Pat Berschied and 39 of her friends paid $10,000 for a private concert with Paul Byrom. It was to help Paul’s Kickstarter project to fund a show on the PBS channel. Here Pat tells us why Paul means so much to her and her friends.
How long have you been a fan of Paul’s and why do you like him so much?
I’ve been a fan of Paul since I saw him in the 1st Celtic Thunder DVD, but he solidified my loyalty when I first saw him sing live in Waukegan, Il in April of 2008.
I’m 61 years old and have always been a sucker for great singers, and Paul fit that bill perfectly. When he sang “You Raise Me Up”, a song that I really thought had been way overdone by far too many people, I was mesmerized.
He sings every note with such heart and passion that you can’t help but feel it in the audience. I could go on and on, but the story is always the same. When I hear someone sing with heart, I’m a fan for life, and Paul always performs from the heart.
Paul also puts his personality into a lot of his stage performances and that comes through as well. He’s never been on auto-pilot while on stage or in his interactions with fans. He’s always attentive to the person he’s speaking to at the moment.
How did you get the idea to join with your friends to raise the $10,000?
The idea for the private show came from the Kickstarter page. There was the $10,000 pledge level and the suggestion that with 40 people it could happen. I’ve been going to the CT shows in St Louis and other areas of the country for several years so thought why not give it a try.
Actually, I thought it would be easier than it was. I thought everyone I knew would think $250 for a private show is a bargain. Anyway, I started calling and tweeting to everyone I knew that was a fan of Paul and slowly but surely the numbers started adding up. Once I got to 22 I knew one way or another I’d make it. I have friends and fans coming from North Carolina, Vermont, Connecticut, Iowa, Nebraska, Texas, Illinois, New York and yes, Australia.
By the way, I actually live in Paducah, Kentucky so the show will be in one of the other lady’s homes. That was a big concern when I first started the whole thing since I don’t live anyplace people can easily get to. I picked St Louis because many of my core pledgers are from that area. Fortunately, one of them volunteered her home.
Is your friend’s home big enough for 40 people in the audience. How do you decide who gets the front seat.
I’ve seen pictures of the hostess’s home and it is big enough. She has a large living room with an adjacent dining area that should be perfect. Paul will be in front of the fireplace and we’ll set up folding chairs in as close an arrangement as possible. As to most of the seating, I don’t have a clue. I may end up drawing names out of a hat. However, I have one friend that is bringing her 80+ year old grandmother as a birthday present and grandma will get the front row center seat.
Have you met or spoken to Paul before? Have you been to any of his other concerts?
I have met Paul many times and went to several of his solo shows. Last year in his first solo tour I attended shows in St Louis, New York, and Baltimore. In fact the St Louis show is what really inspired me to do the private show there. When Paul announced his solo show last year I called to see if I could get a group ticket discount and ended up having 23 people join my group for ticketing in a few hours. I figured I could do it again so gave it a whirl. I then met a friend from North Carolina in NY for his show at BB King’s and we took the train to Baltimore to see him there as well.
While all his shows are essentially the same, each one is also unique depending on the venue and the crowd. Paul tells stories to go along with his song selections and in doing so he shares so much of himself, you really get a sense of the person, not just the performer. His shows never feel scripted. I was very sad I couldn’t attend his show in NY this year, but I’m planning to go to TX for his Christmas show, and of course I’ll be attending the taping of his PBS special. In fact, several of the people that pledged for the private show have also pledged for tickets to his filming. Maybe that gives you some idea of the loyalty of his fans.
As I said, I’ve met Paul many times, and he always remembers fans names and something about them, especially those he would see on multiple occasions. While he was touring with CT we’d chat about TV and films and had a lot of similar interests so I usually ended up giving him a boxed set of a show or something for him to catch up on during the tour.
He’s always such a gentleman and really takes time to visit with his fans. When he announced his first tour he promised nobody would have to pay to see him, talk to him, or take a picture, and he kept that promise. After every show, even when he was visibly exhausted, he took the time to meet everyone and sign autographs and take pictures. Often this would take another hour or more, but I never saw him look at a watch or give anyone short shrift and I was always at the back of the line so would have been able to observe that if it occurred.
How much does it meant to you to have him perform a private concert for you.
I’m not sure I can express how much this show means to me. Even though it’s not really my home, I feel like it is my show and it just means the world. I know it couldn’t have happened without the support of all the other people that pledged for the show and I can’t thank them enough.
I feel like getting this show put together helped put Paul well on his way to hitting his Kickstarter goal, and that feels great. I want to support Paul in any way I can, and believe me if I’d had $10,000 in my own pocket, I might just be having a very private show. Not really though because it’s much more fun to share an experience such as this with old friends and with the new friends I’ll meet because of it.
I also want to share a bit more about some of the people pledging because it shows how much people really care about Paul and his other fans. I have a lady that lives in Florida that can’t make it to the show but still pledged for 2 spots for me to give to someone that couldn’t afford it. I also have 2 other people buying spots for fans that couldn’t afford to come but that are huge fans of Paul. This goes to the heart of what kind of person Paul is and what kind of people he attracts as fans. And I think that is important for people to know.
Which other acts do you like and why?
As for other acts, well there are many, with Celtic Thunder being high on the list. In past years I’ve attended up to 7 of their shows in different cities, but with Paul going out on his own, that has been limited to 4 this season. I’ve also been to see some of the other guys solo/duo gigs. Neil Byrne and Ryan Kelly do a duo gig called Acoustic by Candlelight and of course Keith Harkin also does a few solo gigs around the CT tour. I just returned from NYC where I saw Russell Crowe and his buddies in concert, including an Irish brother act “size2shoes”. I’ve been going to concerts my whole life and they always seem to center around singers. The first show I ever went to as a teenager was Neil Diamond, and since then I’ve seen lots over the years. I even saw Frank Sinatra in concert twice during his last Diamond Jubilee tour. What a class act. I also enjoy lots of musical theater and usually come to NY once or twice for a long theater/concert weekend.