My first Elton Expo: Day 2

Saturday, October 5

Matt Still (Producer of The Captain and the Kid and Gnomeo and Juliet, Engineer and other roles on several other albums)

Can you say crush? What a nice, genuine guy! And what amazing experiences he’s had with Elton, Bernie and The Band. I loved it when he described how it feels to be the first person in the world to hear one of Elton’s new songs and that yes, he does sometimes have groupie moments working with Elton.

Matt talked about everyone getting fired by Elton one day, and then being rehired (with apologies) the next day. I don’t remember which album they were working on at the time, but it does sound like classic Elton.

Matt also shared some poignant memories of Bob Birch and Guy Babylon, saying how much he missed them still and how, so many times, it was just Matt, Bob and Guy in the studio in the wee hours of the night.

When it was my chance to meet him, I told Matt that I loved “The Captain and the Kid” album and that when I first heard the “The Captain and the Kid” song, I got all teary eyed hearing the intro music (since it is a re-orchestrated intro to Captain Fantastic).

Me and Matt

I asked Matt if he still lives in Atlanta (yes, he does) and then told him how I love Atlanta and that I went to Georgia Tech. He told me how he went to Tech for a couple years, but knew that engineering was not for him. Alas, I was there many years before him, but it was a great “six degrees” kind of moment. Who knows, maybe I’ll bump into him at the Elton concert in Atlanta next Saturday.

THE Band!!!

Not to offend anyone, but this is what everyone was waiting for – and The Band did not disappoint. I hung on their every word. Davey Johnstone, Nigel Olsson, John Mahon, Kim Bullard and Matt Bissonette. I never, ever, ever thought I would get to meet any of them in person, and now I have!

Q&A with The Band
Q&A with The Band – and me getting a close up view
Nigel & Davey
Nigel & Davey

Although I didn’t get to spend much time actually talking to The Band members nor did I get to have my picture taken with them (time was running out since we were towards the back of the line), I did get to meet every one of them and got all of their signatures on my GBYBR CD booklet.

All their signatures - PRICELESS!
All their signatures – PRICELESS!

Each and every one of them was charming in their own way and very, very gracious. A few tidbits:

  • I made Davy laugh! When I approached the table where Davey was sitting, he spilled his water, and I remarked, “I have that effect on people.” He reared his had back and just laughed.
I (yes, I) made Dave laugh!
  • As I was shaking Nigel’s hand, I told him that he had the most gorgeous smile and he put both of his hands on mine, gave me that gorgeous smile and said, ever so sweetly and with a twinkle in his eyes, “Thank you.” That man’s still got it.
  • Kim Bullard ‘high fived’ me when I told him I was also a Kim. 🙂

[Side note: Nigel is hilarious! And did I mention that he has a gorgeous smile?]

Magic Johnstone

A first-time live performance of the Magic Johnstone Band, which is comprised of Davey and his sons Charlie, Jesse and Tam. OMG, they are amazing! When they got going on Grow Some Funk of Your Own – WOW.  (Now that’s a song I wish Elton would add to his concert repertoire).

Magic Johnstone LIVE! at the Elton Expo
Magic Johnstone LIVE! at the Elton Expo

It was so evident that Davey is very proud of his sons.  When Tam had his first keyboard solo, you should’ve seen the look on his face. If that didn’t say proud, I don’t know what would.

Love, love, love Magic Johnstone! They certainly grew some funk of their own – and you can watch them for yourself!

The Ben Babylon Band

When Ben and his band started with A Song for Guy, I nearly lost it. Although it wasn’t written for his father, what a beautiful tribute to Guy Babylon from his son. My eyes filled with tears.

The amazing Ben Babylon Band with John Mahon and Davey Johnstone
The amazing Ben Babylon Band with John Mahon and Davey Johnstone

Let me tell you, these kids are scary good, each and every one of them. I really enjoyed “Burning Man” and “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked.” Check the BBB out!

Silent Auction

I bid on a signed Elton John Aids Foundation watch – and won it! So, that is my first collectible with Sir Elton’s actual signature, although I am still going to try to get one from him in person. Some day. (Atlanta)?

Lisa and did stop by the Expo on Sunday morning before we headed to the airport, hoping to run into Debbie and John again, but alas, no such luck. I so wanted to get a picture taken with them. 😦 But I was able to purchase a few more Elton pins and buttons to add to my collection.

So there you have it – highlights and (hopefully) insights from my very first Elton Expo:

  • Elton John’s music has been the soundtrack to our lives.
  • There is very likely to be a Tin Pan Alley Volume 2 (yea!).
  • Nigel Olsson hates Crocodile Rock (said it was the worst song ever written in the history of the world). Not sure if he was joking or not, but he did say it!
  • Davey really doesn’t like The Diving Board.
  • Speaking of The Diving Board, it is a very divisive album, mostly because it was not recorded with The Band.
  • Davey does try to get more “obscure” songs into the set list, but Elton’s gonna do what Elton’s gonna do.
  • Apparently, Elton thinks the words to Tiny Dancer have always been “But oh how it really feels” rather than “But oh how it feels so real.”
  • B-sides aren’t necessarily inferior songs. They’re just songs that didn’t fit the overall feel/theme of an album.
  • Matt Still was the “spooky” voice in “The House Fell Down.” Nigel was the laugh.
  • Elton John fans are really cool! And it was really heartwarming to see several younger fans (not just us oldies but goodies).

Please share your insights and takeways, too! (I should’ve taken better notes)!

Overall, I thought it was a wonderful event – I had a great time (and I think Lisa did, too). I wish the event coordinators would publish a list of attendees, because there are a few (who aren’t on Facebook) who I’d really to keep up with. And I do regret not being more assertive so that I could get a photo or two with The Band members – next time!