in Nashville

I realized after I wrote the Nashville Fans post that I forgot my very first interview couple – these two were so charming and sweet and real and I was so pleased with my first “fan on the street” interview that I can’t believe I left them off.

I think it’s because they deserve a post all their own.

Meet David and Sherry Rafferty!

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After I got my ticket and wristband, before I met my new Spanish girlfriends for lunch, I took a walk through Nashville. As I was crossing the street to walk back, these two asked me something about directions. I didn’t know, of course, but I collared them based on David’s Bruce–E Street t-shirt.

“I’m following Bruce’s tour and blogging about it!” I handed them my card.

Before they knew what hit them, I was snapping their photo and asking them questions and they were showing me pictures of their daughters.

Married for 23 years, Sherry has seen 7 Bruce shows and David has seen about 10. It was David who turned Sherry onto The Boss when they met.

Why do they love Bruce shows?

“He give it his all – he always gives a great show…energetic! He never grows old. He stays true to his roots. He cares about everyone.”

“But really, I just love the music.”

That about sums it up for me, too!

I really want to say, I’m grateful that I met these two when I did. Their enthusiastic interest in what I was doing and their willingness to talk to me gave me confidence to approach others as the night went on. Thank you, David and Sherry. I surely hope you find this post and know how much I appreciate you.

Nashville Fans and Interviews

My interviewing adventures started at about 2:15 P.M. when I walked up to the G.A. ticket wristband line, and I met Marta and Magela from Spain. I had arranged via the Backstreets ticket exchange board to buy my G.A. ticket from Marta. All I knew was she was coming from Spain.

When I got to the venue, she and her friend, Magela were already in line. This is the first time I saw them:

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Marta on the left, Magela on the right

 

 

 

 

 

 

We connected immediately and I felt so lucky to have this ticket. More on these two and their dedication to Bruce below.

As we moved toward the door to get our wristbands, we also were talking to David and his daughter, Melissa. He was excited to be sharing the Bruce experience with her. This was Melissa’s first show. David is a doctor of pediatric oncology in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. So, going to see Bruce is one important way he gets to relax. That man needs it.

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Melissa took a few days away from college to come meet her father for the show.  I think I saw her studying organic chemistry molecules on her iPhone when we lined up for the Pit Ritual later that afternoon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you, David, for doing this important work. (And I’m sorry you didn’t get in the pit! Beginner’s blessed luck is what I call my experience.) Oh, and thanks for giving my iPhone a charge with your portable charger. I’m gonna get one of them and I’ll name it after you.

I had lunch with my new Spanish friends across the street from the venue in an upstairs open dining room. While a band blasted from the other side of the bar, we shouted questions and answers to each other. This is what I learned.

Marta’s first show was in 1992; Marta’s was 1988. They have traveled to the U.S. at least four times to see Bruce. The first time was with a Spanish Bruce fan club that still comes regularly and is how they met. Marta lives in Madrid and Magela lives in Barcelona. They tend to travel on their own now and they’ve seen Bruce all over Europe as well.

Nashville was Magela’s 70th show and Marta is close behind!

When I asked them why they keep coming back, why so many times, why so much money spent…they both smiled that knowing kind of smile, the one that has stories and a lot of love in it. Magela answered.

“Once you cross that line to travel to see Bruce—once you realize that you CAN—everything changes. You meet other people who are doing it too, and you see you are not crazy. And you don’t stop.”

Then they looked at me and me at them, and we started to laugh. We were all thinking: “Is this going to happen to ME?!”

By the time we finished eating, it was time to go back and line up for the ritual of the pit. The wristbands we were given earlier each have a unique number on them and we all lined up in approximate order, in separate lines for each increment of 100. We were numbers 364, 365 and 366. At about 5pm, the Bruce folks who manage this crazy scene bring out a big bucket with all the numbers and someone in the crowd picks one. That is the first number in the door and, depending on the venue, a certain number of ticket holders after that number get into the “pit,” which is the area RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE STAGE.

They said that 400 people could get into the pit and they number that was picked was…DOH! 667 (or something like that). And we were definitely NOT going to get into the pit. Damn. I was really sad for Marta and Magela, because they are only here for 3 shows and it was this special anniversary for Magela.

As we waited to be let into the arena after the pit winners went in (they still line you up and let you in according to the number on your wristband), I talked to some of the people around me.

Jason was inspiring.

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At 23, this is his second show (I hope I got that right). His pastor, who is from New York, introduced him to Bruce and he saw him at the 2012 New Orleans Jazz Festival.

I asked Jason why he comes and he said, “For the joy of it.”

His favorite album? “Hard to say, but my gut instinct says Born to Run.”

Why?

“Because when Clarence starts playing the sax at the end of Thunder Road, that solo, if freedom had a sound, that would be it.”

Um, WOW.

Well said, young man.

Steve is from London and this was also HIS 70th show! He was first touched by Bruce in 1981 when he heard either Prove it All Night or Badlands on the radio. He can’t remember which one, but the Darkness album made him sit up and take notice.

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He’s come to the U.S. 8 or 9 times to see Bruce. Why does he keep coming back?

“Because for one day, I’m normal. Everyone around me understands.  And, for 3-4 hours, you don’t know what your gonna get.”

Loving life in the Mystery, my friend.

And then there were the foam brothers (and sister)…in their case, a picture (or two) is truly worth a thousand words.

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Finally, there were my heroes. Rice and Alex. Even though Rice made it into the pit, his son, Alex, couldn’t get down early to get a wristband. Rice wasn’t going to go down there without Alex. When we found out about the unused pit-access wristband on his wrist, Marta grabbed him and started saying, “Oh my god, you have to give it to HER” and grabbed me too, and shouted at me, “You have to go in, you have to go in.”

He held out his wrist, she peeled it off, slapped it on me (a careful and scary operation) and pushed me off. With tears in my eyes (I kid you not), I found myself walking into the pit. I saw the show from about 7 “rows” back. Thank you, Rice and Alex, Marta and Magela. Thank you so much.

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Rice on left, his son, Alex, on the right. THANK YOU!