The rumble of the highway provides a nice bed of white noise as I write this article.
I need it because my brain is still back in Tennessee. If you follow my adventures, Diamond Jeff Collier and I were headed to Nashville to work the Rock ’n’ Roll Fantasy Camp. It’s a four-day weekend experience where people of all ages sign up to jam with their favorite rock stars.
Jeff and I are part of the tech crew that keeps the show running. It’s been almost a week of 12-16 hour days, not counting the drives.
We left Nashville about 7 p.m. and drove straight through, to Gallup, New Mexico, at around 10:30 p.m. the next day, taking shifts.
Frantically, my thumbs are pounding away on the screen as I try to make the deadline for this week’s article.
My plan of driving more than 24 hours across the country and then writing in my hotel room didn’t work out as well as I hoped.
After sleeping like a dead man through the night, I woke up with a blank screen staring back at me. Thankfully, I’ve got I-40 and the giant blank canvas in motion to stare at, while reflecting on the journey coming to a close.
Places that have had a reputation for being once-great can be misleading, at best, especially as that reputation is monetized for travelers passing through, hoping to touch a piece of that dream.
Usually, the dream is behind glass and you pay $9.50 apiece to take your picture with it. For only $5 more, they’ll include a dream T-shirt and complimentary toothpick holder, absolutely free!
Nashville, fortunately, defied my expectations. It may not be the pure country music mecca it once was, but the population boom is, indeed, still booming.
Most of the locals I talked to only had that title for about two to five years. Even through all these new changes, what hasn’t changed is the heavyweight moniker Nashville still carries.
Calling a place “Music City” is a bold statement. After only scratching the surface of my environment for a week or so, I feel Nashville deserves that reputation, tenfold.
I feel like, as soon as we arrived, you could stand on any corner, throw a rock and hit an amazing musician. But you shouldn’t do that because they may not have the best health insurance.
The environment was also much more casual and friendly, compared to L.A.
I thought the idea of having to go somewhere to “make it” is outdated in the age we live in. What I hadn’t considered was moving to a place to better your craft.
Being there with the Rock Camp only added to this overall feeling. Over the whole weekend, we get to hear amazing professional musicians of all types.
Some are counselors who teach the campers who sign up. This year, the line-up was Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big, David Lee Roth), Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath, Dio) and Gary Hoey as musical director, amongst others. Our headliners included Jonathan Cain and Steve Smith (Journey), Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme, Rhianna) and Frank Hannon and Brian Wheat (Tesla).
Hearing a whole weekend of these professional musicians, I feel like I can almost get better via osmosis.
Playing music is so much more than just putting your fingers on the strings. It’s in your whole body and state of mind.
The language of music is spoken on and off the instrument. If a young aspiring musician puts themselves in an environment where growth is encouraged and expected, it can lead to amazing results. It’s one thing to read about it. Seeing it happen in front of me was a whole different perspective.
I could try to capture the essence or vibe of what happens at the camp, along with little moments and sparks that make it a great experience, but that wouldn’t do it justice.
The brief time I got to see the local parts of Nashville and throughout the camp, I kept coming away with the overall message of not settling for where you currently are.
Work at what you love and share it openly with others. Taking a piece of that and bringing it back to wherever you come from, is worth more than a thousand stories.