Herb Benham

Thursday, Apr 04 2013 05:01 PM

HERB BENHAM: With Carly Rae, it's always a good time

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Carly Rae Jepsen sings a few of her favorite songs Tuesday to students at Independence High School in the quad during their lunch periods.

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By Herb Benham

Adorable. That's what she is. Adorable.

I'm talking about Carly Rae Jepsen. The huge international star. Singer of "Call Me Maybe." Everybody has heard of her, haven't they?

I hadn't until three days ago. Jepsen was scheduled to perform at Independence High School and then at the Dignity Health Studio at The Californian in front of employees and 25 winners of a contest held on the radio station Hits 93.1.

The newsroom was abuzz. Reporters are normally cool. They are not easily impressed. They can't get involved. They're busy.

On Tuesday, people got unbusy and uncool waiting for Carly Rae and her band to arrive. They knew this could be a tell-your-grandchildren-moment.

I played catchup. Who was Carly Rae Jepsen? Time to get current.

I typed her name and her song, "Call Me Maybe," into YouTube. The song had 435 million hits. Four hundred and thirty five million people had listened to her song and 10 million had bought it.

How many people had read one of my columns? About 30 friends of Carly Rae's great-grandparents.

The "Call Me Maybe" video featured Carly Rae looking out the window at the young guy next door taking his shirt off as he mowed the lawn. He looked like he was a graduate of Washboard Stomach University.

I attended "Keep Your Shirt on While you Mow the Lawn University."

At 3 p.m., management had a meeting in the newsroom. They wanted to talk about concert logistics: access to the building, the security guards and police ringing The Californian.

"We've had governors and presidential candidates come here, and we haven't had that sort of security," said Editorial Editor Bob Price.

Every time a door opened, I turned my head to see if she had arrived. That wasn't easy because I have a stiff neck. Guys with stiff necks are probably not Carly Rae's target audience. Her fans can swivel their heads around like weather vanes.

Her band showed up for a sound check at around 5. Olive-skinned Tony Manes of "Tony in the Morning" on KGFM was there with his sister-in-law, Lori, from Newport Beach, and her two kids. I was in the presence of radio royalty.

"What kinds of concerts does she play?" I asked Tony, figuring since Carly Rae was on the radio, Tony must know everything about all things music.

"She opens for people like Justin Bieber," he said. "She's on his label."

Adorable as she proved to be, Carly Rae was at the beginning of her career. She could play last year's song, this year's song and another song.

Close to 6, there was a bustle, and in she came. Carly Rae was small, cute and wore a black hat. She went into the room, sang a few bars and was interviewed by the paper's Matt Munoz.

After the interview, Carly Rae retired to the green room on the second floor stocked with Perrier, Clif Bars, Kind Bars, coffee, tea, bananas, oranges and pears. I don't think the room is really green unless Richard Beene, the paper's president and CEO, had it painted before Carly Rae arrived, but green room sounds important.

At 6:30, Carly Rae, returned to the third floor from the green room for the concert. She sang "Call Me Maybe."

You should have seen the looks on the 25 or so children listening a few feet away from her. They made me remember falling in love with music for the first time. It might have been bubble gum music, but when you're 10, nothing tastes sweeter.

Carly Rae was charming. She chatted with fans, smiled and bounced around. Who knows what she is really like? But her public persona is, adorable.

I'm rooting for her. Hoping that one hit song can become two and two, a career.

Theses are the opinions of Herb Benham and not necessarily The Californian's. Email him at hbenham@bakersfield.com.

 

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