There are a few key moments in my life that I want to bottle up and live in forever…
… the day I said “I do” to my husband of now 20 years
… the moment I heard my children’s cries as they entered the world
… the night I took my daughter to see Hamilton
And now – the night I got to finally see Chris Isaak play to an excited crowd at Chateau Ste Michelle in Woodinville, WA…
I have been a Chris Isaak fan since high school in the early 1990’s. When I met my husband in 1993 I turned him on to the crooner and we would blast “San Fransisco Days” and sing at the tops of our lungs while we drove to Huntington Beach or downtown LA…
Let me bring you to the start of this 20 years in the making event in my life (yes 20 years!). Back in 1999 I lived in the beautiful town of Los Gatos California. I worked at a local camera store and honed my concert photography skills on the side. Since I was a regular fixture in the town I knew a lot of people – most of Los Gatos and Saratoga used our services before phones had good cameras. I knew some of the great folks at Villa Montalvo, a performing arts center that sprawled over acres of gardens and hills. Chris Isaak was playing there that summer and I had an opportunity to go to the sold out show and do a little photography for the center. Unfortunately I had other plans (what, I don’t recall) and had to decline. A month later Chris was coming back and my coworker gave me tickets, but I ended up having to go out of town.
Chris Isaak had been in and around my town of Portland for several years, but the kids were too little to leave with a sitter, ticket would sell out, or something would stop me from going. And then I found out that Chris would be at Chateau Ste Michelle on September 7th. Sure, it was a drive but it would be worth it. Plus the winery was a mere 45 minutes from Grandma’s so the kids could have a sleepover and my husband and I could have a short weekend to ourselves.
Well, that didn’t quite go as planned… Seattle got hit with the worst thunderstorm in 35 years. Apparently there were over 2000 lightning strikes that night! The storm started hitting just as Chris was taking the stage and he got through about 5 songs before the concert was temporarily stopped, then canceled when the lighting wouldn’t stop.
I was heartbroken. I figured there was no chance of seeing my favorite singer and gave up. BUT… a few days later I got the news that Chris and the band graciously rescheduled for September 22nd. I was determined to make it work and make it worth it. Now if that isn’t a true professional I don’t know what is. Chateau Ste Michelle could have just ended the Summer Concert Series the night before with Earth Wind & Fire, but because of the long-running relationship Chris has with the winery (13 shows played over the years at Chateau!) and how much he adores his fans (obviously), it was only a matter of when.
Sidenote – Chateau Ste Michelle has some incredible Summer Concert lineups every year. This year included Rob Thomas, Norah Jones, Ziggy Marley, Elvis Costello, Josh Groban, and plenty more top notch musicians.
I started stalking the Tickemaster page for better seats and within 3 days I was in the 4th row, a far cry from my previous seats toward the back. With that said, my original seats were more than great, as the seating at Chateau Ste Michelle is excellent no matter where you sit. In fact, the night of the show we saw a couple walking with their blankets to the lawn, stopped them, and gave them our old seats so they wouldn’t go to waste.
The day came. We drove 3 hours to drop the kids off at Grandma’s and headed to Chateau Ste Michelle, where I was hooked up with a VIP lounge filled with desserts and wine along with VIP seating which I ended up not using because it meant I would sacrifice my 4th row tickets. The venue was full but not nearly as packed as the first time since so many couldn’t make it to the rescheduled concert, BUT there were still a lot of people there. Food and wine booths were set up, the stage was ready to go for Chris and his band Silvertone, consisting of some incredibly talented artists, including Kenney Dale Johnson, Rowland Salley (both original members for the past 30+ years), Hershel Yatovitz, along with keyboardist Scott Plunkett. This time there was no opening band, just us and Chris. And about 1000 or so other fans.
Like I said, the venue is amazing. The stage is huge and there’s plenty of room for fans to move and groove, which I of course did through most of the show. He played some of his well known hits like Wicked Game, Baby Did A Bad Bad Thing, and Somebody’s Crying. He also did some beautiful renditions of Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison songs, both a huge influence on Chris when he was starting out. These songs included I Can’t Help Falling in Love, Pretty Woman, and It’s Now or Never.
But my favorite? Chris Isaak’s rendition of “Ring of Fire”, a classic Johnny Cash tune and one of my all time favorites. And lucky me, he looked straight at me while singing some of it. I feel into my own ring of fire right then and there.
Chris Isaak is pretty known for putting on a good show, but I wasn’t expecting it to be literally one of the best shows I have seen in my lifetime. He and the band are professional, personable, and the wise cracking banter between them shows they are close.
He played with the audience, teased us all when he took his tie off, then his jacket, then left the stage to change into his “mirror ball suit” and glimmered on stage. He still has his sexy falsetto after 30+ years. He’s still completely bangable (sorry Josh) at 63 years old. He has a stage presence I haven’t witnessed before and am impatiently waiting to witness again. He croons and fawns like a true showman. And he loves his fans, this I can tell. He gratifies anyone he can make eye contact with, raising an eyebrow or giving a little crooked smile. He oozes charm.
He has completely ruined me by demanding my presence at any show he has within a 3 hour radius of me now. And I need to be right up front again. Dammit Chris.
See you next year…