Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Very Special Visit

This past Sunday August 14th was a special day for me. Why, do you ask? Well, that's a simple answer. Matt Barlow and his lovely wife Heather payed me a visit. Matt is one my all time favorite heavy metal singers and in my opinion, one of the best in metal. I place him in league with the likes of Rob Halford (Judas Priest), Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden) and Geoff Tate (Queensryche). If you don't agree, you must need hearing aids. ;-)

For those of you who don't know who Matt Barlow is, he was the vocalist for Iced Earth from (1995-2003 & 2007-2011). He officially retired from Iced Earth on August 6th after the band's awesome performance at the Wacken Open Air Festival in Germany.

He retired for very admirably reasons. To spend more time with his beautiful wife and adorable boys as well as focusing on his law enforcement career. It takes a real man to put his family first. I really admire him for that because far too many men avoid their obligations to their children, my deceased father being one of them

Before I go into the details of my visit with Matt and Heather, let me first tell you how it all came to be.

In March 28th I sent a message to Matt on his personal Facebook page asking if he would consider coming to visit me at some point in the near future. Three days later, he sent me a reply, saying he would definitely try to make it north to see me sometime this year. Needless to say I was pretty excited.

Fast forward to August 8th. Matt's wife Heather sent me a message through his Facebook page to inform me that they would be in my area on August 14th because they were celebrating their 11th wedding anniversary in my area and actually asked if I would be up for visitors. I was like HELL YEAH! I couldn't type my reply fast enough! LOL

I told two of my nurses about it almost immediately after reading the message. They thought it would be a nice gesture to make Matt a gift.. A few ideas were tossed about. Eventually we settled on making a t-shirt. It was black and said Iced Earth with an ankh (Egyptian cross) just below the space between the words Iced and Earth. On the back it had all the albu titles that he did vocals on. We also got him a good luck card. For Heather, we got a small Gerber Daisy plant (unfortunately she accidentally left it behind). For both of them, we got an anniversary card. My nurses got a small selection of food, including grapes, chips, pretzels and dip. They decorated the visitor's lounge with my Iced Earth flag and black and blue ballons. It looked pretty cool.

Now ont the actual visit...

I was down in the visitor's lounge with one of the respiratory therapists making last minute preparations for the visit; putting out the food and adding some more balloons. We put the Wacken show up on the computer for what I felt was the appropriate atmosphere.

I had planned to be in my room when they arrived where I had Iced Earth playing on my computer. I was going to talk to them for a little while in my room and then tell them I had a surprise for them and then lead them to the visitors lounge. I was just leaving the lounge to go to my room when one of the nurses told me my company had gone down to my room. I headed toward my room and halfway down the hall I met up with Matt and Heather Barlow.

My plans were changed, but that certainly didn't ruin the surprise. Instead of going to my room, I told them I had a surprise for them and I lead them to the visitor's lounge. This was after greeting them of course. They were both pleasantly surprised and thanked me, saying I didn't need to do what I did. They were both extremely down to earth and easy to talk to. They've the nicest people you would ever want to meet.

Matt then said he had some things for me. First he gave me a small Horror Show poster. Exactly the same as the one he's giving away on his official Facebook page when it hits 5,000 likes. He then gave me a really cool Horror Show banner. Next he pulled out 3 pieces of paper, which turned out to be autographed set lists from the Danish band Volbeat. They were at their show in Pennsylvania the night before. Heather told me that Matt did a song with them, but I can't for the life of me remember which one it was because I don't really know Volbeat. Matt autographed the Horror Show poster and one of the Volbeat set lists. They kept one for themselves and I got to keep two. :-)

We talked about music mostly and he told me some cool stories.

When he had long hair and he headbanged or windmilled, he would get his hair caught in Jon's tuning pegs. He said he lost a lot of hair from the right side of his head and that it would be hanging from Jon's guitar.

He also told me that he was disappointed that Century Media didn't record any of the Horror Show tour for a DVD. The band had worked hard on that tour doing three different sets complete with pyro, which isn't cheap. For the record, he didn't say anything derogatory about Century Media. Matt is too much of a class act to trash people.

The visit lasted for just over two hours. Before they had to leave, Matt gave me a goodie bag he was given at Wacken. It included patches, a shot glass on a chain (at least that's what I think it is), a keychain and a rain poncho just to name a few of the items.

We then went to my room to exchange farewells. They both thanked me for allowing them to visit. Talk about humble people. They said they would be back to visit at some point. I intend to keep that Gerber Daisy plant alive to give to Heather. :-)

That was the end to an amazing couple of hours I'll never forget.



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