09 June 2008

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time for every purpose, under heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time for every purpose, under heaven

A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time for every purpose, under heaven

A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace, a time to refrain from embracing

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time for every purpose, under heaven

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time to love, a time to hate
A time for peace, I swear its not too late

-words adapted from Ecclesiastes by Pete Seeger
-music written by Pete Seeger
-as performed by The Byrds, 1965

This past Saturday, I DJ'ed my last show for Complete Music. I entertained my last group of clients. I announced my last dollar dance.

It was a bittersweet day for me. I have been entertaining crowds big and small for ten years, and the horrible experiences were few and far between. I enjoyed it immensely: the music, the interaction, the people I met, my co-workers. It was a very positive thing for me.

I remember when I first started, I was amazed that my boss had the confidence in me to send me out on my own. I had no clue what I was doing, really...sure, I was trained, but three shows later, you're on your own. Luckily, my first show was a 10th anniversary party, not a reception. It was at the Ada Post of the Fraternal Order of Police, and I showed up three and a half hours early to set up and the place wasn't even opened up yet. So while I sat, I wrote down five or six pages of songs, and where they were, so I wouldn't have to look them up during the event. There were only about fifty or so people there, it was a real laid back party, and I had nothing to worry about. It went fine, and I got a $35 tip. Back then, that was a tank of gas and then some!

What followed was ten years of the craziest, busiest life you could want. I was all over West Michigan, as far north as Whitehall, Stanwood, Ravenna, south down to the border a few times, all the way to Lansing, Ann Arbor, Grand Ledge, even one show in Toledo, where my boss and I stayed up with the wedding party in their hotel room until the bride passed out at around 4am. Yeah. I'll bet they enjoyed what was left of their wedding night.

I DJed in most reception halls in the Grand Rapids area. I once tried to keep a list of everywhere I went, but the list grew to four single-spaced, double-columned pages, and I couldn't keep track after that.

I remember awesome shows, like when I was at the Harley Hotel and the bridal party kept giving me $20 bills to play "one more song". I ended up with $80, I think. Four songs. I'll do that forever!

Or when my friend Mike and I played a show together, and everyone was having a great time. After the show, the bride came and hugged both of us, we got a massive hearty handshake from the groom, who thought we did absolutely awesome, they couldn't ask for more. Until Monday, when they called the office and asked for their money back because of our piss-poor comedy routine that we were using. We weren't doing comedy. We both had microphones, and were joking with each other, but no stand-up.

Or the time Mike and I (again!) played a show at the Lansing Children's Museum. We both wanted to just play with all the cool stuff there and let someone else run the system.

Or the high school dance we did, where they actually put sawdust on the floor, and since it was a polished and waxed wood floor, the sawdust just made it even more slippery, and we could slide from one end of the gym to the other when we got a running start.

There were rough times too, just like any other job. I remember watching the groom at one show get into a fight with another guest, during the first song of the night! I can't think of a better way to ruin a reception.

I had to play at a place down in Grand Ledge one time, and they wanted music for the ceremony and the reception. Trouble was, the ceremony was going to be down by the river, a fair ways away from the building. So I had to lug half my equipment down the hill, set it up in the blazing sun. After the ceremony, I had to drag it all back up the pretty steep hill, set it up on the patio overlooking the river and the area where the ceremony was, then after the cocktail hour was over, bring it inside the building for dancing. You can't pay someone enough to move the equipment that many times. There's a reason God invented Blazers.

Or the time I was down at Bay Pointe on Gun Lake, doing an outdoor reception, and some nasty thunderstorms moved through. We were in one of those big huge tents that you can rent for open houses and such, and it was set up just on a cement pad. I remember at one point the rain was coming down so hard, it was running under the walls of the tent and through the dance floor. People were dancing in the puddles while this storm was going through. I happened to glance down, and the outlet I had all my equipment plugged in to was about three inches off the ground, and there was a two inch deep puddle right under it. I thought sure we were going to have-no, I thought we were going to be the barbecue!

I remember the gross older bridesmaid that wouldn't leave me alone at Le Petit Chateau. She kept asking me to dance, and I kept trying to say no, because she smelled like cheap liquor and cigarettes, and the bride and groom were laughing at me. That was awesome.

I also remember the time that Grand Rapids Christian High School nearly rioted on me, all while the chaperons were having an emergency meeting in the hallway, after they made me stop the music. Imagine three hundred teens, all hyped up at their dance, and then imagine stopping the music. Not fun. They all started that Washington Redskins/Atlanta Braves/Florida Seminoles war chant, while staring at me, trying to get me to start up again. I almost packed up and left. I never did DJ for them again. My choice, not theirs.

All in all, I had a blast. I learned much about myself, about the world, and about wedding receptions. I gained an appreciation for all sorts of music. I gained an appreciation for public speaking. I was able to tinker with things, to try to fix things, to troubleshoot problems. I found confidence that I didn't have before, the confidence to run the show, the confidence to talk to complete strangers, the confidence to do what had to be done. I'm still working on it, but DJing was a great step for me. I am grateful to have had the chance to do it for so long.

It was a good season.



Shannon Jasperse said...

Well, we are happy to finally have you home on the weekends!!!!!

It has been VERY long awaited.

Love you,
Elijah's mommy

The Wingnut said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Wingnut said...

It took way too long, too. I am sorry.

I love you both!