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Talking the talk and walking the walk with Hanson
By: Billie Hartl
Posted: 10/17/08

I am a Fanson and not ashamed to say it. You may be wondering what a Fanson is - it's a Hanson fan, a unique breed of fan who know what "MMMBop" really means, who have spent the past 11 years following the career of a band that has changed many lives.

My favorite trio of blond, Oklahoma-bred brothers returned to Orlando last Thursday as part of the Walk Around the World Tour. After interviewing eldest brother Isaac on the phone the week before, I was even more pumped to not only go to another Hanson concert, but to also cover it for the Future.

After a trip to Africa a few years back, the band has been set on raising as much awareness as they can for poverty and AIDS in the country. For the past year, the band has hosted one-mile walks in each city they visit during the tour. They encourage fans to walk barefoot to see what it's like not to have a pair of shoes.

I arrived at House of Blues in Downtown Disney just as the crowd was coming together to take The Walk. Hanson's fan base has not changed much over the last decade - it has just grown up. Almost every fan there was a 20-something woman, not unlike myself, and a few boyfriends/husbands who were probably dragged there against their will.

After what seemed like an eternity (actual time: 10 minutes), the brothers came out, megaphones blazing, ready to lead us around the parking lots of Downtown Disney. It was like a stampede and everyone had their cameras out, trying to get the perfect shot of Isaac, 27, Taylor, 25, and Zac, 22.

Passers-by stopped and marveled at the three brothers surrounded by the hoard of girls.

"Isn't that the Jonas Brothers?" I heard one middle-aged man ask a fan.

The fan looked disgusted. "No. It's Hanson," she said.

I grabbed my friend and dragged her along, trying to get close to Zac, the drummer of the band and my personal favorite. Taylor had other plans and hopped on a light post, bringing The Walk to a screeching halt.

"The Walk has grown because of you guys," Taylor said. "Last year the goal was to just give shoes. Now, because of encouragement from people like you all over the country and for that matter all over the world … we've come up with other ideas and ways you can make your mile count."

He went on to explain that the brothers are donating $1 for each mile walked during the tour. The band's ultimate goal is to have 24,902 miles walked - the circumference of the Earth.

After Taylor's pep talk, we embarked on the last leg of The Walk. I was talking to my friend when Zac appeared next to me.

"It's a nice day for a walk, isn't it?" he smiled.

I let out a teenybopper squeal. He walked away. I tried to regain my composure.

We returned to the front of House of Blues where they had tables set up. Each of us who walked filled out a card and choose where we want our $1 to go. Some of the choices were to buy shoes, build a well, go to HIV research or build schools. I chose to use my dollar for HIV research and signed the card. When I looked up, Isaac was standing there in all his glory.

"Billie Hartl, Central Florida Future," I ran over, extending my hand.

He stared at the press pass clipped to my dress with uncertainty as he shook my hand.

"We spoke on the phone last week," I said.

"Oh, right," he smiled. "Good to talk to you again."

"Thanks again for the interview!" I exclaimed.

"Yeah, you're welcome," he said.

Isaac then said something else before he walked away, but I did not hear it. When he was gone I let out my second teenybopper squeal of the day.

After a quick dinner at House of Blues, it was time for the show.

Dave Barnes opened and rocked the house down. When Hanson finally took the stage, it was hard to hear above the high-pitched screaming of the crowd.

Hanson has taken on a bluesy, gospel-feeling sound. Because of genetics, harmonizing is still their strong point.

My favorite part of the night was when they performed a cover of Sly and the Family Stone's "I Want to Take You Higher." The whole crowd was getting down, not to mention Taylor, who was wearing tight jeans that left little to the imagination and pelvic thrusting. Who knew Hanson could bring the funk?

The band also played a few songs from their new EP, Take the Walk. Another highlight was when Zac played "Need You Now" solo, a song he wrote for his wife, Kate.

The songs ran the gamut of the band's career during their performance. They played songs from their first album like "A Minute Without You" and of course "MMMBop," to songs from their latest album like "Something Going Round" and "Been There Before." The enthusiastic crowd sang along to every word.

During the encore, Hanson finished with an a cappella version of "Great Divide," the song that inspired The Walk.

"You guys are the most amazing fans a band could have!" Taylor exclaimed.

The brothers took a bow, and left fans to begin counting the days until the next time they roll into town.