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Author Topic: Lowell, MA Show - Lisa Hodson-Walker Gets the Call to R.O.C.K.  (Read 18001 times)
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« on: March 04, 2011, 10:31:18 am »

After Getting Her Heart Broke in 2007, Hodson-Walker Gets the Call to R.O.C.K. in the USA

By Thad Requet

Lisa Hodson-Walker has been a huge John Mellencamp fan for over 30 years. She grew up in Pittsburgh, Penn. and since her early high school years she has been into his music.

Some of her first memories of Mellencamp's music was the American Fool album that came out in 1982, the same year she graduated from high school. She was also a fan of the songs "I Need A Lover" and "Ain't Even Done With The Night" that came out in 1979 and 1980. "I remember standing on stone walls at outside parties singing "Crumblin' Down" at the top of our lungs," Lisa said. She also added that she used to play "I Need A Lover" in her car with her young kids. "They loved it so much, they would go around singing it. I had to tell them not to sing it at school," she said.

Lisa has seen John Mellencamp more times than she can remember through the years, and some of those times have been memorable concerts, including his first show, two days after the September 11, 2001 attacks. But no concert will probably be as memorable as her latest one she attended in Lowell, Mass. on Feb. 3. That was the concert where Lisa went from just being a fan to being part of the show.

Lisa attended college at Purdue and then on to Indiana University for grad school. While attending IU, she had a brief encounter with Mellencamp. "It was my birthday and we were in this little bar that had a little dance floor. My friends had been playing John Mellencamp music because they knew I loved his music. We were all just out having fun and right in the middle of "Rooty Toot Toot" the music stopped dead. What had happened was that John and some of his friends had come into the bar," she explained. Lisa said that he and his friends were sitting at a table across the way, and she was too embarrassed to go talk to him. "My friend went over and asked for his autograph. I didn't go talk to him because I didn't want to bother him," she explained.

She explained that she is not one who chases celebrities. "There is no other celebrity that I really wanted to meet, but I always wanted to meet him," she said.

Lisa was finally going to get her chance to meet John during the 2007 Freedom's Road tour. She had won meet and greet passes for the Providence, R.I. show. She and her husband Jonathan live in the suburbs of Boston, about an hour away from the venue. "I was over the moon for about a month. I couldn't wait, I was so excited. I kept thinking what am I going to say to him."

The excitement quickly turned to concern when the weather reports started coming in about an impending snow storm. "They knew it was going to snow, but it was this absolute white-out blizzard. I didn't know how I was going to get down there because it just kept getting worse and worse. They closed government offices and told everyone to go home early," she said.

She kept calling the arena in Providence and asking if they were going to cancel the show. "They kept telling me that they had never cancelled anything. So my babysitter kept trying to get to us and she only lives about 10 or 15 minutes away, and she was on the road for about an hour until she turned around and went back home."

Now without a babysitter and the concert still on, Lisa and Jonathan had to make the heart breaking decision to not go to the concert. They figured if the babysitter couldn't make it 10 minutes to their house, they wouldn't be able to make it an hour to Providence in the storm. "We decided not to go and about an hour before the concert they decided to cancel it," she said.

She kept emailing TonyB (Mellencamp's Webmaster) throughout the day saying she was afraid she wasn't going to make it. "He kept saying 'don't worry, we'll try to set up another time when you can meet him,'" Lisa explained.

She said she felt a little better when they cancelled the concert. "The thought of the concert going on and me not being there was just too much for me to bare."

For the next couple of years, Lisa had been back and forth with TonyB trying to see when John Mellencamp was going to be in the area but nothing ever came together.

After finally coming to the realization that maybe it just wasn't meant to be, Lisa decided not to email TonyB for the No Better Than This Tour. "I just decided I'm going to go to the concert. I had front row seats, so I was just going to enjoy the great seats and not bug them anymore."

Lisa said she always felt that in some point of her life she was going to meet John. But after the way things fell apart on the meet and greet situation, she had decided to move on and forget about that possibility.

With the great tickets that would place Lisa and Jonathan in the front row of the Mellencamp show in Lowell, Mass., she was again hearing weather reports that were calling for snow. "If you looked on the blog on, people were saying things like 'I hope there still going to be a concert, I just don't know if I'm going to be able to make it." Lisa said they headed up really early for the 50 minute trip from Boston. "We had reservations to eat dinner before the show, but as we were heading up, there was so much traffic, it was so slow going that we called and cancelled reservations because I wanted to see the movie (It's About You - by Kurt Markus, the documentary that's opening before John's show on this tour). We were about two miles from the venue and we were stuck on the Lowell Connector, which takes you from a five lane major highway down to one lane. We were stuck on it for probably over an hour. I'm calling the venue and saying 'so many people are stuck, are you going to postpone the movie a little bit,' and they were like 'the movie is playing right now,'" she explained.

After about two and a half hours on the road, they finally arrived at the venue, with time to see about the last 10 minutes of the documentary. "The venue is small and only has one concession area. So we're waiting in line to get our dinner, which consisted of a soft pretzel, and as we're waiting in line I look at my husband and said 'you know, this is going to all be worth it,'" she said with a laugh. "Every time we've seen John Mellencamp it's been so much fun and so worth it. We had front row seats which we've never had before so I was telling him it was going to be a great time.

As Lisa and Jonathan were enjoying the show from right in front of the stage, she described how people from behind made their way down the aisles to get closer. Under very tight quarters, the couple took in every detail from a closer vantage point than they ever had before.

"It was close to the last song, and by this time, there were so many people up around the stage, we were squashed. And for some unknown reason, John came straight to me and he had his hand out and I'm like 'Oh my gosh, you've got to be kidding me!'" Lisa said she knew he had pulled fans up on stage before but she hadn't seen him do that in awhile. "The thought of this happening never even crossed my mind," she said.

The stage was about as high is Lisa is tall, so she needed help from her husband to push her up there with John. Before she did anything she took her camera out of her back pocket and tossed it to Jonathan, who shot video of the experience that now appears on YouTube. "You know, I'm the worst dancer. I look at that video and cringe. In the past 40 years, could someone have taught me how to dance?" she said with a laugh.

"Then he took my hand and I wasn't even thinking...then it hit me 'oh my god, he's going to have me sing. I put my hand over my mouth and whispered to him 'I can't sing! He made me feel real comfortable. He laughed and put his arm around me and said 'do the best you can.' Afterwards I thought that would be a great title for a John Mellencamp song (Do the Best You Can). Lisa got over her shyness rather quickly. "One second I'm telling him I can't sing and the next I'm belting out R.O.C.K. in the USA., so I got over it rather quickly."

When John led her back down off the stage, she jumped, forgetting how tall the stage was from the floor and wiped out when she hit the floor. "Fortunately nobody got it on video, but my husband immediately stopped videoing to pick me up off the floor. I was totally fine, nothing could have hurt me that night."

As far as being in front of such a big crowd and singing and dancing, Lisa said she really didn't even notice it at the time. "The whole time I just couldn't believe I was on stage with John Mellencamp. Afterword I remembered thinking I couldn't even recall seeing the audience. It was like me and John!"

"He sang a little bit more and then caught my eye again and came back over and shook my hand and thanked me again. This was about a minute after I wiped out," she said laughing.

Lisa said that after the show everyone was coming up to her and saying 'You were the one. "You know in line at the bathroom, walking to my car.' It was definitely my two minutes of fame," she said.

« Last Edit: March 04, 2011, 10:35:49 am by sharonc » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2011, 01:01:54 pm »

That is a cool story. I have been a fan of John's that long as well. I hope to get lucky and meet him someday too. Thanks for sharing.

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« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2011, 04:05:48 pm »

Very cool story indeed! Thanks for posting!
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« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2011, 07:59:28 pm »

Love this!!!
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« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2011, 08:35:57 pm »

What an awesome experience!  I am so happy for all of the people that got to get up on stage with John!  That is such an incredible gesture from him!  Congratulations!
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