Contrary to my numerous humorous conversations over the past few days, I’m actually acutely aware of the fact that I’m never really going to be a celebrity. I’ll never be swarmed by fans or chased down the street by paparazzi. I’ll never be sat at Barnes & Noble doing a book signing of my first novel (which I did write, at least). I’ll never perform an arena gig to 10,000 people and be broadcast around the world.
Strike that. Just that last one.
That’s just one bit of what’s been so amazing about being a part of Hope & Social‘s Band Anyone Can Join.
Don’t get me wrong–it’s a big bit. I still cannot believe that it happened. Two and a half days of rehearsal for a three minute stint on stage supporting my favorite band, launching what is one of the largest sporting events in the world, surrounded by some of the most incredible people that I’ve ever met.
It’s that last part that I really want to, have to, talk about. When I sat down this morning to start to put together this piece, I couldn’t stop thinking about the people that I’ve met and worked with and socialized with (read: drank with) during the course of this project. Really incredible people, with talents and stories and experiences to share. And share them they did. Because of these people and what they shared, I can honestly say that my life will never be the same.
Martin Green, executive producer, rocks. Like, totally rocks my socks off. He’s just so down to earth and had this really kind way about him. He is what parents should be to their kids (and for the purpose of staging this event, we were definitely like kids). He praised at all the right times, encouraged when it was needed, and was incredibly present, accessible, and pleasant. Not only that, but he toasted us at the pub afterwards. In short, he rocked (did I say that already?).
The Grand Old Uke of York have so much talent and they had fun and kept calm all day. For an entire day of rehearsals, these guys and girls stated in full costume and played ukelele. Like, played all day. They kept everyone’s spirits and energy up. What I really loved about them, though, was their collaborative spirit. They weren’t possessive about their music. Every song they played it was, “sing along”, “join us”, “what should we play next?”. They put on special “shows” for the kids, played H&S tunes to keep us all excited, and wanted everyone to be happy. They were amazing.
Of all the volunteers in this little band that the Tour of Infinite Possibility brought together, I think the Spa Town Roller Girls had perhaps the hardest job to do. Skating back and forth across a stage, over three different surfaces, spaced out evenly, not bumping into musicians of instruments, kneeling on stage, and doing some of it while holding bells and singing. You know…just your typical Thursday night. Not once did I see or hear these ladies falter. They took it all in stride. And in the waiting time, they laughed, smiled, talked, and were generally just awesome sauce.
There were more people–Westgate Primary School children who (I kid you not) were the best behaved children I’ve ever seen in my life), a brass band, more ukelele players, and a chorus and the orchestra, too. There were Kate and Craig and Helen who made the event even more amazing with all the work they did behind the scenes in conjunction with the band and with Grassington Festival. There was just so much going on and I could write forever about everyone and what they did.
But I won’t. Because if I don’t start to wind down, I’ll never finish this post. And I still have to talk about two more groups of people that made this day what it was for me.
The Northern Songbirds are the only reason that I was involved with this amazing (I know…I have used that word a lot today) event. If it weren’t for them…well, I’m not sure. These girls have become some of my closest friends in the world. Not only do we sing and dance (ha!) together, but we are there for one another, through thick and thin, the good and the bad. And this was definitely, definitely, the good. I got to stand on stage with some of my best friends, doing something we all love. Is there any better feeling in the world than that?
Finally, I have to talk about Hope & Social (yes, again). These guys are so phenomenal. They are these talented musicians, but they aren’t conceited about it. They have followers and a huge fan base and they make this music that…wow. But they’re so down to earth and approachable and just awesome. They’re friends–to everyone that wants to be friends. They’re Rich sitting at the pub and sharing really inappropriate stories and James telling me about home and Si smiling while he and Rach hug after the gig and Simon surrounded by people but still making time for everyone and Ed on a table at the bar and talking to Gary about his girlfriend and…well…you get the idea. They are more than the music they make. And that’s what makes them great.
This may have been my only arena gig, but it won’t be theirs.
And I’ll say I knew them when. And once upon a time, I was a part of “The Big Wide.”
In the meantime, I’ve done what the boys suggested in “Rolling Sideways.”
“So we’ll gather up our family, gather up our friends,
Gather up the ones we think we want to perish with…”
Thank you. Thank you all for everything. This entire experience has changed my life for the better. Thank you isn’t enough.