Jacksonville, FL 11/2/13

The Florida Theatre
Source: Sydney, Anne, and Jess  

...and then I met Hugh Laurie 
 by Jessie Maynard

I'd never left my daughter before. Overnight, anyway. She's 4 years old, and I had never spent a night away from her. But for this, it would be worth it. And a perfect situation for it, all things considered. Her aunt has been living with us for the past 3+ months, and she agreed to stay with Lucy at the house while Norman and I drove down to Jacksonville for the concert, stayed overnight, and came back the next day. I realized when we called Lucy to say goodnight before the concert started that not only had I never been away from her overnight before, but I'd never even talked to her over the phone. She sounded so little.

I'd been getting more and more excited as the concert approached and Lucy picked up on that. The week before, she drew a picture of what the concert would look like. "This is you and Daddy sitting watching, and that's Hugh Laurie singing into a microphone." Adorable.

I had heard through the Twitter/Tumblr grapevine that he had been sticking around after most of the shows on the tour to meet fans and sign things. I hoped against hope. I was on a mission. No matter how long we had to wait outside after the concert, no matter how cold or rainy it was, we were going to stay there until either he left in a vehicle or we met the man. So then I was thinking autographs. I have this promotional House messenger bag that I won randomly online. But... it's dark blue, and I keep my ice skating stuff in it. And I *like* keeping my ice skating stuff in it. And I knew I wouldn't want to keep using the bag if he signed it. Well, there were always liner notes, weren't there? But then the next day after Lucy drew that picture, it occurred to me in a flash -- that has to be it. He has to sign the picture she drew of him.

In the weeks leading up to the concert, Hugh Laurie got himself a Twitter account. Finally. He's brilliant at it; check him out (@hughlaurie). So obviously I was following his tweets rather compulsively. The early afternoon of the concert, he tweeted the following:

 "Streets filling with Gators and Bulldogs faithful. It's a hajj. Which is probably offensive but shouldn't be."
Now, besides helping me learn the word "hajj", this tweet informed me of.... football. My thoughts: "No. Oh no. There's a football game in Jacksonville today?? Holy crap, we'd better get moving!" Some quick internet searching led me to discover that although there is no college football team of note located in Jacksonville, they play the annual Florida vs. Georgia game there, just as they play OU vs. Texas in Dallas (something I am more familiar with). And the stadium was downtown, blocks from the theater. Game started at 3:30, so people would be leaving in droves by 7:30 at the latest, probably. Concert starts at 8. Commence scrambling.

Somehow despite all this (I *might* have football crowd PTSD from my time in Norman, OK as a non-football-fan), we made it to our hotel, freshened up (i.e., I changed my clothes and actually did something to my hair and face), drove downtown and found a parking garage space for $5 a block from the theater! We ate a leisurely dinner at the cute little Casa Dora Italian Cafe, then we called Lucy to say goodnight. Got into the theater. Bought a t-shirt! Found our seats.

Waited. Good Lord, y'all. That band does NOT disappoint. I mean, Hugh Laurie would be enough. He's hilarious, quick-witted, willing to engage the audience and roll with things, he's a wonderful piano player, he LOVES the music, and he obviously has SO MUCH FUN. That would be enough. But the band, y'all. The Copper Bottom Band is amazing. Sister Jean about broke our hearts singing "I Hate a Man Like You". Gaby could have just jumped out of a record from the 1920s onto the stage for all we knew. Elizabeth Lea taught us that trombone players can, in fact, be totally badass. Every single musician on stage was amazing and they were obviously all having fun. They made us all want to get up a dance with songs like "Junco Partner", and they stunned everyone into silence with beautiful songs like "My Journey to the Sky."

In conclusion -- go see Hugh Laurie and the Copper Bottom Band if you ever have a chance because they put on a fantastic show!

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