Back from Clay Aiken's concert (a week ago; I've been busy and gobsmacked) on Feb. 22 at Kraushaar Auditorium (Goucher College in Towson, Maryland).
I can give no better description of the concert experience than by posting the videos I was able to take, though mine are not the sweet close-ups that so many others are getting. Enjoy the show, and I'll talk below the embeds...
Stage banter, "Chosen Blondes," in which Clay deals with a spotlight problem:
"There's a Kind of Hush":
Jazzy medley of Clay's hits:
"A Foggy Day" performed by Quiana Parler:
There's one more, but YouTube screwed up the formatting and cropped my 4:3 video into a 16:9 screen. Grr.
The highlight of this concert tour, Tried & True in support of Clay's album of that name, was the interactivity promised by PBS's participation in promoting the event. But since this promise was handled by the individual stations in each city, the experience has varied widely from city to city. In Towson, we got what is now called the Meet & Moo experience: a cattle call, only not nearly as organized.
At other Meet & Greets, guests were able to chat with Clay in small groups, so there was pressure to come up with interesting questions that would either make Clay laugh or elicit an interesting tidbit. Most of us know that questions about Clay's son are off limits, as are direct questions about his immediate career plans. The last thing one wants to do is make Clay mad.
Also at other Meet & Greets, guests were able to have an item autographed by Clay and have their picture taken with him. This created pressure to find just the right item to get signed, something meaningful but not ridiculous or unsignable. You also had to carry it with you during the concert, so lightweight would be good.
The problem at Towson wasn't the crowde of people waiting for the M&Moo; we had about 40 in our group, whereas Charlotte had (reportedly) 150-200. The problem for us was the lack of organization on the part of our PBS affiliate; they couldn't even get concert tickets mailed out to some people, who'd sent in their pledges for these tickets back in August. The person who was supposed to get things going at the venue was an hour late, leaving us standing around uncomfortably (though it was fun to chat with others).
So our Meet and Moo was a rush job. I happened to be near the front of the line to Moo at Clay, and I handed tour manager Mary the gift I wanted to give Clay. It required an explanation, but I never got the opportunity to explain it. Clay was a sweetheart, though, and he signed my item and cuddled up with me for the quicky photo by the PBS station's supplied photographer. Then I got "Jeromed" by Jerome the bodyguard while trying to explain my gift.
Clay saw that I had something to say about the gift, so he did turn away from his next mooer long enough to ask me where the gift was placed and to assure me that he will get it. So that made me happy.
On Team Clay, if there have to be bad cops and good cops, it's essential that Clay be the good cop. They got that right at least.
Now the problem with the PBS affiliate's incompetence is that they made no arrangements for sending me the photo with Clay. They made no attempt to match up the individual being photographed with contact information. E-mails go unanswered; the voicemail box was full; there is no "send message" option on Facebook. What am I supposed to do, write a letter?
Anyway, it probably doesn't matter. I realized that I was wearing the exact same outfit that I had on when I got Daniil Simkin's autograph and photo at the Kennedy Center stage door. So I could just use the same picture, darken it and add one of our famous captions,
"Clay Aiken, not seen in photo...."
Heh. The gift I gave him is none of your business for now. But here is what I had him sign for me: The article I wrote about one of his Foundation's projects in 2004.
I had a great time and even got to call out one of the genres selected for that night's "Variations on 'Who's Sorry Now'" bit: Ragtime! Hee!
If I get a chance to later, I'll list some of the questions I would have mooed if I'd had the opportunity. I will say that almost all of the legal questions (the ones that would not necessarily elicit an icy stare) were really unsolicited career advice phrased in the form of a question. So it's just as well I didn't ask.
But I wish I could have asked this: "What are you planning to do to stay in touch with your fans after this tour is over?"
At least I have one more show to see - next Tuesday in Grand Prairie, Texas, with my S.A.S.S.!!!
Tried and mooed
* Sisterhood for the Adoration of his Serene Sweetness. No, really.
"Breaking Up Is Hard to Do":
ETA, 3 March 2011: At last! I did receive my M&Moo pic from MPT (by request, I asked that they not post it on Facebook. Someone e-mailed it to me instead. It pays to be a squeaky wheel once in a while - I got the high-res original!)