Tartan Army members gathered last September at the Canadian Country Music Awards show. ‚ÄĒ Submitted photo
The last time Judi Barter remembers feeling this way, it was over The Beatles. These days it‚Äôs country music star Johnny Reid who‚Äôs got her all a flutter, though she admits she‚Äôs not about to go squealing or crying over him.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm not that crazy now; I‚Äôve sort of grown up,‚ÄĚ 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‚Äôs, on tour in support of his latest record, ‚ÄúA Place Called Love.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúOnly three more sleeps,‚ÄĚ Barter said Tuesday.
Reid, a native of Lanark, Scotland who moved to Canada as a young teenager, has eight albums ‚ÄĒ one gone double platinum ‚ÄĒ under his belt, three Juno awards and numerous Canadian Country Music Awards (CCMAs). He‚Äôs nominated for six 2011 CCMAs, which will be handed out in Hamilton, Ont. in September.
Reid‚Äôs 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‚Äôs music via Facebook.
‚ÄúI had heard his music and whatnot, but it wasn‚Äôt until Facebook sort of came on the scene and I had some friends on the mainland saying, ‚ÄėOh yes, we‚Äôve known about Johnny Reid for years and have been to dozens of shows‚Äô that I wondered how come nobody knew of him in Newfoundland,‚ÄĚ she explained. ‚ÄúI met (other Tartan Army members) on Facebook and in forums on Johnny Reid sites.‚ÄĚ
The members of Reid‚Äôs 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‚Äôs another Army member, she says ‚ÄĒ Susan Murphy of Saskachewan ‚ÄĒ who saw him 27 times on his current tour alone.
‚ÄúShe‚Äôs one of our die-hard fans. Well, we‚Äôre all die-hard, but we all just don‚Äôt have the time or money to go to all of his concerts,‚ÄĚ Barter said, with a laugh.
Army members are coming from every province to see Reid‚Äôs show at Mile One, and they‚Äôre 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‚Äôs fourth time meeting Reid, and she‚Äôs planning to bring a photo she took of him at a concert in Halifax late last year as well as her ‚ÄúA Place Called Love‚ÄĚ CD for him to sign. She‚Äôs hoping he‚Äôll remember her.
‚ÄúThe first time you meet him, you‚Äôre sort of in awe, like, ‚ÄėJeez, am I really meeting him?‚Äô sort of thing, but then afterwards, it‚Äôs, ‚ÄėHello, how are you, nice to see you again.‚Äô‚ÄąHe remembers people; he‚Äôs got a very good memory. He‚Äôll probably say, ‚ÄėThat idiot is back again!‚Äô‚ÄĚ Barter said, laughing again.
Cindy Grieve is a Tartan Army member from Winnipeg who‚Äôs flying to St. John‚Äôs tonight for the get-together and concert. She‚Äôs seen Reid in concert about 15 times, having discovered him when he opened for Martina McBride on tour, and says he‚Äôs 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‚Äôs 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.
‚ÄúMy 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, ‚ÄėHow are you doing, darling?‚Äô Of course, I just melted,‚ÄĚ Grieve said. ‚ÄúHe 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.
‚ÄúHe‚Äôs just such a humble person and so easy to talk with. Sometimes you get nervous, but he makes you feel like you‚Äôre special.‚ÄĚ
The ladies say Army members will be looking for what they call ‚ÄúJohnny Hugs‚ÄĚ at the meet-and-greet.
‚ÄúHe‚Äôs famous for them,‚ÄĚ Barter explained. ‚ÄúHe gives lovely Johnny Hugs. That‚Äôs just the way he is ‚ÄĒ he‚Äôs a hugger.‚ÄĚ
Army members wear plaid scarves to Reid‚Äôs concerts, in one of three different tartans, depending on how long they‚Äôve 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 ‚ÄĒ and two sons, who are around Reid‚Äôs age ‚ÄĒ get a chuckle out of her Reid obsession.
‚ÄúThey think I‚Äôm off my head,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúThey just shake their head. They think it‚Äôs a mother thing, I think.‚ÄĚ
Grieve said she‚Äôs slowly turning her husband into a Reid fan, although she can‚Äôt convince him to join the Army quite yet.
‚ÄúHe‚Äôs been to three concerts with me. His musical style is a little different than mine, but he likes his upbeat songs,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúHe‚Äôs been supportive.‚ÄĚ
Both ladies say the Tartan Army is more to them than simply an outlet for chatting about Reid; it‚Äôs been a great way to meet friends, some of whom they‚Äôll see in person for the first time Friday evening, but with whom they‚Äôve already become close through Facebook.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm not just going to see Johnny,‚ÄĚ Grieve said. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs the other fans, too. I‚Äôve made so many great friends. I‚Äôve joined other fan clubs but nothing like Johnny‚Äôs. You feel like you‚Äôre part of a family.‚ÄĚ
The Army members are planning to make a full weekend of their get-together. They‚Äôve 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.