Monday, July 2, 2012

A Roadie For Canada Day

   Canada Day is one of my favourite national holidays and this year's holiday will stand out as one of the best I've ever had. Because I'm still without work, I decided to volunteer to help out as a stage hand for the Canada Day celebrations in Victoria's Harbour. Simply put, I was a roadie for Canada Day, and I loved it!
   Now, in my previous post I mentioned that I was interested in advertising and marketing. Really I was hoping it would help me to tap into this city's rich arts and music scene. As it turns out, it may not be as simple as I thought it would be to get into advertising. People I've spoken to in the industry say that it requires all kinds of schooling and warn that even with all of that education there's no guarantee I'd be able to even find work in the field when I graduate. Although I'm willing to take the courses, I need something that will guarantee me future work.
   That's when the volunteer opportunity presented itself. I've always had an affinity for live music, and being a music nerd, it's not surprising I'd have an interest in the logistics of big concerts and events. Needless to say, I was pretty eager to sign up. This has turned out to be the best decision I could have made. It is the perfect way to get into Victoria's live music scene and meet not only the artists themselves, but other important people like event coordinators, stage managers, concert promoters, publicists and even local media staff members.
   It was fortunate that Canada Day fell on a Sunday this year because it gave this city the opportunity to create a two day celebration that drew record crowds to the harbour. I was given the opportunity to work at two locations. My first day was at Ship's Point and I found myself doing everything but help out around the stage. In fact I did everything from mopping up excess rain water to taking out garbage from all around the site, including the food vendors. It may not have been what I signed up for, especially since there was another group dedicated to housekeeping, but I was told at the orientation that even stage hands could be called upon to help out everywhere regardless of what it says on our ID tags. So I went with it and I did everything I was asked to do and then some. It felt good to be doing something productive and it felt even better to hear how much my hard work was appreciated. It's been a while since I've heard that!
   It wasn't long until I finally took up a more permanent residence backstage helping the bands load their gear on and off the stage. This turned out to be my element and I took to it like a duck takes to water. It helps knowing a thing or two about guitars and amplifiers because I found it easy to communicate with the musicians to ensure things were set up the way they wanted.
   My experience at Ship's Point was only just a primer for my second day at the Main Stage in front of Victoria's Legislature Building. This was the big show. Six and a half hours and nine bands leading up to the big fireworks finale. As soon as I arrived at the site I was immediately assigned to help the stage manager switch the gear between each band's set. This was rewarding in so many ways. Not only did I learn a lot, but I got to meet every performer and I had the best seats in the house while they did their thing. Some of the artists were very impressed with my hard work and one of the girls in the band Sidney York told me they'd never had so much help with their gear. I said it was nothing but the rock star treatment for our performers.
   As if my day couldn't get any more awesome, one of the sponsors gave a big speech thanking all of the volunteers throughout the entire site. Then she called another volunteer and myself up on stage where we were given a huge round of applause from thousands of people as we received small gifts (I got a really nice ceramic mug) as tokens of appreciation. I can't describe the feeling of that many people cheering for me. All my co-volunteer and I could do was take a bow!
   I really think I could get used to doing what I was doing that night, so I signed up to volunteer for future concert events. I was told that's the best way to do it. Volunteer, work my ass off, and someone will notice me. And if I impress the right people, it won't be long before I end up as a paid staff member. I may never be a rock star myself, but there's something to be said for being a part of a crew that helps performers bring their music to their audience.
   Without the roadies, there would be no show.

The Wandering Oak


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