Social distancing with Alan Jackson

June 15, 2020


***This was written during the thick of the pandemic when we were wiping down our groceries and spraying our mail with Lysol. - What is going on in this world? 

Leslie Anne Tarabella, Alan Jackson concert in Fairhope, AL

While the world was swirling in turmoil and we were wringing our hands in angst, wearing masks and trembling in our homes . . . South Alabama decided to have a party. By some estimates, it was the largest gathering in the world since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Here’s how it went . . .

Country music legend Alan Jackson came to Fairhope for a drive-in, socially distanced concert. Big screens allowed people to stay in their cars, or in lawn chairs next to their vehicles and enjoy a safe night of music.

Leslie Anne Tarabella, Alan Jackson concert in Fairhope, AL

Did everything go as planned (does it ever?), so “no.” But did we still have a great time? “Yes!” If you’re going tailgating around here, you need a truck, so we have a truck that allows us to remove the roof and doors. – Great! Until it starts to rain. Stuck in traffic for 3 hours — in what is usually a 15 or even 10 minute drive, it started raining. No big deal if the planner in the family has remembered the umbrella (you’re welcome). The shower only lasted about 15 minutes. Just long enough to make me look like a drowned rat the rest of the night. But it cooled things off, and the rest of the evening was cool-cool-cool.

Alan Jackson concert - Fairhope, AL

2,000 vehicles plodded their way into Oak Hollow Farms, a large field and event space just South of town. Out of all of those cars, we ended up being parked right next to good friends of ours! What are the odds??? Barclay and Doug are such fun, and get this . . . Barclay’s mother is the gorgeous Majorette, second from the right on the cover of my book! It was a total surprise!

Leslie Anne Tarabella, Alan Jackson concert in Fairhope, AL
I love this photo because it shows why I love Barclay so much – we’re talking at the same time – a super talent amongst Southern ladies, and she’s also got the “Majorette hand “going.

There was some type of glitch – or MAJOR MESS-UP and 100’s of fans who had already purchased tickets weren’t allowed in the gates. I don’t think it was the fault of Alan Jackson’s team, but I don’t want to blame anyone just yet. It’s a small town, which means we’ll hear all the details in the next few days over coffee and social media. The town is a-buzz.

Cars were supposed to be 6-feet apart. Most people stayed put with their vehicles, but a few wandered around, “visiting.” The crowd down front got out of their cars and danced around the stage, so that was a bit of a concern for health reasons. But after being locked up for so long, sometimes, you’ve just gotta dance!

 Alan Jackson concert in Fairhope, AL

Other than close proximity dancers down front, there was also the too-close for comfort obligatory fist-fight. We didn’t see it, but we’ve heard reports it involved 20 or so young men (actually, I’m assuming they were “young” and “men” — but who knows?) who landed squarely on the hoods of cars, offering a second form of entertainment. Someone blew their Dukes of Hazard horn in the row in front of us, and everyone calmed down. — I can’t make this up, just reporting the facts.

Leslie Anne Tarabella, Alan Jackson concert in Fairhope, AL
photo by Robert Tarabella

Alan Jackson gave a great performance and distracted us all with his story-telling songs. This concert was just what we needed to kick back and relax for the first time in ages. He has such a great voice and reminded us of better times (way down yonder on the Chattahoochee). His tribute to 9-11 in the song, “Where were you when the world stopped turning” was a crowd favorite.

Leslie Anne Tarabella, Alan Jackson concert in Fairhope, AL

Bob and I finally pulled our chairs into the bed of the truck for a better view. Other than our friends who we knew for sure had been good about staying away from the general public, we never really came in close contact with anyone and felt very safe.

Alan Jackson concert, Fairhope, AL

I was disappointed Alan Jackson didn’t throw in one of his great arrangements of a hymn, because this audience would have eaten it up. Even fist-throwing, too-close-yelling, parking frustrated, beer guzzling, truck sitting Southerners will hush-up for Amazing Grace. Alan Jackson’s version of “What a Friend we have in Jesus” is one of my favorites and would have been calming in these troubled times, AND . . . there would have been guaranteed four part harmony from the crowd. Ask Siri or Alexa to play Alan’s version for you. You’ll see what I mean.

It was wonderful to be out of the house and doing something new beneath the cool early June night sky. A field of people from every walk of life, enough pick-up trucks to haul away our problems and enough good music to sooth our souls. I told my husband I was going out to the garage tonight and sit in the back of the truck again with Alan Jackson playing on my phone.

Read – USA Today‘s story on Alan Jackson’s Cullman Alabama concert the day before he came to Fairhope.

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