Let me start by saying, this post is in no way sponsored nor was it requested I write any sort of review, or anything of the like. I’m just going to tell you about the fantastic experience my son and I had at this show! But – if you have no idea who I’m talking about, I’ll have links (they’ll open in a new tab for you) and such scattered throughout this post.
If you’ve read my last post, or are a friend of mine on Facebook, you know that Mister Twister turned 17 a couple months ago, and his big gift was two VIP tickets to see Home Free up in Dayton, OH, for their Don’t It Feel Good Tour! Long story short, I set this up with Mom back in July and had to sit on that surprise for a MONTH, but I made it. The boy introduced me to this vocal band a while back when I caught him singing Ring of Fire around the house; he emailed me their version and after watching a few more videos I got hooked too. He’s a bass in the school choir, and I wanted to be the one to take him to his first concert (that he would remember – I took him with me to see James Taylor back when he was still a toddler!). How cool to be able to meet these great guys that he looks up to and tries to emulate!? So a big shout out to my mom who made that happen!
WE LOVE YOU MOM!!
Now, we live in central KY and I knew I’d have a long drive ahead of me, but also that it’d be worth it. Initially I had no idea when the whole meet-and-greet thing was going to happen, so I just planned to get us into Dayton by 4 p.m. Having grown up near Cincinnati, I knew I’d have to handle some rush hour traffic too. Cincy is also the orange barrel (read: road construction, ugh) capital of the world and that was a slight wrench in the trip. I saw that Dayton also had some construction going on around the day of the show. Overall, this meant I took a half-day at work, leaving at noon so we could leave the house at 1:30. I went over the trip directions with Mr Twister so he could be a good copilot, and we were on our way!
Home Free has a new album out – Country Evolution, which I bought on Google Play a couple weeks ago – so he put that on shuffle and we spent the entire drive northbound singing along with them. [Sidenote: my favorite is only available on the Deluxe Edition, but I have loved this song since the early 80’s – Seven Bridges Road. Spring for the Deluxe if you can. Seriously. His favorite is their cover of Elvira, and he is pretty close to hitting those lows every time! I’m pretty damn proud of his ability at this age.] This kid makes a great road tripper! He handles all the texting and music when we drive anyway, but now he also helps watch out for ”driver stuff” (idiots, weather, closures, etc.).
We crossed the river and hit our first slowdown/standstill of road work traffic. I think at this point Godsmack or Pantera was playing, but we noticed that in between songs – those are metal bands – the speakers were making some weird alien noises I guess? And it seemed to be tied to whether or not I had the clutch engaged or was shifting gears. Regardless it was kinda hilarious to us! Time check once we cleared traffic: nearly 3:30 p.m. This is when I started to worry just a touch, because I assumed Dayton being about an hour north of where we were and the speed limit is lower than in KY!
We made it almost all the way to Dayton before hitting more construction traffic, and it was right at 4:30 when we did. Luckily I was able to navigate in a city I’ve never visited and only got us turned around twice! My copilot worked together with my phone GPS to find us a parking garage, and the clerk there told us it was just over a block to walk. We had only had lunch before leaving the house, so I was hoping to find us a place to eat before we got into the Victoria Theatre — but we parked the car at 4:50 and I knew by this point that we had to be in the lobby by 5 for this show! A brisk walk got us in the door literally one minute before they were closed. Whew.
[This is a good point at which you, my friend, can get up and stretch your legs or something. I’m at over 800 words now and just getting to the good parts! Some of you already know I tend to get detailed, and ramble.]
We were given lanyards with a plastic VIP card attached, two *beautiful* tour posters (I’m framing them!), and a couple other goodies plus the chance to shop their merch table. Then we were led into the theater, and as there were about 50 people in attendance, we were given the chance to ask the guys questions if there were any. There were a lot of good questions by people! We learned a little more about them all than I knew beforehand. This is also when I decided that each of them are just as they seem in any video I’d watched, and as I expected, are truly good folk — just absolutely down-to-earth guys. I realize that’s a cliche used all the time, but it is so true here! After Q&A we were treated to one song that they weren’t performing that night (Colder Weather) and then it was photo time!
^ My reaction ^
I may have gently slapped my son’s arm in excitement. His reaction was a bit less ‘fangirlish’ although he was pretty excited too. So we lined up with everyone to go on stage for photos with the group (or solo, but we chose separate group pics for ourselves). The line moved pretty quickly, actually, so good management happening there! I handed my phone to someone (Nate the tour manager?) and said, ¨it’s Android, you can tap the screen pretty much anywhere¨ and walked over to the guys. My mind went completely blank, and I will tell you with embarrassment that I don’t think I made eye contact with anyone until Rob said ¨Hey! How ya doin’? :D ¨
I literally told him, ¨I’m trying to keep my inner fangirl under control, heh¨ – and I don’t know if (a) they heard me, and/or (b) they laughed a little, because the next thing I saw was an open spot between Austin and Tim.
Please refer back to the gif above…..
I walked right up to Tim and said, ¨Can I hug you?¨ and he said ¨sure¨ and I think I died for a minute! [Sidenote: my son is the same height as Tim, and I know this is fact now because my head hit his chest in the same spot it hits my son’s chest, lol.] The guy holding my phone said something like ‘okay, everyone smile’ and Rob threw a thumbs-up, which I think really makes the picture:
I love that Austin made that face, even though I didn’t see it until much later! :D
From that point, the guy taking pictures tried to hand me my phone and I told him to hang on, same phone for my kid who’s next in line. I’m glad he did, because I was still so in awe of what was happening that I do not remember a thing until said kid was finished and we exited the main stage to keep the line going. His picture with them turned out *so* much better than mine!
Look at my boy’s face! He’s so happy to be standing *right there* with an aca-idol! I’m so very glad he got this experience!
As we stood offstage with the rest of the group, we chatted with a couple other Home Fries (a.k.a. the fandom) while awaiting further instructions, and looked at the pictures we got. Eventually someone said we would walk back across the stage for a quick autograph session, so ‘have your stuff ready for them to sign!’
I knew this would happen, so the night before the show, I had Mr Twister pull out his shirt from UK Male Chorus Day last year, when high school boys statewide converged upon Lexington to have a one-day workshop with The AcoUstiKats – who were also on The Sing Off, and had met Home Free as well – which culminated with a concert by the massive high school chorus, the UK chorus, and The AcoUstiKats. I crossed my fingers that the guys would sign a shirt, and I guessed right!
[As they were signing his shirt, I was attached at the waist to my VIP pass as it was being signed – and realized as I felt a slight tug (¨Oh, it’s attached to her! LOL¨ – Rob) that I had stopped moving to watch my son’s face when Austin signed him. Oops :) That tug pulled me back to reality and I finally talked to Chris for a few seconds, mentioning the road work in Cincy and to find a way around for the trip to Louisville if they could! Then I felt the boy’s hand on my shoulder and we were walking off stage again.] That picture is now my phone’s background image. I love it!
Exiting stage right — literally, a sign said Stage Right, lol — we got back to the seating area and briefly talked about food again, because it was now right at 6 and the show started at 7:30. With a final glance toward the stage we headed out of the theatre and decided to take our ‘swag’ back to the car. This would also ensure that later on we’d remember how to get to the garage! With a little help from Yelp and Google, we found The Flying Pizza (Dayton is the home of the Wright brothers!) and had a good dinner there with still more Home Fries.
We were seated by 7 and the place filled up. The atmosphere was great! People were chatting all around, there was music playing quietly from the stage area, websites in lights on the walls, and they allow drinks inside (bought at their bar, with or without alcohol) – I’ve missed going to concerts…. Anyway, the director of the theatre came onstage and talked a little bit about the upcoming season for them (it’s in the link above, near the beginning of my story), then told us he needed to take a selfie with all of us! Everyone waved and he got his selfie, then introduced the opening act 11th Hour — a group of high school kids who perform at superstar level. They were fantastic! Check out their Facebook page there, and if you’re in the area, check *them* out – you will not regret it!
Our seats were Orchestra Center, Row 5, on the aisle, stage right. Not quite close enough to get spittle from the human drum set – although he did give an 8-minute solo and we could see spit fly now and then! – named Adam, but also not quite the right seats for great photos or video. Still, I’m not even remotely upset or disappointed! They were absolutely great seats for enjoying the show! I did take a few photos and a couple of short videos when I wasn’t busy singing and dancing along.
The easiest thing to do is link my album from Google – click here to see the pictures I took!
I’m almost done …. the one photo/video I didn’t get but SO wish I had — after the show was really and truly over, someone with tour management announced that if we stayed in the lobby, the band wanted to come out and meet more people and sign autographs! I looked at my boy, then at the time, and left the decision to him if we were going to stay awhile longer. If we stayed, we were going to spend the night with Mom (just outside Cincy); if not, we were driving all the way home in one shot. He said he wanted to stay for about 5 minutes, and if we didn’t see them again by then, we could leave. Furious texting to Mom and Ardeo ensued with our plans and promises to let them both know what we’d do and all, then I put my phone back in my purse.
We happened to be standing by the bar area, not knowing that when Home Free walked out to the lobby, they would again be walking past us and close enough to touch! Someone across the way started clapping, and within moments the lobby was cheering as Austin walked out followed by three others. I realized that Tim had yet to walk out, but he was literally only 50 feet behind them. Mr Twister stood there watching, held up his hand, and Tim gave him a high five. I realized I’d missed a fabulous video opportunity but it was too late, and I got to see it happen anyway. Then I saw the boy’s face.
And he looked at his hand and said, ¨well, we can go now, if you want to.¨
Must have been in the top 5 highlights of the night for him. I laughed, and we started walking outside. Met up with another small group also headed to our parking garage, and as a firm believer in safety in numbers, we all walked together to the garage. I texted Mom to let her know we were driving on home, then texted Ardeo to have him leave the chain undone since we’d be coming home. Found out the hard way that 75 southbound is *closed* overnight right now, so we drove through Xavier University campus until I found numbers I knew – 471 will take me home!! Stopped off for fuel in Fort Thomas, pointed out to Mr Twister some of the places I worked while pregnant with this very child, and he stayed awake until we got back on 75 south in Florence. I was still buzzing pretty good from the excitement of the whole night that I had no problem driving, and keeping the radio turned on (and up!) helped without waking him up. We walked in our front door just after 1 a.m. to find Ardeo and Miss Hurricane still awake – my kids are on Fall Break anyway – and asking how the night went. They only got a quick rundown before I was ready to sleep! I was awake for 21 hours at that point so I promised to tell them more the next day. I wanted nothing more than to sleep in a little on a lovely vacation day!
But I have a cat. Finnegan demands his gooshy food no later than 7:30 a.m., so guess what time I woke up on Friday? :D
Best mom/son date ever. Thank you, son, for taking me to the show with you when you could have chosen to take my mom instead!
Also, if you have the chance to see Home Free live, GO. Even if you’re not a fan of country music, because they do have more than country music in their repertoire, they are amazing. I helpfully linked their tour page at the top, but here it is again :)
At the least, find them on YouTube and see what they’ve covered, then find an original song by them. Worth it! They’re also on a site called Patreon if you want to check that out. (I also like Julian Neel, who I found also from my son via YouTube!)
** I am truly just telling my story about attending their concert! I have not been asked to do so and will not be reimbursed for anything – I’m just a Fry spreading the good word! I get nothing from you clicking any links, other than a smile if I find out you looked and maybe listened :) **
As always, thanks for dropping by! Namaste, my friends.