A blond, a brunette, and a redhead sit at the bar. But this isn’t a joke. They’re lifelong Rick Springfield fans, in town for his shows at the Northern Lights Theater.
“It’s not just a show,” says Jeanne, the most outgoing of the trio, “It’s also the time when we get to see all our friends.” The other two ladies enthusiastically nod. It turns out the music is what introduced them – Jeanne and Angie met in 2001; Debbie in 2004 – as they would try to catch every concert within an eight-hour driving radius of Chicago and always ran into the same people. Real friendships blossomed as a result and they remain in contact all year long, keeping tabs on work and family. Since Milwaukee is the only city to host a multiple-night series, they make a point to come here for an annual vacation together. The three ladies cheer, raising their glasses, “It’s Rick Week!”
As they talk about the different energy brought to each night of the series (including all-acoustic and fan-request), and why they enjoy the music so much, Angie’s face lights up brightly, “It’s about feeling 11-years-old again, and giggling with your girlfriends. But it’s also like being with family.”
At the mention of “family” Debbie nods, “my seventeen-year-old daughter is a fan, too. We took her to a concert when she was five and he passed the mic up to her while she sat on my shoulders. She tried to sing along, but didn’t know the words, and still she had a huge smile on her face the whole time.”
While the devotion is evident in their enthusiastic showing of tattoos (last year, when Jeanne got a new tattoo at Body Ritual, honoring her best friend and their shared love of Rick’s music, she learned a lot of fans go there for new work while in town), or chirping about their favorite songs (“Inside Sylvia,” “My Depression” and “Still Crazy for You”), they are just as perky when talking about Milwaukee as their “Rick Week” destination. They’ve gone to baseball games, visited museums, or picnicked at the lakefront when the weather’s nice.
They’re also sure to always stay on the historic side of the Pfister Hotel (“it’s got all the character!), and have even become friends with the employees, like Jeffrey, their favorite bartender. He plays trivia with the ladies, throwing out questions, “What’s his dog’s name?” and they rib him like old friends, “That’s an easy one – at least make it challenging!” One year, when Jeanne brought her family to Milwaukee for a weekend, he shouted across the bar to her when she walked by, “You know Rick Springfield’s not in town, right?!” Jeffrey laughs when she shares this story and says “These ladies are really nice and so it’s easy to remember them.”
The best part is that they aren’t the only ones to have this experience. In a new fan-focused documentary, An Affair of the Heart, one woman states “This isn’t all about Rick Springfield any more. It’s about the friends.” And to see the truth of this in action, all one needs to do is stop in to the Pfister Hotel during the one week in May that is “Rick Week.”