Greetings all. My story is not of the concerts (LadyWiz has given an excellent accounting of the Atlanta and Charlotte shows) but of the experiences of being the one-man road crew for an excellent adventure.
It all began with an excited announcement by my blushing bride that Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were going on tour and tickets would go on sale soon.
Excitement turned to panic as the sale date approached and Atlanta was not on the list. I tried to console the little women with assurances that they probably didn’t have the details worked out for the new amphitheater and the tickets would surely become available in the next few weeks.
When that didn’t abate her concerns, I offered the backup plan of getting Charlotte tickets, “Just in case.” Thus, the gestation of what would become a road trip par excellence.
Ticketbastard coughed up Row E, Stage Right for Charlotte and all was right with the world. When the Atlanta show went on sale, we were suddenly the proud parents of twins on Row M, Center. (Oddly, our Row Ms somehow changed to Row E by the time we picked up the tickets in Atlanta.)
Somewhere between the ticket sales and the tour, the oil-gods decided that gasoline should be more expensive than Coca-Cola. My big ole’ country Cadillac started looking like a gas-guzzling truck, not a comfortable ride to Charlotte.
A little number-crunching revealed that renting a sub-compact for the trip would save money over feeding the pick-um-up for 600 miles. The local purveyor of pregnant roller skates offered us a 35MPG wee beastie and the transportation issue was settled.
(For those who care, the bottom line savings was $17.30 – almost enough to buy a beer at the Charlotte show. Ironically, the more expensive gas got, the more we saved.)
For accommodations in Charlotte, I turned to the only person I will let call me dad. Her connections set us up at a four-star hotel at a two-star price and all we had left to do was to watch the calendar.
The day of the Atlanta show arrived and it turned out to be “A Rainy Night in Georgia.” Phoebe (the English lady who lives in my GPS) did a great job of guiding us to a new venue in a driving storm and the rest is history. With an early start to Charlotte planned for the next morning, we were too jacked up from the show to get more than a couple of hours sleep.
The four-hour drive was uneventful, save for a few rain squalls, and we hit Charlotte wanting little more than to put on the feed bag, hit the showers and get some sleep. We drifted off into the Land of Nod around 4:00AM.
Verizon Amphitheater had notified us that, due to the large amount of will call, fan club tickets could be picked up on Friday, beginning at 10:00AM. After asking LadyWiz if she had her ID and the credit card she used to buy the tickets, I instructed Phoebe to direct us to the venue and off we went. A little shopping later (for her), and we were back at the hotel to rest up for the show.
(Just a side note: Knowing what was required to take possession of the tickets, the question, “Do you have your ID and credit card with you?” became my regular greeting to LadyWiz before and during the trip.)
While the better half took a nap before the show, I set off on a personal adventure of my own. I had discovered that a Charlotte ice cream shop had ginger ice cream, a rare treat that I had not been able to locate for the past 20 years. (Note to self: Five-gallon tubs of ice cream do not fit into a hotel mini-bar.)
Traffic into the amphitheater (Or Satan’s Sauna, as I like to call it.) rivaled that of a NASCAR event. We arrived just in time to hear Winwood playing “Higher Ground.” (Anyone notice that Winwood’s band has only one woodwind?)
LadyWiz had loaned me her Tom Petty tour shirt that she bought at the Atlanta show to wear to the Charlotte show. Needless to say, I got a lot of questions about the shirt as we were headed in.
The show was quite different from Atlanta, so I really got a dose of TPatH music. (As a suggestion: For those who wish to preserve what is left of their hearing, purchase some Peltor shooter’s ear plugs. They lower the volume to safe levels while allowing all the music to come through.)
After our fighting to get a few photos during the show, it was funny to see Mike whip out his camera after the bows and get a few shots of the crowd.
As we waited in the parking lot for the traffic to move, we were entertained by what was either an amateur fireworks show or some poor, drunk TPatH fan blew out his car stereo.
The trip home began with my bad judgment of not stopping at an Uptown Charlotte Starbucks to get LadyWiz her favorite - a Grande Mocha Ristretto. It can take a long time to find a Starbucks in the rural Carolinas…
We made several stops at outlet malls, including the Lodge store where I purchased a muffin pan to add to my collection of cast iron cookware. Before leaving South Carolina, I picked up a few pyrotechnic devices at the mega-fireworks store. (Note: They frown on customers with big cigars.) Seeing that Georgia doesn’t think I have enough sense to not blow myself up, they have made fireworks illegal in our fair state. So, to be perfectly legal, I set them all off before leaving South Carolina.
To make a long story short, the concerts were great, the fans were friendly, my Highway Companion was a joy to be with, and I am pleased to be a member of this forum.