Northern Middle student gets to perform with country star Brad Paisley
by Chris Harris Commonwealth Journal
You couldn’t blame young Lucas Smith if he’s disappointed with every other concert he attends for the rest of his life.
After all, at his very first one, he got to go up on stage and actually play with the artist.
“That doesn’t usually happen,” said his mother Stephanie with a laugh. “It’s something most people will never get to know.”
Lucas celebrated his 13th birthday in style by rocking out with country music singer Brad Paisley this past Saturday when he got to go up next to the popular recording artist and jam our on Paisley’s own guitar.
Lucas is a seventh grader at Northern Middle School here in Pulaski County. His mother Stephanie works as a receptionist at Pulaski County High School.
Ironically, it was another county school system employee — Southwestern High School assistant principal Matt Cook — who helped the Smiths get tickets to the Paisley concert this past weekend at the Yum! Center in Louisville. Cook is part of a Paisley fan club, and was about to wrangle a spot in “the pit” — the area right in front of the stage, on top of all the action.
Lucas is a big fan of Paisley’s, according to his mother — “mostly because of his guitar playing.”
“His favorite album is called ‘Play’ — it’s mostly instrumentals,” said Stephanie.
Just getting the tickets was a surprise enough for Lucas. Stephanie said they’d kept the birthday treat under wraps for about a month and didn’t tell Lucas until the night before.
Little did they know exactly what was to come. Lucas certainly didn’t.
“It was his first concert, so he didn’t know what to expect,” said Stephanie.
They did know that Paisley often gives away a signed guitar to a young person at his events, and the Smiths were hopeful they could swing such an opportunity for Lucas.
“We thought we’d make a really cool sign to get his attention,” said Stephanie. “We had a sign made up at New Horizons here in town. It said ‘13 Today,’ and had a picture of Paisley’s ‘69 Telecaster guitar that he plays, and underneath it said that (Lucas’) wish was to play guitar up on stage.”
Paisley took notice of the sign during the first song and gave the Smiths a nod. Eventually, he came by and took the sign and read it aloud to the audience.
“He turned around and gave the sign back to my son,” said Stephanie, “and said, ‘Tell you what, I’ll get you backstage after the show get you up here to play guitar with me.”
Lucas was ushered backstage a couple of times so concert personnel could figure out exactly what to do. It was decided that Lucas would come up for the encore following the scheduled set.
It turned into a jam session of sorts, with numerous folks on stage and Lucas getting to use Paisley’s own guitar. Appropriately enough, Paisley told him it was the guitar he’d bought for himself when he was Lucas’ own age.
As one might expect, Lucas found the experience a little overwhelming.
“I was nervous,” he said. “It’s a big experience and you get nervous and stuff.”
But for someone who wants to be a country artist himself when he grows up — and has been a Paisley fan since age 7 — it was still a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“The rest of a concert was a blur for all of us,” said Stephanie. “I’d just say to him, ‘Just relax, enjoy the concert.’ It was all a little bit, ‘Pinch me, is this real?’”
The family was impressed with Paisley and everyone at the concert. “Everybody was so nice,” said Stephanie.
There’s a clip on YouTube.com currently of Lucas’ appearance on stage, called “Brad Paisley Making 13 y/o Birthday Wish Come True.” Stephanie said that what we don’t see in it is, Lucas slapping hands with everyone in the crowd as they left the stage.
Paisley is one of the most popular country recording artists today, with 32 top 10 Billboard singles, and 18 to reach no. 1.
Lucas didn’t get a guitar out of the trip — Stephanie said that Paisley asked Lucas if he’d be okay with another child in the crowd who was younger getting it, and Lucas nodded yes — and he wasn’t about to take Paisley’s own guitar. But the memories he’s made more than make up for it, noted Stephanie.