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Date: Feb 28, 2001
Source: The Oregonian
Submitted By: Gina

Parents say taking their kids to see the Boys is a bonding experience

By SARAH ALLEN of The Oregonian staff

You can reach Sarah Allen at 503-221-8143 or by e-mail at

The dads. The amused, confused, and -- make no mistake -- highly enthused dads.

Randy Preston was one of them Tuesday night, leaning against a far wall outside the Rose Garden before the Backstreet Boys concert while his daughter, Jennafer, fought a squealing crowd of girls all vying to win backstage passes.

It was Preston's third Backstreet Boys concert, and he has seen 'N Sync twice. The last time 'N Sync played in Portland, Preston took Jennafer and seven of her friends. At the end of the night, though, Jennafer told her dad she'd like to go alone with him in the future.

"When we go to concerts, I take a half day off work and we go out to dinner first," said Preston, of Battle Ground, Wash., who says his favorite Backstreet Boy is Nick. "We get up early the day the tickets go on sale and wait in line together. It's a whole thing."

Call him one of the Backstreet Baby Boomers. Raised on rock 'n' roll, they're now parents passing on to their children the tradition of enjoying concerts. Shuttling kids to see their favorite pop stars is becoming nearly as common as car pooling to soccer games.

Most parents these days understand why age-specific music matters. Maybe they remember their first concert, the first album they bought, or the way it felt the first time a song actually "spoke" to them, talkin' 'bout their generation, if you will.

But along came the Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears, and suddenly the generation gap seemed to close. Parents were encouraged to attend concerts with their kids for the sake of safety. And many of them found that listening to the Backstreet Boys sing "How Do I Fall in Love With You" was a bit less agonizing than Pink Floyd and the Who were for their parents.

"My folks would never have done this," said Darce Abramavage, who drove with her husband, Steve; 9-year-old daughter, Marissa Wuthrich; and neighbor Imphamous Kinney, 7, from Seattle to see the show. They passed on the Tacoma shows because the available seats weren't good enough. "Going to concerts with them is something so special that they'll remember forever. It's good quality time together and there's so little of that anymore."

Standing in the crush of shrieking fans, Steve held Marissa high on his shoulders so she could see the action. Steve screamed right along with Marissa, in hopes of winning the backstage passes.

"This is the way we want to spend time together," added Darce. Safety is a factor in her and her husband's decision to accompany their kids to concerts -- they've got tickets to see AC/DC with their teen-age sons in a few weeks. And the door swings both ways for the Abramavage family; the whole family went to see Santana -- Steve and Darce's favorite -- last year. "It's not like it was when I was a kid and Mom and Dad could just drop us off at the Seattle Center and it would be fine," she said. "You simply can't do that anymore."

Pop groups that play to preteen and teen-agers specifically are aware that parents are in high attendance at their concerts. And some of them make the most of it.

Backstreet Boy Brian Littrell charmed his own mom, Jackie Littrell -- not to mention thousands of other moms -- when he sang his dedicated-to-mom song, "Perfect Fan," on the group's last tour. On their 1998 summer tour, the Spice Girls dedicated songs to moms, too. And don't forget Hanson; a band made up of three brothers and managed by Mom and Dad is about as family-friendly as it gets.

Watching Jennafer bouncing excitedly in the throng of shrill fans, Preston was content.

"It's kind of hard for fathers to find things to do together with their daughters," he said. "My sons and I have sports, and she and I have this."

Portland's Judy Foster, who attended the show with her 10-year-old daughter, Jennifer, wasn't doing any favors by attending the show -- she's a fan in her own right. She and Jennifer even share their favorite Backstreet Boy -- Nick.

"It's nice to be with my mom," said Jennifer. "It's a nice girls group thing to do."

"Yeah, her dad and brother are at home doing a boy thing," Judy added, laughing.

For Marion Parker of Tualatin, seeing the Backstreet Boys with her niece, 8-year-old Shelby Knudsen, was an extra-special occasion.

"I wanted to take her to her very first concert, especially a nice, clean group like this," said Parker, who added she hopes attending shows with Shelby will become a tradition. "I hope she's overwhelmed."

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