Boy comes home with Garth’s guitar

Published 8:39 am Thursday, December 8, 2016

Cameron Hamner is only 5 years old, but he will have trouble having a better concert experience.

His mom, Erin, took him to see Garth Brooks in Richmond, Va. on Nov. 13. They were on the floor near the center, nine rows back.

A Garth fan since she was little, Erin Hamner wanted to make the experience special for her son.

He decided he wanted to wear a shirt like Garth wore in the video for “Callin’ Baton Rouge.” She painted him one. She also cut out a guitar from a piece of cardboard, and at Cameron’s request, wrote “I Made This Just 4 You!” on the guitar. She even made him a microphone and holder out of pipe cleaners and a black cotton ball for a mouthpiece.

Cameron was a little Garth.

And he insisted on taking Garth a gift. He chose one of his stuffed animals, a tiger.

Erin told Hamner not to get his hopes up, but she would do everything she could to get Garth to take his gifts.

About halfway through the show, it started. Garth was singing “Callin’ Baton Rouge” and she held Cameron as high as she could.

Garth noticed almost immediately, looking at Cameron and saying “Hey Cowboy.”

When the song was over, Garth came to the center of the stage and said: “You guys have to see this little cowboy over here.”

Mom again held him high, but this time the lights were on them and they were on the Jumbotron. People were cheering and waving.

It gets better.

Garth started talking to Cameron, asking him his age. Cameron passed the tiger and cardboard through the crowd to Garth, who asked the Tiger’s name. Cameron, of course, answered “Garth.”

“He’s got more hair than I do,” Garth replied.

The exchange lasted about a minute.

Near the end of that exchange, Garth told Cameron: “Since I took your guitar, you need something around your neck.” He took the guitar he had been playing all night off his neck and passed it through the crowd to Cameron.

“What you’ll find about that guitar, it’s never wrong,” Garth told Cameron. “I use this thing to hide my gut.”

Again, the crowd roared.

The guitar includes the name Mike Chapman on it, written by Garth. Chapman was his studio bass player for years before his recent death.

The mother-son duo had a police escort leaving the building. Most people recognized Cameron, and wanted to have their photos taken or give him a high five, Erin said.

“His concert experience has peaked at 5 years old,” she said. “I am so thankful to have been able to help make that night happen for him and I am beyond grateful to Garth for doing something so kind and selfless just to put a smile on Cameron’s face.”

Cameron took the guitar to show and tell at Macedonia Preschool. The children were impressed he had a guitar. The teachers were amazed at the story, mom said.

It was Erin’s seventh time seeing Garth live. Her mother, Lisa Sherrill, took her to the first concert in the 1990s. “Thunder Rolls” was her first favorite song.

There must be something about November and Garth concerts, because in November of 2014, Erin and mom went to a Garth concert in Greensboro. It was her mother’s birthday, so she took a sign saying “Please Sing Happy Birthday To My Mom.” You guessed it, the lights went on them, and Garth and much of the crowd sang “Happy Birthday” to Erin’s mother.

Erin’s husband, Jonathan, has surprised her with Garth tickets. If Garth is anywhere within driving distance, she’s going to try to be there.

She’s a fan.

“You don’t sit down for three hours,” Erin said. “It’s super high energy.” You don’t have to be a fan of his music to enjoy a show, they’re that good, she said.

Cameron is now interested in the guitar, she said. Lessons could be in his future.

And most likely, another Garth concert.