As a married man, I understand there are certain things I should do for my wife (just as there are certain things she should do for me). A marriage is a partnership and you want your partner happy.
That’s why I scheduled a vacation day for Thursday, the date of the WTIC-FM Second Chance Prom. It’s not that either of us wanted to go to a prom (neither of us did the first time around – though only one of us was a social misfit while in high school… guess which of us it was). It had more to do with the entertainment – Rick Springfield.
If you’re a regular reader of the blog you know Helaine is a bit obsessed (though in a perfectly fine way) with him. A fan for 30 years, she is the leader of his New York City Area Street Team – a grassroots promotional organization that’s probably more responsible than any paid promotion for whatever success his latest CD and single have had.
I consider Rick Springfield a dot-com success story. With little airplay or promotion he is still able to sell out midsized venues across the country. His fan websites, run by the fans themselves, have an incredibly loyal base of users. Many of them think nothing of driving hundreds of miles to see him again and again.
From my perspective, it’s fascinating. And, it’s a method of success (and make no mistake about it – he is a success today) that didn’t exist until the advent of the Internet.
As long as I was going, and to make my wife a little happier, I offered to produce a story for the station. We’ll run on our Sunday morning news show which has a slot for celebrity interviews. Of course I was upfront in my reasons for wanting to do the story.
Thursday afternoon, Helaine, Steffie and I headed out to the Radisson in Cromwell (nice hotel – good sized room – plenty of towels). Since the prom was 21+, and Steffie is 17+, we got a room and checked in. I met up with Ronnie, Rick’s road manager, setting up the specifics of the interview. In many ways, Ronnie reminds me of Arthur (Rip Torn’s character) from the Larry Sanders Show.
By 3:30 PM Andy, my photographer, had arrived. We scouted out a vacant meeting room, borrowed a few balloon arrangements from the prom, and set up. The background wouldn’t look so sparse with the balloons.
Rick came down and we were ready to go. We talked about 15 minutes. I tried to avoid asking him about Jessie’s Girl – only because I had heard it asked every time I’d heard him interviewed… and every interviewer misunderstood the actual meaning of the song – how he wished that he had Jessie’s girl. But we talked about the Internet fans and Street Team and his new CD.
The interview went well. He opened up and answered thoughtfully. I couldn’t have asked for more.
As we got up to walk into the main room for the sound check, Helaine turned to Rick and recounted a story about how, while working in radio in 1981, she had picked up his dinner tab and he had told her the next dinner was on him. Though the statute of limitations on dinner had surely run out, Ronnie asked us to join their group for dinner.
I’m sure I’ve been to band sound checks before, but I never really thought about the tedium for the band. Each room is different. Often, a different city means different equipment. It always means different acoustics. But a sound check isn’t really music as much as it’s repetitive note playing.
Dinner was nice. The band was like any bunch of guys, on the road, away from home. Helaine sat between Rick and me. He and I spoke through most of dinner. We talked politics and Iraq. He told us about his sons, one a recent high school graduate on his way to college. Steffie soaked up the conversation. Helaine was in heaven.
We went upstairs and changed to our evening wear. Everything went fine, except putting on the studs! I’m not sure who designed them but they were murder to get in place. Of course without them, the shirt was buttonless – there was no choice.
We made the prom around 7:30 PM. I knew some of the folks from WTIC-FM and said hello. Rick came on at 8:30.
Of course a significant portion of the audience was his loyal supporters – and they crowded the stage. But, I sensed the people who were there as prom attendees were also getting into it. Yes, he was a soap opera pretty boy – but that doesn’t mean he can’t play.
The concert was as loud as any I’ve ever heard. The fact that we were inches from the speakers probably didn’t help.
He played the hits, and the new stuff and we went upstairs happy.
Tonight, I finished my end of the deal. I screened, wrote and then voiced the Sunday morning package. Later today an editor will look at my notes and try and cut it as I wrote it. I’ll see it the first time Sunday at about 8:50 AM.