I think it’s time for Keith Urban to start a class for entertainers in Nashville. The class could be called something like “How to have a Fun Meet & Greet for your Fans,” or perhaps, “How to have a “Meet, Greet and Eat Experience.” Since I’m sure Keith won’t be giving any lessons about how to do this – country singers, listen up. You can learn it all right here.
I’ve been to my share of Meet & Greets, mostly at fairs, and mostly because of the fantastic folks at WXBQ radio who let me linger around their live remote, visit with their deejays and staff, and do their best to make sure I have one of the passes to go back for a quick hello, photo and autograph.
One of the reasons I like getting back is because I get to take some candid photos of the entertainers chatting, signing autographs for others, and really being themselves – when they aren’t in full entertainer-mode.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many of country music’s most successful entertainers. I have my favorites. Some actually stood and talked to us; some visited before and after the meet and greet; some asked you how you were and really wanted to know. But none of the ones I’ve ever met have cooked up anything more than a great show.
Keith Urban changed all that with his Meet & Greet Backstage Barbecue Experience. Keith wanted his fans to have more than the run through to grab a photo and an autograph, so he gave them the Back Stage Barbecue Experience. He actually served food, mingled with his fans and actually hung out with them for a while. He also did a few songs for them, and took the time to answer their questions.
Eighty fans showed up for a recent Barbecue in Charlottesville, Va. They actually hung out under an air conditioned tent. “Let’s just do the whole show in here tonight,” Keith said. The group would have loved that.
Keith sang a few songs, and then did his best impression of Johnny Cash, treating the crowd to “Folsom Prison Blues”. He also did “But for the Grace of God,” and then answered questions for his fans.
The first question, was, “Can I have your guitar pick.” Keith gave his pick to the excited fan, and of course the crowd broke into a huge round of applause. I wonder how obliging he would have been if one of them would have asked for his shirt. I would love to have a Keith Urban shirt in my closet.
The folks over at The Boot included this in their account of the Back Stage Barbecue Experience:
“One fan wanted to know how Keith stays motivated to go on stage if he’s having a bad day and not feeling his best: "On this tour, I haven’t had that (happen) – not once," Keith offered. Although, he revealed that when he flew to a show in Boston, he had arrived straight from Italy, went right to the stage and performed for two hours – so, naturally, during that performance he was feeling a bit jet-lagged. But, he added, "the fans have been amazing on this tour, so once that energy starts, it doesn’t matter … it’s just amazing."
A question he surely gets a lot: "Who are some of your favorite country artists?" "Oh, Jason Aldean," he answers, adding, "Jason Aldean sounds like Jason – he doesn’t sound like anybody else. I know George [Strait] isn’t new, but his new record is [awesome]. I love the fact that he’s trying something new. Brad Paisley is great. Once he starts learning how to play the guitar!" He also mentions that he loves Sugarland, who just happen to be on the tour with him.”
After the BBQ was over, everyone attending received an apron that said, “Turn Up the Music, Fire Up the Grill – Summer 2009.” They also received coupons for free barbecue sauce and charcoal.
Going to close this one out with an interview from Australia’s Rove Live television show, back in 2004. Don’t we all love to hear him talk? It’s not just me, is it? Here’s the clip.
Talk to you all soon – have a great Labor Day. Barbecue, anyone?