Kalamazoo, MI -- Nov. 30, 2007


luckiest1

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merrieee lol..she said she waz over the top fangirly last night and nothing has changed. LOL

we all say we came for the voice..and she stayed for the voice and the man is the icing on the cake -- she feels like she is giving us him...the music and the voice..nothing extraneous... she loves the banter..but he doesn't need it to put on a great show..the man and the voice..there's nothing else needed..he's in his element.

heee quite full..

clay mentioned 2008 - he wants to do this again...make it a tradition..this as in the christmas show.

estimate 4000 books

Go on Rhody with your bad self.

merrieee asking people how they liked the show..can't believe she's doing this..but one group asked her where she's from... and she said TEXAS... LOL so funny..that accent.

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merrieee doesn't think there will be a bus line..maybe it all got to be too much or it's too cold.

Either way it would be understandable to me

:cryingwlaughter: "I'm from Texas"

Hee.

wasn't that funny...

1216 books

685 in gift cards

official numbers

no kazoos

very little yelling out

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solo thinks his voice is getting better and better

loves Jesse's arrangements

solo is funny...said after Merrieeee's lovely accent she sounds like a dumb ass

they're off to get warm.

loving the possee bringing so much joy to the cellcerts..thank ya'll

oh I forgot to say this today.

happy birthday clay

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laughn and bottlecap say hi!

They're in the parking lot freezing their asses off. But they don't care because they happy! :lol:

They thought it was wonderful, of course!

Just a couple of Happy Birthday's from the crowd before AIW.

They have a short drive, so they'll be on. :)

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laughn and bottlecap say hi!

They're in the parking lot freezing their asses off. But they don't care because they happy! :lol:

They thought it was wonderful, of course!

Just a couple of Happy Birthday's from the crowd before AIW.

They have a short drive, so they'll be on. :)

yay..thanks for the report

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laughn and I are back in our hotel room, all pj-ed up, because I'm tired!

We got to say hey to rohdy, and add steadily growing pile of books. I see you got the numbers upthread - 1,216 books and $685 in gift cards. What a fabulous project!

When the boxes of merchandise came out, it was like throwing chum to a school of sharks. I have poster 582 of 1000, and the red scarf is actually called "Paprika". It's polyester chenille and very snuggly. I'm glad they're going to sell them online.

The show is just so lovely and lyrical and visually dramatic with the background lighting. The all-black outfit really stands out well against the changing colors of the backdrop. I am astounded that Clay can stand so absolutely still, and his silhouette is is very striking. Q & A's dresses may look a bit over the top in the still pictures, but they are quite graceful when the girls are swaying back and forth to the music. laughn says the line of the skirts are reminiscent of the shape of a Christmas tree. All in all, the staging is very elegant.

The show goes by so fast! I swear Clay's first little speech about community involvement and whatnot was done in hyperdrive. I found the fan stories to be very heartfelt and generally well-written and read. It was obvious that a lot of effort had gone into to finding appropriate stories.

Clay had a huge smile on his face all the way through DSIAFCD, and he wailed on that sucker. Loved it! Standing O, of course, particularly since there are limited opportunities for applause during the course of the show. Clay and the girls retreated underneath the platform that the trumpet players sat on, and then Clay appeared sans jacket for AIW. Long standing O at the end of that and then the lights came back up and the spell was broken. This is truly a magical holiday story, and I'd love to see it adapted for a PBS special or something.

It may be Clay's birthday, but I feel like I was the one that received the unforgettable gift.

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laughn and I are back in our hotel room, all pj-ed up, because I'm tired!

When the boxes of merchandise came out, it was like throwing chum to a school of sharks. I have poster 582 of 1000, and the red scarf is actually called "Paprika". It's polyester chenille and very snuggly. I'm glad they're going to sell them online.

It may be Clay's birthday, but I feel like I was the one that received the unforgettable gift.

Is the poster the same one they sold during the summer?

Love the last line of your post. He is a gift that keeps on giving.

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smittenwithclay's recap from her reading tonight:

Gosh, how do you put into words the best thing that has ever happened to you. This was better then a meet and greet, meet and greets are random, I earned this, and It was the most amazing fullfilling thing that Ive ever done.

but lets rewind. I had made peace with the fact that I didnt win last Saturday, However, my travel buddies(2old4clay and Marilyn) both one, and I was feeling a little left out., and then part of me was feeling like I was being such a baby and sore loser, I mean..I put on a smile, and I tried to be ok...but I was feeling so let down, and I hated that I let myself get like that.

By Thursday night I was sure that I hadnt won, a bunch of us met for dinner after the concert, and perma threw her laptop at me(ok not literally) and told me to check my email, but there was nothing there..and I was sure that I didnt win. I went to bed, just..sure. I wake up in the morning, and I can check my email from my phone, so I checked it in the morning, like I always do, and there it was...the most amazing email that Ive ever gotten in my life...and it was mine, and it was happening..and it was real..and OH MY GOODNESS WHAT HAVE I DONE!!?!?!? was the firs thing going through my mind. Apparently, the email had gone to 2old's email address for some reason, one that she doesnt even use for Clay stuff, so she has no idea how they even got that address. nonetheless, there it was..and it was beautiful tongue.gif

Now the trick...I had planned the cv dinner, how in the world was I supposed to not show up on time, and still keep clays secret? I went to the venue to rehearse, and met sweety jamie(very southern accent) talked to the other girls. One of the ladies got nervous, and she was going to have her daughter read it, but Clay felt the story was very personal, and he personally asked this women to read the story...and she ended up doing it. When we were practicing, all of the sudden out of the corner of my eye I see this tall handsome man, in blue sweat pants, and a canada sweater, with a blue tshirt sticking out the bottom. He had on the light stage makeup, and his hair was very light as well. He goes to the first latdy (DianaJoe) and he was giving her some direction..I was doing very good at acting cool.....this is business ya know, not pleasure tongue.gif he said to her "hi! im clay aiken" like we didnt know who he was lol then he went and sat halfway back in the venue and listened(this was after I was done) and at one point he called jamie over and got her to turn Diana a little bit, then the other ladies read their stories, and clay came up onstage. He about tripped on the stage and said "oh my Lord, that would have been bad" or something equally cute..and came over and gave each of us a HUG and asked our names...I said my name, and he shook my hand and patted my shoulder and said "your story was really funny, I really liked it" and then he was gone, we finished up rehearsal and went about the rest of our evening. I went back to the CV dinner where..apparently they werent born yesterday, and most of them knew exactly where I was

Showtime: I met Jamie in the back like I was supposed to, and we waited for what seemed like forever. I went back with Jamie and the other girl, and we waited, and watched some of the show, and I paced a little bit cause I was starting to get nervous at that point. Then it was my turn, I shook my whole body all over to get the nervous energy out..and before I knew it I was walking out to the microphone. I couldnt see a thing, all the lights were out, so it looked like it was just me. Somewhere, from backstage to the mic..my nerves went away..and I read my story..the very innappropriate story about my grandma and her red lacy thong...and I cant tell you the feeling that I got. Taking Clay out of the equation(hard I know tongue.gif ) just getting up there, reading my story..and hearing the audience Roar at the appropriate times, knowing that people that loved and cared for me were sprinkled throughout the audience silently cheering me on. I got to the first "red lacy thong" and the audience was appreciating what I wrote..they were laughing..it is the most amazing feeling, I cant even describe it. I got a little taste of how clay must feel(a tiny taste lol) putting himself and his heart there, and hoping that people like it..I dont know what in the world can ever take the place of this night for me..it would have to be pretty amazing.

So I watched the rest of the show, and of course got giddy when he introduced us, I tell you..my name has never sounded better. We met Jamie and went backstage, and it was so relaxed, while we waited for Clay we talked to Angela and Quiana, Mary was there..and Jamie...and they were all joking back and forth with eachother, the girls were commenting on something like shoes or jewalry or something of non importance...and then he came out, in just the vest..look breathtaking of course...and he shook each of our hands again, said thank you so much...and then took a picture "shalla, you come first" he said and of course I came when he asked...cause thats what I do tongue.gif and I put my hand around his trim waist, and could fill the silky softness of the vest that he was wearing..and my night was complete..he said thank you again, and was gone. I didnt get a lot of attention...he didnt rave about my story or any other such nonsense...but the fact that he read it, liked it..and picked it for his birthday night was indescribable.

Im still floating, in fact I may not need a plane to get home. this was the epitamy of everything that I have ever done..just awesome.

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Is the poster the same one they sold during the summer?

This is the picture on the poster. It lists the states across the bottom and I think it has Clay Aiken Joyful / Noise 2007 / Christmas in the Heartland on the top corner. It is also a little differently shaped from the summer poster.

MerrillvilleAd-1.jpg

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I love this picture because it has the Clay smile and doesn't look as serious almost to the point of silliness as tghe summer poster did. For a fun concert a serious picture and for a strong serious concert, a fun poster.

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laughn, that's so cute! I noticed the pins right away! I also noticed that you were looking a pretty darn good website there....

Glad you two made it home safe and sound!

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Great news on the book drive!!!! :F_05BL17blowkiss:

Ok, Luckiest1 and Cindilu......where are you???!!??? According to my calculations, one of you at least should be home by now!!! Details!!! I need details!!!

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That's WAY cool, bottle! I didn't even know they had a program!

Wah, I want one!

Hee. The pages I scanned are the only ones with Clay content. The rest of the thing is filled with advertisments for local business and whatnot. If you need a financial planner or floor covering while you're visiting Kalamazoo, I can hook you up.

On the other hand, if you want to rent a car that will, you know, actually shift out of park, I can tell you which Ford Fusion to stay away from at my local Enterprise agency.

Did I happen to mention that we passed Waldo Stadium on the way to and from the venue? :whistling-1: [somewhere, as she flies across the country, muskifest's ears perk up...]

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Kalamazoo Quickie

We left Ontario at 9:30 am - 2 vehicles, 5 people in each. Had the most laid back and friendly border guard we'd ever experienced, and stopped near Flint for breakfast at a Big Boy's restaurant. OntarioClayFan, aka heinz, was in 7th heaven with the wide variety of food and the all day breakfast menu. Also in attendance for this trip - cindilu2, crimsonice, disneykid, heartsocean, goldarngirl, Mr. goldarngirl, and some friends of goldarngirl, named Jim & Euri. It started snowing and blowing while we were eating, but once we hit the road again we drove out of it pretty quickly. The roads were clear and dry the rest of the way into Kalamazoo. We checked into the hotel and decided to go shopping. As we got to the elevators, a woman popped out of a room and said "Are you Claymaniacs?" We all said "yes!" and she started to EEEEEEEEEEEEEe. She wanted to know where we were going and when we'd be back. So we told her and remarked to ourselves that she was awfully friendly to strangers! Hee, then just as the elevator arrived, she popped back out of her room and asked if we were from the Claymaniacs board. DUH! We told her no, we were just hyphenated Clay-maniacs. :cryingwlaughter:

We hit the Barnes & Noble for some books for Clay's birthday drive, and I was approached by a lady who wanted to know if I was familiar with the Bubel Aiken Foundation. Apparently there was a wrapping for inclusion table set up in the corner, so we paid them a visit, even though we didn't need anything wrapped, and said hello to some familiar faces. Next stop was TJ Maxx for some necessities, then back to the hotel to get changed and ready for dinner & the concert. We had a lovely dinner at the Olive Garden, which was a treat, since they don't exist in Canada any longer, and then headed for the venue, which turned out to be on the campus of Western University. We entered the lobby just after 7 pm and it was packed with people. We quickly found the book table and unloaded our stash, signed Clay's birthday card, and headed for the merchandise stand, which was 4 and 5 deep. When I got to the front and requested a scarf the woman doing sales said she had been told it would be crazy, but she hadn't expected this! The scarves had been marked up to $35 from $30, but that wasn't slowing things down much. I bought a red one. They are very, very soft.

We saw so many familiar faces in the lobby, and spent some time catching up with old friends, and then it was down to our seats. Goldarngirl had lucked into 10 seats in the 2nd row the first day the concert was announced, by calling the venue and buying a Broadway pass for $80, which we then split 10 ways. There was a 3 row pit in front of us which actually made us 5th row, but we were really happy with our location. Turns out they had just released the pit seats about an hour before, and many people had been able to upgrade, but honestly, with the way the stage is set up this year, I can honestly say that I woudn't have preferred to be any closer than we were. Jesse's piano was front and centre, so I think the best seats in the house are about 5th row, slightly left of centre so that you can see around the piano, and see Clay's whole body, right down to the feet. Hee, I have a bit of a foot fetish, so these things are important to me!

We were right beside toni7babe, Invisible926 (sorry I didn't remember you!) and Scarlett. Bottlecap and laughn appeared and said hello. It was so cool just to stand and look around and see so many familiar faces in the crowd. And it was amazing to see the venue so full! I don't know if it was an official sell out or not, but there sure weren't many empty seats to be seen, right up to the top balcony.

toni told us about how difficult the security had been the night before for the clack gatherers, and they were all in a bit of a funk, because there again were signs saying no video and no cameras. Then suddenly, an usher came down the side aisle, and announced that Clay had said that cameras were ok, as long as there were no flashes. The place just erupted in cheers, it was so funny. People started rummaging through bags, pulling out cameras and getting their settings ready. Yee haw! I pulled mine out and thought about it for a minute, but put it away again, because really....here I was sitting beside a bunch of clack goddesses who had just been given the green light....as if I could hope to compete. But it is thrilling to know that there WILL be clack!

The lights dimmed and suddenly there he was, climbing the stairs to his platform, and he was wearing his glasses! I died right there on the spot, because if there is anything I love as much as seeing his feet, it's seeing him in glasses. I had heinz on my right, and cindilu2 on my left, and we spent a lot of the night squeeing as quietly as possible and grabbing onto each other. Anyways, he launched straight into Emmanuel and some woman shouted out "I love you Clay!" while a man yelled "Happy Birthday" from somewhere in the back. A loud chorus of "shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh" came from all around me, and then all went silent, while the glorious voice filled the hall. Now, I hadn't spoiled myself with any video clack except for OHN, so I wasn't aware of how the opening was staged at all. I thought the way Angela came in for her part of the Jesus medley, and then Quiana later, was very effective.

When he went into the Jazzy medley, we just couldn't contain ourselves. It's amazing to me how just the smallest little movement he makes with his hands, or his legs, or even his eyes, is so overwhelming. I can't even remember all that he did that thrilled us so much but we all agreed later that it was our favourite part of the show. The "I said a-walkin, in a Winter Wonderlaaaaaaaaaand" just put us over the edge of fangirly goodness. The lady in front of us shot us a dirty look over her shoulder at that point, but hey....we weren't being loud, we were just reacting naturally. Heh. If it doesn't do it for you, lady, I feel sorry. You don't know what you missing! ;)

I think the whole concert concept is brilliant, the staging, the lighting, the arrangements, everything. The stories were very heartfelt and touching and fit into the show seamlessly. I wonder how great it must be for Clay to see everything come together like that, his vision, with the great help from Jesse & the rest of the gang. I am just so proud of him for being strong enough and having enough faith in himself to stick to his guns, even when the initial fan reaction to the show was not very favourable. I am really happy that things seem to have turned around in that regard now, but I also really hope that the fandom as a whole can learn from their mistakes and not keep repeating them again and again and again and again. The man has great instincts - how about we learn to trust him? Hee, off my soapbox now.

The rest of the first half went by in a flash. At intermission, we headed down to the pit to say hi to more friends. We got a first hand m&g report from the CB's RedBay, who we have spent time with before at Toronto events. She mentioned that he hadn't worn his glasses for the m&g, so we wondered if something was bothering his eyes, for him to have changed back into them for the concert.

The second half started with OHN and heinz and I were in heaven, as we both list that as our favourite Christmas song of all time. Clay's voice was just perfection on every song, and the control and range that he has is amazing. The little nuances that he brings to each song, even if he's sung them hundreds of times before, just floor me. The man just keeps getting better an better and better. He made a couple of indirect references to his birthday, in kind of a "I know that you know" way. I thought it was very smart of him to do so, because I really felt that the fans in the audience wanted him to acknowledge it in some way. He said "I'm 29 now" and "in my 30th year" and made a funny little face during MGUCL when he sang "I'm all grown up now". The crowd reacted every time.

DSIAFCD was wonderful, and he really does seem to want to move a bit during the song, but there wouldn't be anywhere for him to go even if he came down off the platform, because the orchestra completely fills the stage. I am in love with how pure his falsetto has become on those two high notes near the end. He only cupped the mic with one hand, and apparently he has been cupping it with two up until now? Hee, I haven't watched clack so I didn't know that, but I don't think it made any difference to the sound. I heard heinz gasp when he did it.

AIW started out very strong and pure. Towards the end he started cracking a bit and even missed the word "singing" and he really had us scared for a few seconds, but he nailed the last note like I knew he would and then the light show began. It was soooo dramatic and effective! And then, POOF! He was gone and the lights all converged on the microphone. What a fantastic ending to a fantastic concert. We all took a few minutes to compose ourselves and catch our breath before we even attempted to leave the seats.

We kidnapped Scarlett so she could guide us to the Radisson afterwards, for a few drinks. She managed to guide us straight into a dead end, but she used her charm to sweet talk someone on the phone into the proper directions. We hung out until about midnight, and chatted with lots of people, had some great snacks courtesy of the CH ladies, and watched as lots of clackgatherers took advantage of the wireless connection. canuck2010 came over and introduced herself, and regaled us with hilarious tales of bitches in boxes and talking irons.

We finally headed out around midnight so we could get some rest before our trek back to Ontario. As we entered the lobby of our hotel, we discovered that the entire dining room was full of Clay fans, who had actually commandeered the TV and were playing clack from the DCAT. I guess they were the real Claymaniacs! :lol: The next morning at breakfast, the room was again full of people wearing Clay shirts, and admiring each other's merchandise from the night before. I bet the hotels and restaurants were absolutely thrilled with the business Clay brought to town. We headed over to the iHop to have breakfast with some friends from Ohio who were also in Kalamazoo, and then we hit the road home. Luckily, clear roads, no snow, and a hassle free border crossing again. *muah* to our trusty driver, heartsocean! 15 more days 'til I get to do it all again in Erie! :)

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BWAH!!! Luckiest...that was a quickie???

its as wonderful as usual...its a good thing kalamazoo is your night...

OMG I got sooo schmoopie reading smitten;s recap...what a wonderful gift Clay is giving to these women...to be able to share their stories this way. They were really well written. This was so simple and funny...and I loved the way she read it...so natural ...

BRAVO to the readers and Clay for such a wonderful concept.

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