Sunday, October 25, 2009
Pepe Aguilar concert 10-17-09
It was a week ago that I attended this concert... but it feels like yesterday. At this time last week, I was flying out of San Jose, CA after a whirlwind trip provided to me by Mexican music artist Pepe Aguilar.
A couple of weeks ago Pepe was having a contest to name his logo-since he has now branched out into having a line of shoes and clothing. I took a look at his logo and immediately thought of a Toro, a bull-a strong, magnificent animal that plays an important part of Latino culture. I almost didn't enter, figuring my odds weren't going to be that good. I was surprised to get the call a day later telling me I was a finalist. They said they'd let me know in about an hour and I waited patiently to hear what was going on. I eagerly watched Pepe's Facebook page, Twitter page and home page hoping to get some news.
A little while later, I saw that a woman in Chile had been declared the winner. It seems that we both had come up with the SAME NAME but she had entered it before I did. I was happy for her and surprised that I had come SO close to winning. Then, Pepe posted a video on Twitter stating that the winner did not have the documents to travel to the US and thus couldn't go to the concert that Saturday since it was only a few days away. Such drama! I received a phone call shortly afterward where I was told I was the winner... and I was so excited I could barely hear him talking! Of course, my husband wasn't home and I couldn't wait to tell him-but you know how it goes, whenever you really need to reach someone the phone is busy or their cell phone is off. In his case, the battery was dead.
The days went by and by Thursday afternoon and no paperwork I was starting to get nervous. I really didn't want to bother anyone and so I had to endure my husband telling me that someone was playing a joke on me, and that it wasn't going to happen. But me, well I had faith that it would. At the end of work around 4:30 pm I texted the phone number that had called me asking if it was really true, and did I win because I hadn't heard anything. I'd seen on Pepe's Twitter that he had been sick with a bad cold during the week, so thought maybe because he was sick he was going to cancel his concert. A short while later I got a call from Hazel, who works in his US office, telling me that I did indeed win and she was making the arrangements as we spoke. Throughout the evening, Hazel called me several times giving me updates on hotel, air, and other info. I really was impressed with the dedication and friendliness of Pepe's staff-they went out of their way to ensure that everything was perfect.
The next day I was flying out and since Hazel had sent me the information via the computer, I rushed in to work that morning to print out the information. I couldn't believe that a cab was picking me up at my home that morning to take me to the airport since I live about 80 miles away from the local jetport. But the cab did pick hubby and I up and we headed on to the airport, ready for our first trip to California and our first Latin concert. It was funny, because Pepe wasn't sure I was a fan of his...but if he could only see the music I have on my iPod and Zune he'd know that I listen to music in Spanish and I couldn't tell you what today's hottest pop tunes in English are if you asked me. And I have several of his songs in my iTunes library-I listen to the music, but as far as singing along, well, that is another story, lol! (ok, ok, maybe in the shower or when swinging the broom around doing housework)
We got to the Portland, ME airport and as we were eating breakfast got a call from US Airways canceling all our flights and rescheduling them for later times due to air traffic in Philadelphia. So our 7 pm arrival in San Jose was looking more like 10 pm which was kind of a bummer since we'd wanted to eat dinner in the restaurant that evening. (In addition to airfare, hotel and concert tickets with backstage passes Pepe was also covering meals eaten in the hotel) After a LONG flight with 2 stops, we were both exhausted and I can say that I was quickly getting over any fear of flying that I had. An Executive Car picked us up in the San Jose airport and took us to our hotel, it was so cool to see a driver having my name on a card waiting for me when I got to the airport. We got to the Hotel De Anza downtown and were impressed with the quality and beautiful interior. Check In was a breeze and since it was past restaurant hours the clerk informed us of a Raid Our Pantry option where you take your room key and get access to a room that has milk, coffee, juices and a make your own sandwich bar where you can use meat, veggies, cheese and lots of other goodies to combine to your liking. We made our sandwiches, got some milk, cookies and fruit cups and headed upstairs to eat before we headed to bed.
I honestly never felt my head hit the pillow, the bed was so darn comfy! I woke up kind of early the next morning and decided since we were still so pooped that we'd call room service for breakfast. The breakfast was huge and delicious! I had wanted to do something but we were kind of restricted to the downtown area so wasn't sure what to do before the concert. I was kind of interested in the flea market but hubby wanted to sleep some more. (He'd worked the night before and only slept for a couple hours before getting on the plane) A short while later, I got a call from a member of Pepe's staff asking how we were doing and telling us to get out and see the area. He offered some great advice... throw some water on hubby to wake him up and get up to San Francisco to see the Bay and eat some seafood. Well, I didn't have to throw water on him, and he did seem pretty excited about renting a car. So off we went, in search of a rental car. The hotel desk was excellent for helping us, and before long we were in a rental car with a GPS and heading towards San Francisco.
The drive up to SF was nice, and the weather was perfect-warm, but not humid and sunny, just how you expect California to be. We crossed the Bay bridge and boy, is it long and huge! The view though is spectacular and I really didn't expect California to be as hilly as it is with homes built into hillsides and canyons and all, so I was pretty shocked to see some houses perched pretty precariously on the hillsides. Especially since they have earthquakes there... Hubby assured me that Guatemala is pretty much the same, as his own family lives in a home built onto the side of a mountain and has huge poles in the ground supporting its weight in the back. Me, well I guess I am used to flat land even though Maine has lots of hills, and some mountains too. We ended up visiting the Embarcadero downtown area and I noticed a cross section of every type of person there... the families walking around together, the tourists, the wealthy and the poor...and the homeless. We ended up eating at a nice restaurant on their outside patio so we could enjoy the view. Hubby got to try a Dungeness crab, which is native to the Pacific Northwest and he really liked it. I had a Kobe beef burger, very tasty and it was the biggest burger I'd ever seen!
Heading back towards San Jose, Pepe's staff called us again and he seemed pleased when we told him we'd taken his advice and checked out the SF area. We got to the hotel and had time for quick showers and then headed to the venue where I went to the will call window and found out they had no record of me in the system... After a few phone calls back and forth to Pepe's crew, we had tickets in hand and headed inside. I was pretty impressed with the HP Pavilion and their workers, everyone was very polite and helped us to find our seats no problem. Hubby was happy because we were on the floor center section and the stage was within easy viewing. Rene, a member of Pepe's staff came out and visited with us a bit and he was so nice! He told us he'd bring us our wristbands later in the show and that we'd head toward the backstage area about 15 minutes after Pepe got done the show.
The show was awesome! And I really didn't want to see it end, even they say all good things must come to an end. The next performer Marco Antonio Solis was coming out shortly so we headed towards the backstage area, only to have security tell us that Pepe had gone up to the penthouse and wasn't expecting any visitors. Someone must have checked, because Rene came rushing out to get us and we were able to walk by everyone and headed into Pepe's dressing room to meet him. Now, I have to admit I was as nervous as hell. I imagine that is how people get when they meet my brother Andy Lee, from Circle II Circle. But to me, heck, that is my brother not some guitar god. I knew Pepe could speak English and I was unsure, do I talk in English, Spanish or both... We took some promo pics and even though I wish I could have been photoshopped at least 100 pounds lighter, I went along with it. Pepe was super friendly, and very easy going. I really was at a loss for words and quite nervous. But very glad that I met him, because I know that he really cares about his fans and loves to interact with them, particularly on Twitter. He's really down to earth and the kind of guy you could have a great time hanging out with.
The next day, after a super concert we headed back to the airport bright and early. It was a crazy day in the airports, as plenty of people were on standby due to the nasty weather back East. We arrived home in Maine around 11:30 pm to snow and rain...ugh. What a change from the bright, warm California weather we'd just left!
Our taxi was waiting to take us home, and we are glad that we didn't have to drive because we both fell asleep in the cab! Once we got home, we jumped into the waterbed and didn't wake up until noon on Monday. It was a great experience, and I would definitely do it all over again. Thanks so much to Pepe Aguilar and his staff, Hazel, Rene and Julian for making the arrangements, showing us such great hospitality and for giving us a trip to remember for many, many years to come!