November 19th, 2006

Cut cuddle and be Cute

Ronnie Milsap Concert Report

As days grow shorter and the time until the semester ends comes closer, my stress levels rise higher. Last week, the week of three tests and two papers seemed like it would last forever. I could not wait until Friday would come and save me from dealing with the week. Finally, it came. I treated myself to coffee and a muffin from Brewberry's to celebrate that I'd survived. But to be truthful, I couldn't wait for the school day (one class), to end so I could leave and go to the Ronnie Milsap concert.

My pain levels increased steadily throughout the day. After class, mom picked me up, we bought a pair of jeans that actually went with my new polo shirt and got ready for the concert. The whole family met up at home and we made the two-hour drive to the venue for the concert, which happened to be at a casino. I basically just read, though I do remember having to loosen my shoe because of the swelling in my foot.

None of us had eaten dinner, so we grabbed snacks at a concession stand. I knew that the last thing I should be eating was a hot dog, so I just ate mom's baked chips which tasted like cardboard, drank lemonade and grabbed chocolate. When we entered the actual large convention space for the concert, the acoustics and spacial feel of the room reminded me of going to a blindness convention, minus people looking for microphones and exclaiming "leave it!" to their guide dogs. The chairs were about what you expect in a venue like this, just non-folding, moveable chairs with passable padding. This is actually a good thing, because there is more room for JULIO. My sister was very nice and let Julio sit in front of her, since I cannot tolerate someone laying on my foot. One of the local country radio station hosts said a few things, telling us about upcoming events and all of those fun things. Then, finally, the concert began.

The first performer was Laurie Morgan. She's a somewhat newer country star. I know some of her songs, so I enjoyed this part of the concert. She has an absolutely beautiful song that I think is only being sold at concerts. If I can find the lyrics to it, I'll post them here. I wasn't thinking clearly enough after the concert, and forgot to try to find a copy. There were a few cute things that happened during the concert. Julio couldn't see me because of my sister's crossed legs, so when she uncrossed them, he ran over to me, wagging like he hadn't seen me in a million years. Laurie also brought a guy in the front row up on stage, and some very funny interplay ensued.

What can I say about intermission? I don't think you really need to know what I did during it, do you? Either way, hey, it was intermission.

When everyone was back to their seats, the host introduced a friend of Ronnie's, a comedian, who made us laugh, a lot. Of course, there were the jokes about a blind person driving, which I loved. My favorite impression? I'd say an impression of Willie Nelson doing an impression of Whitney Houston was pretty funny.

Ronnie came out, and I have to say, this is one of the best concerts I've seen. The cool thing about Ronnie Milsap is that he is connected to the rest of the blind community, but it does not define him. You know that entry I wrote on "So, What's My Tapestry"? I immediately thought about that. I don't think I've laughed so hard in a while, or enjoyed music so much for a long time. Here are some of my favorite lines from Ronnie:

When he asked his manager how far he had in front of him, he was told "about 15 feet" (he had six inches). Ronnie said to the audience, "trust him? Oh, sure, I trust him, about as far as I can see him." And, after he and his band pulled out some great acopello duop (spelling evades me), and he'd been snapping his fingers for a good while, he said "Try doing this for an hour and then reading Braille." I yelled "amen!" after that. Great lines to be sure.

But I don't go to concerts for just the humor (that would be a comedy show), I go to hear the music. Ronnie gave us a lot of that! He pulled out a lot of hits, and some new stuff. I am still amazed at how quickly he switched genres during the concert.

After the concert, we waited for the concert hall to clear. We'd heard that Ronnie would be signing autographs after the concert, so we were going to try to get in line for that. On our way out, we were stopped by one of the people with Ronnie (I wish I could remember his title). He asked about Julio and asked if I wanted to meet Ronnie. I was pretty much speechless. We followed him, and I got to say hi. Ronnie is as cool in person as interviews lead me to believe. If you didn't know, you would not think he was a star just talking to him. He wears humility well, and I can tell his music is a way of life and something he loves doing.

Afterward, we went to a restaurant and got dinner (one advantage to casinos is there is food available after 10 PM). I remembered that I got the same amount of food (or more), as I did at the Riviera in Vegas, for about half the price, and it didn't make me sick. I even ate part of my salad.

We got home late, and I slept late. Even though pain levels were awful, I was able to enjoy this experience fully. I think music and laughter are great medicine. Music is a gift, and I always think about how I wish I knew how to capture all of the dimensions of it on paper. I know it's hard, or impossible, but I want to try. I wish I could share how wonderful that evening was with you. It would be like trying to share the view from Mount Everest with you by giving you a wallet-sized photo. I can't capture that evening on paper or pixel, but I hope this has given you a tiny taste of the wonderful evening. I hope you will consider seeing Ronnie in concert yourself.

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