When I was a little girl, I fell in love with Glen Campbell watching his Goodtime Hour. I loved his hair, his sparkly leisure suits, his upbeat songs and his flying fingers on guitar. At the horse barn where I hung out as a preteen, and where country radio played constantly, Charlie Rich’s Behind Closed Doors and Conway and Loretta’s Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man sparked my imagination about grown-up romance. In ninth grade my parents took me to see my first concert -John Denver – and I made a cowboy shirt just like one he wore. In my 20s, I worked as a PR writer at an ad agency downtown Chicago. George Strait and Lyle Lovett mixed it up with Talking Heads and Peter Gabriel on my Walkman.
I eventually moved to Iowa to marry my husband Dan and just before I turned 30 we had our sweet daughter who was born prematurely. She spent nearly a year at a children’s hospital and two more at home on oxygen recovering from her early birth. When she was two and a half we were told she had cerebral palsy.
For obvious reasons — and without question — our daughter and her special needs commanded every bit of our energy and attention, particularly during those early years. Everything took a back seat to O2 tanks, AFOs, meds, doctor appointments and therapy sessions. And like many moms, my musical tastes pretty much narrowed to sing-along CDs and Disney soundtracks. Whatever music distracted her during long car rides or therapy sessions worked for me.
But then one night in November of 2005, I flipped on the TV to see Keith Urban playing Better Life on the CMA awards show. The next day I saw a TV ad for his upcoming concert in Moline, IL. On an impulse I bought a ticket even though I hadn’t been to a concert for 10 plus years. Standing in the back row of the floor section, I was transfixed. Keith’s singing, his buoyant songs and power ballads, excellent musicianship (he played guitar, banjo, drums and piano at the show), gorgeous looks and exciting showmanship pulled me in like a magnet. At one point he rode a trapeze overhead for a short set on a stage a few feet from me.
To say I’ve been to MANY of Keith’s concerts since then is an understatement. I’ve seen him at big outdoor festivals like Country Jam and Summerfest in Wisconsin, and arena shows in Peoria, Chicago, Atlanta, Denver and Des Moines. The photo in my profile was taken when Dan and I were on our way to see him at the Jones County Fair in Monticello, IA, a few summers ago. In 2006, I was at an album preview show at the gorgeous Fox Theater in Atlanta a few days before his life made an apparent about-face turn when he checked into rehab at the Betty Ford Center. Several years later I was lucky to be in Nashville for a fan-club breakfast for 200 people at the Country Music Hall of Fame where he made a surprise live appearance despite suggesting we’d only get a video. That same night my pal Cathy and I saw him pair with Vince Gill to lead a cadre of stars for the All for the Fame benefit. To celebrate my 50th birthday I invited several close friends, including my high school bestie Monica and college roommate, Deb, to join me for Get Closer tour stops (Denver and also Moline).
Concerts and shows – Keith’s and others – are a high priority for my fun money and leisure time. I’ve learned to jump through hoops on Ticketmaster.com and weave my way through fan club sales to score some pretty sweet seats. I’ve also been exploring our local music scene – which is pretty robust with Codfish Hollow, The Redstone Room, Moeller Nights, etc, – and I keep discovering awesome music.
Thinking back the cool thing about that first Keith Urban concert was that I’d assumed I’d be the oldest person there, an uncool mom obviously on her big night out. You know what? I looked around and there were plenty of other moms in the audience. And teens and families and people much older than me. That Keith concert literally woke me up to the fact that my music-loving life wasn’t over. And I will forever be grateful to Keith for that.
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