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Backstage with The Big Man
by Joe Trisolino
My fiancee Cheryl and I took the 5 hour drive to Great Woods after catching the Rochester show on Sunday (and we'll be at Saratoga tommorrow). I had gotten passes to go backstage after the Finger Lakes show in Rockester from our Reprise contact. Unfortunately, when we got to the designated meeting place (as per the handwritten instructions on the envelope) we were told: "I'm sorry, that was changed to a pre-show meet-n-greet at the last minute." Bummer...
So we took off for Great Woods with the "failed" passes in hand. When we got there, I immediately began to search for the woman from Reprise. I'll make the looooooooonnnnnnnnng story short by saying that, after going through the tour photographer (a real cool guy named Steve), through Security (who were actually helpful and believed my true story), and finally a through a different record company guy (who was actually the tour liason and who's name carried so much weight I can't even say it her), we were told to come to the back stage gate after the show. Whew!
There we met the man with the passes. He apologized for the Rochester mix up and gaves us new passes. Bam! We're in!! We're taken back to the hospitallity tent, and after waiting 10 minutes or so, the record company guy brings out Pancho, Ralph, and Neil!
At this point Cheryl and I feel like two bottles of Pepsi that were put in a paint shaker. Neil is doing the meet-n-greet thing with some of the others (we were all seated at tables and brought up one table at a time). But Poncho was right in front of us, so we stood up and approached him. He's all smiles and says, "Hi, I'm Poncho." So we shake hands and chat some and he is just so easy to talk to.
Then we get called up to The Big Man, and i'm just tryin' not to wet myself!! Neil says "Hi, how ya doin'?" I do the intro's for me and Cheryl. I first let Cheryl shake his hand, as a true gentleman would. She tells Neil, "This is my greatest honor."
Then I actually get my turn to touch Neil!!!! We shake and I tell him what I've wanted to say if I ever had the chance: "Thank you for every note you ever played."
After Neil signed our failed Rochester passes, it's picture time. Unexpectedly, the tour photographer steps in and says he'll take the shot and mail it up to us. Wow!!! So then we move on to let the next 2 people get their chance .
Ralph is standing right there, so we talk to him and he's real cool. Cheryl says her first show was the Rusted Out Garage tour and he grimaces and says "Ugh! The one with all the bugs and stuff...", and then laughs. He signs our Great Woods passes, and get this: Cheryl's pass is on her chest just above her boob and he's like shy or something. So we had to say, "No, it's cool." (I'm thinking, "You're in Crazy Horse! Touch whatever ya' want!")
We talk to Ralph a little more and the next thing I hear is Cheryl say, "Oh, you must be Pegi..." And there's Pegi and Ben. They had been there all along, but I was too preoccupied to notice. Honestly, I was stone sober and still trying hard not to start the "we are not worthy" Wayne's World thing. We had a nice conversation with Pegi, and she pointed out Zeke, who's a good sized dude. Since I've only seen pics of him as a kid, I guess that's what I expected.
I went to thank the record company guy again. Found him with Neil, and I tell him, "Thanks soooo much!". As I shake his hand, there's Neil right there -- so what-the-heck: a second hand shake with Neil!
We were laughing in the car the next day saying how we were sure everybody was so cordial because we must have just looked like two totally doe-eyed, awestruck goofs.
This was my brush with Neil and crew.
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