You always remember your first...
Summer. The sweat drips down my back. It's a sultry night in Atlanta and my heart is pounding. The lights are low. It's my first time and the excitement is building...
Wait a minute.
What do you think I'm talking about? What kind of blog do you think this is??
I'm talking about my first concert, you pervs!
My first musical experience was watching artists perform on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry in Tennessee. I have to admit that looking back, it was sort of cool that my introduction to live music was in the form of a destination (semi) concert.
My first real concert experience also happened to be a destination concert. Nik Kershaw opened for Paul Young. It was 1985 and neon was rampant. I was in Georgia visiting family and my aunt, who happened to be really cool albeit flaky, agreed to take me and bought our tickets. I can remember Nik Kershaw standing on stage in his white, baggy rock star pants. To a fourteen-year-old girl, it was mesmerizing. It was a smaller venue and we seat hopped up to a better view. It was a fantastic night.
A year later, I'd see Whitney Houston perform on her Greatest Love world tour. I went with a few teen girls from school along with my dad's hired chaperone and his date. Not awkward at all...
From there, I didn't have the opportunity to see many shows until I was out on my own. My parents never felt the inclination to take me to any shows, probably due to the fact that they hated the music of my generation and also because they really couldn't stand me too much.
When I did grow up, I had the luxury of being able to see a great many shows at all different venues. Small to large, indoor to outdoor, acoustic to full band.
When I had a child, I always knew that he'd hopefully inherit a love of music since I had been obsessive on the subject. When Bowie died, I pulled out my Changes album, sat my nugget on my lap and told him the story of the starman who fell to earth and became a rock star. While speaker shopping at Best Buy, I once again sat him on my lap and we spent half an hour, on the floor, back up to a speaker, listening to Pink Floyd's The Wall.
I have always taken the time to explain music to him. The backstories, the album covers, the lyrics. I've always made him playlists. I've always made music a priority and I have tried to find ways to encourage a love for it.
So, the next natural step was to include him on our musical adventures.
I had taken him to see a Queen tribute at the symphony, but that was more of a play in my opinion. A performance, and although it was quite entertaining, it wasn't a concert. So, I did the only thing I could. I immediately bought lawn seats to Jimmy Buffett and away we went.
He had a small amount of information before we got there, but he wasn't prepared for the visual stimulation that came once we hit the amphitheater.
Men in coconut bras and grass skirts, women with parrots on their heads, Hawaiian shirts as far as the eyes could see. And the sweet, sweet smell of "incense" wafting through the crowds of people.
Now, everyone who has any idea who Jimmy Buffett is, has to be familiar with the whole "Parrothead" community, but to a nine-year-old boy, he must have felt like he just walked into an alternate universe.
I must give the strangers around us props though. Not only did they fully embrace our son, they welcomed him and bestowed gifts and niceties upon him. They made sure that if an inflatable ball came anywhere near our vicinity, it was immediately handed to him so that he could send it soaring back into the crowd. They gave him leis and bubblegum and bug spray soaked towelettes.
When Jimmy sang about "sons of bitches", my son proudly sang along, all the while looking at me out of the corner of his eye to make sure his profanity was acceptable. (It was.)
By the time we were heading for the Uber, he was walking through the parking lot, proudly. He had been baptized by the beach.
He'll never forget that night. He talks about it still. I have to think that we are raising a man that will one day drag his own children to see all of his favorite bands. At least I hope he will. I know that I will always have the memory of his face as he took it all in. The glow in his eyes as he realized he was now welcome in the world of live entertainment.
He's started his own list of acts to see now. The first on his list is to see a show at Red Rocks. (Insert beaming smile from mom here.)
I know that we'll take him, and I know that we'll encourage his musical education. And I know that one day he'll look back and think that he had pretty cool parents.
All I know for sure is that in three weeks, he'll be sitting at the Starlight Theatre watching Willie Nelson and Family and "Whiskey River" will be flowing.