Jan. 13-15, 2017, Atlantic City, NJ - The Sidewalk Angels benefit show has become one of the most looked forward to events every year - at least for Rob Thomas fans. It's an acoustic performance in an intimate venue, giving you a rare and unique opportunity to see Rob up close and personal.
Don't get me wrong, I do love seeing Rob rock out, moving all over the stage, stretching high and showing off those abs, but there's something special about these shows.
From the moment he steps on stage and you hear the first strum of his guitar, you know you're in for a night of some great storytelling and will go home with some wonderful memories. Not to mention all the friends you get to see and hang out with, over the course of 3 days.
This past weekend was no different.
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend Friday night's show, but I did get to watch it live via Periscope. He started off the night with songs from his solo cd's, but (I think) took everyone by surprise when he started telling the story of how "Kody" came to be, a Matchbox Twenty tune from "YSOSLU". I can't remember the last time he played it live.
I arrived Saturday afternoon, settled in my room that I was sharing with 4 other friends, then got ready for my M&G with Rob before the show. I kept thinking "what do I say to him", then answered myself "what does it matter, you're going to forget everything once you get up there anyway."
M&G time....As I walked up to him, I held out my hand to introduce myself and he held out his arms to give me a hug. Ahhh I just melted. He's such a down-to-earth guy which made it easier to get actual words out of my mouth. We talked a little, then posed for a picture. I asked for a hug too - Rob's hugs are the best! Ask any of his fans that were lucky enough to ever get one.
Showtime! Rob started the night with "Great Unknown", one of my favorites from his latest CD. He played alot of his solo stuff, including Mockingbird, Her Diamonds and Getting Late, but also threw in some Matchbox Twenty tunes like Disease, If You're Gone and 3AM.
Of course, before every song there's always a story that goes along with it. Even though we've heard them before - like the one where Mick Jagger calls his answering machine and the time he met and told Lionel Richie how his songs got him laid - you still have to laugh the way he tells them.
Saturday night, as he sat down at the piano, he began to tell us about his friendship with George Michael, how his recent death affected him and then started to play Father Figure. You just knew this was going to be a tearjerker.
Unfortunately, there was a little altercation taking place on the other side of the theatre forcing Rob to stop. But Rob being Rob, and having the great sense of humor that he does, tried to ease the situation by saying "Hold on, is there an altercation at a f*$^ing acoustic show? How drunk are you?" While security was taking care of the situation, he climbed on top of the piano, laid down and rested his face in his hands, watching the entire thing take place. After a few minutes, he climbed off, sat back down at the piano and said "..and it's not stopping. Dude, If I stop the show, you gotta f*$^ing go." He definitely made us laugh. (Video and pictures below)
The rest of the show was uneventful in terms of interruptions, but absolutely amazing as far as Rob goes. He continued with songs like Streetcorner Symphony, Wonderful and Lonely No More. There's something about his voice, especially during an acoustic set, that just transports you to another place. As Rob has stated various times, we're here to enjoy the night and forget about everything else going on. And that's exactly what listening to him sing does. All you care about is that moment.
Sunday's show is always sad because you know it's the last night and you don't want it to end. Rob opened the night with Cyndi Lauper's Time After Time, another cover favorite. He also did "Keg on my Coffin" by the Push Stars, a band that opened for Matchbox Twenty back in 2003.
While he performs some of the same songs all 3 nights, he does change it up a bit and throws in some other tunes, so you're sure to see a different show each night. Joining Rob on stage every year is Matt Beck, an amazingly talented musician and for the first time this year, Doug Derryberry. Sunday night, a special appearance was made by Dena Tauriello on drums and Alex Beck (Matt's son) on piano.
This has become an annual ritual for most of his fans, who travel from all over the US to attend. This past weekend alone we had people representing New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and as far as California, Texas, Tennessee, Hawaii and everywhere in between!
Throughout the year, fans can be found in the Facebook group "Rob Thomas/Sidewalk Angels", sharing pictures, videos and stories from concert experiences. From the minute tickets go on sale, flights and hotels are booked and plans are made figuring out who's rooming with who. Every year the group of fans that attend this event gets larger and larger.
It gives us a chance to meet face-to-face, share many laughs, create wonderful memories and form friendships with people that we probably wouldn’t have ever crossed paths if it wasn’t for the love of music and more importantly, Rob Thomas!
It's become one big family reunion!
If you haven't been to one of these shows, I highly recommend getting tickets for next year!
Here's what a few friends had to say after this weekend...
Just got home from my amazing SWA weekend with all of my matchbox family. It was wonderful to meet so many of you & share our love of RT. Until next year. Much love to all of you. - Shannon
What an incredible weekend of sharing the love of the music of Rob Thomas with wonderful friends from across the states to benefit Sidewalk Angels at the Borgata. There were many laughs and many tears along the way. I will never forget the memories of this weekend. - Julia
How about one more gushing about "what an awesome weekend was had" post? My Borgata friends - thank you for sharing the weekend with me. I am thrilled that we all come together from all over for the love of a band, and music.. - Smash
I am back in the real world today after a great weekend of fun, friends and music, people from all over the country that I met because of our mutual love of this guy's music. He has brought so many great people and friendships into my life. I don't care if people think I'm crazy-you normally meet people anyways through a mutual interest, then find other things in common-our common interest happens to be Rob Thomas and his music. I'm grateful every time I go to one of his concerts, because that means I will get to see another group of my friends. - Suzy
Sidewalk Angels Foundation, a not-for-profit organization founded by Rob and his wife Marisol, is dedicated to providing funds and support to no-kill animal shelters and rescues across the country, helping to fight for the rights and fair treatment of those with no voice. You can visit their website here to learn more about them, see what they have accomplished with their amazing work and also make a donation.
Video - Rob's cover of GM's Father Figure - but first he entertained the crowd during the altercation.