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Getting Busted For Bruce

By Tammy Davis


My parents get the credit or the blame for my love of live music.  Maybe they wanted to expand my horizons.  Maybe they had an extra ticket and no babysitter.  Either way, I’m thankful that I got hauled around to shows at an early age.  My best friend begged me not to admit this, but I’m pretty sure my first concert was Englebert Humperdinck.  It gets worse.  Tom Jones was next.

I’m sure I whined and complained about going to all these “old-people” shows.  That changed with Elvis.  February 1977.  I was 10.  I wasn’t an Elvis fan, but I recognized the power of a star.  I witnessed first hand how one person could hold thousands under his spell.  Yes, Elvis was a turning point.

As a teenager, I got to pick the shows.  It was my mother’s turn to be a good sport.  She would chauffeur my friends and me to hear the hottest heart throbs – Shaun Cassidy and Rick Springfield.

College came and with it more concert opportunities. Bruce Springsteen was coming to Columbia, and I had to go.   There were no apps, no websites, no 1-800. To get a good ticket, you had to camp out.   You needed to be at the front of the line when the box office opened.

I had my ticket money.  I had someone to go with me.  Everything was falling into place, except one little detail.  I had an exam the next morning.  I also had/have a mother with a strong sense of intuition.  She called as I was about to head out.  That was before the days of caller id when you actually had to answer to see who was on the line.  We did our small-talk thing, and then she let me know the real reason for her call.  She asked if I knew about the upcoming Bruce concert. I said I did. She asked if I planned to go.  I said I hoped so.  Honest answer.

I hung up and ran straight out to meet my boyfriend.  Despite the phone-call delay, our timing was perfect.  We had a great spot in line.  People never believe this part of the story, but I actually did a good bit of studying while huddled under a blanket on the cold concrete of the Carolina Coliseum parking lot.

My plan was working.  We would grab our tickets as soon as the box office opened and be back on campus in plenty of time for my exam.

Yes, everything was going according to schedule, and then it happened.  I heard a commotion. A cameraman was heading down the line and heading my way.  He wasn’t just any camera man. He was a WIS-TV camera man, the station my mother watched every morning.  Most people were smiling and waving.  Not me.  I threw the blanket over my head just in time to avoid being busted by my mother as she drank her morning coffee.

Thanks to the very large blanket and my cat-like reflexes, the crisis was averted.  We made it back to campus with time to spare.  I made an A on my exam.

The show was amazing.  I’ve seen Bruce many times now, but that January 1985 Born in the USA show still ranks in my top ten of all time.  I’m glad I didn’t get caught on that cold December night camping out for tickets.  I’m very glad I did well on my exam.  But, if I had gotten busted –  by my mother or by my professor – getting busted for Bruce would have been worth it.


Tammy Davis lives in Columbia, SC.  She is thankful for apps like Ticketmaster and for caller id and for very large blankets.