The Guys Behind The Scenes...
G'day everbybody, Derek here (your friendly MichaelWSmith.com Admin),
Wanted to write a blog about the last couple days and getting out on the road with Smitty, but the more I think about it, the more I feel it should be written about the guys who work so hard everyday of the tour.
not sure how many of you know that I work for Smitty part time, so when
I get an opportunity to hit the road I only get a small taste of what
these roadie guys do every day of these tours. I've done the day in
and day out stuff before, but nothing is like working in the
venues/churches that these tours go on in.
You have to remember that most of the behind the scenes guys (and gals) have families that are back at home.
They 're taking time away from their families to help put on a show
that you get to experience for only a few hours on a given night. For
these guys it's their livelihoods, yes - it's what they "signed-up
for," but that doesn't make it any easier. They're missing Halloween
with their kids, 2 guys are missing their kids birthdays today,
anniversaries, you get the idea.
My job today is to try and
paint the picture for these gents who are definitely the hardest
working people I've ever been around. Let's go to the beginning:
Call Is on Wednesday @ 6 p.m. in Franklin, TN: Everybody meets at a
local parking lot usually with their families dropping them off. There
are the customary goodbye's, "be safe's" and hugs.
The Bus then
begins what is really akin to a Submarine ride to Salisbury, MD: It's
a little more than 900 miles so you hope for good weather, no traffic,
and smooth driving.
Once on the bus we do get to hang out, talk,
and catch up on each others lives, Smitty's crew is pretty awesome and
everyone gets along so it certainly makes the trip more bearable.
(generally 10 to 11 workers and 1 bus driver per bus). This tour has 3
buses, so you do the math.
When it's time for bed you climb
into a stack of beds that is in the middle of the bus. There are 4
stacks of 3, all fairly tight, but I can't lie, they're not all that
uncomfortable. There are rules though, you sleep with your feet to the
front just in case the driver needs to make a quick stop, you don't
want to hit your head or jam your neck.
We arrive at the venue in
Salisbury @ 10:30 (about 2 hours later than we would have liked) and
set-up begins with haste. The truck (full tractor trailer of equipment
has arrived first, and has already begun "dumping" equipment with the
help of another challenge. Everyday your tour crew meets 15 to 20
local crew members/workers who all have varying degree of abilities -
there's little time but your production managers have to figure out how
to motivate/direct, a chorus of people to get everything built and done
that needs to be completed by a 2 p.m. soundcheck with 100 local choir
members. Set-up takes everybit of that time, non-stop, you eat, drink,
and get no rest. In Salisbury on this day it's actually nice because
you have a blank stage (the next day we're at Liberty University and
having to work around Christmas concert/pageant sets, so the show is
going to be "different" - which is not easy when you're dealing with
the equipment we have here).
At 2:00 p.m. Smitty and the band
arrive and the crew immediately sets the stage for the second half of
their day which is running the show and refining the lighting, sound,
and staging to be JUST right for the show. Michael arrives to rehearse
with the local choir at that time and works with the directors to
ensure that everything is set, along with planning the moving of the
choir onto the stage at exactly the right time, making sure they know
their visual, audible cues. etc. This takes about 2 more hours of work.
4:00 p.m. the "opener" artists are working on-stage and the crew is
working to get them set-up for today's show, instruments ready and
everything ready to go.
Finally by 5:30 p.m. it's time for some
dinner. The crew all comes in as they finish their prospective jobs
and grab a quick bite, then get back to their stations, because doors
to the venue open @ 6:00 p.m. (which means the merch guys have to be
100% ready for that, their show starts @ 6:00 p.m. not @ 7:00).
6:55 p.m. it's time for the pre-show music to begin and at 7:00 p.m.
Matt Maher, Phil Stacey, and Meredith Andrews hit the stage to get this
thing started. They finish their set at about 8:00 p.m.; then the crew
sets in motion rebuilding the staging for Michael. This takes about 15
Michael hits the stage at about 8:15 p.m. and keeps
it going until about 10:00 p.m. on an average night. (Oh by the way,
Smitty also enjoys having "Wild" ideas and changing the set list about
30 minutes prior to show time which means, lights have to be reworked,
staging considered... luckily the guys are used to this as it happens
so often that it's truly no longer that "WILD".
10:00 hits the final encore is done and Smitty and the band are back on
their bus and heading to the next city by 10:30 p.m. At this time the
crew starts tearing everything down, getting it repacked and getting
the truck loaded safely to make the trip to the next stop.
down goes much faster than setting up, but it still takes about 2 to
2.5 hours, so the truck is loaded and ready to go to the next show by
12:30 a.m. That's when all the crew gets back on the bus and heads to
the next city. Usually everybody's too awake to go directly to bed,
but usually everybody's asleep by 1:30 or 2:00 a.m. It all starts all
over again @ 8:00 a.m. (TODAY in Lynchburg, VA; Liberty University).
we'll drive to Reading, PA; then on Sunday we're in Lowell, MA (then a
1,200 mile drive back to Nashville). It's kind of like the movie
Ground Hog Day with different walls, different people, and new
issues... but it's the same result. A 3 hour show every night that
fans get to enjoy - that's the goal. And nightly these guys reach that
This blog doesn't do them justice at all. There are a
lot of people that work hard in this world and make sacrificises for
their families, but you'll be hard pressed to find people other than
the Military who work harder. I'm humbled to be able to simply come in
and watch this happen, it really is pretty amazing.
Next time you're backstage at a concert take a moment and say "Thank You" to a crew member you see backstage, they'll appreciate it, even if the only response they may be able to muster is a grunt.
|Bryce Tucker - 2010-02-20|
|Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now. Keep it up!
And according to this article, I totally agree with your opinion, but only this time! :)|
|by Bryce Tucker|
|God bless!!! - 2009-11-29|
|people, I want to tell you that this work is wonderful! has blessed my life! I only have 14 years and I live across the world, in Brazil! and yet this work has changed my life, that love of God the father that the redeeming grace of Jesus and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with each of you today and forever! hugs the biggest fan of this ministry, AILA! GOD BLESS!|
|by Aila Klavin Baltazar|
|great! - 2009-11-27|
|i ve been blessed ,i hope all have recieved of the same share of blessing
Peter Ogule-frm Uganda|
|by Ogule Peter|
|my brother - 2009-11-24|
|My brother is on the crew! He works the monitors. I am so proud of him and am amazed at all the hard work he does -- for the glory of God!|
|by Erin Johnson|
|road workers - 2009-11-24|
|Just wanted to say that we relize that all this is more than just smitty doing his thing it takes a lot of talent and awareness of how these many things work and how to make each show the best they can.I know liz and oscar sure love every time we get to see all of you. May the good Lord bless and keep you going till the next time. oscar|
|by oscar/rich dunn|
|Johnstown Pa Was Great - 2009-11-24|
|Dear Michael W Smith
The Johnstown Pa,was great.thank you for coming to sing. my family loves your songs.|
|by Charles Schwab|
|AWESOME! - 2009-11-24|
|We have seen you in concert more than 5 times in our city and surrounding area....and EVERY time we are just awe struck! You and your music are SO inspiring. We also love hearing the stories and scripture. What you are doing is God's work....He gave you a beautiful GIFT. We are so happy we get to share in a piece of it each time you come here! Thank you! Keep coming! God Bless you all.|
|by Deb C. Sioux Falls, SD|
|Clay and friends! - 2009-11-22|
|Blessed once again to take part in last night's Albany show after having been in the Lowell choir as well. Clay, you're the best ever. Thanks for the self portrait on my shirt! Keep up the amazing work!|
|by Kathy Kelley|
|"You work so hard!!" - 2009-11-09|
|So so privledged and honored we were to meet MWS and CHAZ in Brookville backstage, Praise Him! I am not shy when it comes to engaging, but was really toungue tied here. Knowing they had had quite a kick off with the NEW HALLELUIAH tour, quite a tour in Europe, and coming home and continuing,I know that we all pray for the MWS entourage always,be it safety, health, reaching unsaved,testimonies, etc. The pace has gotta be tough somedays! The continuity, the NO SLEEP, the foreign "potties"...! Okay, so "tounge tied" here says about twelve times, "You work so hard, thank you, Praise Him, great ministry, etc. You work so hard,.." repeat that twenty times. It was a bit much, but having had rehearesed "conversation" that I would have had with this REALLY talented shephard for the Kingdom, that really is the ONLY thing I said!!! My husband John laughs over and over. I am just the proud sister ( picture me beaming like I am sending my child off on the first day of school, my head tilted to one side, and a little tear being wiped through my proud expression.) And really, that whole "work thing" just resonated when I said hello. I felt it, I could SEE it, na dthat is so cool, because "it is what he does!" (Yiipppee!) I spoke for the entire crew, and the tireless ministry they serve for Gods' glory. Amen. Amen. Amen.
Next time,I'll swap a recipe or play catch; always have my b ball gloves in the van! Seriously, the passion for His Promise is alive and well. Go Smitty go! MaryLou|
|Thank you - 2009-11-08|
|We take a lot for granted, don't we? Thank you Derek and crew, families, et cetera, thank you Smitty, and God bless you all!|
|Clay! - 2009-11-03|
|I was the Choir & Volunteer Coordinator for the show in Lowell on 11/1. Just wanted to send quick Kudos to Clay. He was amazing. He told me just what he wanted and when and really encouraged the choir. Then, I saw him work tirelessly all night to ensure the right equipment was where it needed to be at the right time and then even get MWS back downstairs at the end. Clay, you're amazing and the tour is extremely blessed by your abilities and talents! We loved working with you.|
|by Kathy Kelley|
|Thank you - 2009-11-03|
|I'am a sound tech and know 1st hand what is that kind of work, and not being appreciated that often. A shout out to all the crew, specially Shane, Smittys Sound Eng. Met him @ the ANH Recording in Houston, very nice humble guy and super duper great sound in both concerts that i've been and he's been mixing. Blessings giys, keep up the making Smitty and the band look and sound Good.|
|by Joel Rodriguez|
|Thanks to the CREW! - 2009-11-02|
|Many THANKS to the Crew that makes it possible for the show to go on! Derek, thanks for summing up what it's like on the road! I've done it myself but never LONG distances [we drove our cars] & never gone more than a day or 2... MWS, Band & Crew AND families ~ AWESOME job done!!!|
|Lowell - 2009-11-01|
See you in Lowell I can't wait! Thanks to you and the crew for all the hard work. We truly do appreciate it!
|Awesome!! - 2009-11-01|
|I was blown away last night (Reading, Pa show). What better way to celebrate Halloween! Leave those "enemies" out in the cold! Thanks to all involved.|
|Need any help in Boston area just holler - 2009-11-01|
I was very privilaged to work a booth for Smitty back in the 80s...I volunteered for New Sound concerts at Gordon College.
I would love to help you guys out if you need an extra hand if you are ever in the Boston area. I love to help out where I can.
Have been very blessed by Michael's songs for a few decades now...they just keep getting better and better.
As a matter of fact I am very grateful for his song "I'm waiting for you" I think from the "I'll lead you home" album. His songs move me to tears a lot...so much of our heavenly Father's heart showing through. I also love to sing and pray his song "Lord have mercy".
I want so much to see all His sons and daughters in Him and none lost.
All the parts of His body functioning as one...fitly joined together.
|by jennifer Ireland|
|I Thank God for you all ! - 2009-10-31|
|My husband and I were at Lynchburg last night and WOW! We were so blessed, we listen to Smitty all the time in our cars and with a high stress job it ministers to our spirit bringing us PEACE. We were in conversation about all the work it must take putting on such a wonderfulconcert...thanks for the answer:) However, we have learned in our 30 yr walk with our Lord Jesus...Where he leads he provides! What an AWESOME GOD WE SERVE! Thank you Smitty and workers for your Serving, one day in heaven your reward will be seen for all the lives you have touched! Your all in my prayers!
|Reading show... - 2009-10-31|
|Anyone dressing up in Halloween costume tonight? I don't want to be the only crazy one with my strawberry shortcake costume :)|
|You Rock!!! - 2009-10-31|
|Wow.. I'm totally speechless... You guys rock!!!!! ... And we, Smitty's fans, are beyond appreciative for all the sacrifice, love & energy that you, the crew, puts in!! I pray for your safety, health, peace & joy, and above all, God's blessings upon all of you!! Thank you Derek for sharing this incredible blog with us!!|
|Parabéns!!! - 2009-10-31|
|Derek... Keep in your mind that a lot of people are blessed with your job. So, you can do God's will and get enjoy!!! It's nice!!!
I'm from Brazil and I'll go to Lowell, MA just to see Michael, one of the guys that helped me keep strong on the Rock, Jesus. God bless you and you job!
PS.: "Parabéns" in portuguese means Congratulations!|
|Nice Blog - 2009-10-30|
|Derek, thank you for what you have shared, and I appreciate all that you and the crew members do.
Love in Jesus,
|GREAT JOB! - 2009-10-30|
|Thanks, Derek, for showing us how much is involved in a concert. Blessings to all of you and thank you for providing us with such uplifiting, worshipful, experiences. Be safe and looking forward to seeing all of you in Reading, PA.|
|driver? - 2009-10-30|
|wow...amazing!!..need a truck driver??..Brian can haul anything anywhere!!!...lol
|wonderful - 2009-10-30|
|We did just that last night and got a you're welcome and thank you for coming from the guys..great night, wonderful people and one of the best days ever (plus I got to hang around with D for a brief time!)|
|by Alice C|
|Awesome! - 2009-10-30|
|This is awesome! :o) Whenever I go to a Christian concert I appreciate so much the work that the tech/equip folks do! I've done this for many years on a volunteer basis and God always makes it work perfectly. Whether it's a bad connector or half the channels of your sound board - God always gives a blessing! :o) ...then next time we go back and do it all over again. hehe :o) Thanks so much to the work that W's team does and any volunteers do through Christ therein! :o)|
|Incredible! - 2009-10-30|
|I really had no idea of what actually goes on during the road trips. Amazing information. Thank you to all the crew for an awesome job and try to get some REST!!! You are all blessed.|
|amazing. - 2009-10-30|
|AWESOME blog Derek! I enjoyed reading it immensely! So happy you're able to be a part of this amazing crew! And THANK YOU to each and every one of you who help make this happen night after night! GOD BLESS YOU ALL AND YOUR FAMILIES WHO SO UNSELFISHLY GIVE YOU UP SO WE CAN BE BLESSED!
Love & blessings,
|wow! - 2009-10-30|
|Wow, Derek, only reading this makes me already tired, so, I can imagine how they must feel when ready and back on the bus. Its good to know how work goes, it makes me thankful for all they do!! Crew....thanks on behalf of my USA Friends!!! And for the concert back in June, in THe Netherlands!! With Love, Marja|