Wednesday, June 11, 2014

New adventures with old dogs...

Ok...maybe not "old" per se, but'll figure it out...

A few nights back, me and the boys had a really fun experience. We played at CMA Fest...the big stadium show. As has been the case in the past, it was such a good time!
Every year we have done this, one of the highlights for me has always been bringing out a special guest, usually a very well known artist. This year was no different. This year, we were lucky enough to be joined by double-necked guitar aficionado Richie Sambora of the band Bon Jovi. He came out to perform with us one of their biggest hits, "Wanted, Dead or Alive".

While the performance went very well, and was arguably one of the biggest sing-a-longs of the night, the real joy for me was getting to hang with Richie. (He's one of the biggest rockstars on the planet, how could that not be fun?) Not sure what I was expecting from a guy that's had an amazing thirty year career of being a bona-fide rock star, but I can tell you that I was pleasantly surprised to find out how much of a regular guy he is. Our first introduction was in the parking lot, we were both headed to the bus where we would hash out the arrangement of the tune. Handsome and kind-natured, he shook my hand and gave a brotherly hug as if we had known each other for years. (incidentally, for those of you with olfactory fascinations, he smelled amazing!)

During the "rehearsal", I was deeply impressed with his musicianship. We wanted to change the key of the song so that it would be easier to sing, and with a very cavalier attitude he enthusiastically said it wouldn't be a problem. He fiddled around on his guitar for a few moments and with a big grin said, "Yeah...I got it. No problem!" This impressed me because he's been playing that song in the same key for thirty years and then out of the blue, he's asked to perform it in another key. Without hesitation, without reservation, he jumped in and made it happen. Impressive indeed.

Soundcheck...he gave us all a reminder of what an electric guitar is supposed to sound like in a stadium. It's not often that we get to perform in those types of settings, but for Richie, it seemed like it was second nature...hell, I guess it is at this point. was loose and fun. To me it felt as though we had been playing that song together for years. It was a rockin' good time and the crowd at LP Field sang along to every word. If Richie had half as good of a time as I did, then he had a lot of fun!

Much later, after the performance, there were mutual hugs and "thank you's". He even took the time to snap a quick photo with me and my wife (who had jokingly said meeting Richie was, for her, being in 1986 all over again!). And, after collecting his things, Richie rode off into the night, much like the character described in the lyrics of "Wanted", moving on to the next show in another town.

My impression of Richie is that he's just a regular guy, with regular problems like the rest of us...he happens to have an amazing job doing what he loves, and being able to do it at an amazingly high level. Believe me when I tell you that he loves making music. Thank you, Mr. Sambora, for being so
kind, gracious, funny, and for making a memorable time even more memorable. I hope we cross paths and share the stage again soon!

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