Imagine your favorite Rock Star/Legend giving fans an intimate concert experience complete with a personal meet and greet. Runaway Tours turns those dreams into a reality. Named after the first Bon Jovi hit “Runaway”, Runaway Tours took fan club trips to a whole other level. These trips are now global and have taken the "Runaways" from New York to California, Europe, Canada and beyond.
Love of music knows no boundaries. For many Jon Bon Jovi fans, traveling thousands of miles to see him perform in a cozy environment with only three hundred or so other fans is a “Bucket List” experience. Driving by car, riding a bus, taking the train or catching a flight, fans from all over the world and all walks of life came to Nashville, Tennessee for this unique experience hosted by Runaway Tours.
There were first-time and experienced runaways excited to “Make a Memory” with their beloved Rock Star. Fans I met from England, Tokyo, Russia, Canada and Australia have made new friendships with fans from Nashville to California and all over the rest of the world through these incredible trips. Many fans like me turned the Nashville Runaway trip into a reunion with friends that were founded on our mutual love and passion for Bon Jovi. Together we have formed bonds that have strengthened through the years.
Our home base for the two night, three day stay was the Lowes Vanderbilt Hotel. Immediately upon arrival, we were greeted with amazing hospitality by hotel staff. From exceptional concierge service to the shuttle service provided to and from downtown Nashville, Lowes Vanderbilt employees added a personal touch to our trip. They engaged in conversations and shared personal life experiences as well as gave great recommendations on places to visit while in town.
After arriving at the hotel early with my two Jovi pals Michelle and Liz, we decided to go have lunch while we waited to check in with Runaway Tours. At the recommendation of The Swon Brothers (Colton and Zach), my friends and I headed to the legendary Hattie B’s for some “Hot Chicken.” Waiting an hour and a half in line may seem like a long time; however, the chicken is well worth the wait. I ordered the “Southern” style (no spice), Liz ordered the “Hot”, Michelle ordered the “Mild” and judging by the sounds coming from the man who had been behind us in line, he ordered the “Damn Hot.”
After lunch, it was time to check in with Runaway Tours for our highly anticipated event. The hotel was filled with positive energy as feelings of euphoria oozed out of hundreds of fans. From raw tears from first-time runaways to silly teenage behavior complete with giggles, fans were anxiously awaiting their meet and greet with Mr. Bon Jovi himself.
Each fan secured a number through a drawing process that determined our place in line for the show. We secured 100, 101 and 102. This was great for us as we knew that we would be close to the front of the room. We were then given our “Swag” which included a signed 8x10 color photo of Jon and a beautifully custom made, insulated lunch bag with the Runaway Tour logo on it.
Lining the wall as we walked away were several of Jon’s items to be auctioned off after the show. These items were mostly worn by Jon on stage though a few were demo items only. All items were autographed and sure to fetch a nice bid from fans eager to own a one of a kind personal item from Jon. Fans lit up while investigating these items as they recalled exact moments he wore them on stage. This excited them even more. One of these items seemed to be more appealing than the rest. His black leather jacket caught the eye of everyone. As expected, this item brought in a remarkable bid and sold for $8,000.
Our pre-concert party began at 7 pm, so we decided we needed to go downtown to buy some authentic cowboy boots before the party. We wanted to look our Nashville best. All three of us hopped in the shuttle and ventured back out into town. Walking along Broadway, we stopped inside Boot Barn. The boots were fantastic though we knew we could not spend as much as we wanted. We agreed to keep looking. At that moment, we discovered Boot Country. At Boot Country, you buy one pair of boots and get two pairs free. This was the perfect place to find boots and share the cost with friends. After trying on the entire store, Liz found two pairs and I found one. What a great deal for friends to be a part of. If you plan on coming to Nashville, make sure that Boot Country is on your list of places to shop.
Arriving fashionably late to the party, we were finally dressed in our Nashville best, sporting our new boots and ready for a good time. As we entered the ballroom, we scanned the room for a place to sit. I immediately found a wall outlet and plopped down on the floor in order to charge my phone. Music was turned up loud and the complete Bon Jovi catalog was in rotation. Everyone was smiling as they sang every word to each song. During “Living On a Prayer,” the DJ cut the sound and the entire crowd continued singing in unison, never missing a beat.
After visiting with one of the hosts, Robert Fuzesi, the girls and I decided to head back downtown for some more shopping. Nashville has an abundant amount of shopping opportunities and live music. We made our way to Legends where my friend Nicole works as a bartender. The music was great and the drinks were perfect. You can never go wrong with one of Nicole’s White Russians. As time moved in what seemed to be fast forward, we realized we needed to head back to the hotel to get some sleep before the show the next day. Just then I saw a beautiful knit top in the window of the Legend’s store. Maybe it was the alcohol, but I decided I had to have it. With my friend’s in tow, we ran in and found more than what we went in for and had the employees on their toes. There were a lot of laughs from our unique finds as well as satisfaction for the items we could not live without.
After arriving back at the hotel, we all settled in for the night. That is what we thought at first. Yes, I must admit my stomach had other plans. No, I am not proud. Lesson learned as I realize it was not smart to mix drinks. The next morning, we all woke up and prepared for a lovely day exploring Nashville. I apparently was not ready to be a human again, so the girls went off exploring without me.
As the time approached to go see our favorite rock star, I was determined to make it through. Success occurred as I was able to get dressed, do my hair and make-up without getting sick. I was on my way. I met the girls in line and we anxiously waited in line to be allowed inside the Cannery Ballroom. As we made our way to the entrance, you could hear all of the fans become increasingly more excited. Women cackled, shared stories, chanted and people broke out in song. Our hosts were full of smiles as they knew what was in store for everyone.
We were seated in the center seats of row six. Happiness ensued knowing that we were about to have an amazing time. Then one of the hosts asked our very own “Micky” if she had a question for Mr. Bon Jovi. Elated, she said “yes.” After he performed a few songs, he stopped and shared some fun stories before taking questions. The pattern of performing and then answering questions from fans continued. Laughter filled the room with some of the responses. Some of the things we were informed of I will not out of respect share though I can tell you another album is finished, another tour will be happening. That means there will undoubtedly be some phenomenal experiences in our near future.
After the performance, we all made our way to the line to have our pictures taken with Jon Bon Jovi. The line was moving so fast that I did not remember if I even looked up at the camera. All I know is I told him what I was sent to say and he responded genuinely. He held his head to mine for the picture with his arm around me and all was right with the world. Every woman in there was smiling as they too shared a special moment with the man of their dreams. Sorry guys, your wives really did not notice you were there at all.
Runaway Tour staff threw such a great after party. One of our hosts, Casey, even got down on the dance floor making all the ladies scream and let loose right alongside him. Waiting patiently through the dancing, fans who bought raffle tickets for the signed guitar started to become anxious. The winner was announced toward the end and boy was she excited. Happily posing with friends for a picture, this lovely fan was sure to have an amazing story to share with her family and friends back home. This was the most fun some of us have had in a long time. Some fans were happy and proud to be adorned with vintage Bon Jovi attire, hand-made jackets and prized jewelry obtained from one of the many shows they have been to. We were provided the best food and service. These experiences offer such a great intimate experience with your favorite stars. More of these trips are continuously being added, including one with Jon Bon Jovi and Florida Georgia Line April 29 through May 1, 2016, in Austin, Texas.
When our night came to an end, a small group of us made our way to a shuttle headed back to the hotel. This had to be the best shuttle on the planet. Our driver Keith gave us all a lesson in starting with ourselves to bring kindness to the world. He gave each of us a raffle ticket and candy. He then proceeded to draw 5 tickets. Each of the winners was then given a lottery ticket that Keith had purchased for the week's Powerball. He urged us to share winnings with someone else to continue a pay-it-forward movement. I was touched. We all were. The winners were, Lianne Milton,Teresa Crouch,Cynthia Pucci and our very own Michelle. Congratulations guys. May the message Keith gave us all remain in our hearts forever.
If you have ever thought about attending a trip like this in your life, I urge you to book one through Runaway Tours. They are first class all the way, treating each fan like royalty. Thank you to all the Runaway Tour staff for providing yet again a phenomenal experience. Until next time Runaways. ~Missy