by John Lindsay –
I was driving a couple weeks ago listening to Sirius XM’s The Highway and their Friday Night in Church concert series. The show was near and dear to my heart as it was the Superbowl Weekend show at Boston’s TD North Garden. Prior to Eric singing his hit “Springsteen” he told a great story of a memory in Boston of being a kid at “The Garden” watching his “guy” Larry Bird, and some guy they called The Chief (Robert Parrish, for non Celtic fans.) Now I suspect that story is altered for every city on the tour but the point of the story the memory, for the crowd and for himself. Music, sports, and entertainment at its best is about making an emotional connection, a memory that sticks with you. It reminds me of a meme I saw recently that said “People don’t go to hear a perfect performance, they go to feel something.” I got to thinking that it really, as he stated, should be the goal of everyone that does what he does, and for that matter what I do when I’m DJ’ing at the club; to make a memory. To give the people something to take home with them that isn’t a t-shirt or hat. Don’t impress me by sounding great; impress me by making me feel something, by getting me emotionally invested in what you’re doing, by making a memory.
Now I have been very lucky to have been able to see almost every act I’ve ever wanted to over the course of my life (still waiting on you Roger & David to reunite Pink Floyd.) Even more fortunate in some cases, because of my job, to have access to artists most do not get. So I thought it might be fun perhaps to share some of those special moments, and memories here on EverythingCountry.com.
I also thought that since I started by mentioning Eric Church it is only fitting that the first story is about my first meeting and show with Eric. We had the good fortune of booking him very early in his career, during the rise of his first single “How Bout You.” Quite honestly at the time it was all I really knew of him, just that song. Boy were my eyes opened that day. I was first struck by the tailgating that happened outside of our club. I mentioned it in a previous article, talking about my friend Mark Burke, that it had never happened at the Round Up before. As the day went on, it became obvious to me that the night was going to be something special. The story I relayed about Mark and facilitating his meeting with Eric is the most poignant, but there were many more memories of that night as well.
If you’ve ever seen Eric Church you know it’s a show of passion and emotion. It’s a night of heart and fire, both for the band, and the crowd; and in those early days that raw passion was palpable, the interaction with the crowd intense. Eric and his band tore that room up. There were the now familiar Eric Freakin’ Church chants ringing thru the crowd. (Edited for our PG audience on the site, lol.) It was during the first of these chants that I realized this was gonna be someone I’d likely be following their entire career. There was the seemingly 10 minute exploration of every great rock riff out there during the solo of his closing song the aforementioned hit single. The emotional version of “Sinners Like Me,” the haunting “Lightning,” and a very rowdy rendition of “Pledge Allegiance to the Hag” stick particularly in my memory from that night. It was an amazing introduction to what Eric was and still is, an amazingly passionate performer who puts his heart out 100% every time. I went to work that morning to set up a country show and left work a card carrying member of the Church Choir. It was an amazing performance from the unassuming, almost awkward man I met earlier in the day. I met a young Eric Church that afternoon, but I saw The Chief that night.
At the Boston show for The Highway, he made a point of mentioning his club days, specifically playing the Paradise Rock Club. It made me remember the first night he played the BB&T center here in Sunrise, FL where out of nowhere he began talking about those crowds at the Round Up back in the day. My phone blew up for an hour after that, so much so that people assumed we had paid him to say our name. Fact of the matter is we didn’t, he just remembered those nights at the club. He said it on that show in Boston, when he makes a memory for us; it is just as much a memory for him.
And clearly The Chief doesn’t forget.
So as time goes on, I hope to continue to share memories and special moments from my time in radio and nightclubs. From meeting Garth Brooks (could take a whole book), or getting to introduce legends like George Jones, Joe Diffie, and Travis Tritt. From watching Rodney Atkins perform his #1 song “Watching You” side stage with his son Elijah, Cole Swindell’s first headlining show, Jake Owen coming into his own, or one of the final club shows for Florida Georgia Line they are special moments. Artists connecting to the audience. I have a saying I use a lot about life and dance. It is all a matter of connection, and music connecting me to a moment is magic.
As Clint Black once put it, it is “funny how a melody, can bring back a memory.”