In the past few weeks, I was fortunate enough to work two gigs with Lita Ford and her phenomenal backing band and crew.
One was at the Whisky a Go Go and the other was at the Canyon Club in Montclair. As in past columns, this one will not be a review of the shows that took place. However, I can give you the typical bullet points of a show review:
• Lita sang and played fantastically
• The band was incredibly tight and knocked both shows out of the park
As true as those statements are, this weekend was much more significant to me.
I was asked to be an extra set of hands for that weekend. My friend Jarod Woznik, Lita’s guitar tech, was my introduction to the Ford camp. Like most of the gigs I’ve ever had, I received them on the merit of a friend’s recommendation. There were no forms filled out in triplicate or TPS reports that needed corporate approval, first. It’s how the world should work, but could never work.
Iggy Pop talked about that once. He said in an interview with Sam Dunn, “When I was 18 in 1965, if you wanted a job, you went to the paper and took your pick.”
The working world of rock ’n roll is definitely not “take your pick,” but it is free. It’s the most free working environment I think that still exists in our modern, constricted society.
I’m not selling the age-old cliché of sex, drugs and rock and roll. I’ll save that for the keychains and generic T-shirts. Like tattoos, anyone can have them now. It’s a frame of mind you don’t find everyday. Conversations seem to go in any direction possible. On any given run of gigs, you can potentially be working with people from any part of the country or world.
You must broaden your horizons from the get-go. The best part is, for the most part, everyone is different, together. We’re all on the same team despite whatever differences there are.
It’s not perfect. It’s not one big happy kumbaya fest. As much as the pendulum can swing toward greatness, it can also be downright brutal.
In the past, I’ve been in situations where a show I worked ended at 12:30 a.m. The other crew guy and I finished loading out at 2 a.m. The band’s flight was scheduled for around 5 a.m. with a 4:30 a.m. lobby call at the hotel.
Add a migraine from the previous day carrying into the next, I don’t care how alike we are, the morning is gonna be rough. Now add in someone doing this for 25-30 years on top that, hang on to your hat, mister.
The Lita gigs were a reminder of the possibilities of being part of this crazy community. There will come a time where, hopefully, I can pay it forward the same way.
So much of what rock and music is made of isn’t found in a textbook. It’s passed down like a tribe from one generation to the next. Not just the mechanics of the job, but how to (actually) conduct yourself.
For some reason, rock ’n roll is still expendable in our national consciousness. Countless historic venues have been paved over in the name of “progress.”
Our past and future are intertwined and forever linked. The knowledge of our past informs our future, both good and bad. As all aspects, old America is becoming “commercially unviable” in the new consumer culture, it’s more important now to be a generation of storytellers.
To document is one thing, to truly absorb it is another.