Meanderings 6-16-17 Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood experience

Jonathan McNiven (left) and Garth Brooks (right)

Originally published in the 6/16/17 print edition of YCN.

Well folks, there are many things going on right now that affect many of our local readers so stay tuned as we are on the big issues, whether it’s Homesteader Days coming up, or the new Lockwood High School that the local school board decided they are proposing to the local voters this November to the Garth Brooks concerts this last weekend.

But before I tell you about my last weekend encounters with Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, I want to inform our subscribers that I’ve learned how loyal and valuable our readers look forward to receiving their paper each week “On Time.”

Here is a great case in point example.

All of your calls started coming to our office, my cell phone, by text or even emails Friday and Saturday afternoon when your papers didn’t show up in your mailboxes this last week.  I took down everyone’s addresses and because it seemed that something abnormal was happening, I started researching a little and trying to figure out why I was getting so many calls.  I gave those who called me my cell phone and told them to let me know personally when it does come.  I had some readers and subscribers call me even up until Tuesday of this week saying that they never got their papers.  I had already put in calls to the Post Office and by Tuesday evening, the issue was found and I was assured that it was a one-off situation and the process had not changed. You all should be getting your papers as normal now.  So thank you to all those who called and let us know that they were not getting their papers because it helped us in finding the issue sooner.  It was only certain Billings subscribers affected and not all of our readers.  However, my staff and I took about 50 calls to our office and my phone so we learned through this situation how important our readers value our paper so thank you for your support, loyalty and feedback.

Normally, we’ll get calls to our office about not getting their paper.   Normally, the mail delivery person accidently delivers it to the neighbor, which I’ve found many times the neighbor delivers to the other neighbor.  Either way, I’m glad we listened to our readers and they will receive their paper as normal now and that we figured it out sooner than later in this instance.

Now on to Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood. I know that words can’t express what I experienced this last weekend, but I’ll try my best to put into words what I observed, experienced and learned while watching and talking to Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood.

I was star struck first of all, as I observed Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood appear at the press conference in civilian clothes, dressed in regular clothes and pants as normal individuals (like you and me).  I was expecting them both to be dressed up in the hype, decked out in lavished apparel ready to shock and awe the actual press and media (since the press and media are the ones who communicate and get info out to the masses).  However, that was not the case; in fact, they did just the opposite and this is where my understanding of their greatness began to elevate them as I sat back and watched as it all unfolded.

In the press conference, Garth said that he remembers the Billings crowds singing the words to his own songs and why he chose to come back.  He stated, “We took the same exact world tour we had from ‘96 and ‘98, and we decided, where did we have the most fun at?  I just remember singing, singing, singing at the [MetraPark] arena [which is] built like an old rock crevice (referring to the echoing acoustics of the building) … but it’s one of the best feelings on the planet where you can stand on stage and hear all the voices… It’s heaven.”

I could really sense from the press conference that he cared about his audiences and fans as he responded to a question posed to him about what he’d be playing. He said that people come to hear him sing songs that they already know so he was planning to do the same thing as last time.  However, he added, “What really upsets me at a concert is when an artist comes out and has a new album and dumps the entire new album on you during the show so much to the fact that they don’t even play some of the songs that you came to listen to.”  He continued, “We’re not fans of doing a lot of new stuff, we’ve got a new single, Yes, we will play our new single, but other than that … people will bring their signs, they’ll let you know what they want to hear.”

I got a chuckle out of his sense of humor as he immediately added, “Then of course you have that list [of songs] that you better do or they [the fans] will be waiting for you at the bus,” he said jokingly referring to if he did not sing that specific song.  I could really sense and feel his sincerity when he talked about how he loves to perform and have fun at it.

I was really blown away with how down to earth Garth and Trisha were as they gave personal interviews to those who requested it after the press conference. This was the first interview I was ever granted of a major superstar music entertainer so you can imagine I was nervous.  (I think he and Trisha sensed that). However, he was genuinely personable, humble, and so much down to earth that I was in the awe about the whole experience.

He asked me personal questions about who I am and my entity of the Yellowstone County News, asked the names of my kids and related to my personal situation of being a dad while building a career.  In fact, here is what he said.

“Let me tell you from what I remember from my dad, who had 6 kids and worked two jobs. When my dad was gone, it was so that we could have a roof over our head and food on the table. And when he was home, 100 percent of his attention was to us.  I don’t know when he ever did anything for himself.  Mom and dad never took a vacation, EVER (with emphasis) And if they did, they threw everyone in the car and we went down to the lake for the weekend… your kids are going to remember that.  Your kids will remember that…and someday, they will be set with a family working … and their kids will remember that.” He concluded, “If I could be anybody for my kids, it would be like my dad.”

Knowing a little about his history and how he was raised, he was able to give advice and encouragement for all our readers who have or have had families while building their careers and raising a family together, but I really liked that he came from humble beginnings and was able to connect.  I felt he would also be able to connect with many of our readers and subscribers who grew up with all different situations, but understanding the importance of where real values lie, with the family and kids.

In fact, just to show how great Garth and Trisha are, his tickets were all the same price.  It’s not about the money for him as much as it is the experience and using what they have to bless others’ lives and have a good time while doing it.

You probably wouldn’t know this, but Saturday morning, he went to Miller’s Horse Palace in Laurel and visited with some children and a group where he was not doing it for the press or publicity. In fact, it was said that no press or media were allowed at that event.  Then he turned around and performed two more concerts that evening.  That’s why his second concert started about 15 minutes behind, but he still performed about 45 minutes later than planned because one would feel that he wanted to make sure his fans were satisfied.

Here’s also to his and Trisha’s greatness, at the end of each concert, they would customize the concerts by picking songs that the audience would bring with songs.

I attended the Saturday afternoon 3 p.m. concert with my family, the crowd was on their feet the whole time from about 3:15 p.m.-5:45 p.m., I expected my voice to be gone the next day but surprisingly it was not.  Not only did Garth and Trisha personalize our concert and experience, he even gave his guitar to another fan at a later concert that had waited like 26 years to see him.

In the personal interview they granted me, here is what he said about distinguishing good entertainers from the great ones.  He said, “I think the thing that sets apart great singers and musicians is the ability to perform and LISTEN at the same time.”  Referring to wife Trisha Yearwood, “She is known around town as “one take Trisha” because she will come in on a harmony track and she will just hit it, and that’s because while she’s singing, she’s listening.

Then he mixed that element of music with entertaining and took it to the next level when he stated, “I think that’s the secret of the great ones is that they can perform AND listen at the same time.  As an entertainer, what you are trying to do is trying to play and sing but at the same time, you’re watching that crowd and listening to that crowd…you’re learning through that whole song to where to go to next.”

He also added about how to get good at something, He stated, “It’s just repetition!  Even though each repetition might be something totally different, it’s a repetition of how to perform and read that crowd at the same time.”  Referring to the fact that this is around the 350th show he’s performed on this tour with 25 songs a night.

To top off the whole event, interview and weekend as they know how to customize situations and relate to others, Trisha Yearwood told me in my interview, “I’m from a small town and I still get the weekly paper.  I still get it … because I can keep up on everybody and for me, it’s a way to stay connected.”

I finally asked her why come to Billings?  She replied, “It’s a real comfortableness, it’s a friendliness of the people that makes you feel like you’re home.”

The last weekend concert, interview, and experience with my wife and kids will be by far the best concert and musical experience I’ve had yet.  The topping on the take was the picture I got with Garth.  I don’t’ think I’ll top that experience in the next week or two,

If I do, however, I’ll be sure to let you know.

Until then,

See you in the paper,

JDM