Tartan Army members gathered last September at the Canadian Country Music Awards show. â Submitted photo
The last time Judi Barter remembers feeling this way, it was over The Beatles. These days itâs country music star Johnny Reid whoâs got her all a flutter, though she admits sheâs not about to go squealing or crying over him.
âIâm not that crazy now; Iâve sort of grown up,â 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. Johnâs, on tour in support of his latest record, âA Place Called Love.â
âOnly three more sleeps,â Barter said Tuesday.
Reid, a native of Lanark, Scotland who moved to Canada as a young teenager, has eight albums â one gone double platinum â under his belt, three Juno awards and numerous Canadian Country Music Awards (CCMAs). Heâs nominated for six 2011 CCMAs, which will be handed out in Hamilton, Ont. in September.
Reidâs 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 Reidâs music via Facebook.
âI had heard his music and whatnot, but it wasnât until Facebook sort of came on the scene and I had some friends on the mainland saying, âOh yes, weâve known about Johnny Reid for years and have been to dozens of showsâ that I wondered how come nobody knew of him in Newfoundland,â she explained. âI met (other Tartan Army members) on Facebook and in forums on Johnny Reid sites.â
The members of Reidâs 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; thereâs another Army member, she says â Susan Murphy of Saskachewan â who saw him 27 times on his current tour alone.
âSheâs one of our die-hard fans. Well, weâre all die-hard, but we all just donât have the time or money to go to all of his concerts,â Barter said, with a laugh.
Army members are coming from every province to see Reidâs show at Mile One, and theyâre 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 Barterâs fourth time meeting Reid, and sheâs planning to bring a photo she took of him at a concert in Halifax late last year as well as her âA Place Called Loveâ CD for him to sign. Sheâs hoping heâll remember her.
âThe first time you meet him, youâre sort of in awe, like, âJeez, am I really meeting him?â sort of thing, but then afterwards, itâs, âHello, how are you, nice to see you again.ââHe remembers people; heâs got a very good memory. Heâll probably say, âThat idiot is back again!ââ Barter said, laughing again.
Cindy Grieve is a Tartan Army member from Winnipeg whoâs flying to St. Johnâs tonight for the get-together and concert. Sheâs seen Reid in concert about 15 times, having discovered him when he opened for Martina McBride on tour, and says heâs 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 motherâs 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.
âMy 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, âHow are you doing, darling?â Of course, I just melted,â Grieve said. âHe 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.
âHeâs just such a humble person and so easy to talk with. Sometimes you get nervous, but he makes you feel like youâre special.â
The ladies say Army members will be looking for what they call âJohnny Hugsâ at the meet-and-greet.
âHeâs famous for them,â Barter explained. âHe gives lovely Johnny Hugs. Thatâs just the way he is â heâs a hugger.â
Army members wear plaid scarves to Reidâs concerts, in one of three different tartans, depending on how long theyâve 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 â and two sons, who are around Reidâs age â get a chuckle out of her Reid obsession.
âThey think Iâm off my head,â she said. âThey just shake their head. They think itâs a mother thing, I think.â
Grieve said sheâs slowly turning her husband into a Reid fan, although she canât convince him to join the Army quite yet.
âHeâs been to three concerts with me. His musical style is a little different than mine, but he likes his upbeat songs,â she said. âHeâs been supportive.â
Both ladies say the Tartan Army is more to them than simply an outlet for chatting about Reid; itâs been a great way to meet friends, some of whom theyâll see in person for the first time Friday evening, but with whom theyâve already become close through Facebook.
âIâm not just going to see Johnny,â Grieve said. âItâs the other fans, too. Iâve made so many great friends. Iâve joined other fan clubs but nothing like Johnnyâs. You feel like youâre part of a family.â
The Army members are planning to make a full weekend of their get-together. Theyâve 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.