10 things I learned from Garth Brooks this weekend
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My 20-year high school class reunion was Saturday night. I was in Boise at the Garth Brooks concert and unable to reunite with my fellow West Jordan Jaguars.
But the timing of both events was interesting. I was a high school senior two decades ago when I saw Garth perform live for the first time in Salt Lake City at the Delta Center. My tickets were at the very top of the upper bowl, but his 1999 concert was unforgettable. (Fire shot out of the stage during “Standing Outside the Fire,” and rain poured down during “The Thunder Rolls”!)
His shows in Boise last weekend were equally memorable.
Like many of you, I’ve been a Garth fan for forever. But I learned things about the country megastar this weekend that has taken my respect to a different level.
1. Garth has played with the same band his entire career
The last time Garth performed in Boise was 1992. The same band with him for that show was with him again in 2019.
“There won’t be anybody on that stage that doesn’t know this city because all the players are the same players,” Garth said in a news conference before Friday’s concert. “The rookie of the bunch is 24 years in.”
Garth introduced each band member during the show and shared memories – like his drummer who, in the early days, packed up the van full of merchandise and sold it before and after the concerts. There’s also the guitarist, who was roommates with Garth in college. They promised each other that if one of them made it big, the other was coming with him.
2. All of the food on Garth’s tour comes from Trisha Yearwood’s recipes
Garth’s wife, Trisha Yearwood, has a popular show called “Trisha’s Southern Kitchen” on Food Network. She has several cookbooks and even hosted a tailgate party before Saturday’s concert in Boise. Her food was served, and she did a cooking demonstration for the crowd.
“When we did the caterers for the three-year tour, the only requirement is they had to cook out of her cookbook,” Garth said Friday. “So every night you get to roll into Trisha Yearwood food – that’s pretty cool. And Trisha Yearwood doesn’t have to make it, that makes Trisha – she likes it.”
3. Speaking of food, Garth loves bread and potatoes
Idaho was the perfect spot for Garth because he loves potatoes – no matter how they’re cooked.
“I like them. A lot. It doesn’t matter, just bring them on. Look at me. Do I look like I care how my potatoes are? They’re my favorite meal – that and bread,” Garth told me. “Those are the two things they say are the worst things for you. But Ms. Yearwood can take a regular potato and turn it into just heaven. I think my favorite meal – my favorite thing she cooks is mashed potatoes. Easy.”
4. During one stop on each tour, Garth’s crew is the opening act
Dozens, if not hundreds, of people set up the stage, lighting, sound equipment and do a variety of other jobs behind the scenes before each Garth Brooks concert.
That crew is given one night during each tour to open up before Garth hits the stage. Boise was that show.
“The guitar tech that brings your guitar out to you can play guitar a thousand times better than you can,” Garth said. “The guy that’s adjusting your mic can sing a thousand times better than you can. These are hard-working guys and very talented guys. … The more they know about music and the more they get to play, the more they understand us. The more they understand us, the better we work together as a team.”
5. Garth let BSU students into his soundcheck for free
Garth invited Boise State University to attend his soundcheck Thursday for free.
“Those with student IDs were free. Faculty and staff had to pay something like $10. When you add it all up, it’s a scholarship. We’ll match that money, and it will go back to a scholarship here at Boise State,” Garth said. “Our general hope is that scholarship goes to people who never could have afforded to go to college. And if they’re gonna name the scholarship, name it after somebody that never gets their name on a scholarship who’s a wonderful representative of this community here.”
— Corey Surber 🦉 (@cjsurber) July 19, 2019
6. Garth was somewhat nervous about performing in stadiums, but this has turned into his favorite tour
Only a handful of artists can perform in a stadium and sell every seat. Garth says it’s every artist’s dream, and he feels like he’s earned the chance, but he was somewhat worried that losing the intimate feeling of a concert.
“I thought, ‘Stadiums can’t be warm. They’re echoey. They can’t be personal.’ This tour has shown me the complete opposite,” he said Friday. “This is my favorite tour. It’s so warm. We’re all sitting here saying stadium tours can’t be warm, (but) get ready for what you’re about to see tonight. It will make you cry like a little baby. You know – 17,000 people singing “Unanswered Prayers” as opposed to 40,000 people singing it. Get ready because it sounds like you’re hearing the angels from heaven.”
7. Garth was only supposed to do one show in Boise. The governor called – and that led to Blake Shelton coming too
At the beginning of this tour, Garth announced he would only be doing one concert in each city.
“We’ve done these stadium shows, and we have said one night only because we wanted to make it a special night,” Garth said. “We were in Chicago more nights (last year) than we’re gonna be on tour the whole year this year, so we wanted them to be one-night magical things.”
The original show sold out in less than an hour and, after a call from Gov. Brad Little, Garth added Friday night to the schedule.
It also sold out – and then Garth announced that Blake Shelton would be joining him for the first live performance of “Dive Bar.”
“He’s the busiest guy on the planet. The reason why we got him is because it’s Friday. He’s gone on every Saturday because we were trying to get it done somewhere else, and then when you’re governor was sweet enough to call and ask for another show, Blake was actually off Friday and was glad to do it,” Garth said. “I believe in karma and believe all the cards kind of fell in the right spot.”
8. Speaking of Blake Shelton, his performance on an awards show led to an invitation from Garth
Garth recorded “Dive Bar” about a year before he saw Blake Shelton sing “God’s Country” on the ACM Awards. Garth was blown away and called Blake up.
“There’s just something in his face. I don’t even know this cat. He was raised about 40 miles from where I was raised (in Oklahoma),” Garth said. “I called him up. I said, ‘I don’t know if you’d ever think about this.’ He said, ‘Hell yeah. I’m in.'”
Garth says Blake is the “nicest guy on the planet” and invited him to sing “God’s Country” during Friday night’s show. The crowd went wild as Blake performed the hit with an acoustic guitar and no backup instruments or vocals.
9. Boise is a special place for Garth Brooks
Garth hasn’t performed in Idaho since the early ’90s. Four years ago, he did a three-year tour and didn’t stop in the Gem State but says that’s a good thing.
“This is a spot we missed on the three-year comeback tour,” Garth said. “This will be like getting to do all the stuff you learned in the last three years, take everything you got to do in the 90s and put it together for a first-time show here. That means it’s gonna be exciting, it’s gonna be loud and it’s gonna be fun.”
And it was.
10. Garth makes every person he meets feel special
After playing for over two hours, Garth Brooks left the stage with his band. He returned a few minutes later for an encore with just his guitar and took requests from the crowd by reading signs in the crowd.
One woman held a sign asking if Garth would perform “Mom” in honor of her mother, who had passed away two weeks ago. He asked the woman for both her name and her mother’s name, then said, “OK, I know you still talk to Shirley. You tell her I said, ‘Hey.’ I’m so sorry about that, babe. I’m a mama’s boy. I miss my mom so much. My mom’s been gone for 20 years, and she’s right here with me. What you’re gonna love is every day you’re gonna notice she’s standing right here with you the rest of your life.”
He sang the song, and I’m not sure if there was a dry eye in the place.
In less than five minutes, Garth gave that woman a moment she will never forget.
He seems to do that with every person he meets – from his PR manager to the BSU student holding a microphone to an EastIdahoNews.com reporter.
Garth really doesn’t need to do local media interviews, but he agreed to speak with me and other members of the Idaho press. I was given less than two minutes, and honestly, I was nervous. What do you ask the man who has been asked every question imaginable?
I tried to be smooth but felt like I stumbled my way through an interview with a man I respect and admire.
Garth ended up making me feel like I was the most important person in the world and gave me a hug.
There’s a reason this man is selling out stadiums twenty years after he shattered country records. He truly is an icon who can fill 86,000 seats in Boise alone while touching the hearts of every person he encounters.
Personal note: I went to the concert with my friend, Ben, and made this highlight video of the news conference and concert.