Wednesday , 25 April 2018

Luke Cavanagh: `American Idol Live!’ Tour Groupies Hit the Road to Dallas, Louisiana, Mississippi

By Luke Cavanagh, TSB Staff

I never thought I would say it, but here it goes … “My name is Luke Cavanagh and I am an American Idol groupie.”

I have driven a total of 18 hours and crossed three state lines just for my next American Idol Live! Tour fix. As I think to myself, “How did I become this?” I know that the major contributing factor is that my sister is American Idol alum and tour diva Hollie Cavanagh.

My Idol tour mission began right here at home in the American Airlines Center in Dallas. Hollie’s homecoming tour date was the first time I was going to see Hollie perform for such a large audience and perform full-length songs.  While waiting for the show to start, I had some ideas of how it was going to go. In all honesty I was there to support the rest of the Idols who I have become friends with along the way, but obviously my main motivation to go was Hollie.

Somewhere between the first and second half of the show — and my friends and I doppin’ it like its hot — I realized what an amazing show all 10 of these talented performers had put on. The moment had arrived for Hollie to grace the stage, and in true Hollie fashion the power of her voice blew the roof off the place. But what surprised me was how much of a performer she had become. She looked as though she was having a blast, and I know the audience was having a blast with her. After our 150-member meet-and-greet with Hollie was over, I said a quick goodbye and headed home at around midnight to rest up for my early morning marathon drive.

Truth be told I think Hollie was a little angry with me because she was a tad bit emotional and I seemed as though I couldn’t care less. Little did she know she would be seeing a lot more of me over the next few days.

Early the next morning, I set out for Lafayette, La., with my partner in crime and Hollie’s best friend, Courtney DiPasquale. All you need to know about Courtney is that she is a tornado of personality and there is NEVER a dull moment. After a couple of hours of driving and lip synching to Hollie’s EP (now available for $5 at your local Wal-Mart … see what I did there!) we arrived at the Louisiana state line. I pulled over to the side of the road and Courtney and I snapped a picture with the Louisiana sign to send to Hollie. Hollie’s surprise and excitement only made me want to get there that much faster. We arrived in Lafayette and basically headed directly to the Cajundome for the show.

Since it was finalist Joshua Ledet’s hometown show, the arena was filled to the brim and we were ready for another stellar night. Courtney and I danced and mingled with the Ledet family throughout the show, enjoying the atmosphere. Hollie was fabulous as usual and received a very warm welcome. It may be due to the fact that Hollie and Josh are attached at the hip and fans have even coined the term “Jollie” for their besties for life status.

Apart from Hollie the best moment of the night was Joshua singing the James Brown classic, “It’s a Man’s Man’s World.” All I can really say is that Jesus showed up and he showed out. The crowd was electric and if there is a record for longest standing ovation, I think Joshua had it beat by a long shot that night. After the show, Courtney and I headed to the meet-and-greet and got to spend some time with Joshua’s huge family. They are the most genuine, lovely, caring people I have ever had the pleasure of calling my friends. They make everyone feel like family.

Our last stop on our groupie tour was Jackson, Miss., which isn’t too far away from Lafayette. So, we arrived around 1 p.m. that afternoon, and to our surprise Hollie had snagged us some backstage passes to hang out with her the entire day. Courtney and I were thrilled that we could actually spend the day with Hollie. We arrived backstage and were met by Hollie, Joshua (Jollie), and Jessica Ledet, one of Joshua’s many fabulous sisters. We enjoyed some quality time as Hollie was being transformed in hair and make-up. Phillip Phillips, this season’s winner, likes to tease Hollie by saying “Hollie, you need to put your lashes on,” because without mascara Hollie’s blonde eyelashes are next to invisible.

After hair and makeup, we ate some lunch with Joshua, Hollie and Colton Dixon (Courtney’s future husband … in her head anyway). My favorite thing to do is tease Courtney in front of Colton, so I pointed out her peeling skin from too much sun on her face and the next thing I know Courtney has cut out eyes and mouth holes in a napkin and placed it over her face and continued to eat. One look at Courtney struggling food into a cut-out napkin on her face was enough to keep Colton and the rest of us laughing for a good 10 minutes. On the other hand, all Hollie could say was, “Yes, this is my best friend, ladies and gentlemen.”

After lunch we headed to the VIP meet-and-greet before the show. There, Courtney and I were even recognized by a couple of diehard Hollie fans, only adding to Courtney’s delusions of fame, as she says “Hollie is living my life, I just don’t have any talent.”

My favorite moment came as the meet-and-greet was coming to a close. Hollie was the last one signing autographs but wouldn’t leave until she had gotten to everyone. She told me security personnel hate her for it because they have a tight schedule to keep, nevertheless I was one proud brother. The show ended and we, of course, had a fabulous time. Even after the third time seeing it.

While sitting backstage waiting for Hollie to de-diva and get into her regular people clothes, I was treated to the spectacle of watching the crew tear down a stage in less that 2 hours, and if you had seen the amount of wires I saw you would realize what an amazing feat that is. The crew deserves a lot of credit because they arrive 2 hours before everyone and leave 2 hours after every night. The show must go on I guess. The Mississippi crowd was out of control, only highlighted by the fact that the Idols couldn’t go out and sign autographs for fans like they do every night because security was too concerned for their safety.

After three days of shows and driving, I could have slept for a week. So I can only imagine how the performers and staff feel with 50 tour dates. All in all, this has been a road trip I will never forget, filled with moments of laughter, pride, and more laughter.

I am not only proud of all of Hollie’s accomplishments but how she continues to carry herself throughout this journey with class and appreciation.

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