On Monday night, I just concluded a long week of work in Los Angeles with the Rock n Roll Fantasy Camp.
For those unfamiliar with the set up, people come from all over the country, and sometimes the world, to be a rock star for the weekend.
They sign up, get assigned to a band with fellow campers and are taught by rock star councilors about music and how to play in a band.
These typically include people like Rudy Sarzo (Ozzy Osbourne, Quiet Riot), Tony Franklin (The Firm, Blue Murder) and Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath, Dio).
Over four days’ time, they attended classes and rehearsed to get ready for their big moments: Getting to play with our headlining guest stars and two live shows on Saturday and Sunday night.
This time, it was Robert and Dean DeLeo of Stone Temple Pilots and Jerry Cantrell and Mike Inez of Alice In Chains.
If you follow my weekly adventures, you’ll know this is not the first camp I’ve done. Out of all of them, this one may have had the most impact.
Not just musically, given how much I listened to both bands growing up, but also professionally. This time, I was filling in for the normal production manager who was on the road.
This means I was in charge of making sure everything on the technical side of the weekend went smoothly. This included finding crew, advancing the show and eliminating problems that would pop up throughout the camp.
It was surreal, to say the least. I had a clear moment during Stone Temple Pilots last Friday, where I flashed back to my high school days.
I can vividly remember driving in the car with my buddies, blasting their songs, along with Alice in Chains, at top volume.
Sing-alongs would ensue from point A to point B. Cut to the present day and here I am working for them, to an extent, to make sure their set is as comfortable as possible.
The same surreal feeling happened during Alice in Chains on Saturday, as well. Some of their songs have been staples in my life since I was a young musical lad.
This got me thinking about how amazing it is to see progress happening right in front of you.
We are all on this incredible journey over our whole lives. Like marking your bedroom door frame as a kid, you can see all the marks and notches of progress along the way.
The part you must ask yourself is, where do the notches stop? For me, they never will. The progress doesn’t have a ceiling. How long and how hard did Alice in Chains grind away at their dreams until they made their first several records? How many sleepless nights did they spend thinking about their next move after unimaginable setbacks?
I’d rather be so tired that I can’t see the top, than rest on my laurels at any point.
As with most camps, I walk away from them thinking about my future and wanting to work even harder at becoming a better musician. The example is set by the presence of tremendous talent, all weekend.
A lifetime of practice and experience culminated into the present moment as you watch them display their craft. I just hope that one day, I can mentor a bright eyed young kid in the same way someone saw the potential in me.
Until then, the show must go on.