Show Stories — It IS a job

September 1st, 2010 5 comments

Doing the job... bring music to all.

When you go to a concert, it seems there’s an element of magic to the event. The music, the lighting, the vibe being built ahead of time. It all combines to bring the fans the best show possible. It lets those in attendance leave their “real lives” behind for awhile and take in this electricity. It seems almost surreal when all is done just right.

But what many don’t realize is that for those who bring the show to the fans, this is the JOB. They may not go to a corner cubical every day. They may not get up and go to work at 8 am then come home at 5 pm. However, all other elements of a job exist… along with a few other stressors no one with a “day job” ever has to deal with.

“The office building” is the arena or theater or night club or field in which the show is taking place. “The office” is where you stand when you play your instrument, or where you run sound or lights. When you are keeping over the front of house guy’s shoulder, its about like when someone pokes their head in your office to see what you are doing.

You have a boss or two keeping an eye on things at all times. There are company policies to follow, and occasionally you do have “a board meeting” in which the state of the “company” is discussed.  You can get fired for not doing your job or breaking the rules, and there is often a dress code you follow on-stage.

On show days there are certain jobs that must be done to make the show happen. Unload the trailer or semis. Set up the stage and instruments. Set up the lighting and video boards, if the artist carries those. Run a sound check (something that I personally have found to be infinitely boring). Then you may or may not have hours off before the show. Every day is different regarding “down time.” You have to find time to eat somewhere in there. Catch a shower and maybe a nap, because chances are you’ve not had much sleep.

If you have multiple shows in a row, its almost guaranteed that at some point you’ll go to bed around 4 am, and you’ll have to be unloading the trailer by 8 AM ready for another full, 20-hour day.  (FYI: sometimes when you go to a large festival, what you don’t see is that under the stage there are hammocks where people try to grab a fast nap between sets.)

When you do get to sleep, you sleep with all your co-workers only feet away. Who needs a water cooler when you can just stick your head out of your bunk and probably reach out and grab the person you want to talk to? There is very little privacy on a tour bus!

Soundcheck in the VERY hot summer sun.

Your bed, bathroom and living room moves as you travel from point A to point B. Every curve and pot hole jostles you awake, or lulls you to sleep. Every time someone pulls out in front of the bus, anyone sleeping is disrupted. Heaven help you if you’re trying to pour a cup of morning coffee. (Its like my husband says in good humor when he is driving bus: Truckers can go fast and take curves on two wheels all they want. THEIR cargo doesn’t fuss them for spilling their drinks!)

Its always good to see familiar faces on the road. Especially when its a long run that takes you away from home, a friendly (and different!) face can really rejuvenate the road-weary soul. However, guests need to always remember… its a day of fun for the guest, but its a work-day for the musician or crew member. They can’t go run around and party when there is work that has to be done for the show to happen.

The show can last anywhere from half an hour to several hours depending on the set-up, crowd and artist’s mood. (Yes, I have been to shows that have lasted upwards of three hours because it just felt right to keep going.) And while people may go, “Oh you get paid for that half hour you played.” In reality, you get paid for putting in a 20-hour work day. You get paid for representing the artist at all times during that day. You get paid to be available any time there is a show to be done.

The perks of the job are, of course, doing what you love, seeing the country and meeting thousands of fascinating people, and sometimes having four or five days off during the week to be at home. The downside is indeed sometimes running on no sleep, being away from your family for days (weeks or even months!) at a time, and the industry being “feast or famine” — you work like crazy in the summer making money, then come winter the shows are scarce and so is the money.

I recently saw where a friend said, “The music thing is the worst thing you can do and the best thing you can do.” I thought that summed it up really well! I think anyone who truly loves their job, anyone blessed to do what they enjoy and love for a living, could probably agree with that sentiment. You wouldn’t trade the job and experiences for anything, but when you break it all down… it really is a job. One that you are good at (or you wouldn’t be out there!), enjoy, and that needs to be done.

August Blog Wrap-up

August 31st, 2010 4 comments

Another month draws to an end, bringing us even closer to year end. School has started, signaling the end of summer. I’ve found Sam Adams Oktoberfest on tap and in the stores, signifying Fall’s approach and it elicited squeals of delight from me. (It’s my favorite seasonal brew!) Pre-season football has already taken to the airwaves, and tailgaters are making lists of things needed for the best game day festivities.

Here at Musician’s Widow, August has brought the best blog stats yet, and I thank everyone for the support and reading. I can proudly say I successfully posted every day this month, and I plan to continue that trend forward. It feels good to tackle the challenge of a new post every day, and I think its become enough of a habit and need that it won’t be any trouble keeping it up.

I thought I’d take a moment to share some of my stats for August:

Just over 1,075 page views.

Other than my Home and About Me pages, specific blog posts with the most hits include:

Music business techniques that can be applied in other businesses
Show Stories – Groupie?

At-home pampering

The most common search terms that landed visitors to this blog include:

music business
nashville tennessee cma fest crowd downtown
i love school supplies

Weekly Winners will continue, as well as Show Stories. I already have a lot of blog posts in mind to come soon! Goal for September is to continue increasing my page views and blog popularity.

Thank you to everyone for any feedback you’ve given to me, and I welcome more to post comments. Feedback teaches me what people like and don’t like, but it is also like food for the writer’s soul. I welcome dialogue, and I am always open for suggestions on posts! Is there something you’d like for me to explain and discuss in here? Feel free to let me know! And, again, thanks!!

Categories: site-stats Tags: ,

Are you a cat or a dog person?

August 30th, 2010 2 comments

Dog vs Cat -- a scene from my house this weekend

This last weekend I had both a dog and a cat in my house. Growing up, I always considered myself a “dog person” with a dislike for cats. That dislike probably came more from others not liking cats than any real opinion of my own, because once I got my first cat… I began to discover a “cat person” in myself.

This weekend confirmed the transformation was complete. I am without a doubt a cat person.

A cat you can leave for a day without any concern. As long as they have food, water, a litter box and maybe a toy or two, they’re good to go. Self-sufficient, they are. A dog, though, you have to take out and walk. There’s no leaving them for more than a few hours! I also discovered a need for constant attention. This is just something I can’t do working from home. Working Friday ended up being a total bust, and I chalked it up to a life lesson kind of a day.

Anyone who knows me, though, knows those life lesson days usually end up with my doing research and learning about whatever phenomenon I’ve run into. So, I did a quick Google search for “dog or cat personalities” and stumbled upon an article summarizing research done by the (*gulp*) University of Texas in Austin into this exact idea — a difference in the personalities of dog and cat owners.

The article found:

  • Dog people were generally about 15 percent more extraverted, 13 percent more agreeable and 11 percent more conscientious than cat people.
  • Cat people were generally about 12 percent more neurotic and 11 percent more open than dog people.

So, based on those findings, I’m neurotic, disagreeable, not very conscientious and open. Makes perfect sense to me. Describes me to a T.

Or not.

For me, being a cat person is more about the fact that I want a pet companion, but my schedule is just not structured enough to have a dog. I need a pet that I can snuggle with now and then (especially when the husband is on the road), but that I can also not have to worry about being upended by a sudden change in plans. (Plus, if I am gone for a few days, I only have to worry about finding someone to check the cat every other day at most, versus a friend having to make a daily commitment to the task.) Yes, I want the protection that only a dog can provide, but ultimately the frustration I’ve felt having to care for a dog has made that want a little less important. I’ll stick with my checking the locks every night, keeping a head’s up about my surroundings, and just using my head in every situation in front of me.

So, hello world. I’m Denise. I am a cat person.

(I can hear my brother groaning now.)

Weekly Winners (Aug. 22 – 28)

August 29th, 2010 24 comments

Weekly Winners is a fun little thing bloggers do to showcase some of their favorite photos from the previous week. It is brought to you, me and everyone by the lovely Lotus, aka Sarcastic Mom. Visit her site and find all the participants. See some amazing photos brought to you by bloggers around the world. Leave a little love when you do — its like food for the soul!

Weekly Winners

Oktoberfest

It's Beer-thirty!

Retro Camera :: Out for a drive

Out on an evening drive.

Retro Camera :: Barn

Old Barn

Retro Camera :: Weeping willow

I stopped to see the weeping willow...

Retro Camera :: Full Moon

Full moon peeking through the trees.

Oktoberfest

Suds in my mug...

Sunset on I-24

Sunset over I-24.

Screen door reflections

Reflection in my backdoor.

Flip flops, pink toe nails

Flip flops and pink toenails.

♥ ♥ ♥

All photos taken using my HTC Droid Incredible. I used the Retro Camera Application on a few of them for an old look to the image.  View all of my photos available on my Flickr stream.

Only kind of a pack rat…

August 28th, 2010 4 comments

I’m sitting here watching one of the latest episodes of the show Hoarders. The show shines a light on an issue that I think more people deal with than any of us realize. I would have never have called myself a hoarder, exactly, but I think I could have been considered something of a “packrat” at times.

Five years ago this weekend, Hurricane Katrina made landfall and caused extensive damage in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. I worked at a newspaper at that time, so I went back into my archive of articles written while I worked there. Ironically, the way our schedule landed, my column for two days after Katrina hit was entitled, “Cleaning out the clutter.”

An excerpt from that column:

I’m a packrat, and I admit it. I have a lot of STUFF in boxes all over the place, and I’ve recently began a massive project of going through all the boxes with the hopes of throwing things out.

I’m not doing too bad, as bag count has now hit around seven in this on-going project. Five of those bags were thrown out this last weekend.

Is there really any reason to still have a dress code for the school district I attended from 1987? What about a coupon for a free pizza that expired in 1998?

I have no idea how all of this stuff has accumulated over the last 25 years, but it has. My need to save everything under the sun is quickly going out the door along with a receipt for CDs purchased back in 1995.

[Read the full article here]

I think my biggest problem is my need to save receipts and statements. I’ll end up saving them for years and then doing  a mass shred/clean-up like the one I wrote about in that column. The problem is that I don’t save them in files. I have a great filing system set up! I just don’t USE it properly. It all goes in a box that then ends up in a bigger box that then gets shoved in a closet or under a desk.

I do have a method to my madness… generally. My husband tolerates it, but I know he’d rather see more paper clutter get out of the house all together. I’m trying to consciously change here and there to make my collection of receipts, etc. diminish.

I have a lot of books collected. I still have most of my college text books that some days I think I should have tossed. But I’ve recently discovered a need for some of those books. I’ve wanted to go back and re-study things I learned in college, and I am glad to still have those around.

I don’t buy CDs much any more. I do if it benefits a friend, but otherwise I’ve moved away from that. I’m still proud, though, of my nice CD collection. They’re all pretty old by now. Several of them I am sure are scratched. But they are fun to have to show how my musical tastes have changed over the years.

Past that, I have a few boxes of random items that I don’t need, but I’ve just never been able to bring myself to throw away. It’s these random items that makes me feel compassion towards the people on the show Hoarders. Sometimes, you can’t explain it… you just want to save something.

I don’t think I could ever be a full fledged Hoarder. If anything, over the last few years I’ve grown to love keeping things neat. I like to clean out my closet every few months. I have found a peace over my home exists when things are kept in good shape.  I can’t imagine living in a state of constant clutter, in a state of constantly being dirty. I need to vacuum. I need to sweep and mop.

I am a paper-clutter-pack-rat. And I admit that. But I vow its never going to go anywhere past that.

Friday night lights

August 27th, 2010 5 comments

High School FootballI live a few blocks away from a high school, and in the fall we can listen to football games being played from our backyard. Tonight, I have my windows open and I’m listening to a combination of the football announcer, the band playing and crickets chirping. Guy Fieri and Diners, Drive-ins and Dives flashes across my almost-muted TV.

This is a fairly typical Friday night for me these days, but back in high school Fridays made for long days.

I was in the marching band, first as a flute player then later as a member of the colorguard. Friday nights meant game time. There’s a reason why all the high school football movies are set in Texas. There’s a rabid love for the game at the high school level that I just truly don’t think anywhere else can duplicate. There’s a passion and a love for football across the country, but its definitely amped up a notch or two down there.

In my hometown, I think we lived for football season. It’s when the town came to life. It’s when there was a little extra pride to be found in everyone’s eyes.

As I said, Fridays were long days for me during football season. I lived in the country, which meant when school let out, I almost never went home between school and game-time. There just wasn’t enough time to make it a worthwhile trip. Many times I would leave home around 7:30 am, and I’d not return home until well after midnight (if it was an away game). But that didn’t matter. I ran on an adrenaline that no cup of coffee could ever recreate.

It was all about the lights and the field. It was about the war that was going to be waged goal line to goal line. It was the sound of the band and the smell of the popcorn. It was the little kids watching with glowing eyes; some day they’d play the game or be the cheerleader. It’s the socializing side of the night, when friends would get together and gossip about their week. It was the parents watching with pride (and the mothers watching with a little big of fear). It was the sound of the announcer’s voice booming over the speakers.

“TOUCHDOWN!!”

Eventually, though, we all graduate. We play our last game. March our last half-time show. Cheer our last cheer. Sing our school song with arms around our classmates for the last time. We close that chapter of our lives and we all move on…

…until we hear that announcer across a quiet late-summer/early-fall night. We hear the horns and the drums and the clash of helmets. And if only for three or hour hours we go back to those high school glory-days and let today’s worries and stresses get washed away.

It’s the magic of the Friday night lights, and I, for one, am glad they are back.