Maybe you didn’t notice, but my name was missing from all RMNB stories and bylines last week. I was in Las Vegas for an Email Marketing conference held at the Paris Hotel and Casino. Thursday in particular was a crazy day. It started with a murder that made national news and ended with an run-in with a celebrity.

Photo credit: Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun

Photo credit: Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun

On Thursday, my eyes opened at 4:30 AM Pacific time. I was woken up by a helicopter hovering over our hotel. Helicopters usually fly around Las Vegas during the day giving aerial tours to tourists, so I figured that’s what it was. I fell back asleep.

Two hours later my phone started vibrating. I got about 25 texts from friends and family asking if I was okay. That helicopter over the hotel wasn’t for tourists; it was looking for a murderer.

The Las Vegas Sun:

The Las Vegas Strip became a scene of deadly violence early Thursday when someone in a black Range Rover opened fire on a Maserati, sending it crashing into a taxi that burst into flames, leaving three people dead and at least six injured.

A few hours earlier, my co-workers and I had walked up and down that same part of the strip, taking in the sights and watching the Bellagio Water Show.

The Paris Hotel and Casino is one block away from that intersection. From the eleventh story, I could see the yellow tape cordoning off the area where it happened. I went downstairs for breakfast, where two of my co-workers said that they heard the gunshots from their room.

A scary start to the day, but things got a lot better from there.

The email marketing presentations ended at 5:30 PM , and my coworker Nikki and I went upstairs to get ready for the show we had VIP tickets for.

Taylor Hicks, winner of the fifth season of American Idol over Katherine McPhee (currently starring in the NBC series Smash), headlines a show at Napoleon’s Lounge in the Paris Hotel and Casino. It’s hard to not enjoy Hicks’ soulful voice and energetic stage performances– no matter your age. Plus, he can play the bejesus out of a harmonica and has awesome grey hair.

Here’s Hicks performing a live rendition of Michael McDonald’s Takin’ It To The Streets.

So I put on my RMNB “Angry Ovi” shirt, Nikki put on her dress, and we went downstairs to wait in line for the show.

When we were let in, we were shuttled to a backstage bar area to wait for Hicks to come in. The musician arrived ten minutes later, greeting us all with a big HEY and an even bigger smile. He then signed autographs for everybody in the room.

As I made my way up to Hicks, his eyes got big when he noticed my RMNB t-shirt. I asked him to sign it. Hicks then did something I did not at all expect — especially considering he’s from Birmingham, Alabama, not a hotbed for hockey. He added a special note: I Love Ovi. I swear I am not making this up.

Shocked, I asked if we could take a picture together. We posed and pointed to the autograph.

Taylor Hicks playing the harmonica

Taylor Hicks playing the harmonica.

Nikki and myself made our way to the main lobby area and took our seats near the stage.

Twenty minutes later, the showed started. Hicks sang Elvis’s In The Ghetto, Nineteen, and The Fall. He told stories about American Idol, like how he and Simon Cowell would smoke during the commercial breaks. He talked about performing on Broadway in Grease. He gave a shout-out to a grandmother celebrating her 95th birthday and dancing to his songs. His guitar player looked eerily like Alex Semin.

After the show ended, Hicks went over to the merch area set up outside of the club and signed autographs for people who bought his stuff. I got in line, as I had a few questions to ask.

I asked him how he knew about Ovi. He said he’s seen highlights — like The Goal — and thought he was a great player. I asked him if he had ever sung the anthem or been to a hockey game before. He said no, but would really love to someday. I then said,”If you’re ever in DC, I’d love to take you to a game.”

Hicks left the merch table, talked to his assistant, and then came back with a business card. It had his tour manager’s info on it. He handed it over to me and said,”Talk to him. I’d love to do it. Let’s make it happen.” I accepted and said,”Deal!” So yeah. That’s how my day ended. Even four thousand miles away, I can’t help but try to spread Caps cheer.

Now I know that I have failed so far in my efforts so far to get Barack Obama to come to a Caps game, but getting a former American Idol Winner to come to a game (and maybe sing the anthem) would be pretty cool.

So here’s what I want you guys to do. Hit that that big blue like button at the bottom of this post. Let’s let Taylor know he’s welcome. On Tuesday, I’ll shoot his people a message and re-invite him. I can’t promise anything, but let’s make his first hockey game a Washington Capitals game. Thanks in advance for your help!


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