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Roadie Tales...

Paul MacCormack

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This summer I was afforded a unique opportunity. Our son Lucas (17) plays guitar in a band and they were lucky enough to land a regular outdoor gig playing jazz in downtown Charlottetown five evenings a week all summer. Only glitch with this plan was that last November Lucas developed a hernia and has been waiting on surgery ever since. This precluded him from carrying any of the gear both to and from the summer shows. Hence, I became the band’s default roadie for most of the summer, and I have to say, it was a lot of fun.

As I was waiting for them to finish up last week I began to reflect on what it would mean to be a real, full time roadie. Being out on tour, and setting up and tearing down in a different city each night while sacrificing time with family and friends to be part of something that brings joy and happiness to so many people is what it is all about. Being an integral part of the creative machine that is a musical tour and allowing the musicians the space to do what they do best,  is a roadie’s job.

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It began to dawn on me that working behind the scenes on a summer long tour would be much like being a Superintendent and turf crew.

  • We both work tirelessly when no one is looking.
  • The fans and golfers usually only focus on the end product, not how it came to be.
  • The amount of personal sacrifice to pull it off is by times, immense.
  • Both gigs and golf courses are affected by weather, and most times it’s the crews behind the curtain that bear the brunt of this burden.
  • The amount of technical knowledge required to be an instrument, sound, or lighting technician is staggering… much like that of a superintendent.

For me though, it was a wonderful part-time job. I was happy to tag along and move the gear, supporting the boys when I could.  It meant a lot knowing that our son and his bandmates were gaining vital experience while having a blast doing what they love to do the most… playing music.

I also had a few other reflections of my own…

  • Being of service – Volunteering to be part of something meaningful is such a rich experience. 
  • Your attitude matters –Lucas’ gig was an evening one which ended way past my summer bedtime. In any situation like this one it’s easy to get negative and jaded when you are feeling worn out, but your outlook and perspective means so very much. Keeping your attitude positive also helps those around you see things in the larger context. Taking nights off from time to time, and letting his friends help him out with his gear was wise action I applied on more than one occasion.
  • Music is so vitally important to my own well being and the wellness of so many, and an art form intrinsic to the human experience. It was such a joy to be a small part of bringing forth the band’s art for people to enjoy. Just watching the patrons of the nearby restaurant patios tap their feet and nod their heads, getting lost in the music was magical.
  •  I am almost forty seven, and Lucas is nearing eighteen and we got to spend precious moments together in the summer during a global pandemic through our shared passion. The summer season doesn’t equal family time for me almost ever, and somehow this year it did. Hanging out on Victoria Row with my wife Jill and daughters Maria and Clara listening to Lucas and his friends play some fine music on warm summer evenings, it doesn’t get much better than that.
  • I’m not as young as I once was – The aforementioned Fender amp that contributed in part to Lucas’ injury got its own skateboard for the season…way easier on my back. 

Thanks so much for reading. There’s always much to be grateful for!

Paul

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