So in March, I took Leah up to DC for her birthday to see the Fresh Beat Band in concert. We got the tickets from StubHub or something like that and we had a lot of fun—the concert was great. When we heard they were coming to Richmond, Mike and I decided to pay for the whole family to get the backstage party package and for us all to go together. We “liked” them on Facebook and got the pre-sale code, and as soon as the tickets went on sale, got tickets and passes. The concert was last night, and I was lucky to have a number of friends who were going to the concert. My friends Heather and Steve had a pair of passes and tickets for their daughter, so I gave Mike’s ticket to Steve and he joined me and Leah, and Leah’s little friend Kailee, her sister, and her parents were just two rows behind us. I had mistakenly bought the wrong tickets and sold those to another friend, Heather M., so that she and her daughter could go to the concert as well, so there was a nice homey atmosphere about the thing.
We arrived early, planning to have dinner with Heather and Steve, and it gave us the chance to get a FREE parking spot on the street. Leah decided there was NO WAY we were sitting in the car waiting for them, so we texted them and walked over to the theater. After dodging the street vendors selling T-shirts, we got in line and waited, which didn’t thrill Leah a whole lot, but the time passed pretty quickly, Heather and Steve and Abby arrived, and we got our party passes and went in. Somehow, I managed to score tickets dead center stage in the very first row. I couldn’t get over how great these seats were. Steve and I chatted and Leah ate popcorn and played with some glow sticks I had the good idea to remember to bring, thus saving myself $10 on a flashlight that she was destined to lose. (As you can see, Leah was way more interested in her party pass than in taking pictures! Thank you, Abby for looking up :-D)
The concert itself was divided into two parts. It was wonderful. Very lively and upbeat. The first half was great, lots of dancing, we knew the songs, good bits of humor. At one point, “Marina” came over to us and put her hand down to Leah, and Leah gave her a high 5. I thought we were living the dream then. Little did I know!
During intermission, Steve appropriated his wee one Abby from Heather, saying he felt better having a kid with him in the front row. As the show got under way, Abby was cutting the rug. It was hilarious and adorable. She was dancing her patoot off! Leah and I had swapped seats, and Leah was just sitting in the chair, watching the show. I did notice a few times that “Shout” had put the eye on her a little bit and seemed to be watching, and all of a sudden, he jumped off the stage right in front of us, scooped Leah up, sat in her chair with her on his lap, and continued singing to her. It lasted just a little bit, but I thought, “My kid, my awesome kid really hit the jackpot and she so deserves this moment.” I was trying throughout much of the concert not to just start crying. I wore Mike’s wedding ring around my neck and I could just about hear him singing along and I missed him so much. At that moment, when Leah was in Shout’s lap, I wanted to lose it completely. Apparently a lady behind us videotaped it and caught up with me afterwards and has offered to send me the video, so I hope she does so I can see it!
The concert continued and in all honesty, I think Leah’s favorite part was when they shot off the confetti cannons. As we were making our way out, she was scooping up as much confetti as she could get her little hands on and shoving it in my purse.
We got down to the hall where they were having the afterparty, showed off our fancy orange wristbands, and gained entry. There were craft tables set up, although the coloring pages and stars were long gone before Leah got the chance to do much, but there were lots of tunnels, balloons and inflatable instruments and she invented her own game of golf and had a blast. I was a bit disappointed in that there were lots of signs up that said NO AUTOGRAPHS—we had brought Leah’s CD liner to have autographed and they gave us a poster at the door, but I guess it takes too long. Boo!
Soon our group letter for pictures with the band was called and we got in line with Heather and Steve. The people ahead of us hugged the band—the parents did, and Heather asked me if I was going to do that. I said, “I’m going to tell them our sad story and see what happens.” We both kind of chuckled over that.
But I got to thinking about it, and I thought, “What would Mike do? He would go up there and start talking to them like he’d known them forever.” And I decided to. Leah was wearing her birthday shirt and when it was our turn, Shout yelled, “Leah, come here!” and the whole band said, “Hey, Leah!” She toddled over obligingly, a bit nervous, but that generally makes her only more adorable and “Kiki” asked if it was her birthday. I said, “No, we are here tonight, I want to tell you guys, we were supposed to be here with my husband, Leah’s dad, but he passed away a couple of months ago and these passes were the last thing he was able to buy for Leah.” The smiles kind of fell off their faces, and they started hugging Leah, and I decided to continue.
“Every Saturday morning, my husband watched Leah so I could sleep in and their ritual consisted of watching your show. Mike was blind and he was going deaf, but he knew all your music and I would hear them singing and laughing every Saturday morning. I just want to tell you guys that I love you and thank you. Her memories of her dad right now are of the four of you.”
The four of them were literally speechless, and frankly, I couldn’t have said much more because I was getting a bit emotional. Shout jumped up, tears in his eyes, and threw his arms around me and gave me a big hug. Then Twist did the same, and while he was hugging me (and let me tell you, that guy can give you a bear hug and a half!), he told me some personal information about himself that was so moving, I just couldn’t get over it. Then both girls gave me a hug, and Shout snuggled Leah just a bit more before we got a picture of the four of them with her.
I thanked them again and told them to keep up the good work, they wished us well, yelled “Good bye, Leah!” and we walked off. I found Heather and Steve and I was talking with them and walking away when the event manager ran up to me and said, “Ma’am! The band wants you to have this!” and handed us an autographed picture.
So Leah got her autographs after all!!! What a sweet thing to do! Then the manager said, “The band would like to know if they can have your contact information?” So I said “Sure thing” and he handed me a pen and paper and I wrote down our information. I was hoping I’d be brave enough to actually go through with talking to them, so I had tucked a couple of newspaper articles about Mike in my purse, and I pulled them out and asked the manager if he would kindly give them to the band. He said he would be happy to. And that was that!
Leah appropriated an orange balloon to take home and then we left. I’m not sure who they have working VDOT in Richmond, because we were leaving and there was an electronic sign up that said, “Roadwork, Left Lane Open” but what it SHOULD have said was “Two Left Lanes Blocked” so it took us a while to come home, but I didn’t mind. I was floating on air.
What an awesome group of people. What, if anything will come of leaving our contact info, I don’t know. But it was a magical night and so special for Leah. She has so much going on in her life right now and is doing her job of getting me out of bed in the morning admirably, and I am so glad we were able to go, and laugh, and have fun. Anything else is the icing on the cake.
Fresh Beat fans for life!