Legendary singer Al Green performs late Saturday at the annual Roots n Blues n BBQ festival. Green not only sang and danced, but showered the crowd with roses as well. Photo by Asa Lory
Legendary singer Al Green performs late Saturday at the annual Roots n Blues n BBQ festival. Green not only sang and danced, but showered the crowd with roses as well. Photo by Asa Lory

I had been looking forward to seeing Al Green for months. His song “Let’s Stay Together” was the song of my first relationship, back in junior high, and he had always held a soft spot in my heart.

So today, I arrived at the ticket booth, with my press pass in hand. Physically jumping up and down with excitement.

“Sorry miss, you can only use this once,” the ticket lady said.

My fellow reporter, Trisha, had used it once earlier that day and left the vicinity. Apparently, that’s not allowed.

So, I had a mission: to see Al Green, the man of the festival; the man of all men.

I tried the parking lot, and I could hear him, but I wanted to see him. I wanted to be so close that I could count the beads of sweat running off of him under the lights. I wanted to be so close that I could see his bluesy hips shake as he got into the music.

Finally, in a tiny parking lot for some small business, right next to a U-Haul, I found a group of enthusiasts. They were a bunch of Al Green fans that couldn’t pay to get in, but were there with their lawn chairs and drinks, ready for the show. We were directly behind the stage, and through a crack, we could see him walk on stage. There was a chain link fence between us and him.

Man, was I glad I wore converse tennis shoes. I, one step at a time, climbed to the top of the fence so I could see over on to the stage. The show had begun, and we could hear him singing, the blues king. The huge crowd, that looked like one big jacketed mob to me from up on the fence, swayed to the rhythm.

I looked over; the watch lady, deemed by our little group “the mean lady who won’t let us see him,” was deep in conversation with another watch person. I looked down at the group, and two of the older men said, “Go for it! We promise not to look up your dress.” I laughed at the second comment, but the first one I really considered. Could I really scale the fence?

My brain just kept saying, “Al Green is right over there. Just go. You’re so close.”

So I jumped onto the high voltage box on the other side, as my group of new friends hooted and cheered saying, “You go girl! Run!”

So I did, as inconspicuously as one can, run into a VIP only section of the concert.

And I got my wish. I got so close I could hear him breathing heavy into the microphone. I got so close I could see the sparkles on the drummer’s hat. I got so close that I could feel every sound coming out of Al Green’s mouth, in my bones.

Al Green was superb. He owns any stage he is on. And as if his white tuxedo jacket wasn’t charming enough, he began to throw red roses into the crowd. Every person in the place went nuts. Two of my friends from my rebellion group had jumped after me, and came over quietly, saying, “How awesome is this?! We see Al Green!”

Unfortunately, only two songs after I got so close to this man of magic, this music genius, I was found out.

“Where is your pass?” they said.

I tried to make up an excuse, but my emotions were written all over my face. My eyes said, “I am lying.” And my mouth said, “Please don’t make me leave. It’s Al Green.” But, alas, rules are there for a reason. So they asked me to go back to my moocher group.

I returned to cheers. A group drank to me and my two fellow rebels, saying that Al Green was worth it.

And he was. This day, those moments, being that close to this man of pure blues made me the happiest I can think of. Al Green, the legend, will always be king.

“Lovin’ you whether, whether, times are good or bad or happy or sad.”

By Maria Kalaitzandonakes 

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“See zos chickens?” her old Greek grandfather would say pointing to the pigeons, “all of zos are yours.” Growing up, all little girls think they’re princesses. But Maria’s kingdom never had a prince, never a castle. She reigned over her “chickens” and olive trees. Yup, it was all Greek to her. Rules in this kingdom were strict. Only A’s in school. No sleepovers. No painting the walls. In pre-school the teachers had her hearing tested three times, thinking that her piercingly loud voice must come from some sort of deafness. Maria, herself, never realized her life was odd until grade school, when the very American idea of “personal bubble space” puzzled her. And when physically unable to abide by the “arm’s length apart rule” Maria’s teacher gave her a hula hoop, which she had to walk around with as to not disrupt anyone’s personal space. When a little boy bothered her in middle school, Maria’s hot temper (Greek Blood as Maria’s father called it), got the best of her, and she yelled out a curse “gammoto!” and punched him in the face. In high school she embraced the crooked nose, the Christmas boat and the five gallon olive oil tin in her pantry. When Maria’s grandfather first saw a squirrel he said, “See zos fings” pointing to the unknown animal, “Do not be afraid of zem. You are a Greek, baby.” And with that, she had confidence in her future, as a non-squirrel fearing Greek princess. Maria is also the editor in chief for "The Rock" and "Southpaw". You can contact me at mkalaitzandonakes@bearingnews.org



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