"Your dressing room is this way."
That’s what our escort backstage said. My response, “exsqueeze me, a baking powder?” (borrowed from Wayne’s World) probably wasn’t the best, but it was all I had. Here we were, being escorted backstage to our dressing room. OUR DRESSING ROOM! Not just a little closet, mind you, but a real, freakin’ huge dressing room. With a full bar, buffet, and someone completely at our disposal to procure a hair dryer (required!).
We were competing in a regional contest at Mohegan Sun, this night one of two acts in an eight-week weekly competition. I fully expected to unload our gear, get on stage, and get off. Boy, was I wrong.
First was the dressing room. Next, the sound check. What a professional, courteous, knowledgeable set of people! We’re used to 30-second sound checks. Nope, not tonight. 40 minutes. We’ve never sounded so good. The sound guys, who, at this point, had been at work for many hours setting up the stage, repeatedly commented how great we sounded and that they were looking forward to the set. What a great way to begin the night. The coup de grace was that we were going to go on last. Headliners!
Suitably excited, the wait set in. It’s 4:40pm. We go on at 9:30pm. What do we do? Gamble!
Just kidding. Our manager, the band, and I ate a nice, leisurely, ((expensive)) dinner (during which we booked a gig for January), and just had a lot of laughs and smiles, including discussing how cool it would be to win at Roulette on number 8. (Our manager, who got married on 8/8/2008, who coincidentally manages Chaser Eight – DID win $700 on a $20 bet on number 8 on the very first (and only) spin of the wheel - which made for a great beginning night, too).
And then the music started. We went on last, and played to a full house. We completely crushed the set. In fact, I ripped my finger open during the finale, and have the bloodied guitar to prove it (picture here). Afterwards, the crew, emcee, and even the bartender across the theater came up to us saying how well we did. What a tremendous feeling.
I won’t know for a while if we “won” the contest, but I do know that even a few days later, I’m still on Cloud 9 (or Cloud 8 for Chaser Eight). It’s going to stink going back to small venues, but knowing that we completely rocked that arena is such an amazing feeling that makes it all worth it. Knowing I can get back there and that I was good enough to be there in the first place, is what will motivate me until the next time. And the next.
Oftentimes, we don’t take the time to enjoy what we have. We make excuses for why we’re not happy, or for why we just got in a fight, or settle for something less than what we want. Heck, even I was thinking about our next gig not even an hour after we got off this awesome stage after an awesome set! That’s how I’m wired. But, and it’s a huge BUT, I’m taking the time now to enjoy and revel in the experience. It makes it all worth it.