Taking “The Walk” with Hanson is something I thought I would never do. Australian Hanson fans have always known that Hanson won’t come back to Australia to tour again any time soon, or maybe ever again. And so since my obsession with them died down 3 or 4 years ago, I never even contemplated flying to the US solely to see a Hanson show and take the walk. And even when I planned this (originally 3 week) trip earlier in the year and Hanson concert dates were announced, I wasn’t overly worried that no dates coincided with my trip to the US.
So when I realized that I’d get to see a Hanson show here, I was excited to walk with them. “The Walk” (for those of you who do not know what I’ve been waffling on about for the last paragraph) is a charity event the band (Hanson) do before most of their shows, which they started in 2007. Fans gather at the venue 3 or 4 hours before the show, and Hanson donate $1 for every person who shows up and walks with them – and each individual walker decides whether “their” dollar is donated to providing water, shoes, medical help or education for children, young people and families in AIDS affected places in Africa. The walk is affectionately referred to by the band as a “barefoot mile” and as Taylor Hanson put it in Burlington, VT, “We need to borrow your feet!” They encourage fans to walk a mile in the shoes of those suffering, and in this case, those shoes don’t exist, so the band and many of the fans walk barefoot.
Plus, as the obvious bonus, you get to walk with the members of the band – Taylor generally heads up the walk, and starts by giving a little speech, and getting the crowd pumped by yelling “Let’s Walk” and having everyone repeat! Depending on the number of fans, everyone scatters, and you can tell where Taylor, Zac (generally somewhere in the middle) and Isaac (usually bringing up the rear) are walking, as the girls crowd around them, firing questions about Africa, music, travel and their families, as they walk barefoot through suburban streets, or depending on the place, the parking lot of the venue(as it was in B, dodging rocks, pebbles and broken glass.
I took 2 walks on my trip – the first in Wallingford, CT, where I roped Kathleen in (who was not in all excited, and didn’t even know what “the third one’s” name was (Isaac, for the record). She did, however, happily photograph me talking with Taylor and Zac, and resist punching out all the feisty fans who tried to push her out of the way to get to the guys. At the end of the walk, I had to use a bit of force (read: me standing next to Taylor, holding my camera up in front of us and saying “Hey Taylor, can I please get a picture?” – not really giving him any choice, right?! Haha!) but got pictures with both Taylor and Zac, and was on cloud nine.
Taking my shoes off was something I hadn’t planned on doing. It was about 4 or 5 degrees (celcius), and I was cold enough with my shoes ON. But Taylor Hanson just has something about him – I liken him to Edward Cullen in that I’m not overly attracted to him in theory, but when he opens his mouth, when he takes the stage, when he hangs from the brand of a tree in the middle of a parking lot in Wallingford, CT, I had a sudden desire to take my shoes off and walk barefoot in the freezing cold. He sparkles. Go figure.
The second walk, in Burlington, VT, was slightly different – less fans showed up, and when Hanson arrived at 4pm it would have been around -3 degrees (again, celcius). Taylor started his speech, and announced that they would be walking with their shoes on, and that we could (and to prevent frostbite and black toes, should) keep ours on too. I’m glad for that, because there was NO WAY I was taking off my shoes (which were, on this day, boots).
This walk was different because unlike the previous day, we were actually in a populated area, and so we walked half a mile down the street and then back. I walked the first half mile with Isaac, and ended up in a conversation with him about prehistoric ferns and the best places to visit in New Zealand (which somehow stemmed from a question about what the coldest ever walk had been: this one tied with one in Montreal a few years ago when there was snow on the ground; and the fact that I had never been anywhere this cold in my life). He was really friendly and easygoing, and seemed happy to be there and interact with the fans. For a few minutes there I forgot that he was “Isaac Hanson of Hanson” and he could have just been any one of my everyday friends I was having a chat with.
Zac was in a better mood, joking with fans and singing random songs along the way. Near the end of the walk we joked with him about the restaurant “Zachary’s house of Pizza, Pasta and Fun” which was next door to the venue, and he told us that he’d eaten there and it hadn’t lived up to it’s name (haha). I also talked to him about the band of kids that had opened for them in Stroudsburg, PA (Kicking Daisies) and how they had ended up opening for Hanson.
I really enjoyed being able to talk to the guys in a situation which wasn’t a meet and greet, not was it one of those awkward “accidently being in the same elevator” situations, where you are torn between speaking up or staying quiet (to avoid seeming like a stalker). It’s really refreshing to be able to remember that, apart from the tour bus, the nightly shows and the girls throwing bras onto the stage, they are normal guys with families, the desire to travel, a love of children and animals, and people with a sense of humour.
So I did it. I TOOK THE WALK.
Oh, and to all those Aussie Hanson Fans reading this, I did raise the question with both Taylor and Zac about coming back to Australian tour in the future, and the answers were grim. From Zac, I got “I’m gonna say yes… when, I’m gonna say soon.” My response was that of “Hanson time, right?” and he laughed. “Exactly.”
From Taylor, my response was less committal. The answer to my “You guys were great last night. The last time I saw you before yesterday was in Australia 6 years ago, any chance you’ll be coming back soon?” was “Well, uhh… yeah… I’m just really glad you enjoyed the show.” LoL.
Let’s read that as a big fat resounding “NO” for now – so any Australian fans that are dying to see a show should start saving for the 2011 tour in the US or Europe (if that’s actually happening), because there won’t be any sign of them touring on Australian shores any time soon if my interpretation of their answers is correct!