Today I spend less time worrying about what people think of me. I’ve realized there are few on this earth that get me and those that don’t I hope don’t judge and those that judge are insignificant in my life and won’t likely make my circle.
I like the word hipster, it sounds like someone I’d want to know, even though I think labels are useless the word hipster appeals to me. I’m not a hipster, I’m ok with that. I admit to giggling at the non-trends that so-called hipsters follow, it’s now trendy to be non-trendy and it’s always a competition to find the coolest most exotic and weird things out there, especially with music. I’ve been caught in that trap and I listened to some horrible tunes because they were perceived as cool. I’m done with that. It’s all about me now.
I’ve decided to let my ears, my heart, and my urge to chair dance dictate my likes and dislikes in music. The category that the tunes fall into is irrelevant and only will be used to search out the song to purchase it for replay. If my right butt cheek starts to bop up and down while seated, if my shoulders begin to sway, if my foot begins to tap and my head begins to bob then the tune is worthy in my little world. There is no shame in listening to Top 40 tunes and no shame in listening to country (really did I just type that?)….the only shame is listening to song you don’t like because of the perception of being cool. My ear is my own and I will own my preferences. I’m 38-years-old and the lesson has been on-going since I hit about 30, I’m finally passing with an A+.
In 2006 I tuned into yet another reality type TV show, Rockstar Supernova. I did so to support a Canadian artist who had made the cut. My quiet Canadian patriotism always comes to the surface when a musician or artist is showcased on the American airwaves. The other reason I watched – Jason Newstead – major teenage crush and love of long-haired bass players. What evolved while watching this show was not what I expected…at.all. I did not expect to become so attached to a musician that I become a cheerleader for him. Episode Two was a hook, line and sinker moment. I did not expect to put myself out there on websites and fan pages looking for voting to keep this guy on the stage. I joined Rockband Lounge – a website dedicated to the show where fans could get to know each other and chat and find out more about the artist they loved. Much to my surprise I found that the musician’s friends and family were joining in the chat and putting themselves out there with support. At this point I had already ordered previous CDs and found every tune on the internet and joined the musician’s forum on his website. I was quiet at first…but by Episode 5 I became vocal.
I want to say Ryan Star had me at ‘Hello’, as that would be witty and funny but he didn’t cover that song, his buddy David Cook did – but that’s another story. Ryan had me long before ‘oh life is bigger’…but that is the moment where I went from ‘oh this guy is cool’ – to – ‘oh this guy is freaking phenomenal’. I remember even Mr. Lyric was impressed and he was a hardcore Dilana fan (don’t get me started).
I don’t feel the need to go into the history of the show or jump into what happened from there, it’s pretty irrelevant in the grand scheme of this blog. It served a purpose, it introduced me the rstar world and am forever grateful. After Ryan was eliminated he toured. He toured extensively. Thankfully Toronto was a stop on the tour.
That first show, and meeting him and chatting with him prior to the show at the radio station and HMV where he gave an in-store performance solidified the ‘obsession’. Yes I recognize the obsession. He became real at that moment. Chatting with his friends and support team wasn’t just about being a fan, it was about meeting truly genuine people who were supporting a friend and intrigued by the droves of people there to see this phenomenon. I sensed that they got it, that they were privy to how it worked and treated each and every fan accordingly. I sensed no fakeness, no pretentiousness from anyone on the rstar team.
I have this quirk when meeting people, mostly meeting people that have some sort of notoriety. People like Ryan Star meet fans and new people every single day of their lives. From my limited experience it seems he is pretty good at being genuinely interested in each and every person, but I realize that most of them will be forgetful or that the faces and stories merge into one. I have this urge to stand out, this urge to be remembered. Natural I guess, but it’s something I am constantly striving for and it almost crushes me when someone I have met before (in any walk of life) says ‘oh I don’t remember meeting you’. It something I don’t understand, perhaps it’s my photographic memory and having a great ability to remember names and faces. The quirk to be remembered is that I plant a seed within that person so that the next time I see them or speak with them I can reference that seed. Sometimes the seed grows, sometimes it withers and dies. The first time I met Ryan he asked if we had any requests for the show. I dug the hole and planted the seed right then and there. I blurted out ‘Rainbow Connection’. I think I threw him for a loop. Here he is north of the border in Canada and some random chick asks him to sing the song from the Muppet Movie. He did the puppy dog head-tilt and look at me and said ‘how did you know that’. Michelle, his friend and part of his crew started to laugh and said ‘you must be on Rockband Lounge’. She of course had posted months before about Ryan liking to cover songs like ‘Rainbow Connection’ and other out-of-the ordinary tunes at his shows. He indulged me and sang a line from the song – he however did not sing it at the show that night. What I hoping for in that seed is that perhaps next time around I will be able to say ‘I’m the girl who requested Rainbow Connection at your Toronto show way back when’ and it will spark a memory. Silly, yes, but it makes me feel better knowing that I am remembered in some eensie weensie bitty way.
The Toronto show that night at Lee’s Palace (iconic Toronto venue – but somewhat stinky place, literally) was amazing, the energy was intense, but now we need to fast forward. The megafandom did not fade with time, it did not fade with the waiting and waiting and waiting (yes were all waiting) for the official release of 11:59. Each step that Ryan took was out there in cyber world from the day he left the show to being signed with Atlantic, to jumping on tour with David Cook, to the day the cd finally hit the stores.
The way artist promote and keep in contact with fans today is a phenomenon, it’s a life unto itself and it amazes me. Perhaps it my age and living through a major twist in how music comes to fans, but the connection between fan and artist is totally different than 20 years ago. When I first picked up Pearl Jam’s Ten it was all about seeing Eddie Vedder on Much Music and in video form, there was no website to stalk, no twitter feeds to follow, no Facebook group to LIKE. Ryan and the rstar team have their finger on the pulse as the beat of the rstar fan vibe strengthens. I attribute their touch and their connection with us fans as what keeps that beat going. I’m sure it’s a tough world to live in being on the verge of the ‘big time’.
From my perspective I see Ryan’s journey as a marathon, the first one out of the gate doesn’t win the race, it’s not even a race to win really, it’s about going the distance and pushing yourself forward. The pace he has set, the pace his team is keeping him on is all the momentum that is needed ‘right now’.
I write this piece to do my part in the momentum and hopes that even one follower of mine will see what I see, hear what I hear.
I leave you now with a promise of posting the “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” adventure where Betty & I take a whirl wind trip to NYC to see Ryan Star and friends (Hesta Prynn and Gambit) perform at Webster Hall. Promises of ice storm adventures, Porter Flights in the dark of night with free wine, bad navigational skills, yummy food talk, expensive shooters, great great music and energy, meeting all the right people, and even some poetic justice in the Newark Airport at 4:00am.