It was one of those moments when minutes slow down and feel like hours, leaving a lasting impression on a person’s life.
For Rocco Alessandro, a seventh-grader at Fifer Middle School in Camden, that moment took place at the BB&T Pavilion in Camden, New Jersey, on Aug. 26.
Rocco was attending a Keith Urban concert with his parents, Nick Alessandro and Beth Canalichio, when the country music star noticed a sign that the 12-year-old was holding above his head.
The bright green placard read, “Hi Mr. Keith, I’m just learning to play !!!guitar!!!,” with a drawing of a guitar underneath.
While Mr. Urban was performing his song “You Look Good In My Shirt” he suddenly stopped and pulled the black electric guitar that head been playing from around his neck, wiped it off with a black rag and took a gold-colored marker out and autographed it.
Then, Rocco got the surprise of his life when Mr. Urban climbed down from the stage, held the guitar out and offered it to him and gave him a quick hug before he went back to the stage.
That was when time stood still.
“I didn’t feel anything because I was so shocked,” Rocco said last week, still in amazement. “I held onto the guitar so tight, it hurt my hands. I was very happy. I was tickled because my mom wouldn’t stop crying.”
Ms. Canalichio is a huge Keith Urban fan, who has attended six of his concerts. She even won a meet-and-greet with the singer and former “American Idol” judge at the 2014 Delaware State Fair.
So she knew that Mr. Urban routinely autographs a guitar and offers it to a fan at each of his shows. That’s why she implored Rocco to make a sign to catch the singer’s attention.
“I’ve always wanted to play electric guitar and I thought maybe I had a chance that he would give me one of his since he gives one away at every show,” said Rocco. “The night before [the concert] I couldn’t sleep because I was trying to figure out what to write on my sign.”
Then he thought to himself, “Hey, I’m just starting to learn to play guitar. That should capture his attention,” and it all came full circle.
Rocco has played drums since he was 5 years old and just started taking guitar lessons from Nathan Ames at The Music School of Delaware just one week prior to the Keith Urban concert.
As for that guitar? Rocco doesn’t expect he’s going to be hanging it on the wall like a prized deer head or a big fish or something.
“I plan on playing it,” he said. “When I get good enough at the acoustic, I want to play electric. It will be fun to play on it, knowing that Keith played on it before he gave it to me.”
For Ms. Canalichio, that August night in New Jersey turned out to be one magical experience.
A 23-year-old man named Dylan, whom the family had never met, lifted Rocco up onto his shoulders so that Mr. Urban could see his sign more easily
and Rocco, noticing there were two guitar picks attached to the guitar after he received it, gave one of them to a girl who was sitting nearby.
“Keith is very supportive of kids learning to play instruments and he often makes a point to acknowledge young people at his shows,” Ms. Canalichio said.
“One of the benefits of attending a live show is being connected to hundreds of other people in a beautiful, real way. We felt all that and more. After Rocco received the guitar, I couldn’t stop crying happy tears.
“I looked up and the bassist, Jerry Flowers, looked at me and lip synced, ‘That’s awesome.’ I lip synced back, ‘That IS awesome.’ We will always reflect fondly upon that night and, of course, we will always be loyal fans of Keith Urban.”
She said she has found Mr. Urban to be a truly humble and appreciative entertainer since she started listening to him in 2009.
“When I met him in 2014 at the state fair he hugged me tight and then spoke to me like I had known him forever,” she said. “When I told him how much his music has meant to me, he held my hands, looked me square in the eyes and thanked me and hugged me again. I was thrilled that he came across as the real deal.
“Keith Urban exudes positive energy and genuineness and that’s exactly what I aspire to do in my own personal life. My husband and I have tried to teach these same characteristics to our son.”
As for Rocco, he said he enjoys Mr. Urban’s music, but admitted that he’s not his favorite performer. He likes rock the most.
However, Mr. Urban did provide him with one unforgettable night.
“It was a great experience,” Rocco said. “I would definitely want to do it again. I’ve been on a lot of fun-filled adventures with my family and this is surely one to add on my list.”
Mike Finney via delawarestatenews.net | Featured Photo: keithurban.net | Video: DelawareStateNews via Youtube
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