As Blizzard Jonas racked the northeast, the Starlight team carefully mapped out and planned a series of maneuvers to insure we would be able to make it to our performances safely and soundly. We were scheduled to appear at two major events on Saturday night; one in Philadelphia and the other in New York City, and we knew that we had to be ready to take the stage if the shows were indeed to go on as scheduled. I can’t even begin to explain the measures we took to be in place and at the ready, and it included rescheduling all of our personnel, arranging to have our band, crew and equipment safely tucked away in these cities before the storm would hit, in the spirit of “the show must go on.” It made me realize a few things about musicians that I wanted to share.
I can’t think of any job (other than being a medical doctor, emergency rescue person, policeman or firefighter) where I would even ASK the guys to make it in to work. But it struck me that as musicians we take on a responsibility to persevere under any conditions, to battle nature or remain on the front line of impending disaster.
On the Titanic, the musicians were the last to leave the sinking ship–remaining at their posts and continuing to play music as people made it onto their lifeboats, knowing full well that the ship was going down. Why do musicians take this on? More than a commitment to our jobs, I believe it speaks to our affinity with our art, and the understanding that as musicians we are “in service.” People need music, people use music to help them get through all aspects of their lives. Music is medicine, music is healing, music helps us in relationship to our selves, and can deepen all of our experiences.
Yesterday when Governor Cuomo declared a state of emergency and warned of the impending travel ban, our musicians and crew mobilized and ventured forth to make sure they would still make it to the show. We risked being on the streets and being arrested. As amazing as it sounds to me now, Starlight was prepared and in place for both of our events. It wasn’t until our clients finally cancelled the events (in the very last moments) that we stood down.
I thought of the 40 people that Starlight employed for the two events, and was in awe that everyone was ready to pitch in and do whatever it took to get to the gigs—from arriving into the cities a day early at personal expense to sharing hotel rooms to taking time off from other jobs to not knowing if they would get home anytime soon to be with their own families after the performances. All of this personal sacrifice towards the higher commitment of making sure that the show goes on.
So what makes musicians so determined? Is it that we don’t want to disappoint? Is it because we know that no other element has the same impact as music, and we can’t bear a void on our watch? Is it because we know that in a dire situation, our contribution is meaningful and helpful?
Does it have to do with our psychological makeup, our sense of responsibility, our relationship to society? Or is it just that the music brings US so much joy that we feel honored and compelled to share it with others no matter what? We’ll never know exactly what the answer is to that question. But we do know that art and music make it all worthwhile. And we will do whatever it takes to bring it to you.