Front of House Road Stories On Demand – From The Sofa To The Rodeo

Everybody’s been in a small bar when all of the lights go out and the PA and cash registers fall silent… there’s a full two seconds of deathly calm and then… well, “road story”

By Sully August 10, 2011

Sixty minutes ago I was wearing bunny slippers and watching Mexican soap operas with my robe open.

Then the phone rang.

Now I’m dressed and making small talk with management at 40,000 feet on a Gulfstream G150. In 120 minutes or so I’ll start mixing a show absolutely cold in front of 60,000 people at the Houston Rodeo.

A mere 360 minutes after that I’ll be back in my robe in Nashville with or without the bunny slippers. As the Buffet song says, “Oh the stories we can tell…”

As I’ve aged, I’ve developed the ability to focus my perspective at will.

I have two tested methods. The first is to block, deflect and neutralize any hostility or adversity with a simple quip, “Let’s have a show and tell stories about it later.” The second is to hum “Amazing Grace.”

The first gently corrects any false notions that my job involves curing cancer; the second keeps me from throwing up in a road case when I can’t get myself to believe I came up with such a bullcrap first method.

It works too. That gig at the Houston Rodeo? We were a last minute replacement for a headliner that canceled. When we got there, the plan consisted of this: Start playing, we’ll line check during the show.

The desk was the new Midas XL8, which, I must admit, is pretty nifty… but just like it’s analog brethren, unless you put a mix on it… it’s still factory fresh.

And that’s how we began the show… live and factory fresh. Just before we hit, the monitor guy, whom I’ve know for 15 years, deliberately held the Clear-Com beacon over his head and yanked the cable out. As his sled was dragged by a tractor out to the stage, he looked me dead in the eye and mouthed the words “every man for himself.”

I hummed 60 bars of “AG” to myself while I watched him fade to the other side of the stadium.

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