Embarrassing Celebrity Encounter: Eric Hutchinson

Tomorrow night, Laura and I are heading downtown to see Eric Hutchinson play at Lincoln Hall. Although I am extremely excited for this show, I am annoyed by a couple of things:
1.       It’s on a Monday night
2.       His new album just came out last week, giving me only a few days to listen to it on repeat and learn the songs
Despite those two minor problems, I’m pretty psyched. I’ve seen him a couple of times before, and he’s even better live than on his albums (on his records? On his digital recordings? How are we saying this now?). He’s a great musician, but also really funny and comfortable on stage, which makes him fun to watch. Some musicians have fun, outgoing personalities, and therefore can and should engage in banter in between songs. It’s fun, it gives you a glimpse of their personality, and it’s entertaining. However, some musicians just aren’t gifted in that way, but still try to be. We’ve all been to shows where the lead singer tries to make little jokes or tell stories in between songs, and they just… don’t work. It’s like, come on – God has gifted you with great musical talent. Unfortunately, He did not also make you funny, so just… stop trying. Oh, but they never do. They always have to tell an unfunny story about the time the band was in another city and something funny happened and ahhhhhh just play the next song already!
But Eric… Eric is funny and self-aware. That’s why we love him.
So anyway, a couple of years ago, Laura and I went to his show with another friend. It was in some strange restaurant/bar/club, and on the way in, Eric was eating dinner outside on the patio. Like, right in front of us. And I kind of freaked out.  We were like, OMG he’s eating here! Like, where else would he eat? He’s playing a show there later that night and they serve food. But still, we got excited.
So, before the show started, we were all talking about how much we love him – especially his covers. Often at shows, he’ll do a cover of Remix to Ignition or How Will I Know or any number of Justin Timberlake hits. We’d seen video proof on youTube, but had never seen him perform How Will I Know live, and being huge Whitney Houston fans (or just huge fans of good covers, maybe), we started scheming. How would we get Eric to sing that song? Would we yell the song name out? We weren’t sure. Somehow, we came up with the brilliant idea to wait around after the show and try to meet him. And then, we’d pool our money and offer him a small cash bonus if he sang that song for us. (If, at this point in the story, our goal and means of reaching it actually make sense to you, then congratulations, you could be friends with us weirdos).
So, the whole show went by, and while it was great, there was not one Whitney Houston cover. So afterward, he announced that he’d be hanging out afterward to sign autographs and meet new best friends. So, we waited in a long line and finally got to meet him. Did we want to buy an album, or a t-shirt? Or take a picture or get an autograph? No, we wanted to offer this man $40 in cold hard cash to sing another artist’s song for us. Looking back, maybe, MAYBE this was a bit insulting, but at the time, we were so blinded by our desire to hear him sing that song that we didn’t even consider that. I mean, is that insulting? To think he’d get excited about $40? Personally, I would not find it insulting, but I am not a famous musician, so maybe I’m not the best judge of that?
Because he is so funny and down-to-earth on stage, I think we expected him to just laugh and be like, “you girls are hilarious! Let’s be friends and yes of COURSE I’ll sing that song for you right now.” But instead, he just kind of stared at us and looked down at our now-shaking hands holding out the sweaty wad of cash and seemed like he had no idea what to say to us. And also, he seemed really high (unless you’re reading this Eric (likely), and don’t do drugs and then sorry! I’m just kidding!).  But for real, he looked high and like he barely wanted to take pictures with his nervous, giggling, mostly lady fanbase – and certainly didn’t give off vibes that he wanted to be treated like a hooker for a few girls who wanted to hear him belt out Whitney’s greatest hits.
So there was a long, uncomfortable, awkward pause, where we weren’t sure whether to just put our cash back in our purses and run away, or hold out and see how much more uncomfortable we could make him.
Finally, he looked at a security guy next to him and whimpered “help me” in a hushed voice (I made that part up) and started singing (very softly and with very, very minimal enthusiasm), “How will I know, if he’s thinking of me? I try to ehhh but I’m too shy ehhh hehhh, falling in love, da da da da da…” and then just sort of trailed off.  Literally didn’t even sing half the words; we’d seen the youTube videos, Eric… we KNEW you knew the words!
And then he told us he didn’t want our money. And we said “thank you” politely and walked away (slightly embarrassed that he told us to keep our money, but also kind of glad we didn’t have to fork over $40), but not before a security guy asked us if we wanted a picture. Would we like to capture this awkward moment so we could remember it always? Sure, why not.


And that’s the story of how we met, scared, and ran away from Eric Hutchinson. But we didn’t run away forever – we’ll be back tomorrow! See you soon, Eric (and don’t you dare forget to sing some Whitney).

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