Sunday, August 29, 2010

Casey James and the American Idol Tour in Toledo, OH

Tonight's concert will be at the Huntington Center and, being a hometown venue, I hope it's a packed house.  I also hope the crowd gives Casey and the other Idols as great a reception as they received last night on what was supposed to be someone else's home turf. 

While I know that this tour has been physically taxing, I will be sorry to see it come to an end for a number of reasons.  But one in particular is the phenomenon that happens at every stop.   Wherever they play, you are sure to find a number of concert goers who may have come in not knowing about or particularly caring to see Casey, but who leave as full blown Casey James fans.  So tonight I salute another show and another group of Casey converts. 

Just as Iowa reminded me of Radar from MASH, it's impossible for me to hear the word Toledo and not think of the hairy-legged, cross-dressing, Mud Hens-loving, uncle-quoting, Corporal Maxwell Klinger from that same iconic show.
Klinger, in a lovely hat

Klinger spent the first few years of the show (which ran more than four times as long as the war it depicted) trying to get a Section 8 (psychiatric) discharge from the army by a variety of schemes.   He was creative, funny, entertaining, and persistent.  Which reminds me a lot (without the dressing in drag part) of ... Casey James.

Finishing his brief "I'm not going to let a little thing like my health get in the way of me playing" tour of the Midwest, Casey should be resting today in anticipation of rocking out on stage tonight.  We, as always, have Twitter fans at the scene -- today it's carolyn82960 and spinnyjb -- who will update us as the day progresses.   I, in turn, will update this post as new info comes in.  Till later!

Later came sooner than expected as Casey just tweeted this:

Okay, trying to compose myself as I compose this sentence.  Isn't the English language marvelous -- one word, two meanings.  I had already been preparing a post for Wednesday to give his fans the opportunity to reflect on this first chapter of his professional life.  I intend it to be an open-ended assignment, no right or wrong answers.  Just a chance to look back to when they first became fans, to discuss how his music and his story have affected them, and to examine what the past six months has meant to them.  What I've been hearing and seeing is pretty major.  Friendships have been forged, ennui has been replaced with excitement, dormant hopes and dreams are looking more possible than ever before.  People have galvanized behind Casey and in the process become more connected, more willing to take chances, more encouraged.   It will take more than one post to figure out the whys or what-this-all-means.  But I think we should start with people, on Wednesday, reflecting on what this connection to an up-and-coming singer/guitarist from Texas has meant to them, and for them.   

On with the show.

UPDATED -- Videos:

Credit ThatssoAbby

Majestik_Vi48 reports "Casey Rockin' Out"

Credit LeeDeWyzeArmy

Credit PamAnnB


Our two trusty Twitter pals had an amazing time at the concert:

Carolyn's story:

Last night, my fiftieth birthday, Jennifer Bussone and I went to see Casey in Toledo. Jennifer was so gracious and drove me all the way there from Port Huron, MI, as I am not able to drive. Anyway, as we left my house, we had heavy hearts because we knew Casey was sick and might not be able to come out and meet us. (Let me state this up front --- we both felt it was more important for Casey to rest than meet us). But being the die-hard Casey fans that we are, we were offering up prayers that maybe, just maybe, we would catch Casey leaving his bus or he might feel well enough to come outside for a few minutes. Off we went with letters and gifts for Casey. I had bought him a cool black fedora hat with a cross on it and Jennifer had given him a cd and had knitted him another guitar cap.

We tweeted to Casey from my laptop on the way to Toledo – thanks to all the ladies who re-tweeted to Casey for us – we really appreciated that our CJCC sisters were trying to help us out!

We arrived in Toledo a few hours before the concert and began to scope things out. We asked some security guards where the buses were, and also asked where the Idols would be signing autographs before and after the show. One security guard said “All 10 Idols will be over by the Aquarium signing autographs after the show”, and another one said, “Casey James is sick and won’t be out signing autographs at all.” Still, we kept a stiff upper lip and kept asking around. I then noticed a very official security guard walking into the front door of Huntington Center and asked him if he was security. He responded that he was Head of Security. I asked him if Casey was coming out at all and he said no. I put my faith in him and asked if he would take our gifts to Casey. He said it would be better to give them to the people taking tickets when we went inside --- but that wasn’t good enough for me. I gave him my best “please, it’s my 50th birthday” look, and he agreed to take them in. Then the praying really started, because we didn’t know if our gifts went on a huge pile somewhere - or in the trash can for that matter.

We went down and stood by the buses in the 90+ degree heat for a couple of hours. Crystal came out to see her hometown fans and she was very nice. It was great to see her – she’s a tiny little thing. Her son & boyfriend were out and her boyfriend was so friendly. He said he would tell Casey we were out there. Boy, Crystal looked really beat. Jennifer asked if she was feeling okay, and she said she had just lost a dear friend and had been crying all morning. Then a piano player from the tour and also Tim Urban came out and talked with some very cute young girls. Apparently he told the piano player to go get them backstage passes; I’m not really sure how that all went down because I was concentrating on spotting Casey. The girls were so excited and crying and shaking. This is where one of the funniest moments of the evening happened. Jennifer said to the guard at the gate, “Sure, the young, cute girls get backstage passes.” The security guard looked at us and said, “Oh ladies, I’m sure that happened to you when you went to see Elvis!” Elvis??? Seriously??? We laughed about that for hours. We asked Tim about Casey and he said he was feeling better, but still too sick to come outside. So we waited by the buses as long as possible and went inside when DiDi started singing.

Jennifer and I didn’t have seats together – she had bought her ticket after I did when she realized that I needed a ride to Toledo. (Her precious friendship to me could be a completely different discussion topic itself.). She was seated down on the main floor, 4th row, and I was up in the first risers. We both had excellent seats. I was sitting with my cousin who lives in Toledo. We watched the first half of the show and during intermission I tried to check Twitter. My phone had been freezing up on me all day, but I decided to take one more chance to see if Casey had tweeted or anything else exciting was going on. Much to my surprise, I saw that Casey had posted “a little note before the show,” or something to that effect. My phone then froze up again, and I was about to pitch it over the balcony, when his yellow sticky note popped up into my screen. It was then that I saw “A special thanks to @carolyn82960 for the note and the hat (which I will wear tonight). And special thanks to @spinnyjb for the card, cd, and hat.” To say I screamed would be an understatement. I probably looked like Jacob Black morphing into a werewolf. At that moment, Jennifer called my cell and asked where my seats were and said she couldn’t find me. I stood up out of my seat and waived my arms like a maniac, and she saw me instantly in a sea of thousands. I started screaming into the phone that Casey had tweeted about us and she came running across the arena towards me and I went running down the stairs to meet her (if you could call my limping running). We were screaming into our phones to each other the entire time we were running to each other. We finally got close to each other and I had to lean over the railing to hand her my cell phone so she could read the tweet. We both burst into tears. It was the most unbelievable moment of my life, really. Then the lights came down and Big Mike was about to come on stage, so we just hugged over the railing and went back to our seats. My cousin freaked out when I told her what happened. Another funny moment…a little girl came up to me then and tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Did you just win the backstage passes”? No honey, something so much better!!!. She obviously saw my freak-out, the little cutie!!!

I was totally shaking through Mike’s set and then out came Casey --- with no hat on. The crowd was going wild. My cousin screamed, “Where’s the hat”? I told her I thought he would put it on during his duet with Mike, but I was kind of worried too. Casey just killed “I Got Mine”. I seriously don’t think I was prepared for his brilliance. TV and U-Tube just doesn’t do him justice. If he’s that good sick, Lord help us all!!!

I think this is the point where Casey saw Jennifer's sign and threw her a pic, but I will let her tell that story! ( I saw the entire thing happen from my seat). Then he sang “Don’t” and I was just swaying and singing along. It was gorgeous! The whole arena was singing too. He sounded a little stuffy, but still hit the notes man!!! Then Casey said Big Mike was coming out to help him sing the next song. And it happened…a stage hand brought out my hat and hung it on the mike stand…Casey took out his hair band and put his hair in a pony tail…and then he put on my hat. He leaned into the microphone and said, “Thank you for the hat.” (Y’all know that sexy, better-than-Bob-Seger, sexy, gravelly, sexy voice!). Had I died then, I would have died a happy woman. They sang their duet (again, awesome). Casey sang his last song, “It’s All Over Now.” WITH MY HAT STILL ON. And then he was gone…

Jennifer and I bugged out after Casey’s set so we could get a good spot over by the Aquarium. We were the first ones there. I had a feeling that Casey wouldn’t be coming out, but Jennifer was still holding onto hope. Then the Idols started coming out one by one. We asked a couple of security guards and they said Casey would not be coming out. It was sad, but we had already been given the best gift ever, I think. Lee came out, DiDi came out, Siobhan came out, Tim Urban came out, Aaron Kelly came out, Katie Stevens came out --- and I got all of their autographs. (Big Mike and Andrew Garcia did not come out;I don’t know their reason why). Despite the late hour, it was still so very hot outside and we were getting soooo tired. We had been on our feet for many hours in the heat at that point. At about midnight, a security guard came out and said either Crystal or her son was sick and she would not be coming out. It was very sad; her hometown fans were waiting there for hours – even some of her elementary school teachers were out there waiting. Jennifer was talking to two of the teachers standing next to us. But people do get sick, as we know.

At midnight we called it a day and we went to stand by the buses to watch them roll away. We tried a couple of times to ask security if Casey could come out, but it was a done deal. We stood across the street as the buses pulled out of the arena and held up our signs. Perhaps Casey saw us as they drove away.

I read Casey’s yellow sticky note to Jennifer several times on the way home. It really hit us on the way home that he actually read our letters and responded to us in an amazing and generous way. I cried when he thanked his fans for being so kind to each other. Jennifer didn’t know me from Adam a couple of months ago, and the Casey James Cougar Club brought us together. She generously offered me her friendship (and a ride!). I think the women of the CJCC are the most amazing people, and I am grateful to be a part of that.

Today as I was telling my family about what happened last night, it hit me that I had the great honor of NOT meeting Casey James last night. Because if I had to pick between getting a picture with Casey for my scrapbook or have him read my letter and respond to me in such a beautiful way, I wouldn’t change a darn thing.

Spinnyjb wrote:
Carolyn and I pulled out of her place about 2:30 or so. Got to the venue and as we were walking up to the arena a well dressed -man w/ a badge around his neck was just outside the doors. He was Steve, head of security and a sweet sweet man! We asked him where the busses were and he told us. Then we asked him if he would PLEASE take our gifts to Casey, because the word on the street was that Casey wasn't going to be allowed to come out. He said he would take them to him personally and make sure. Carolyn had gotten Casey a fedora w/ a cross on it (which casey wore for the last two songs!!) We both wrote him letters about how much he meant to us as fans, our personal "casey" stories. No sign of Casey before the show, so we finally went in. During the intermission Carolyn saw the yellow note tweet from Casey. We weren't sitting together because I got my tickets as a last minute thing. So I was actually calling Carolyn on her cell phone as she was reading the tweet! I was just trying to find where she was in the stands. I was on the floor, manned with my sign wit my twitter name. She called me over there and we both read it and were crying!! So I was snapping pictures like crazy when he put the hat on, but none turned out well. My camera sucks. :( The whole time I was bouncing around w/ my sign. He saw me during It's all over now...and flung a pick at me! I just saw it whiz by. I was scrambling all over the floor for it. I was the only overtly crazy fan in the vicinity, so I know it was for me, he looked right at me and carolyn said when I missed it he chuckled. I couldn't find it, just a bunch of gum wrappers and nastiness. I had given up and all of the sudden a litlle tap on my shoulder and some sweet young girl (I say young, she was prob 20) and handed it to me! I was flabbergasted! No Casey after the show but we stuck around just in case. It was completely and utterly amazing. He sounded like he had a stuffy nose when he talked. He looked tired, but he sounded amazing and his guitar was OFF THE HOOK!! I was out of my mind!!!!
Despite not seeing Casey because he was under doctor's orders not to do any meet and greets, it was the better than I could have imagined it!! I had sent Casey a heartfelt letter with my gift to him. We had hoped to see him before the show and we were asking anyone and everyone to tell him we were waiting to see him. No sign of Casey after 2 hours of waiting before the concert so at 7:30 we gave up and went in. When Carolyn called me over to read that tweet Casey sent (the yellow note above I was overwhelmed with emotion.

I tweeted him when I got home (at 3am!) that "I am blessed that your heart received what my heart was trying to convey in my letter." You just never know how things can get lost in translation. I won't go into details about my letter other than to say I told him how to me he is so much more than a gifted musician and a handsome face... he helped restore my hope through how he handled the hardships in his life. I am still very emotional about the whole thing. Lack of sleep isn't helping, but writing that letter brought up alot of painful memories. But it was very cleansing to write it. That tweet made my night. The pick was icing on the cake. He is such a beautiful soul, with such depth. I am so proud to be his fan. I will be his fan forever. 
It must be overwhelming at times for Casey to realize what impact he has had on some people's lives!
Thank you Jen for sharing!

Here are tweets from during he concert:

Bladepopculture tweeted: say this 4 casey, he's got the crowd on their feet. guess a shot.of blues rock and guitar is what the audience needed 2 wake up.

hannip4Crystal wrote: Casey James!!! Wow he's rocking that guitar

pamannb said: Casey James is easily the best guitar player AI has ever seen LOL

ToledoFreePress retweeted: Casey rockin' out hard!!!

Majestik_Vi48:  I am so melting right now! Song is when you really love a woman
half a minute ago via ÜberTwitter
During Casey's set, ToledoFreePress tweeted:  The @Huntington_Ctr crowd is really getting into the @AmericanIdol concert -- waving their cell phones like cig lighters!

mozart4898 wrote a brief review of the concert in the comments section of MJsBigBlog and said this about Casey:
I was already expecting Casey to be something beyond what he was on the show, so he wasn’t a true “surprise,” but still, quite impressive. Very much so. And the Toledo crowd loved him.
He wrote a more detailed review which continued, and expanded on, the praise for Casey.  A definite mustr read:
Casey – I knew nothing of the rumor that Casey might not perform. I would have been really crushed had he not, because I was looking forward to hearing him. And damn, I’m glad he did perform – wow. On the show he seemed like a decent guitar player but it was hard to tell how good he really was cause he never played that much (obviously, it’s a singing competition…right?) And when portrayed mostly just in terms of his vocals, at times he seemed out of his element. But the intro to “I Got Mine” was all it took. Bluesy, gritty Southern style rock…I loved it. And so did the rest of the Toledo crowd – I’m pretty sure only Crystal’s cheers hit higher readings on the decibel meter than Casey’s. His album IS now on my list to buy, as long as it’s in this vein. I wasn’t so impressed with “Don’t” as I was his other 3 songs (…seriously people, why can’t you just embrace the cheese of “Have You Really Ever Loved a Woman?” He and Mike killed that song on the show, minus 1 note, and it sounded great in concert too) but he’s awesome in his own style. Slide guitar, rock guitar, country acoustic and electric, even the Spanish/flamenco sort of sound – and he can sing pretty well too. I like. Came onto my radar when the videos of him at the Keys Lounge surfaced and it really all clicked what he was about. Definitely more than just your average bar band guitar player and singer, like he seemed for most of the show. Hendrix level chops on the guitar is more like it.
Wow.  He really gets Casey.  Wait, didn't that AI judge tell us his fans were women? You mean the real Casey is going to big with men?  Shocking! 

mcarolin05 posted this review today on MJsBigBlog:
Next came Casey…and this is when I realized just how close I was to the stage. I saw him come up the stairs before the lights came on.…and let me tell you, I could tell he was sick. He didn’t sound bad at all, but his eyes were drooping and his energy was very low. I felt so bad for him and at one point I really thought he was going to throw up on that stage. Poor Casey! He still sounded awesome, and his guitar skills are really incredible. When Big Mike came back out for the duet, he said to the crowd “how ya’ll liking Mr Pretty up here?”. Then Big Mike looked over and saw me and smiled at me for the whole time Casey was singing! At one point they faced each other to play guitar and Casey looked at Big Mike with a very sad look as if to say “help!”. Poor guy! After the duet Big Mike walked off on my side of the stage and waved at me, mouthed “thank you!”. So sweet <3<3

It's sad to read that Casey may still be sick, but great to hear how he still put on a fantastic set! 

ItssoAbby did a brief recap, saying " Most impressive were Siobhan Magnus (who sang a high energy set that included Rolling Stones, No Doubt, and Muse covers), Casey James (covered and played striking guitar on songs by The Black Keys, Shania Twain, and more), and, of course, Crystal."
Kirk Baird, of, who tweeted earlier under the name Bladepopculture, wrote a brief recap of the show.  While most of his review focused on their hometown girl, he had this to say about Casey:
There were other memorable moments, too. Casey James, who finished third on the show, brought some serious blues-rock to the arena, and the crowd was glad to have it, especially after a drowsy set by Michael "Big Mike" Lynch, who finished in fourth-place.


  1. Holy Toledo!! Highlarious!! I appreciate you clearing up the dressing in drag bit. However, it still left me with a visual and I'll never forgive you. Ever.

  2. Shari, you crack me up, so funny!!! I agree and hope they have a huge crowd and support for all of them tonight! They've come a long way, baby!! This whole thing has been a marathon and I'm so proud of all of them, especially our beloved Casey!! He's a trooper to say the least!! Love him so much!! Thanks Shari for all you do!! MAE777

  3. Yet another great post! Casey will tear it up tonight in O-H-I-O!! No doubt.. Can't wait for updates from carolyn82960 and spinnjb..I will be eagerly waiting!! The tour is coming to a close ..I must admit I'm a little saddened..its been quite a ride!Kudos to them all..especially to Sweet Casey James, who I will be looking to hear from again in the near future! Love him to death!!

  4. HAHA! You are so awesome Shari!

    As for Casey's note, it made me teary eyed. He is such a beautiful soul himself and as I have said over and over and over again, I am so honored to be a fan of the very talented Casey James!

  5. I loved Casey's note, just amazing. Another reason to love him, besides his obvious awesome talent. :) Beautiful note. :) Love all the tweets from the show!

  6. Great post!
    Casey is a great talent with a sweet soul and a big heart!I just love him!

  7. Sharron Grissett Mobile, AlabamaAugust 29, 2010 at 6:46 PM

    Casey note made me cry as well, Amber. I have to say that Casey is probably the best guitarist I've ever seen in my generation. I honestly feel the love and warmth from this young man every time he tweets. I never dreamed when he auditioned for American Idol, I would be discussing Alabama/Texas football with him on a sleepless summer night. Casey survived everything that death tried to rob him of, that young man is here for a reason. I know he has touched my heart and for that I am forever grateful......Glad he isn't dressing in drag though. I know where Casey gets it from, his momma. She is a wonderful woman, that is why Casey and Billy Cole, both have hearts of Gold.
    So until we meet again, Casey E James, thanks for the music and wonderful summer. This will go down in the books as the best summer I have ever had........@slaphappynbama

  8. At first I thought u were talking about Adam Lambert yes Casey he is great, love the guy.

  9. Casey, I can see from your note that you are beginning to understand the magnitude of your impact on people. You have touched our hearts in ways you cannot imagine. God has given you something special. Bless you, big guy. You rock, in more ways than one.

  10. Nice pic of Klinger. Loved MASH, watched it every night. You have brought back good memories. A very thoughtful and appreciative note from Casey. He is very kind to his fans. Such a considerate person. Love him.

  11. LDG_lildrumgirl (LaDonna Dennis)August 29, 2010 at 6:58 PM

    Again....another AWESOME write up! I was so touched by his note to all us fans!! It made me tear up! Knowing all that he has went through, past & present...he's just such a sweetheart!! He gas the biggest heart! He has inspired me and touched my heart so!! I love music, love to play my drums! Casey makes me love it even more!! He has changes my life! I know we have changed his also! I'm so happy for him, so proud of him and proud to be his fan! His AMAZING talent will take him many places!! The one thing I know will never change him! He has a heart the size of Texas and talent that is outta this world!! I will ALWAYS be a fan and I will ALWAYS love him! :) I feel truley blessed to be a part of this AMAZING ride!!! It's really only the beginning! I can't wait to see & hear what comes next!! God bless you Casey! Love ya from the bottom of my heart!! :)

  12. LDG_lildrumgirl ( LaDonna Dennis )August 29, 2010 at 7:04 PM

    I should read before posting...:-/ I meant Casey has the biggest heart!! <3

  13. Casey demonstrates that when LOVE is given out into the world -much love is also received. The greatest lesson of all - "To Love One Another" by one of the greatest teachers of all time (Jesus)...

    I think we are all LIVING that right now.... All the FANS are sending out LOVE - we are loving Casey and also each other. Beautiful souls every single one. God Bless You!

  14. He's looking so much better on videos even from Chicago! So sad he was so sick in Minneapolis, but a group of fans bonded and are determined to make a road trip whenever the next time is that we can all get together and see him!! This has been the most fun summer .....ever! Thanks Casey. Thanks James family. Thanks Shari for this blog, Glenda for Caseymania, and most of all Mickey for bringing us all together!!

  15. Oh my Shari... I'm starting to become a fan of yours (seriously).

    Got mixed feelings about the tour ending. Obv we all want Casey's own career to commence, but it just bums me that I may not have the daily dose of C-fix we all need. I live vicariously thru you ppl, so Shari... please don't stop writing abt Casey (hi to ur hubby, hope he's now cool with all this lol)

    - dj

  16. I am so plum happy for Carolyn and Jennifer...I know many of us retweeted their tweets all day to make sure Casey knew they were there. I kept checking Twitter all day hoping to see an update that he had come out, I know how much they'd been hoping for it. I know they are glad he followed momma's orders and rested, and I also know their time will come. First Solo Tour. It'll be more intimate, easier. They won't have to stand out in heat waiting! It'll happen. But, WHAT.A.GIFT. they got with that note. Not just the shout-out, if that wasn't wonderful enough. I mean to have touched Casey with their words and goodies, that's a gift to be vulnerable & reach out to someone like that, pour your heart and be heard. He listened, he heard. Just that part made me cry...lives are changing, hearts are opening because of this man. Anyhow, I loved the story Jenn and Carolyn. Good for you. Sooooo happy. Alot of us were praying...and it came out better than you could have expected! God is good. AND HE READ YOUR LETTERS! Do you know how many letters he's going to have to rifle thru, from the P.O. BOX, when he gets home? I don't even want to think about, where in that pile of love, my letter is. But the truth is, our stories and struggles may all be different, the outcome has been the same for all of us. CASEY.

  17. This really helps.Thanks, Shari.