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Bonnie Stewart's Close Encounter
Last January people started posting about a possible
stint at the Fillmore. At that time I was in between apartments.
I lived at Moms' saving up money to move into a bigger, better
place. About a week after I heard about this possible set of
Fillmore shows I found a perfect little place for my son and me
to live. I already had all the money I needed saved up and I
wouldn't be moving in until April. I got my taxes done and
decided to try to get to SanFrancisco with my return. I had never
been on a plane, and I hadn't been off of the East coast since I
was about 5 when my family went to Michigan. A friend of a friend
of a friend got me tickets to the Fillmore for Friday the 12th of
March and Saturday the 13th of March. Ok so, I have tickets, I
got a round trip flight for Sanfrancisco from Massachusetts at a
really great rate. Now for the hotel. My prerequisites were a
health room and walking distance from the Fillmore. I got a room
at the Miyako. It was more money than I wanted to spend but I
wouldn't be renting a car and I was going to bring some oatmeal
to eat. Fast forward to trip. My flight was horrible. It was
bumpy and I never thought about the fact that you can't just pull
over and get out. It took about an hour and a half to get to the
hotel from the airport because of all the traffic. Thank God for
the nice gentleman who was on the shuttle with me. No one else
seemed to interested in talking. I'm at the hotel and it's about
6:00 California time. That would be 9:00 in Massachusetts and I
got up a 5am there because I was so excited. I'm freakin out cuz
I can't hear anything because of the pressure changes on the
plane. I wanted to call my son, the line was busy(phone actually
wasn't on). I also wanted to take a shower and get ready and I
had no time left!!!! AAAArg!
Finally, I'm at the Fillmore. I ask for my tickets. I was worried because this all seemed to good to be true. At first the box office lady couldn't find them. I'm thinking, "Ok, this is where it all falls apart." "Oh", she says, "Here they are." She hands me my ticket for Friday. Now it hits me, I'm here, I'm really here. I was soooo hungry so I went in, checked my coat and got some food(forgot my oatmeal at home). I finished my food and found a spot right in front of the stage. I started talking to some people. One was the cutest kid named Maura. Hi Maura if you're out there. I made a new friend. Taj Majhal was just GREAT!! Tom himself introduced him. I love the blues. Then comes Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. Howie was directly in front of me and Tom was just a little to the Left of him. He was right in front of me a bunch of times. At one point in the show Tom says, "My girlfriend threw me out of my room at the Miyako." I almost had a heart attack. I thought, "Did he say Miako???" The whole show was just amazing!!! I don't think I've ever enjoyed myself more at a concert than I did that night. Getting out of that place was such a drag. I thought I'd never get out. I did finally. I walked back to my hotel room. I was very, very scared while walking back. As I was walking into the Miyako a van was pulling up in front of the door. I paused and thought, "No, it can't be." I walked a couple more steps and I turned around one last time. There is Benmont walking in behind me. My heart stopped. He was looking a little worried when I said, "Hi" I'm not sure why but when I asked for his autograph he looked very relieved and said yeah, but I don't have a pen. Of course, I was also unprepared and had no pen. I mean who would've thought I'd be staying at the same hotel? The guy he was with, probably security, said with a huge grin, "I think I have one." I said in my head, "Thank you God, Thank you God, Thank you God!!!!". I had 2 shirts. He found his pen and at that point I began to lose it. I got all starstruck. Here's the conversation(don't ask me why I said what I said; to this day I can't figure it out):
Me: My son is a big fan of yours. He plays piano too.(My son was 7 at the time. Yes he does play piano and he's a fan because I have brainwashed him)
Benmont: Really? Who should I make this out to?
Me: Umm. Jeff.(AAAAAhhrrrggg!!! What did I say??? Jeff is a guy on this list that I got a t-shirt for.)
Benmont: Writes, Hi Jeff. Benmont Tench.
Me: Can you sign mine too?(My heart is pounding so fast I feel like I just ran 10 miles.)
Benmont: Sure, What's your name?
Benmont: Oh, you're the second Bonnie I met tonight. Bonnie Raitt was at the show.
Me: Really? Ooo I like her too!(One step closer to earth. Thankyou Benmont)
Benmont: Attempting to sign my shirt while I'm holding it.
Me: Shaking and beginning to sweat I said, "I'm sorry, I'm shaking."
Benmont: (Whispering)Why are you shaking?
Me: Because I've been listening to you for 18 years.
Benmont: (still whispering) I've been listening longer than that.
Me: (About to faint) Thank you.
Benmont: (Walking away) No problem.
I didn't realize until I got to my room that Benmont cracked a pretty funny joke. Ok, so now I know that I have really blown it. There was no way I was going to be able to sleep so I went and had a few beers.......
Saturday March 13th.
I set my alarm for 7am California time so I could catch my son before he went out with my Mom. The alarm went off and not only woke me but I think it woke the neighbors too. OOPS!! I tried calling my son again and got a busy signal. I called the front desk and they inform me that I need a credit card to get a phone. I yelled at the guy cuz I'm not a morning person and I asked that question when I made my reservation. Finally, they hooked me up. I talked to my son, told him about my experience the night before and went back to bed. I woke up at 8am. I had the very worst headache ever!!! Combination of Jet Lag and beer the night before. I went to the health room and rode the exercise bike cuz I couldn't run with my headache. Ok, none of this has anything to do with Tom Petty but bear with me. I was in dire need of aspirin by then and I just wanted to chop my head right off. Nothing was open and I had to wait to get some. I had a coffee that cost me Waaaaayyy to much money and finally the store opened. Of course I had to pay to much for the aspirin as well but I didn't care at that point. Finally, I got to go explore SanFrancisco. I set off to find Grace Cathedral. Thinking I was in China Town(I was in Japan Town) I figured it would be right in the same general vicinity. I was walking down the street the Miyako was on and there were these Japanese people doing some kind of really cool dance thing with pretty bright colored flaglike type things. I stopped to watch. I noticed someone walking down the sidewalk just as I started walking again myself. It was Scott Thurston. I was behind him for quite some time and I started to wonder if he knew I was there. I was to far away to talk to him and I didn't want to scare him by running to catch up with him. I wondered if he knew I was behind him and thought I was a stalker. hehehe. Finally, he crossed the street and at the next intersection he took a right and I thought I was supposed to take a left so I did. I walked around for quite some time looking for the Cathedral but I couldn't find it anywhere. I went back to the hotel. So I ask the desk clerk and that's when I found out that I was actually in Japan town. Big Sigh. I gave up on Grace Cathedral and went for a trolley ride to Fisherman's Wharf. I got back to the hotel, got food, ate, napped, showered and thought to myself, "How on earth can they do this every night?" I was so wiped out that I didn't want to go to the show. I went anyway and got a spot close to where I was the night before. I met a really nice couple named Brian and Lori, Hi Guys!!! And I think, Brian's brother. At that point I was so exhausted I could barely stand up. I really enjoyed the music again but I really had to go find a place to sit so I wove my way through the crowd to the Lobby. A girl who worked there told me about the posters they give out at the end of each show so I waited til they started giving them out to leave. I got one, left and went and sat in the hotel lobby cuz I wanted to see if I'd see any more band members. I realized that this was a once in a lifetime chance to say thanks so I wrote them a note and waited.
It all happened so fast. The Lobby door flies open and Tom rushes through the door practically running to his room. I called out, "Mr. Petty." He just kept going. Right behind him was Dana, his girlfriend, with a soundly sleeping little boy draped in her arms. I suppose I probably looked pretty disappointed and I felt very deflated. I really wanted to give him my note. Just then, I see Howie walking in and his strides were taking him directly toward me. At the same time a Security Guard approached me and started telling me that I wasn't supposed to be bothering the band members. He didn't know that I was staying there too. Howie said to the guard, "No, it's ok, I'll get this one." The security guard didn't really hear him(I think). He tried to make me leave again and Howie said a little more firmly this time,"It's OK, I'll get this one." The security guard backed off and here's how it went:
I had my poster in my hand and Howie took it asking where I wanted him to sign.(this time I had my pen!!) I showed him and he signed and started walking to the elevator. The security guard tried to kick me out of the hotel but I showed him my room card key and he said ok. Just then I looked at my hand and realized that I forgot all about my note. Howie was already getting on the elevator and I called to him. He turned around and said, "Yeah?" hehehe. He was so normal. I asked him to give Tom my note then added that he could read it too cuz it was for all of them. He took the note, unfolded it and started to read it just as the elevator doors were shutting. Wow.
The next morning, I went home. I was so happy about all that happened. I was also really happy cuz I really missed my son!!!
That's my story. I hope you liked it.
Many thanks to Bonnie Stewart for contributing her story.