When I was 16 and started playing music in public, I dreamt of my future class reunion. Not in the "oh snap, I'm gonna miss these guys and hope to keep in touch" but in the "maybe at my 5 but definitely at my 10 year class reunion I'll come back from my dream gig where everyone will know me for my rockin' goodness, ask me to share a song and ask details about what makes my gig so dreamy".
Well, 26 years into music, I can say I'm in the middle of my dream gig right now.
I can picture the class reunion now. An old friend comes up and asks, "Hey, you ever get that dream gig?"
I respond: "you bet! Let me describe it to you:
- I gig 2-3 weekends a month, multiple gigs per weekend, well over 60 gigs per year
- I mainly play with one band but play as a sub in some other bands. All of them have their own styles and each are a blast to play in
- I practice with the bands on the Thursday before each gig to get the songs polished...and flirt with the vocalist. On a good night we hit it off and I end up taking her home for the night
- On weekends, we show up at the venue a few hours before the gig, where the stage is already set up for us
- The sound guy is ready, helps us get our sound dialed in, and is quite kind in our requests for stage monitor levels
- The venue sets out coffee, fruit, and doughnut holes. Once a month the venue provides us full meals...from pizza to burgers, to tacos, to stakes! We are at the point where we don't even ask for the bowl full of blue M&Ms!
- We play our set to an enthusiastic crowd who sing along to every word!
- The stage lights feel hot and I wouldn't have it any other way...I seem to thrive and play better when it's warm
- Unique to this kind of gig, the crowd is not focused on us, but that's the way we like it.
- The songs rock! Sometimes we play slower songs but even then there's always an energy...a purpose to the lyrics...a message that we want to get across. Mostly, though, we rock out. Some gigs I'll pull out all my tricks and light up the song with my electric, whereas other gigs I'm on acoustic where others get to shine while I lay a rhythmic foundation.
- During the weekdays, in my downtime, I have a great day job challenging my brain to improve the user experience of commercial software. The bonus is that I get extra income so I can invest in music gear. I love the guitars I play, and the day job is the only reason I've been fortunate enough to play the guitars I do....and build a recording studio in my home so I can keep my composing and recording juices flowing."
"Wow!", they would say.
They would then ask how long I've been in this dream gig?
I'd respond, "15 years". And then add a sobering, "but I only recognized it as my dream gig for the last 2".
...and then they'd ask where I gig?
"My Church. Crosswinds church. "
At that point the conversation could go in many directions, but that's not the point.
The point is that God knew what would be best for me and how to best use (and develop) my musical skills. He knew that while I learned guitar on Van Halen and Prince, He knew those skills would be needed one day at a church in Rochester, MN. I'm convinced that he opened the door to IBM solely because a church would one day exist that he knew would need me to serve there to help define the musical culture it would be known for...not so that we could brag about how cool we sound...but because a good rock song can speak to a broken heart much more deeply than the spoken word.
He also knew that I wasn't strong enough against all the temptations on the road so he hooked me up first with a christian high school band (Virtue), then later organized events for me to join Up With People, where I could tour the world and expand my skills in a somewhat sane environment. Finally, he knew that being in the music business full time is very difficult and time consuming...and that I'm probably playing and composing more music now than I would be if I had to run a small business to promote, book, market, finance, repair, and run logistics for a band (although I'm still game if the opportunity presents itself :-) )
I love this church and the musical community that surrounds it. The funny thing is that the longer I play there, the more rockin the music gets. I hope that when I'm old and gray, some troubled heart who is certain God can't help him walks in, sits down, and mentally scoffs at the silver-haired guitarist walking on stage. He might raise an eyebrow when that guitarist straps on a (then) vintage PRS (or if said guitarist has his way...the latest PRS available). I hope he is first blown away by the dropped 'D' intro riff (becaue that will let his guard down), and then I hope his heart melts at the unplanned meeting with his Savior while the guitarist's fingers dance across the fretboard as the only backdrop that troubled heart would have accepted to engage in such an encounter.
Yep, I have my dream gig. No glory, no fame, no financial gain, and I take the same girl home after every gig.
I wouldn't change a thing.