Footprints On The Sand
Bod said, ‘I want to see life. I want to hold it in my hands. I want to leave a footprint on the sand of a desert island.” Neil Gaiman The graveyard Book
“A nice pop star would do you nice on one of those deserted islands” Tom Felton
There are desert islands and then there are desert islands.
There are the islands of tortuous tales, with angry seas and burning suns, where the ship wrecked search desperately for fresh water and signs life.
Then there are the desert islands of travel magazines, with azure seas, white sands and endless skies which turn gently from blue to orange then red as the sun that kisses the skin by day, sets on the horizon for a spectacular photograph.
There are a million paradise islands, which have, for a brief spell, captured someone’s dreams or provided a backdrop for treasured memories.
And there are the paradise Islands that set aside parts of themselves for planned, specific, intentional moments of the out of this world for music fans.
Five years ago, Hanson swapped the Rock Boat for Island Gigs and began a yearly pilgrimage to an island in the sun with some of their most fervent fans from across the globe.
Hanson have hosted intimate events with members of their fan club since 2003, when they recorded Underneath Acoustic at The Church Studios in Tulsa Oklahoma, in front of a small, invited group of fans.
Since then, they have dreamt up ever more crazy or classy ways of bringing fans together to mark special occasions in Hanson history and in the process, build an ever more loyal and connected group of followers, whose friendships deepen with every event and memory created.
This has been the way of Hanson since they set up 3CG Records and decided that connecting with their fan base had to be a priority for them as independent musicians.
The gratitude that is mutual between Hanson and their fan club members has expressed itself in an ever expanding comfort zone of informality and interaction at events such as Hanson Day and Back To The Island.
It is worth the cost of a trip to Tulsa or Jamaica, for fans who know that their favourite musicians will give them the time of day, share a joke, listen to a story of admiration, accept a beverage and take more than one picture in their company.
For there is real treasure to be discovered on this island experience.
At Back To The Island the multiple Hanson shows open up a glittering space for the band to play creatively with 25 years of song writing and performing while beguiling with the rarest of the rare songs, unreleased numbers and candid tales from their artistic history.
This year, Isaac told stories of the loss and friendships behind some of the most beautiful numbers in the Hanson catalogue. Taylor disclosed his eldest son’s assessment of his dad’s piano virtuosity and Zac shared a personal perspective on facing life’s challenges as he performed some of their most socially conscious songs.
But the gems are also the nuggets of friendship that are refined and rediscovered each year as people meet up from all corners of the world while getting the chance to be with a pop star or two and leave behind a footprint in the sand.
Many thanks to the Islanders who generously shared their experiences with us below.
“Because of Hanson.” That’s the phrase that keeps going ‘round in my head. I travel because of Hanson. I have great friends because of Hanson. I have a wonderful relationship with my daughter because of Hanson. My life is enriched with music because of Hanson.
Hanson brought far-flung elements into my life and is the glue that keeps them there.
BTTI is an experience that is the culmination of those elements. It’s freedom, fun, friendship with a musical backdrop. Freedom – all worries are left on the mainland.
Immersed in the tropics, “no problem” Jamaicans convince you that you’re one of them. The all-inclusive resort means that you don’t have to carry cash or credit card, so you’re not encumbered by a purse, and you never have to ask anyone to watch your stuff. All-inclusive also means you can order any drink or food item without worrying about blowing your finances (you might blow your calorie budget, though!).
Security personnel are evident and I always felt safe on the William Pitt Fairfield CT property, even walking back from the inevitable late-night nacho stop at the Aquamarine Bar. Fun – Hanson + Island Gigs + Jamaica is bound to = fun. Having all three Hanson brothers at the tie-dye session spread out the opportunities for interaction with them. I was leery of the late-night games with Zac and Isaac but ended up having a great time, and appreciated having more free time during the day.
Taylor’s DJ party is an excellent opportunity for people to dance a bit, mingle some, say their last good-byes, take their last pictures, and make those final Facebook friend requests. Friendship – BTTI is where those Facebook conversations held throughout the year turn into face-to-face conversations.
Swimming with, eating and drinking with, doing yoga with, standing on the sand listening to our favorite band with the friends I’ve met through Hanson and my daughter is the #2 reason I do this trip.
The #1 reason is…….. The musical backdrop – I’m here for the music. Hanson stirs my soul like no other band. Their music speaks my language. Their live performances show me their passion. Literally, the music moves me, soothes me, and fills my heart and soul with the roots of rock and roll.
Six concerts is enough to keep me going for another few months until MOE happens. I begin 2017 refreshed and renewed, because of BTTI…..and Hanson.
BTTI is the kind of experience I wish all Hanson fans could have at least once. What can be more exciting than being stuck in a tropical island with your favorite band and some of the friends this said band brought into your life? I’ll tell you: probably nothing. As a fairly experienced traveler, I think I can say BTTI is one of the best vacations if not THE BEST I ever had. Being surrounded by music, the amazing Jamaican people and friends that share your passion is pure perfection. It’s so hard to put it into words though. The concerts have this special beach vibe, feet on the sand, drinks in hand, no rush to get to the stage. When they start playing you remember instantly why you love this band so much: you can see the happiness in their faces. They are chilled, clearly content for doing what they’re doing. And we just enjoy it and sip every drop of these moments they give us.
As a first timer to BTTI I had high expectations after hearing for 4 years what a great experience it was. It certainly did not disappoint. I thought the best part was the accessibility of the band and the fact that during the concerts you were able to move freely and not fight for a spot to see the stage. As someone who has stood in line for hours outside venues just to get a spot to see (not even front row!) I loved being able to walk up to the stage about 5 minutes before the show started and have space to move and dance.
The resort was really nice and even better, the people who worked at the resort were so friendly. Every time I ordered a drink the response was “no problem” or “why not!” Working in the hospitality industry myself I really appreciated their kindness and hard work to make sure everyone had a good experience.
Now I would call myself a Taylor fan through and through but I must admit that during this trip I developed an appreciation for Isaac. He was so friendly, mingling with the fans, talking to everyone, he even accepted a beer I got for him. Not that the other two were not friendly, because they were but Isaac made an effort to hang out with everyone that joined Hanson on this trip. His solo show was my favorite, he talked throughout it and sang some covers, and his family feud game was HILARIOUS.
If I could change a few things I certainly would.
We did tie-dye with the band but it was hard because they separate you into two groups so there is about 150-200 people tie-dying at the same time…have you ever tried to tie-dye with that many people!?
I would have liked to go on an excursion with the band or even had more excursion options.
As a travel junkie I did not want to stay at the resort so much, I wanted to get out and explore all that Jamaica had to offer. One day I went to the waterfall which was a great experience.
Back to Hanson, the games they played were well thought out and very inclusive. I did wish to hear something other than fan club only songs the last night, I wanted a big awesome sendoff but the beverages the resort provided made me forget about my Hanson song woes. I loved dancing with all my friends the last night at the Taylor DJ set, but I think most of his songs were picked out by his 10 year old kids. It sounded like a top 40 radio setlist…come on Tay, you are in the music business, I expected a little more. Regardless of my thoughts on the set list of the last nights show and DJ party, I had a blast.
Meeting new people and seeing old Hanson friends will never get old.
This year the guys had a glow about them from the start, witnessed by high energy on stage. I think they missed us almost as much as we missed them. I loved hearing fans tell how the shows were the best they’ve seen.
BTTI isn’t something you can express in words though many of us try. To most on the outside looking in it is an island vacation with music and events and my favorite band. To me it is a chance to spend a week with some of the best people I know. It is one thing to have friends but another to have friends who will travel and journey to places with you for a shared love of music.
I am technically a 5 year veteran of BTTI. I paid my way but I did not make it to 2016. A week or so before we were to fly out I was in a serious car accident. It was not my fault and the at fault party died on the scene. I bring this up because near death experiences have a way of helping you appreciate life and the privileges given to you. I had to wait two years to return to the island. The wait was well worth it.
My poor car!
My favorite moments were the moments I got to spend with my friends. Most of which I only see on the island or if we are lucky at Epcot or other events. I won’t single anyone out but over the years of travelling I got to meet so many great people and my island circle grows as the years go on. We shared the luxuries of a Butler Suite. We played “cards” together. We drank drinks while swimming in pools. We celebrated a birthday. We enjoyed our favorite music written and performed by men whom without I would not have my friends.
I love sharing my moments with you. Whoever is reading this. If I have videos I post them or great photos I share. I know we all can’t take part in this so I try to share my memories. Enjoy a few photos I have enclosed.
If I’ve learned anything throughout the last year or so it is not to put things off. Do them while you can because you never know when your time is up. Instagram @aersonic
This year I went to back to the island. It was a treat for me, an early 30th celebration but what an amazing experience. The beach, music, new friends and Hanson. Having travelled so far I was filled with so much excitement and each concert did not disappoint. From the first sounds of Fired Up I knew it was going to rock, that I’d be able to hear my favourite songs and others I’d yet to hear live.
The beach setting was gorgeous and the beautiful new friends were met and ones from previous Australian tours reconnected with. The collection of fans from all over the world blew me away and made me thankful that Hanson brought us together and continue to dazzle us with their musical talents.
This year was my third time as an ‘Islander’ and I had high hopes for better setlists and better performances than in 2016. I was not disappointed: this year the shows were phenomenal, with a great variety within the setlists and my choice of ‘themes’: rock, acoustic and EP songs.
People ask me why I keep going back to the Island, and all I can say is that it’s an experience like no other. It’s a welcome escape from reality with your friends and your favourite band; it’s something to look forward to all year round. But above all, for me as a European fan, it’s my one opportunity to get my ‘dose’ of Hanson shows – and I mean ‘real’ Hanson shows, with the full band and with bold setlists going beyond the most recent album and the usual greatest hits. The last Hanson European tour was in 2013: without BTTI I think I would have lost a vital connection to the band, that unique energy Hanson transmits when they’re onstage. In other words, for me, BTTI kept the flame burning bright.
As a second year returning islander, I was very excited to go back to the island. I had an amazing time the year before and met so many new friends. I was excited to go back and see everyone!
This year, the stand out was definitely all of the solo shows! The guys went above and beyond during these shows. Isaac’s set was stunning and included many emotional performances but his rendition of ‘Beautiful Eyes’ was one of my favorites. But I think everyone cried during ‘Call Me’. He then ended with a medley of ‘Hallelujah / Amazing Grace’ that was absolutely beautiful.
When Taylor grabbed his guitar and started playing ‘Be My Own’, I was thrilled! It’s such a powerfully emotional song and being it was the only song he played on guitar, I was glad he chose that one! The highlight of his show for me was when he played ‘Breaktown’. I had been listening to this song on repeat for the last month or so in my car and it hasn’t been played live often to my knowledge. So, when he started the song, I lost my composure a bit, I was so excited! I think the most interesting song was the version of ‘Get The Girl Back’. I loved hearing it a different way with just Taylor on piano. I definitely messed up clapping during the bridge but it was so much fun!
Not going to lie, Zac ‘s show was my favorite! He played a good majority of my favorite songs but what made these songs so special was how he shared a little insight behind the writing of some of them (‘Fire On The Mountain’, ‘Siren Call’, ‘Juliet’, and ‘Go’ to name a few!). He even stopped in the middle of ‘No Sleep For Banditos’ to tell us a funny story about recording the song. I may have even cried a little during ‘Bittersweet’ but we don’t need to talk about that…
I was really hoping to hear ‘Do You Believe In Love’ solo at BTTI. I fell in love with the song during the “Loud” streams and then again at Hanson Day. That was definitely a favorite moment for me!
I loved all the activities, plus having a little extra time during the day for excursions was great. I went snorkelling twice!
Tie Dye is always fun and I enjoy being able to have one on one conversations with the guys. Being my group was first, there were a few kinks to work out but all in all we had a fun time. Plus, my shirt turned out super awesome after search for the green dye for what seemed like an eternity.
I was looking forward to Cards Against Humanity with Zac a lot because I love playing on a regular basis. I wasn’t chosen to go up on stage (one number off, Zac! One!) But Zac should look into a second career as a game show host! He was so entertaining! There was lots of laughing, some dancing, tons of silliness! Even though, someone wasted “The Force” card. And if that was you, I’m sorry but no!
My friends and I enjoyed Family Feud immensely! And a ton of my friends got to go on stage and play (again, mine was numbers away Isaac!). Taylor joined the fun for a round too.
The concerts were astounding! I loved being able to vote for what kinds of shows the guys were going to play. I voted for the Christmas show, Fan Club show, and “The Walk” album show. I enjoyed not knowing what show was going to happen and being completely surprised.
The guys took the stage and gave us a little taste of ‘Back To The Island’ then kicked off the Rock All Night concert. It was a blast to kick off BTTI with this show! And the tuning song was born that night! Tunin’, Tunin’ On The Beach!!! 😉
One of my favorite things about when they play ‘On and On’ and ‘On The Road’; Isaac, Taylor, and Zac all play guitar together. It’s one of my favorite things to watch.
‘Freak Out’ was my top song I wanted to hear live at BTTI since it wasn’t performed at Hanson Day. It’s one of my favorite songs off the “Play” EP. So, when Isaac started playing the intro groove, I freaked out (haha, pun intended).
The concert ended with “Back to the Island” with a little help from John Fullbright and some awesome rapping from Andrew Ripp!
As a BTTI first-timer, and a new fan since only 6 months, I did not know what to expect of the BTTI-event. I had heard mixed reviews of the previous year’s event regarding the solo shows, the activities and the organisation of it. All I knew was that I was looking forward to going, and that I would embrace it for what it was, and just have fun. What I didn’t expect however, was that it turned out to be a perfect week.
I arrived a few days early to meet the friends I’ve made the past months, whom I had never met previously considering I recently became a fan. Without a doubt, this was a fantastic group of people, who helped make my week an amazing experience. And when it comes to Hanson, well, they did not disappoint.
The themes of the main shows were all that I was hoping for, with my first ever show being rock night. What a perfect start! I thoroughly enjoyed the acoustic show, which I had been looking forward to, knowing how great they are at delivering perfectly executed acoustic versions of their songs. It was tight, so no disappointments there! The most memorable show for me was the third and last show – EP night. They played the majority of my favourite songs, and the energy and vibe was just right.
I know it will remain one of my favourite concerts for a very long time.
Isaac’s solo show was also impressive. I appreciate the personal touch to it, and I have a lot of respect for him. Overall, my first Hanson event was a truly great experience, and I can’t wait for the next one.
See you in Tulsa in May!
Many thanks again to everyone for sharing their experiences and to Ashlee and Rachel for sharing their pictures which have been used through this piece.