Ticket in hand. Check. Suitcase packed. Check. Off to Drumheller, Alberta I go.
If you’ve read the acknowledgements in my books, you know who I’m going to see. And I’m pretty darn excited.
The concert will be in the Badlands Amphitheatre which is a stunning acoustical marvel. The Amphitheatre was established in 1991 specifically for performances of the Passion Play. In 2015 they opened the stage to outdoor concerts as well.
I’ve sat breathless through many Passion Play performances, but tonight I’m going to rock the night away with my muse. The first time I saw Johnny Reid perform was in 2007. It was a blustery spring day at the Sunshine Village Ski Resort. He sang on a tiny outdoor stage surrounded by snow. A very different venue from today.
Tonight, the air is warm. The clouds are high. People wiser than me carry in cushions for the rustic wooden seats. The opening performer, Martin Kerr, is awesome and I make a note to add him to my iTunes.
Unfortunately, he doesn’t come back for an encore. After he leaves the stage 2,500 fans hoot and holler for the main act.
And out comes Johnny Reid. The cheers and his songs echo across the hoodoos. Bodies sway. Mouths move. Hands clap. I am caught up in this perfect place with wonderful friends listening to his familiar tunes. And out of nowhere, a title pops into my head for my next novel. How cool is that?
For those who have never heard him sing, this is how the New York Post describes Johnny Reid - “Take a pinch of Bruce Springsteen, a dash of Bob Seger and enough Rod Stewart to give the mix vocal gravel, and you start to get the vibe of this Scottish-born singer/songwriter.”
After a few songs Johnny Reid walks to the front of the stage and says, “Some of you men look like me father did when me mum dragged him to concerts.” He crosses his arms and puts on a grumpy face. “I hope your night gets a wee bit better.” People glance around (possibly looking for the grumpy old men) and laugh.
The songs, the energy
from everyone on stage, the spotlight on band members - its captivating. My
favourite song plays, and tears roll down my cheeks. Then we follow Johnny's instructions and gestures as he teaches us a chorus to a popular tune. The band starts up again.
Johnny starts singing. When it’s our turn, he waves us in, and he stops singing.
Our voices are the only ones booming across the landscape. Eerily magical.
And before I know it, he’s thanking everyone for coming out. He’s thanking Alberta for inviting him to this amazing place. The band and him wave goodbye and walk off stage.
The crowd stands. Whistles pierce the air. I add to it because, if I do say so myself, I’ve got one hell of a solid two finger whistle. And back they come for one last song. Happy sad sigh. Until next time Johnny Reid. And there will be a next time.
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