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Star Struck

Florida Georgia Line (Tyler Hubbard, and Brian Kelley) joined Jonathan Fox and the Thunder 102 crew before the show at Bethel Woods.
Contributed photos

August 28, 2013

Labor Day is upon us and summer is almost gone. While in no hurry, I’m a big fan of fall and looking forward to the harvest festivals, pumpkin parties, costume parades and of course, Halloween. Not wanting to get ahead of myself, I did my best to stay in the moment during the past week, which turned out to be all music all the time. As the season winds down, so does the hoopla at Bethel Woods ( and in the past few days, I attended, met with and photographed Philip Phillips, John Mayer, Florida Georgia Line, Thompson Square and Luke Bryan. With only one main stage concert (Kid Rock) left to go, I’m kinda, sorta, really okay with that. Don’t get me wrong—I love my job, enjoy the work and am always up for a good time, but at the end of the day (and by the end of the summer) I’m a little tuckered out.

Folks often remark on how lucky I am to have seats to the best shows in town and they’re right. What people don’t realize is that often, that seat remains empty, because I’m racing around, trying to get the right photo, shake hands with the talent and simultaneously make notes, in order to review the show and express my humble opinion after the lights go down. Last Tuesday, 2012 American Idol winner Phillip Phillips took to the stage amidst a packed house of (mostly female) adoring fans who were screaming and crying as if the Beatles had come to town. In an earlier interview, Phillips admitted that he gets “nervous appearing live” and that he’s “not used to all of the attention” that his instant fame, idol worship and recognition has wrought. Low key and down to earth, his performance was enjoyable and he expressed his gratitude to the fans, and to headliner John Mayer for asking him to participate in the tour that brought them both to Bethel. While hardly an expert, I was able to recognize Phillips’ abilities to play some serious guitar and his throaty, gritty approach to the vocals is (IMHO) appealing. Initially, I was flummoxed by the pairing of the two, having had little exposure to Mayer. Since I don’t live under a rock, I am aware of the fact that Mayer is a chick-magnet, has a reputation for being a “player,” has dabbled in many fields, from stand-up comedy to graphic design and has even tried his hand at writing, including a brief stint as a columnist for Esquire magazine.