I’ll Take The Physical Challenge

Last Friday night, I played a show with Matt Wheeler & Friends (yes, we’re looking for a better name). Matt is a good friend who leads a band called August to October. But he often plays solo shows, although they seldom turn out to be solo. It’s usually Matt on vocals and guitar, Shawn on drums, Mark on harmonica, and me on bass and guitar and the occasional backing vocal. By the way, you can grab some of Matt’s music by clicking here (I helped with the recording).

Anyway, Friday night, we played at a place called Live @ The Hub, a local artist showcase by the Definition Collective. Although my band, Superficial Charm, is playing there in March, I’d never been there. All I knew was that it was in Manheim and that it was on the third floor of the building that it’s in.

So I got the address and punched into the Maps app on my iPhone, and off I went. Jen wasn’t feeling well, so she and the kids didn’t accompany me. The weather was also pretty poor. The sky had dropped quite a bit of ice and snow on us in recent days. But I made the journey, and after figuring which building I was going to, and then figuring out where to park, I started grabbing gear from the back of the car.

Thankfully, Matt and Shawn were in the parking lot and waved me down. This was good, because I had no idea how to get into the building.

“Hey, guys!” I said. “What’s the quickest way to the stage?” I had my acoustic guitar, my wife’s bass, my POD, my gig bag, and my (admittedly small) PA system, so I wanted to get the loading in done as quickly as possible so we could soundcheck.

“Up over the roof then up the stairs,” Matt replied.

I thought he was joking.

I was wrong.

Matt and Shawn each helpfully grabbed some of my gear and we slipped and slid across the icy parking lot, finally arriving at a small wooden staircase. It looked like the kind of small wooden staircase that would lead up to someone’s deck or patio. The stairs were covered in snow, but up we went.

Up two flights.

Only to arrive on a rooftop.

“Cool!” I said to Matt. “Are we doing our rooftop show U2 style or Beatles style?”

The roof was even icier than the parking lot, which I suppose is to be expected, since no one drives on it.

We skated and skidded across the roof only to arrive at another staircase. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” I thought as I tried not to plummet over the edge of the roof to certain injury.

Up the other stairs we went.

Through the door at the top of the stairs.

And directly onto the stage. Nice.

I got one more load of gear from the car and then we set up.

We didn’t have a huge crowd, but Erik, who was the host that evening, told us he received over a dozen texts from people saying something along the lines of, “hey, we started coming out, but the roads were pretty bad so we went home.”

I chuckled and said, “Are you kidding me? We crossed an icy rooftop to play here!”

After the show, we tore down and started lugging our gear out. Down the stairs. Across the icy roof of doom. Down two more flights. Across the parking lot. Matt and Shawn helped again, and then we went back up to get Shawn’s drums. Right about then, Matt got a text from his wife, asking him when he’d be home. We all knew that he was to get home immediately. So our friend Ryan, who is the pastor at Veritas Community, graciously offered to help us. I laughed and warned him about the treacherous path down to the vehicles. It didn’t bother him.

So he grabbed Shawn’s floor tom and djembe and exited, stage right. Within three seconds, he was back, eyes wide with surprise. “Holy cow! You guys weren’t kidding!”

As we loaded the last of the gear into Shawn’s car, I commented that this was the most physically challenging load in I’ve ever done. Shawn said it was way easier than going in the front way.

This is one of the reasons I play music. To have stories like this. How else could I ever say that I carried all my gear across a frozen rooftop on a cold, windy, icy night in January?

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