I Spent Valentine’s Day With Brian McKnight

 

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Caution: If you hate anything that has to do with Valentine’s Day, you’re gonna want to stop reading this post now, because I had a GREAT Valentine’s Day. I spent it with one of my biggest musical crushes- Brian McKnight. Oh, and my husband was there too, don’t worry.

About six weeks ago, I found out that Brian McKnight was coming to Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma, WA for a Valentine’s Day concert. While I was excited, I didn’t have high hopes that my husband would go for spending Valentine’s day at an R &B concert in a casino. I underestimated his relief at not having to plan Valentine’s day surpassing his lack of desire to go to this concert.

For those of you unfamiliar with Brian McKnight, his first album came out in 1992. I became obsessed with this CD. I knew every song front to back. My husband and I started dating a few months after it was released, and many of the songs made it onto various “mix tapes” I made for him.

He’s had many hits since his debut album, but it remains my favorite. A song most everyone knows of his is “Back at one.”

This past Christmas a group of us sat around playing a conversation game. One of the questions was “If you could sing a duet with anyone, who would it be?” My answer, without hesitation: Brian McKnight.

You can imagine how thrilling getting to see him in concert would be for me.

I bought the best tickets still available and made hotel reservations. We didn’t think about making dinner reservations until last Monday. I looked up restaurants near the hotel, and called the one with the best reviews. The woman on the other end of the line laughed condescendingly, and then said, “Oh, honey, no, we’ve been booked up for a while.” I asked her if she had any suggestions, since we were at the hotel next door. She said, “Oh, well we have a relationship with the hotel, so here’s what I will do. Come here at around 5, tell the girl at the desk that you are staying at the hotel, and that you have a concert to get to. We will do our best.”

Not completely reassuring, but better than nothing.

Meanwhile, my husband began making comments about going to a thrift shop to look for a velvet jacket to wear to the concert. I thought he was kidding. I hoped he was kidding. He was not kidding. He said, “I can’t go to a 90’s R &B concert at a casino NOT wearing a velvet jacket.”

My friends were not helpful in supporting me. People begged for pictures and gave suggestions for where he might find a velvet jacket.

While he was at the thrift store, this was our conversation:

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Thankfully he didn’t bring this pelt home.

He began to get discouraged, so he tried a different approach:

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This was the response from my friends:

Bob: I have a black velvet one he can wear and I am coming to the coast

Me:Uh. That’s ok. Really. But thank you.

Bob:  I’m bringing it

Matt:  I cannot believe that you are holding Jeff back from expressing himself

Me:I’m not holding him back. I’m protecting him from himself.

Matt: Do you think Barry Gordy’s wife tried protecting him from starting Motown?

Me: Barry Gordy could get away with a velvet jacket

Lee: It’s such a shame that you can only “like” something once

Lisa: I’m buying a velvet jacket AND a cowbell for Doug and we are going on a double date.

Shannon:  A velvet jacket is nothing compared to red leather pants

Me: God help me if Loverboy comes to town

Shannon: Do I need to overnight the pants? Seriously- they are in my closet from a Cajun.

Me: No. Do not send him red leather pants.

I decided to fight fire with a flame thrower- I made a prayer request at Bible study that he would not be able to locate a velvet jacket. I figured if I got the Big Guy on my side, it would work out okay.

Unfortunately, my group didn’t agree, and refused to pray for that. In fact, I am pretty sure my friend Lisa actually prayed that he WOULD find one. She said, “You’ll thank us some day.” And “I’ll bet there are a number of us who would actually chip in for the jacket. I’m in for $10.”

People began posting links to velvet jackets on my wall, tips for where he might find one on sale, offering to go out looking for him.

Thursday evening he came home from work with a shopping bag.

I said, “Do I want to know?”

He smirked and told me to look inside.

Not only had he found and purchased a velvet jacket, it was paisley. Also, there was a red velvet vest.

“No.”

“Oh yes.”

I posted the update on my Facebook page, and it received 55 likes. I have a bunch of traitors for friends.

Friday (Valentine’s Day) was a bit chaotic. Zoe was upset with me because I had posted the photos of the Valentine’s Day table decorations on Facebook, so she saw them online before she came down in the morning. Parker kept eating chocolate instead of getting breakfast, so by the time I sent him out the door he was in full blown “Parker” mode.

I got showered and dressed in time to get to the school for party number one- in Zoe’s class. After an hour of pink frosting and sprinkles everywhere, I ran home to finish packing up myself and the kids for the night, straightening the house for the party Sydney had announced that morning she was hosting, steamed Jeff’s shirts and ran back out to the school in time for Parker’s party.

After school I threw everything plus Zoe and Parker into the car and drove out to my parents’ house, where the kids would be spending the night. Jeff was already in Seattle, so he headed south to the hotel and got there well before me. I was stuck in pretty bad traffic for over 2 hours. I tried not to stress, and just told myself that if dinner plans didn’t work out, it wasn’t the end of the world.

When I arrived, he had these waiting for me:

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View from the hotel room :

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He had gone to the restaurant at about 430 and put our name on the list. I didn’t get to the hotel until 530. We got to the restaurant and only had to wait a short time, since he’d already been in and called to let them know my progress. Sydney called me and asked where I had put the recipe for the chicken enchiladas she was attempting to make for her friends, and I realized I had forgotten to write it down. Attempting to ignore the glares from across the table, I texted her step by step instructions before finally putting the phone down.

Dinner was ok, not fantastic. The view was amazing though with the moon shining down over the water. Oh, and the view of some of the characters at the restaurant was pretty amazing too. I saw a guy who looked like Bob “happy trees” Ross and a woman wearing the largest, thickest white fur coat I have ever seen. It made her look like a furry linebacker. It’s always stunning to me when I see people wearing real fur anymore. You just don’t see it.

As we left, I attempted to get a picture of Jeff “driving the restaurant” in his black velvet paisley jacket (They had a giant ship’s wheel out front) but he wouldn’t let me. I must admit, he actually pulled it off. He wore it with a black dress shirt, and compared to some of the outfits I saw at the concert, his jacket looked conservative.

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When we got to the venue, parking was crazy, and the valet line was a hundred cars long. We drove around a bit, and then ended up driving up the hill and parking on the street. They had a trolley shuttle picking people up, which was very helpful. As we got off, though, the driver told us that there was no shuttle back up the hill. Good thing I was wearing my 4 inch heels.

We got into the concert arena, got some drinks from the bar, and found our seats. The big screens were advertising upcoming acts, many of which left my husband exclaiming, “They’re still alive?!” The following night was going to be Air Supply, and they showed this photo of them:

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. He leaned over and said, “Oh, did they start a magic act?”

They also posted a disclaimer that made me laugh out loud:

image Who in 2014 still has a pager? Just because Brian McKnight has been around since the 90’s, doesn’t mean all his fans are still living in the 90’s.

I tried to get Jeff to take pics with me, and this was all I could get out of him:

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Since we were in the middle of the row, and there wasn’t a lot of passing room, I decided to hit the bathroom before it filled up and I had to get physically intimate with too many people as I tried to get back to my seat.

On my way back I saw a man walking towards me with his date and I thought, “Wow, he’s extremely attractive.” And then a half second later my brain clicked in and I realized I recognized him.

It was Seattle Seahawk defensive linebacker (and Super Bowl 48 champion 🙂 KJ Wright.

imageWas I lying? Seriously pretty.

I came back to my seat and told my husband and said, “You’ve got to admit he’s really good looking.”

My husband responded, “Yes, he’s the second best looking guy in here.” Meaning he was the first, of course.

I had a clear view of the stage until a couple came in right as the concert was beginning. He hair was teased 5 inches above her head and soon this view:

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Became this view:

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Jeff insisted I trade seats with him, which was very sweet.

I have never before been to a concert where there was no opening act- until this one. Which was totally fine with me.

From the very first note, I was entranced. His voice is simply amazing, and shows no sign of wear from 20 plus years of belting out those notes. There were times I felt my throat get a little hoarse just at the thought of how much strain singing so powerfully must put on his voice. But not a single crack. Not a single missed note.

It was also very entertaining to watch his bass player. Not a small man, he was seriously grooving on that stage. At one point, he started twerking.

image I caught this pic as we waited afterwards. You can see this backside would make for quite the twerk.

At one point Brian McKnight stopped and said that he had been contacted by a young man, and gave his name. The lights came up, and after a few awkward moments, a guy started moving towards the stage with a clearly shell-shocked girl in tow. While we couldn’t hear the words, his intentions became quite clear as he got down on one knee. She nodded her head, and they began kissing to the cheers of the crowd. It was a sweet moment.

A little later, he asked for a single female volunteer to come up on stage. The woman in front of us tried volunteering, much to the chagrin of her husband (her wedding ring was flashing in the stage lights). The woman next to us began jumping up and down waving her arms. I was a little surprised that she was volunteering, as she was at the concert with the guy sitting next to her. He seemed just as excited for her to go, though. Brian picked her and she went up on stage. One of the men up there handed her a bouquet of roses and she was led to a stool in the center. Brian asked her if she had a boyfriend. She said, “No.” I looked at the guy she had come with, and he seemed to be happily recording the whole thing with his phone. I wondered if maybe he wasn’t her boyfriend, but her gay BFF. Brian serenaded her and she played it up for all it was worth. She was a total ham on stage, and in the end, was rewarded with a short peck on the lips. After she got back to her seat, the guy she had come with was hugging her and they were laughing and looking at the video. I was convinced they weren’t a couple, until after the concert I watched them file out, and he had his hands wrapped around her waist. Maybe he’s just a really supportive boyfriend. I’m not sure mine would have been so understanding.

The concert had Brian singing with a microphone, then switching to guitar…

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And then moving on to keyboard. He began singing one of my favorite all time songs, Never felt this way. I’m not sure if I violated any copy write laws by posting this, but it’s just a snippet to show how amazing he is live.

Here is the song in its entirety as it was on his CD:

He’s just a very gifted musician, and I know that in spite of his expectations, Jeff really enjoyed the concert also.

It was quite poignant to listen to Brian McKnight singing the songs live that I had playing on our very first Valentine’s Day together exactly 20 years ago to the day.

Afterwards, we got in the photo line. The people who were in line in front of us were interesting. One of the women liked to talk. A lot. She was telling anyone who would listen about all of the radio contests she’s won, all the meet and greets she has attended. She’s met Alicia Keys- twice. She met “Luda” last summer. I can’t remember all the other names she dropped- there were so many. She actually said, “My 1099 is pretty high, for all the stuff I’ve won.”

As I waited for my opportunity to meet him, I noticed my button on my shirt kept popping open. Jeff said, “I hear that happens a lot when Brian McKnight is around.”

It happened again right before I got to the front of the line, so I just draped the fabric over so it wouldn’t be visible, but in that photo at the top, my shirt is unbuttoned.

I thought about what I might say to him once I actually got up there, but when I was finally there, all words escaped me. I managed to choke out “Could you sign this to my daughter Zoe?” as I handed him the photo.

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I’m pretty sure he thought I was mildly developmentally disabled.

How nice, though, that he would stay afterwards for an hour signing autographs and taking pics with his fans? That’s one of the many reasons I adore him.

It was an amazing Valentine’s Day- one I will never forget.

Oh, and PS…

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