Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Close Encounters Of The "Celebrity" Kind: Part 1

Last Week I received a Facebook private message from one of my cousins in Pennsylvania:
Hey there, I was just perusing through Facebook and came across some of your pictures with some famous people. Just out of curiosity, how is it that you gt to meet so many famous people face to face? I wasn't sure if you have friends in high places or if it just happens to be that you are at the right place at the right time?"

In my response I explained that my "close encounters" with celebrities is a combination of both opportunity, planning and an element of serendipity. The question got me thinking about just exactly how many "celebrities" I have had my picture taken with over the years. I figured they would make for some interesting content so I'm going to share them with you. 

Now the word "celebrity" is defined in the dictionary as someone who is famous or well known. There are some people who are considered celebrities by the general public (movie, TV stars for instance) and some are well known within their specific niches (scientists or authors). The pictures I'm going to be sharing with you over this series of posts are a combination of both.  

Let's start with people who I've met in Nashville. One of the greatest things about living where I do is that I'm only an hour's drive away from Music City USA. It's one of the best little city's in the country. I go there quite often. One of my favorite places to go in Nashville is Zanies Comedy Club. I have seen so many hilarious comics there. Here are a few that I've managed to get a picture with. 
No, this is not Steve Martin. It's a wonderfully funny comedian and excellent guitar player, Paul Aldrich. In the world of clean comedy, Paul is a celebrity and one of my favorites. I love his song parodies. I met him at Zanies 5 years ago. check out Paul's comedy on his You Tube Channel: Paul Aldrich

Now Mr. Aldrich was part of the same show as one of my favorite ventriloquists. In 1990 this multi-talented vent won the $100,000 grand prize on Ed McMahon's Star Search TV talent contest. His name is Taylor Mason. 
Along with Taylor and me is one of his puppets, Pedro. I follow Taylor on Instagram and he is always working all over the country. Look here to see if he'll be in your area soon. taylormason.com/

I have met 2 ventriloquists at Zanies. One of them is a very famous and considered the top ventriloquist working today. I saw him at Zanies in Nashville on April 1, 2006. That night he helped reignite my interest in ventriloquism. Three months later, I went to the Vent Haven Ventriloquist Convention in northern Kentucky. That's where I met and got my picture taken with Jeff Dunham.

Next is a guy who many know from seeing him on Mad TV or on the Fox NFL pregame show. He made his name impersonating Football broadcaster, John Madden, and President George W. Bush. He's Frank Caliendo. Here he is with me making his George W. face after a show back in August 2006. 
 Frank still appears on various sports shows and radio programs. He also tours the country. Here's his website for more information: http://www.frankcaliendo.com/

The same day I went to Nashville to see Taylor Mason and  Paul Aldrich back in 2012, I stopped by the newly opened Antique Archaeology store. I'd seen it on the TV show, American Pickers. I just wanted to stop by and see what it looked like in person. Much to my surprise, Mike Wolfe, one of the stars of the TV show and store owner was there. I got my picture taken with him. 

All of those pictures are from celebrity encounters a few years ago. I want to conclude this post with a couple from the last couple of months. One of them is as recent as yesterday. 

On January 10th I went to a Nashville Predators game. In the Pred's team store I happened to run into a country music celebrity: Vince Gill.
 You can read all about my night at the hockey game including the rest of the story behind my picture with Vince Gill in this post: A Fun Night In Smashville

This past Sunday, I went back to Zanies for the first time in a while to see a night of clean comedy. The headliner of the show was a guy I mentioned in my 2nd post about podcasts. He's a stand up comic and the administrator/facilitator of the School of Laughs, Rik Roberts. 

The show was a lot of fun because both the MC and the featured comic were guys I've heard on Rik's School of Laughs podcast, Johnny W and Brian Bates. After the show I got the chance to talk with Rik and get a selfie with him. 

So there you have the encounters I've had with celebrities in Nashville that were close enough to get a picture. 

Before I close out this post I do have to mention the one Nashville close encounter that I came close to but, despite my best effort, missed out on. 

A couple of years ago I was driving in downtown Nashville on Broadway and was about to pass the Bridgestone arena. As I stopped at the red light, I saw that parked along my side of the street across from the arena was the Oscar Meyer Wiener mobile. Its not a person but it is a famous vehicle. Excited about seeing it, I immediately wanted to get a picture with it. As soon as the light turned green I hit the gas and started pulling into the parking spot right behind the hot dog on wheels. At that very second it pulled away from the curb. I was still parking so I couldn't even pick up my phone and get a picture. Opportunity missed. 

A couple of years later, I was coming back home from Bowling Green. As I pulled up onto the exit off ramp of I-65 and making a left, I saw the Wiener Mobile again. This time it was at the Shell station. I watched it pull away from the pump, get onto the highway on ramp and drive away. I missed out again. So I'm "0 for 2" but someday I will get that picture, I'm determined. So there's the one close encounter I regret missing the most.  

Next time, in part 2 I will share other celebrities pictures taken in other places and some that could be considered "judgement calls" but mean a lot to me. 

If you have a picture of you with a celebrity send it to me at RHavens1423@aol.com. I will include it in a future reader feedback post. Thanks for reading my blog. Come back again for part 2 of Close Encounters Of The "Celebrity" Kind.


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