“One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.”
We love our fans.
I know every artist/performer says that, or at least is supposed to say that. Seriously though, we spend a lot of time – often more time than we actually spend on stage – with our fans. After most of our shows, Rae will come out and take selfies and sign autographs for anyone willing to stick around, and we don’t leave until we’ve met every last person. No time limit, no “the line ends here” business… everyone gets a selfie, a hug, or whatever we can give them to let them know they’re special and important to us.
We (the band) come out and help control the crowd and entertain them while they wait. I’ve come to regard this as my second “performance” of the night. I yell instructions (vocal projection is one of my spiritual gifts), take selfies, make bad jokes, and occasionally let people touch my hair.
The vast majority of fans who want a picture with me are female. I have no problem with this. However, I’ve noticed that the older the girl, the bolder and – sometimes – downright rude they are about asking for the picture. Here’s a breakdown:
– 2-9 year olds: Generally shy about the whole deal. Their mothers often have to goad them into actually posing with me, which makes them even more adorable. I don’t mind them one bit, unless they have a messy diaper… which happens more often than you think.
– Tweens/Teens: Tend to ask politely for a picture, often between giggles. If they’re in a group, the shy ones will hide behind the one who is asking. Again, lots of giggling.
– 20-30 somethings: Still polite, but often more declarative. “Oooh! Let’s take a picture!!” Less giggling, but still a good deal of excitement. About this age they start wanting to touching the hair.
– Cougars: The worst. More often than not, they don’t even bother asking – they just yell “HEY YOU! YOU WERE IN THE BAND! TAKE A PICTURE WITH ME!” then grab my arm and pull me into the frame. Ironically, they tend to have the most trouble working camera phones so we generally just stand there posing and sweating on each other for a couple of minutes while their friend fiddles with the camera or accidentally takes a selfie.
– The elderly: Honestly I haven’t been asked to take too many pictures with this crowd, but I will say that a surprising number of old ladies have grabbed my butt while doing so.
While I try to spend as much time with each person in the line that I can, the truth is that I often forget these encounters soon after they happen. As much as I wish that I could remember everyone’s name and face and story whenever it pleases me to do so, it’s simply too much for my little brain to handle (I often forget my own zip code).
That being said, there was a beautiful moment the other night that I believe will stick with me for some time. I had just announced to the crowd that Rae would only be signing her CDs and 8x10s at this particular show (we do this so that the line moves consistently and we can get to everyone).
After my announcement, a young girl – perhaps 5 years old or so – turned to her mother and exclaimed, “Oh no mommy! I don’t have a CD for her to sign!” Without hesitation, a teenage boy standing near them walked up and offered her the CD he had bought. She was elated. I asked if they knew each other, and he said that he didn’t. I asked him to wait a moment, then ran to the merch table and bought him a CD to replace the one he had given away.
It was such a simple gesture – a $5 CD – but his gift made her night. It made MY night. Just to see someone willing, at a moment’s notice, to give up something of their own just to see someone else smile.
I sometimes have people who are new to town ask me advice on how to get started in Nashville. While I feel wholly under qualified to give advice on such matters, the one thing I am confident in telling them is to be generous. Nashville is full of great guitar players – being known as a good player often doesn’t set you apart from the crowd that much. Being generous however… that’s a tall compliment no matter your profession. I would rather be known as someone who is giving than someone who is merely gifted.
Buy someone coffee. Or a meal. Give something away. You’ll be surprised how addictive – and how contagious – this sort of behavior can be.
To the fellow who gave up his CD: thank you for the reminder. Keep it up. The world needs more of this sort of thing.