As I wait tables and figure out my life, I manage a band. They’re called Earthtone and they’re some of the most passionate individuals I know. Honestly, these guys live and breathe for the opportunity to share their music with others.
A huge thing I love about them is their ability to dream big. To them, the sky is the limit and no idea is impossible. Personally, I look at life quite realistically- I think about all the “if’s,” “ands,” or “buts,” and evaluate the pros and cons before actually pursuing an idea. Now, this doesn’t mean I won’t pursue something if it seems “hard” or “impossible,” but I definitely consider and weigh the options before doing so; I want to know what I’m up against.
About two months ago when I became their manager, Earthtone decided that they wanted to perform at Howard University’s annual Homecoming concert, Yardfest. It didn’t matter that the deadline to register to perform had passed, these guys had it set that they would perform at HU’s Yardfest. They did their research, contacted the head of the steering committee, got an extension, and had their application and demo in his hands the following week.
Two weeks later, we got a personal call from the head of the steering committee saying Earthtone had been selected to perform and that they were among the top picks for the show. Yardfest is nothing short of a big deal: legends such as Jay-Z, Kanye West and Diddy (P.Diddy, Puff Daddy, Sean Jean, Sean Combs…tomato tomato) have graced the Yard. Needless to say, it was an honor for the boys to be selected and invited to perform.
This past Friday was Yardfest. I was up at 8am preparing and getting ready to face the traffic that would inevitability invade DC for the event. As we checked in and prepared to head backstage, the staff told us they were already big fans of Earthtone and were excited to see them perform. Shortly after checking in, Earthtone was called to stand on deck, they were going on next.
As the host introduced the group as, “a fresh sound out of Richmond, Virginia” the boys jumped up on stage and really got the crowd going. Up until the boys went on, the crowd had been quite unresponsive; Earthtone changed that. People were cheering, dancing, clapping, singing along (mind you, the song was new to the crowd).
While all of this was going on, I stood on the back of the stage with tears in my eyes. What I was witnessing was so beautiful: people boldly pursuing their passion. I felt so blessed to be able to help them do it.
With the state of the economy and lack of job security these days, it’s easy to loose sight of our dreams, and settle for security. Being a band manager is stressful, there really is no specific blue print as to how to go about it, and really, its not easy. But moments like standing on stage watching people I care about fully pursue their passion, reminds me why I decided to become their manager.
A few days ago I was organizing files on my external hard drive and I came across my application for admission to the Music Industry program that I completed in college. One part of the application required us to outline our “professional goals.”
As I read it, I realized that I was on track to achieving my goals in the music industry, it just it took the help of people doing what they love to remind me.
“I never liked jazz music because jazz music doesn’t resolve.
But I was outside Bagdad Theatre in Portland one night when I saw a man playing the saxophone. I stood there for 15 minutes, and he never opened his eyes.
After that I liked jazz music.
Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself.
It is as if they are showing you the way.”
-Don Miller, Blue Like Jazz
Earthtone and their Manager at Howard University’s Yardfest, October 17th, 2008