Tamra Wilson is the author of Dining with Robert Redford and Other Stories, short fiction about small-town life. Her creative work often explores themes of family conflict, belonging and obsession with celebrity. She is an alumna of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and the University of Southern Maine and serves as a Road Scholar for the North Carolina Humanities Council. Visit her website at http://tamrawilson.com
OK, I’ll admit I was a Herman’s Hermits fan back in the day. No, it was more than that. Lead singer Peter Noone (“Herman”) was my teen idol, but I didn’t realize he still had a fan club until I saw that he was giving a concert in Lenoir, NC on Dec. 7. The ticket website noted “Noonefest at noon.”
Noonefests, I learned, are pre-concert rallies with games, Q & A with Peter and pre-concert sound check. This happens only once a year, a light-hearted State of the Union for Noonatics, and here it was coming to my back door. After 47 years, I became a card-carrying fan.
“Tonight’s my second,” I said. “How many for you?”
“Five hundred,” she said. “I drove in from Kentucky.”
My gasp told her I was a rank newbie. I’d seen Peter at the Jingle Bell Hop 16 years ago in Charlotte. We had shaken hands, but moderation ruled. I hadn’t hyperventilated, and I hadn’t forced our paths to cross again.
“Kentucky is a long way to drive,” I said.
“Not really. There are fans here from England.”
My eyes popped. People travelled four thousand miles to get here?
Obviously these folks like Peter Noone a lot. Attending concerts is what they do, and they have plenty to choose from—more than 100 a year.
Clearly I had stumbled upon a parallel celebrity universe. Think family reunion with the founding patriarch. Peter knows many members by name, and they know one another. But the juxtaposition is more than a pop singer and adoring fans. Peter and the club are family without apparent squabbles. He is graciously appreciative; they offer devotion that most performers (and families for that matter) would gladly give their eyeteeth.
Later, during the concert, the energy between star and fans was something magical. Few screamed, but all of us reveled in the Sixties and its good-time music as only this icon can sing it.
And I have no doubt that a few Noonatics headed to Miami the next morning. Another concert to log in less than 21 hours…
(photos: Googleimages; bradcoveb.com, theprovance.com, last.fm)