How do you write about a dream come true? Honestly, I’m not sure. This could turn out to be a mess of a recap. But I’m giving it the ol’ college try anyway, because an evening this special demands documentation.
Now that I’ve finished writing it, I will warn you that this is the longest recap I have ever written. Take the amount of time you usually spend reading one of my recaps at my music blog at http://capsandviews.wordpress.com (Nicole Eclectic’s ‘Caps & ‘Views) and double it.
I have given each part headings to help you out. “The Dream” offers a little background; “Fanswell: Making Dreams Come True Since 2013” explains a little about the booking process; “The Hiccup” touches a little on the show’s postponement and rescheduling; “Graham Colton Is Coming to My House When?!” refers to preparations for the show; and I think the remaining headings “The Big Day,” “Our Guests Come Marching In (Including the Guest of Honor),” “Graham Colton Is Performing in My Living Room – Somebody Pinch Me” and “‘Let’s All Hang Out!'” are pretty self-explanatory.
If you would rather not read certain parts of this recap and want to skip to what appear to be the most interesting parts, go right ahead. I promise I won’t be offended.
(Edited to add: I’m excited to share that I have made significant changes to this post. Graham has given me permission to share with you all the five best audio recordings I took of the show, so they are now posted here. I’m also sharing with you an incredibly adorable video taken by my friend Berkley.)
I say this is a dream come true because, almost since the moment we moved to Oklahoma, I have imagined how wonderful it would be to have Graham Colton play in my home. This may sound like a strange dream to have, but when you live in your favorite musician’s home state, and that musician is as warm, welcoming, friendly, and engaging as is Graham, such a dream seems almost possible.
Since I became Graham’s fan after seeing him live for the first time in 2010, we have developed a connection that, to me anyway, seemed to go a little beyond a typical musician-fan relationship. And I don’t really know how to explain it or how it even developed that way. I have made a great effort over the years to get all my friends to listen to Graham, and many of you have (and I am extremely grateful!). In 3 years I have attended 8 of his shows, including not one but two while I was sick. We have kept in touch via Facebook, Twitter, and recently, e-mail.
(At my music blog, I have written recaps for every Graham Colton show I have ever attended. Click on the “Graham Colton” tag and you’ll find them all, if you feel inclined to read any or all of them. They do provide a sort of fun history of my fandom and our friendship.)
When I first got an e-mail from a website called Fanswell, saying I had been chosen as a potential host for a concert for Graham, my reaction was something like, “Cool. Too bad there’s no way I could do it.” My heart ached, but I clicked the link in the e-mail and wrote a lengthy sob story about why I couldn’t do it.
What was stopping me? Two things: money and proximity. The e-mail specified that Graham was seeking home venues near his hometown of Oklahoma City. As a Bartlesville resident, I lived a good three hours from Oklahoma City.
The money thing was a much larger obstacle. Fanswell noted that hosts could offer “as much as they and their friends can afford.” I read this as “as much as you think [the musician] is worth.” Thinking the world of Graham, I felt he was worth approximately 5 to 10 times more than I could afford.
Maybe a day after I got that e-mail and sent my response through the website, I received another e-mail… this time from Graham himself. In it, he told me that he had personally nominated me as a potential host.
Well. This changed everything.
Fanswell: Making Dreams Come True Since 2013
That afternoon, I told Eric about Graham’s offer. He was immediately extremely enthusiastic about the idea, and he said we should go for it. He even suggested how much we should offer.
Unfortunately, our wires got a little crossed, and I didn’t realize Eric was telling me I should go ahead and put in an offer. As a result, I didn’t actually go about making an offer for another week. When I went about doing so, I received a message saying, “This date has been booked. Thank you for your interest.”
What?! Oh, heck no.
This would not do. I e-mailed Graham and told him that I was really interested in hosting a show but that the date I had been given was booked. I asked him if he would be able to offer me another date.
Not long after I sent this e-mail, Graham went on the road for several weeks, so I had to wait awhile for him to get back to me. Eventually he did and told me that through Fanswell I could choose another date.
I had to go back and forth with a member of Fanswell’s team before I was able to access and then use this feature. A gentleman named Seth was very patient with my persistent e-mails; every time I apologized for being such a nuisance, he assured me I was not and that he was there to help, period.
Finally, I received a Facebook message from Graham sending me a new Fanswell link that would offer me a new date. That date was November 22. It seemed perfect to me; it was a Friday, well ahead of Thanksgiving so as to be unlikely to interfere with travel plans, and happened to be a Friday in which Eric didn’t work.
I made the offer, then immediately messaged Graham asking him to please wait before he “officially” accepted my offer. I needed to make sure money was in our checking account first. Graham was kind enough to do so, and I made sure I got money into our account as quickly as possible so as to not leave him hanging.
Most of you probably are aware of what happened next: an ice storm hit Oklahoma City right on the day that Graham was supposed to arrive. The driving was too treacherous, and Graham had to postpone the show. (If you want to read more about that, please see my blog post about it here: https://adventuresofnicoleeclectic.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/the-concert-that-didnt-happen/)
And now you know why I’ve titled this recap “The Concert That Did Happen,” if you hadn’t figured it out already.
Within a few days, Graham and I agreed on a new date. My sister Danielle had made a suggestion of having the show in January rather than attempting a December date. Her reasoning was that people were likely to be busy with holiday parties, children’s Christmas activities, concerts, and the like during December, but January would likely have far less competition. I thought this made a lot of sense, and so I offered that suggestion to Graham.
He was all for it and suggested either January 10 or 11. The choice was between a Friday and a Saturday. I figured a Saturday show would be more likely to draw people from out of town (even out of state!) who might otherwise have trouble making a Friday show, thanks to that pesky thing called “work.” So I chose the Saturday date.
Graham Colton Is Coming to My House When?!
Fast forward through a busy December in which I was exceedingly glad I wasn’t also trying to plan a concert party. I tried very hard to stay in the Christmas mindset and not peek ahead to January. I was apparently so successful at doing this that when, on December 28, I took my girlios to the library, and I looked at the due date slips telling us to bring our materials back by January 11, I hadn’t realized just how close the date was.
But when I reflected upon the fact that library materials are due back two weeks from their date of check-out, it hit me with the force of a landslide: Graham Colton is coming to my house in two weeks!
So the following Monday I launched into preparations once more. I started my daily reminders to the people I had invited through Facebook that they needed to RSVP. I cleaned my house with an intensity that I don’t think I matched even back when my concert date was in November. I began making food. Again I brought out the checklists I had made and used back in November to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I even bought a bunch more candles (thank you, Bath & Body Works sales and coupons!).
I connected with Graham a few more times, and even Seth got involved again by e-mailing and asking if I had any questions or concerns. The one thing I did differently from last time was ask Graham if he would play a few songs that I had never heard live. I also asked him to play a song that Elena liked, and one that Kiersten liked (albeit because we have a burned CD in our car that skips every time the song plays, causing it to sound silly).
My only real concern leading up to the show was the audience. With mere days to go, I had very few people tell me absolutely that they were coming. Worse still, in the two days before the show, I had about 6 people tell me either that they couldn’t come or that they weren’t sure if they could come. They were evenly split between already-confirmed and “maybe.”
This led to my going into a panicky tailspin the afternoon before the show. The one thing I wanted more than anything was for Graham to feel like coming to my home to play was worth his while. I was afraid that if our audience was too small, Graham would feel like he had wasted his time. Not that he would ever tell me that in a million years; I know Graham is far too kind for that. But it would be hard for me to believe he felt otherwise.
Fortunately, in the evening I heard from 5 people all at once. That raised our guest total from 7 to 12 — far more respectable. And that was counting only the people who had confirmed absolutely they would be there; if the 2 people who weren’t sure were able to make it, that would be 14. I was so relieved.
(Quick faith-related note here: when I was at my lowest, I prayed that God would either drastically increase our number of guests or else show me how to give Graham such a great concert that he barely even noticed he was playing for a tiny audience. I prayed without having a lot of confidence that either would happen. And yet the former, and perhaps also the latter, did. God is so good.)
The Big Day
Finally, the big day arrived. I had my alarm set for 7:40 with every intention of sleeping till then. Not surprisingly, I woke a little before 6 instead. Thanks to my morning routine (read my “30 Days of Hustle” blog posts for more about that), I was ready to start making my final preparations for the show by 7. Those included bringing out all the food, letting the vast quantity of rolls thaw, placing the soup in the slow cookers, and doing a last series of vacuuming of the living room and our study/playroom.
Every now and then, I remembered at which points during my original show date certain events had transpired. For instance, around 10 a.m. I remembered that last time I had received my first e-mail from Graham asking about the weather around that time. Around noon, I reflected that this was about the time when Graham had called me to discuss contingency plans. Around 4 p.m., I realized that by this time last time, the show had been cancelled.
I mention this because the first e-mail I got from Graham on this day arrived a little after 11:30 and said, simply, “Excited for tonight!” What a lovely change that was.
Our final preparations were so well executed that I was able to leave with Elena for a birthday party just before 2 p.m. and return home right around 4, for a party that would start at 5:30, and not be behind at all when I got home. I was helped by Kiersten, who had been sweet enough to sweep the front sidewalk to our house, and Eric, who did some things I hadn’t even thought of, like filling a carafe with hot water for cocoa.
I ran out of things to do right around 5 p.m., and spent the next half-hour with a stomach filling with butterflies. I had started our playlist of pre-show songs, and I released some of my tension by belting out Kris Allen’s “Vision of Love” and Sara Bareilles’ “Uncharted.” Then I went dancing through my house during other songs. I’m very glad no one was around (aside from Eric, who looked as completely relaxed as I was a restless bundle of nerves) to record my craziness.
Our Guests Come Marching In (Including the Guest of Honor)
Right at 5:30 guests began arriving, beginning with Berkley, my Tulsa buddy with whom I had traveled to a recent Oklahoma City Graham show. She had two friends in tow, Lauren and Melissa, who were very sweet.
More guests poured in, including one friend of mine named Alexis who hadn’t been sure if she could attend. Also arriving was Heather, a woman who lived down the street from me whose daughter goes to the same school as Elena. I had only just invited her that afternoon, at Elena’s friend’s birthday party. I was so delighted that she came.
I kept encouraging people to eat and drink; meanwhile I myself had no appetite. I was way too nervous!
The funny thing is that everyone who arrived knocked or rang the doorbell to announce their entrance– everyone, that is, except for the guest of honor. As a result, I didn’t know Graham had arrived until he was in my entryway and saying “Knock knock!” I nearly fainted from shock when I realized my favorite musician was now standing in my house.
Sorry, let me just gather myself for a few seconds. I’m still not quite over this.
The next hour or so is a blur. More guests arrived, and our house filled up more and more. I was trying not to freak out over the presence of Graham in my house and be a decent hostess at the same time. I remember filling children’s drink cups. I remember chatting with other guests. I remember, somehow, chatting with Graham as if he were just another person.
A few things I do remember: Graham loved the stage Eric built, and he said it was just the coolest thing he had seen. Graham kept trying to congratulate me for it, even give me credit for the idea of the stage, but I stressed repeatedly that that had been all Eric. I even told him that I had laughed at Eric when he suggested it!
Graham also kept saying that he was going to “snoop” (i.e., check out the rest of the house), and I joked that no, no, I didn’t want him to see the rest of my house. (Ha!) I showed him around, and he fell in love with our study/playroom thanks to all the guitars on our walls. He even said “I’m jealous!” I then showed him my office, complete with his Blue Door poster hanging inside.
He also took a look at our kitchen, which he proclaimed was also awesome. I pointed out the rooster on the dishwasher and told him my story of how our realtor had said she was sure the rooster was a magnet and could be removed. I then had said something like “not on your life!” Graham agreed that the rooster shouldn’t go anywhere, haha.
Shortly after I showed off my kitchen, several of the kids (including my own younger, Elena) appeared in the hallway from Elena’s bedroom, where they had been playing. They stared, transfixed, at Graham for a few moments. “Hi guys!” he said to them. Almost as one, their eyes widened, and they turned and ran back toward Elena’s bedroom, squealing. Graham and I cracked up laughing. “You scared them,” I teased. (I also added that I had that reaction every time he talked to me, but that I kept it inside.)
After he took this “tour” he gushed, and I do mean gushed, over our house. He said how “perfect” and “awesome” and “fantastic” it was, and yes, I’m quite sure he used those exact words. Considering that this is my dream home, and that Eric and I have worked very hard to make it as perfect as we can on a limited budget, he might as well have been calling me perfect, awesome, and fantastic. It turned me into a puddle, at least on the inside. On the outside I managed to remain upright and appear human.
Graham had brought an enormous bin full of merchandise. At the very top, to my surprise and delight, was my Kickstarter package. (They included my signed copy of his CD, a brand-new T-shirt, and two thank-you notes, a general one to his entire fandom and a personal one just to me.) Just beneath it was a vinyl copy of his new album, “Lonely Ones,” which I had requested he bring so we could buy it off him. He actually… I think… gave it us for free. That is, he never asked for payment, and we never gave him any. I hope that wasn’t accidental!
I told Graham that I had a special place prepared for him to use as a merch table. When he was done unloading his speaker, microphone and stand, and guitar, I led him back to our study/playroom and showed him the credenza that we had moved there in November specifically for this purpose. He couldn’t have been more delighted.
When he’d set everything up, it really did look like a merch table from one of his concerts. I was tickled.
Two more things I remember pre-show: at one point, he was playing videos of his incredibly adorable baby girl Colette (aka Coco, for “COlette COlton”) while sitting next to Berkley on our red day bed/sofa. I happened to look over and saw this, and I ran right over, demanding, “You’re showing off baby videos without me??” They were as cute as you could imagine. After two or three videos, Graham said, “I could do this all night!” Such a proud daddy.
Finally, about 15 minutes or so before his scheduled start time, Graham asked me if there was a quiet place he could go to warm up for a few minutes. I suggested our master bedroom, so away he went.
I went to chat with the kiddos in Elena’s bedroom about how the show would be starting soon, and they could certainly come out and listen if they wanted, or they could stay there. I added that I didn’t mind if they went back and forth, but that it was important to do so quietly.
When I went back out to the living room, I passed by our bedroom and heard Graham’s voice singing. For the rest of my life, I’m going to remember that Graham Colton once sang in my bedroom.
…I really didn’t mean that to sound as creepy as it did.
Graham reemerged, told me he was ready whenever I was, and then said “it’s up to you! It’s your show!” I laughed and said “I do not want to be in charge of when you start!” I went through all the rooms, rounding up our guests and letting them know Graham was about to start. Then I went to Graham and told him we were all ready for him.
Graham Colton Sings in My Living Room – Somebody Pinch Me
Graham took the stage, thanked us all for coming, thanked Eric and me for opening our home to him, and announced in front of 16 or so people (if you count myself and Eric) that I was “one of his favorite people” and that he was so honored to be playing in my home. He added that he was really nervous because I “remember all the songs that [he had] forgotten,” and that I might yell out songs that he wouldn’t be able to remember, and then he’d be really embarrassed. (Ha!)
He started with one of the several songs I requested he play, “Let It Go.” This is a beautiful song that closes his Here Right Now CD. I had never heard it live before, and it was gorgeous. He said before he started that he was worried about singing it because he wasn’t sure he’d remember all the lyrics. When he finished I told him, straight out, “You didn’t miss a single lyric! I’m so impressed!”
Next he played “1981,” his song about his parents’ courtship. This was cute because as he explained what the song was about, I heard a few of the ladies sitting next to me coo “awwww!” One of those same women, a friend named Amanda, asked me (I think during this song) if Graham had sung a song called “Best Days.” I confirmed that he had, and she became very excited because she suddenly realized she kind of, sort of, knew this guy!
Graham then performed another song I had requested, “Start Somewhere,” which was, as he described it, an “obscure song” from an EP he released called Twenty-Something. He told us about how he had released it at a time of transition in his life, when he was journeying from artist-with-a-record-label to independent musician. It may have been “obscure,” but for a brief period of time, when I first started listening to Graham, it was my favorite song. I still love it, and it’s still probably my favorite from that EP.
Next Graham told us that he was about to perform a song from his new album Lonely Ones, which was going to be his first single and be pushed to radio. (Alternative rock, I assume. I really hope it takes off!) Anyway, he started a lengthy but, to me, also a fascinating explanation of how he came about taking a new direction with his new album. He mentioned Kickstarter; he mentioned a new kind of stream-of-consciousness he went into when writing lyrics; he mentioned new and different collaborations he participated in. After several minutes of this (I was riveted, by the way, and I didn’t realize this “break” was so long until I listened to audio later), my friend Kandis’ phone rang, and her ringtone was the closing theme to “Looney Tunes.” We all cracked up laughing, and Graham made a joke about how that was clearly a sign that he needed to shut up and start singing.
He went on to perform “Hands Untied” acoustic. I had suspected, from the beginning of his little talk, that this was the song he would sing next, because I thought that it was the first single planned from Lonely Ones. But part of me wondered if I was mistaken about this, because I once watched a video of Graham performing a different Lonely Ones song called “Funeral” in which he said that only it and “Another Night” were really suitable for acoustic performance. He even mentioned before he began that this was the first time he would perform it acoustic, and it was “fitting” that he was performing it in my living room. I don’t know why it was fitting, but I felt honored all the same.
This might have been my favorite performance of the evening. He killed this song. He attacked it with gusto and powered through it with his remarkable voice, both delicate as necessary and muscular as needed.
Side note: Graham has told me more times than I can count that he isn’t a “real musician.” “I’m a songwriter, not a singer or musician.” I am here to tell you that he is a liar. Graham’s voice may not be conventionally gorgeous or richly textured or classically trained. But Graham has what so many singers never quite achieve: honesty and vulnerability. His voice expresses emotion like no other artist I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to, and I listen to some pretty incredible singers. And the thing is… you can’t teach that. You either have it or you don’t. I’m here to tell you that Graham Colton has it.
Okay, back to our show.
Berkley, who had moved from the red sofa/daybed to sit next to me, then asked Graham if “Morning Light” was on the setlist. He responded, “It is now!” He told us an hilarious story about how he had written this song with Kevin Griffin, a hitmaking songwriter and part of the band Better Than Ezra. He said that the day he wrote this song with Kevin, the latter had showed him this one song he had just started working on that he was really proud of and believed would be a hit. Graham listened to it and agreed that he had something there. He then asked Kevin if he would be willing to give it to him, and Kevin replied, “No… I think I’m going to hang onto this one.”
As it turned out, Graham told us, that song was “Collide,” sung by Howie Day. (You may have heard that song, if you ever listened to popular radio during the 2000s!) He said that he first heard it on the radio himself a few years later, and he called Kevin a very nasty name. (We all laughed.)
“Morning Light” is probably my favorite of the Drive ballads. It has an aching vulnerability that I think anyone who has ever been in love, in one of those uncertain stages of a relationship, can relate to.
After this song, Graham asked if we needed an intermission (Ha!). Eric said he thought this was probably the calmest Graham had ever seen me during one of his shows. (Thanks, honey!) I told him I didn’t want to embarrass myself by being my usual crazy-boisterous self. He then told us that I give him “so much cred” just by being in his audience. “‘You have cool fans, man. Pink hair!'”
He went on to tell us that he was going to sing another new song, and it was “Funeral.” I have recently fallen in love with this song again, once I heard the full-band-album version as opposed to the acoustic version. Although I always love hearing his voice acoustic, and in this song especially, so I was eager to hear it live.
Bless him. Graham tried so hard to explain an inexplicable song. I mentioned in my last Graham recap the lengthy conversation I had with him regarding this very song. He told me then what he tried hard to explain now: that it was kind of another stream-of-consciousness sort of thing, where it wasn’t really discussing a specific experience, or anything autobiographical, or really anything specific at all. It was more about exploring mortality and receiving the catharsis of working through emotions that he didn’t completely understand through his music.
He sang this song so beautifully, and as powerfully as he had with “Hands Untied.” I suspect that the reason those two songs were his best of the evening, at least as far as technical performance goes, is because they’re two of his newest ones. Graham told me after the show that he has been working so hard on these new songs, preparing to launch them, that he has a harder time remembering his older songs. (Of course, there’s also the issue that, as the rapidly expanding music folder on my computer entitled “Graham Colton” can attest, he now has an enormous catalog of music!)
Practically the moment he finished singing, though, he was apologizing for performing “such a dark song.” Ha! I actually think the song seems a lot darker than it really is — I, personally, have come to find it a hopeful song, and I even now equate it with Jesus. (The fact that the first line is “There’s blood on my hands” helps to immediately makes me think of Jesus.)
He then said, “I need to do something happy!” to make up for the darkness of “Funeral.” He suggested performing “All Because of You.” That was a song I had requested for Elena, as it’s her favorite. I heartily agreed and added, “Let me go get my daughter!” I left the living room and went to her bedroom to retrieve her.
When I told Elena that Graham was about to sing “All Because of You” and asked her if she wanted to hear it… the entire room wanted to come with me! That’s all 10 children, including my own. So I figured, why not? Start them young, that’s what I always say.
So I brought them to the living room and announced, “Look out, they’re all coming!” Right then Winnie, our dog, ran toward the front of the living room, amidst much amusement. With all the kids assembled, Graham then announced that he wanted to take a photo of the whole room.
Unfortunately, this was exactly the wrong thing to say to my darling Elena. She shrieked “NO! NO!!!!” and ran right back out of the room. I apologized and explained that she was a little camera shy. Graham said sheepishly, “I shouldn’t have announced it!” Then he decided to put away his camera and said he’d take a picture later.
Several of the kids chose to sit right in front of the stage, on our red sofa/daybed. Graham told them that this was definitely a “dancing song,” so they should get ready to dance.
And dance they did!
Toward the back of the room, my older daughter Kiersten danced with one of the other kids; in the front, most of the rest of the kids jumped around and did their own various interpretive dances, as only enthusiastic 5- to 8-year-olds can do. It was completely adorable, hilarious, and definitely one of the high points of the evening. And Graham, clearly, loved every second.
Right before the bridge, Graham explained to the kids that we would start singing really quietly, and then gradually get louder and “go crazy.” They totally got it, and sure enough, we had a great quiet-to-crazy-loud build during the bridge. I don’t think Graham’s adult audiences could have done better.
At first, the kids were ready to leave the living room again right after “All Because of You” ended. Graham spent some time in gratitude, thanking us again, reminding us about our “really professional merchandise wing” (I laughed, but I think Graham actually meant it!), and encouraging everyone to stick around afterward to check out the merch and chat.
But then most of the little ones wandered back in. At first Graham said he would perform “Suitcase,” which both Elena and Kiersten love. However, the kids were still pretty wound up from the dance party of the previous song, and Graham quickly realized that this song might be too slow for them. He then dug back into his catalog for a song with more of a beat, and he pulled out “Right Behind You,” which I had never heard live, so this was an unexpected treat for me. “Right Behind You” is from the Twenty-Something EP, and I wonder if that was at front of Graham’s mind because he had dusted off “Start Somewhere” for me.
Graham performed this song at a faster tempo than it is on the EP, which was pretty awesome of him. Equally awesome was the way the kiddos continued dancing energetically, and even more awesome was the way Graham occasionally caught sight of their dancing and couldn’t stop chuckles from slipping out mid-sing.
I joked to him afterward that their dancing probably made him feel a lot more like it was a typical “Nicole” concert.
Graham commented then that he wished had more energetic songs for the kids to continue dancing to. I suggested “Pacific Coast Eyes,” and he decided that was an acceptable alternative. He then told the kiddos that this song was a little less frenzied dancing and more like a wave. I loved the way he described it to them. When Elena started hula dancing (or her version of hula dancing, anyway!), he immediately said “yes, like a hula!”
He also asked if they wanted to participate in a singalong, and they were instantly agreeable to this idea as well. He told them that every time he sang this one part, he would point to them and encourage them to sing it. Then he introduced it: “Buh buh BAH-dum buh buh buh buh-dum, buh buh BAH-dum buh buh buh buh-dum,” and they of course caught on right away. He launched right into the song, and the kids (along with the adults) all sang our “buh buh BAH-duh”s with relish every time. (I also wound up singing this song more loudly than any other aside from my final request song of the evening. Oops.)
That final request song of the evening just happened to be the song I wanted to hear more than any other. For at least the past year, possibly two, I have been in love with a bonus track from Pacific Coast Eyes called “With You.” I had requested this song from Graham at least three times, and possibly more. He had never sung it at any of my shows, and as far as I knew, he never had performed it live, period (which he confirmed shortly before introducing the song). I didn’t blame him — it’s a bonus song from his most recent full-length CD, and he usually doesn’t perform such obscure songs live unless he feels strongly about them.
So when Graham announced he was going to perform it, I literally cheered. Then, right before he began, he blanked on the first line. I mistakenly gave him the first line of the second verse, immediately realized I was wrong, and then gave him the right first line. He immediately said “yeah, that’s it, there it is. Wow, you’re right there!”
Meanwhile, Berkley said “You’re good!” admiringly, and then I explained to Graham that this was now my favorite song of his. He responded in surprise, “Really?!” He added, “I’m going to give it my best shot. You’re going to help me with the lyrics.” I promised I would.
I had to hush the kiddos (meaning my daughter and one of her friends, LOL) during the first verse because they had decided to start play patty-cake (and chanting “left-right-left” loudly), and sorry, but during my favorite song, that wasn’t going to fly. Bless them, they immediately did so.
To his everlasting credit, Graham didn’t require my assistance with the lyrics again until he got to the first chorus, and he paused ever-so-briefly and glanced at me. I started it for him, and he grabbed it immediately.
Another side note: I’m going to be completely honest here, and confess that helping Graham with the lyrics of that song was one of the highlights of my evening. It felt like we were a team, and for me, personally, the only thing that is even more enjoyable than enjoying a concert given by my favorite singer-songwriter was feeling as if I were actually part of his concert.
Granted, he had managed to do this all evening. But it never felt more personal than it did when I helped him sing my favorite song.
As it happened, my darling Eric took just one video all evening, and it was this one. I know Graham might be a little embarrassed about needing help with the lyrics of this song, so I’m not going to make it public on YouTube. Only you, my faithful blog readers, will be able to watch.
(The other person you occasionally hear singing in this video is my amazing husband, by the way!)
Graham was at first planning to end the evening with “Suitcase.” But just as he was offering his final thank-yous, Alexis leaned toward me and quietly confessed that she had really wanted to hear a song called “Hold on…?” “Hold on to My Heart?” I offered. “Yes, that… do you think he might play it?” “I’ll bet he would,” I told her. “I’ll ask him.”
So gently I interrupted: “Hey, Graham? My friend Alexis would really love to hear ‘Hold on to My Heart.'” Immediately, Graham said, “Okay! We’re going to do two more songs!” Alexis told him how she found the song on YouTube and really loved it, couldn’t stop listening to it. He told her how much he appreciated that and that it meant a lot to him that she enjoyed the song so much.
For all his claims of nerves and worries of forgetting lyrics, this was actually the only time of the evening when Graham had a complete and total lyric fail. However, I’m quite certain I’m the only person who noticed. You couldn’t tell by looking at him, which just goes to show what an utter pro he is. He asked me afterward if I had noticed, and I confessed I had. But I told him I didn’t think anyone else noticed.
Finally Graham performed “Suitcase.” About half-way through this song, my Elena and Nevaeh, Alexis’ daughter, began to slowly head-bang. It was another one of those hilariously adorable moments that only young children can offer. Graham and I exchanged smiles when we noticed it. I think he really fed off the young ones’ energy, because I don’t ever remember his delivering this song with such exuberance before.
After well over an hour, my special living room concert was over. I could have continued listening all night, of course, but I was so happy to have gotten so many songs I had longed to hear, two additional songs I had never before heard live, several old favorites, and two of his newest songs.
“Let’s All Hang Out!”
Graham said “Let’s all hang out!” when he was done, and I was so glad to see that absolutely no one looked inclined to leave just yet.
Right after he left the stage, Elena’s best friend Elana (the one whose birthday party she’d attended that afternoon) went right up to Graham and told him today was her birthday. He said happy birthday to her while I explained that this was Elena’s best friend. She showed off the “BFF” necklace that she had and explained she had given one to Elena as well. Graham was very sweet with her.
(The next morning, Elana’s mother Kandis told me that Elana had decided that when she grew up, she was going to marry Graham. Hee!)
Speaking of Graham and little ladies: he gave Elena a free poster that he had signed. The rest of the girls then lined up, wanting their own Graham-signed posters. And of course, he gave all of them away free.
I was thrilled to see all the people lining up to buy CDs. I had grabbed my checkbook so I could buy a pair of CDs and a T-shirt for a friend of mine, Tonya, who hadn’t been able to come. But it turned out that I had to wait a long time to buy them, because so many other guests were buying and buying and buying some more.
As much as I loved the show, as much as I loved hanging out with Graham and seeing my guests so obviously appreciative of him and his performing… nothing made me happier than seeing all those people eagerly buying CDs. And most of them didn’t just buy one! It really and truly made me feel like I had accomplished my primary goal in hosting Graham — making new fans.
My favorite part of the post-show, aside from the great conversations Eric and I had with Graham (some of which is a blur, particularly a tasty in-depth discussion on his new album direction), was talking to a group of guests who asked me an urgent question: “Where did you find this guy?” It was a question asked in awed tones, like they couldn’t believe I’d lucked into meeting such a talented, professional musician who was also such a down-to-earth guy, enough so that he would give a show in the home of a mere mortal fan.
You know, in retrospect… I almost can’t believe it myself.
I came *thisclose* to forgetting to give Graham the gift I had bought for him months ago, embellished with a silly little something I had impulsively knitted about a week prior: a bottle of Maker’s Mark whiskey (his favorite brand) adorned with a tiny pom-pom-topped beanie and scarf. Graham absolutely loved it, and he announced, “This will go in my liquor cabinet — wearing these.”
Eric also asked Graham if he would be willing to sign his very first guitar. Graham was a little stunned by the request, I think. But Eric insisted that he really never played that particular guitar anymore (which is true – he plays his electric bass most of the time these days, or else a different acoustic guitar) and really wanted Graham to sign it.
Graham strummed it a few times, too, and declared that it was a really nice-sounding guitar. Eric told me later that he agreed, it really was a lovely guitar. I suppose if we ever get in dire straits we can sell the guitar on eBay. (LOLOLOL that is NEVER happening)
After Graham signed it, Eric went adorably fan-boy on Graham — telling him how much he enjoyed Graham and his musicianship, how much he inspired him, and so on. Graham was so honored and touched, and I was too, honestly. I had no idea Eric felt that way about Graham. I knew he liked and admired him, but I hadn’t realized Graham was such a musical influence on Eric.
Though I should have, in retrospect. When Eric first got his electric bass, the very first thing he did was cue up some of Graham’s songs and attempt to play the bass lines.
We asked Graham to sign our vinyl, too. Graham had the idea to make it a commemorative type of signature, as you can see below. It was perfect. (And I need to buy a new shadow box, at least until we finally get a turntable. Ha!)
Oh, and earlier I had asked Graham if I could get a photo with him, and he said “of course! It’s tradition!” I asked Berkley to take it for me, and Graham gave her strict instructions to make sure it was a good one.
Not bad. I was still glowing, of course.
We helped Graham take his equipment, gear, et cetera out to his car. The fangirl in me noted it was a Chevy Tahoe. (A nice family vehicle, much like our Buick Rendezvous. Hee.) While outside, we reminisced a little about our previous shows, like one in Columbus where we had hung flyers all over the downtown area in an effort to publicize it, and about how I had been sick at the first two full-band shows I had attended.
As we were walking back inside, Graham happened to say something really complimentary (I don’t remember exactly what) about Eric and me. One of our friends, Seth (not the Fanswell Seth, obviously) jokingly said something like “you obviously don’t know them very well, then.” I pretended to hit him, then retorted, “I’ll have you know that Graham probably knows me better than you do!”
And honestly? I think that could very well be true. Over the past five years, I have gotten to know many musicians. I’ve hung out with several of them, am well known to many of them, and have communicated with a few of them frequently.
But Graham Colton is the first musician I have been a fan of that I think I can truly call a friend. Graham suggested a few times during the course of the evening — before, during, and after the show — that he wanted to do this again. That is, here, in our home. I told him he would absolutely be welcome back.
And during the show, toward the end, he said to me, “I hope we’ll be friends forever.”
So do I, Graham. So do I.