Warren and I crammed ourselves into the back of the car while our friend Russ loaded his Fender bass guitar case on our laps. The amp and the speaker were in the hatch, and Russ’s wife Michelle was in the front passenger seat. It was Saturday night, and we were on our way to a gig.
We love hanging out with creative people of all types, but our early-bird nature usually means we are tucked away in bed at the time most musicians are just going to work. This night was different, and we were excited to watch Russ perform with his band, Secret Town.
Russ pulled the car to the curb, turned on the hazard lights and we began to unload equipment. I looked at Warren and said, “we’re roadies!” We carried the equipment to the stage, where Russ directed the unloading and positioning of equipment and introduced us to the opening act. We found a table near the front, ordered our drinks, and set up the camera to take photos and video for the band’s website.
How we Got the Gig
Before we get to the show, I should explain how we all met and why we were together again.
Russ and Michelle began reading our website when they first began planning their own year of travel in 2009. Russ reached out to ask us a few logistical questions, and we became casual online friends.
When they arrived in Thailand a year ago, we finally met in person and really hit it off – so much so that they stayed for a month at our guesthouse. Six months later, we met up again at a farmhouse in Slovenia for a week of hiking and relaxation. We love these guys, so we made it a point to see them again during our US visit.
Russ has an encyclopedic knowledge of music, plays 5 instruments, and has an easygoing personality. He’s the kind of guy you could envision playing a ukelele under a big tree on a summer day while singing folk songs (which he did in Slovenia).
What Russ really missed in the year he and Michelle traveled the world was playing music with other people. He’s an IT guy by trade, but a musician at heart. It’s an essential component to his happiness, so the first thing he did upon returning home to San Francisco was join a new band.
Russ’s dream is to play music, and he makes sure his life fits around this dream.
The Perks of Being with the Band
Which brings us back to last Saturday night. Russ is building a website for the band, and he can’t very well take his own pictures while playing. We spent a very enjoyable evening hooting, hollering, singing along, and taking pictures and videos. We were the roadies and photographers of the night, and it was fun to see our friend playing with a professional band.
The pictures don’t lie; he was enjoying the hell out it.
At 1:00 a.m. we packed up the equipment and began walking toward the door. A group of guys came in and saw me with the big Fender case and said, “Are you guys done playing?”
They thought I was part of the band!
I mustered up as much cool as I could and casually told them the show was over. Then I kept walking like it happened to me every single day of my life. Just another fan at another gig on another night. It felt GREAT to be a rockstar for about 15 seconds and gave me a tiny little peek into what it’s like to be a working musician in a great city like San Francisco.
We were there to support Russ, to see him shine as he pursued his one big love besides Michelle, and use Warren’s skills as a photographer and videographer to help Russ promote his band. But we didn’t expect the secret thrill of being “with the band” and getting an inside look at the life of a musician.
Be the Roadie for Your Friends
When you support other people in the achieving or living of their dreams, some of the magic will naturally rub off on you. You can’t help it. Your friend is doing big things, you’re lending your talents to support or help in some small way, and there is good juju all around.
Dale Carnegie famously said if you help enough people get what they want, you’ll get what you want. In this case, we played a very small role in the night, but the law still applies. You don’t give to receive, but you can’t stop the goodness from washing all over you. It’s a proximity thing.
Remember, it’s not just the pursuit of your own dreams that will make you happy. Support someone else – even if it’s just carrying their equipment – and you’ll get the brush with fame that comes from being with the band.