Tied with Tartan

Tara Bradbury
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Tartan Army members gathered last September at the Canadian Country Music Awards show. — Submitted photo

The last time Judi Barter remembers feeling this way, it was over The Beatles.     These days it’s country music star Johnny Reid who’s got her all a flutter, though she admits she’s not about to go squealing or crying over him.

“I’m not that crazy now; I’ve sort of grown up,” Barter, 60, said with a laugh.

Barter and 56 others have been anxiously counting the days until Friday, when Reid performs at Mile One Centre in St. John’s, on tour in support of his latest record, “A Place Called Love.”

“Only three more sleeps,” Barter said Tuesday.

Reid, a native of Lanark, Scotland who moved to Canada as a young teenager, has eight albums — one gone double platinum — under his belt, three Juno awards and numerous Canadian Country Music Awards (CCMAs). He’s nominated for six 2011 CCMAs, which will be handed out in Hamilton, Ont. in September.

Reid’s also got thousands of faithful, mostly female, fans, including his 10,000-member-strong Tartan Army fanclub. The club takes its name from the title given to fans of the Scottish national soccer team.

Barter, the longtime town manager for Old Perlican, joined the Army in 2009, after developing a love of Reid’s music via Facebook.

“I had heard his music and whatnot, but it wasn’t until Facebook sort of came on the scene and I had some friends on the mainland saying, ‘Oh yes, we’ve known about Johnny Reid for years and have been to dozens of shows’ that I wondered how come nobody knew of him in Newfoundland,” she explained. “I met (other Tartan Army members) on Facebook and in forums on Johnny Reid sites.”

The members of Reid’s Tartan Army are from across the country and chat regularly, much the way younger Justin Bieber fans do: they delight in each small Twitter message from Reid and new photos that go up of him online, share stories of meeting him, and discuss his latest singles. Barter has seen Reid in concert five times already; there’s another Army member, she says — Susan Murphy of Saskachewan — who saw him 27 times on his current tour alone.

“She’s one of our die-hard fans. Well, we’re all die-hard, but we all just don’t have the time or money to go to all of his concerts,” Barter said, with a laugh.

Army members are coming from every province to see Reid’s show at Mile One, and they’re all meeting at the Sundance on George Street for supper (having outgrown a previously booked bar) before walking across to a meet-and-greet session with him before the concert.

This will be Barter’s fourth time meeting Reid, and she’s planning to bring a photo she took of him at a concert in Halifax late last year as well as her “A Place Called Love” CD for him to sign. She’s hoping he’ll remember her.

“The first time you meet him, you’re sort of in awe, like, ‘Jeez, am I really meeting him?’ sort of thing, but then afterwards, it’s, ‘Hello, how are you, nice to see you again.’ He remembers people; he’s got a very good memory. He’ll probably say, ‘That idiot is back again!’” Barter said, laughing again.

Cindy Grieve is a Tartan Army member from Winnipeg who’s flying to St. John’s tonight for the get-together and concert. She’s seen Reid in concert about 15 times, having discovered him when he opened for Martina McBride on tour, and says he’s got a special place in her heart that no other musician has ever taken.

Reid has seen her through a lot, she said, including her mother’s death and the adoption of her daughter, Lily, from China. Lily, now 21 months old, recognizes Reid when she hears his music or sees him on TV, Grieve said.

“My mom passed away just days before I saw him for the first time. When I met him I told him about my situation and he said, ‘How are you doing, darling?’ Of course, I just melted,” Grieve said. “He knew about my going to China and us getting our little girl, and I sent him a picture of her (via Twitter) and he said she was beautiful.

“He’s just such a humble person and so easy to talk with. Sometimes you get nervous, but he makes you feel like you’re special.”

The ladies say Army members will be looking for what they call “Johnny Hugs” at the meet-and-greet.

“He’s famous for them,” Barter explained. “He gives lovely Johnny Hugs. That’s just the way he is — he’s a hugger.”

Army members wear plaid scarves to Reid’s concerts, in one of three different tartans, depending on how long they’ve been in the club. They also wave Scottish flags with Tartan Army logos, meant for the soccer team and bought from Scotland through eBay.

There are a few men in the club, although not nearly as many as there are women, Barter said. Her own husband — and two sons, who are around Reid’s age — get a chuckle out of her Reid obsession.

“They think I’m off my head,” she said. “They just shake their head. They think it’s a mother thing, I think.”

Grieve said she’s slowly turning her husband into a Reid fan, although she can’t convince him to join the Army quite yet.

“He’s been to three concerts with me. His musical style is a little different than mine, but he likes his upbeat songs,” she said. “He’s been supportive.”

Both ladies say the Tartan Army is more to them than simply an outlet for chatting about Reid; it’s been a great way to meet friends, some of whom they’ll see in person for the first time Friday evening, but with whom they’ve already become close through Facebook.

“I’m not just going to see Johnny,” Grieve said. “It’s the other fans, too. I’ve made so many great friends. I’ve joined other fan clubs but nothing like Johnny’s. You feel like you’re part of a family.”

The Army members are planning to make a full weekend of their get-together. They’ve booked a hotel downtown and are planning to hit George Street, with the mainland members hoping to get Screeched in.

Reid, with special guests The Stellas, will perform at Mile One Friday at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $62.09 to $84.69 including tax, plus surcharge, and can be purchased at the Mile One Centre box office, by phone at 576-7657, or online at www.admission.com.




Organizations: Tartan Army, The Beatles, Sundance EBay

Geographic location: Scotland, Lanark, Canada Hamilton George Street Old Perlican Newfoundland China Halifax Winnipeg

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Recent comments

  • Angela Laird
    February 22, 2013 - 12:05

    I've been a TA member since 2009 after I saw Johnny for the first time. Would love to see him again, only have seen him once in Halifax, the other times he came were outdoor concerts which are kinda hard for me. He was here last year but I was just recovering from brain surgery. Hope to see him again. I hear his NL shows are great, would love to go there some time. I grew up in NL. Good excuse to go back right?

  • Cindy Prutchick
    August 11, 2011 - 11:53

    This is such a great article because it speaks of the special group that is the Tartan Army. We haven't all met each other but we do get to share stories and experiences of being a TA. on Facebook or Twitter. Johnny is such a fantastic performer as well as a true gentleman, in this day and age you don't see that very often. I am blessed to be a part of this group and I look forward to meeting them someday. On Sept 10 Johnny Reid's Pink Tartan Army along with Johnny will be walking 32km in the Weekend to End Women's Cancers in Toronto it should be a very special day and I'm really looking forward to being a part of this.

  • Cindy Prutchick
    August 11, 2011 - 11:44

    As a Tartan Army member I have been blessed to get to know It's kinda like a family, they are an amazing group of people .We all share the same interests and it's nice that we can all come together and have fun, share stories, experiences of being a TA member and also share our love and respect for Johnny Reid. He is a one in a million, a true gentleman, and fantastic performer. I feel like I know everyone and look forward to meeting them, hopefully in Sept when Johnny Reid's Pink Tartan Army gets together with Johnny to walk 32 km in the Weekend to End Women's Cancers in Toronto .

  • Denise Pronk
    August 11, 2011 - 06:25

    I also wanted to add that this fine group of people come together to support and uplift those that have come to some hard times in their lives and for those that have embarked on different paths in life they have been there to support and cheer on. These ladies were my cheering section when i went back to school and have cheered me on as I started my new career. Thanks ladies....you all ROCK

  • Denise Pronk
    August 11, 2011 - 05:54

    I have been a TA member since 2008 but a Johnny fan long before that. I have never been a member of a fan club before this one as I always thought they were foolish. But I was drawn to do what I could to support this young man in his chosen career so I joined the "Army" and have never looked back. He has a way of reaching into your chest and grabbing a hold of your heart when he sings. My favorite song from one of his independant albums is "Some Guys" that one really grabs my heart. I have met many other TA members and have become fast friends with almost all that I have come in contact with. I am looking forward to meeting some in person this weekend in St. Johns....look out Newfoundland...the "ARMY" is descending on your province...are you ready for us? See you all at the Sundance Denise

  • Linda Temple
    August 11, 2011 - 00:15

    I too am a member of the Tartan Army and have become friends with Judi and Cindy and many others since joining. I've seen Johnny 9 times and travelled from British Columbia to Red Deer, Alberta to see him and meet new TA family members recently. I wish I could be in Newfoundland to see him again, get a Johnny hug and meet all the others who will be attending. It'll be an amazing concert and many wonderful memories will be made!!! I'll be thinking of everyone and dreaming I was there too.

  • Diane Delaney
    August 10, 2011 - 19:27

    This is a fabulous article!! I, too, am a member of Johnny Reid's Tartan Army for the last and I'm travelling to the show at Mile One from Sydney, Cape Breton Island. I have seen Johnny in concert four times and loved every one. He is an amazing entertainer and is a genuine family man who shares his life stories through his songs! He has gotten me through some very tough times in my life and I'm really looking forward to seeing him ROCK the Rock!!!!

  • Nicole Bauwens
    August 10, 2011 - 18:10

    What a great article! I wish that I could be there with all of my TA friends!

  • Darlene Spurrell
    August 10, 2011 - 12:59

    I am a Tartan Army fan of Johnny Reid also and is so looking forward to Friday evening meeting some of the TA ladies for the first time! I have the opportunity of a Meet & Greet with Johnny Reid and I'm so looking forward to that! My Husband and I saw Johnny in concert last May for the first time and thought he was fabulous. We listen to his music and find it so uplifting. I joined the Christmas Card list of the TA and it was just like receiving cards from Family! Each day when we received a card in the mail, my husband would say, more mail from Johnny's Girls! I have to say these fans are like family and they are very supportive to each other. Johnny Reid is ending his "A Place Called Love" tour, here in St. John's Newfoundland and Labrador, I think he couldn't have picked any better place for it and I'm sure he'll feel the love at The Mile One Centre!

  • Terry Lynn Blyde
    August 10, 2011 - 09:45

    I am a TA member,my 76 year old Mother is as well! We had the chance to meet Johnny last year at a concert here in Kitchener ,Ontario. He is just an all around awesome guy! So grounded & humble. I really do not find that his music is so Country sounding !! He has his own thing going on!! It is amazing!!! Some say his voice is a little raspy like Rod Stewart! Johnny is one of a kind!!! Everyone should see him in Concert at least once! You will be hooked just like the rest of us TA members! NFLD enjoy Johnny and the band on Friday Night!!! St.Johns will be ROCKIN!!!!!

  • Crystal DeLaval
    August 10, 2011 - 09:27

    Love this article. I am a Tartan Army member from Cape Breton and have seen Johnny 10 times - this will be 11. My mother and I travel to see his shows. His music is great and he is so sweet and genuine. It is definitely a "family" and I can not wait to meet so many other Army members who I have never met in person - but feel like I know so well.

  • Audrey Murray
    August 10, 2011 - 09:01

    As a Tartan Army member, I will see Judy on Friday ( I am in Sackville, N.S). This article is just wonderful and speaks for all of us, We are a bunch of people with the same interest. Johnny Reid and friendship/family connection,