Monday, February 18, 2008

Roadie, rock 'n roll & philosophy

When I met Mark, The Major with the New Zealand Army that was the current bass player for the Tali Band, I told him that I could step in as soon, or as late, as he’d like. I’m in no hurry – and I realize that this is his gig. I’m willing to be the replacement when he is finished – no worries. There are a couple gigs coming up – Sunday birthday gig at the Milano, and then Monday a trip to Eggers (about 2 blocks away – but have to get there via secure travel, and armored up – even though it’s a ‘green zone’ area). Sounded good – so I thought I’d go ahead and travel with the band and act as roadie, helping get set up – an extra set of hands & ears are always helpful for band setup.

The Sunday gig – the birthday gig (last Sunday of the month, every month, at the Milano restaurant) was cool. I was there, helped set up – got to tweak the bands levels in the EQ – yes, Kevin & Kevin actually taught me some good things about running sound over the past few years – and we got them sounding really good. All the levels sounded good, vocals up front, nothing too much louder than anything else – a pretty good mix.

So we get done setting up – check sound a bit, then all head out to eat, run, whatever prior to the gig at 8. So I went & got some chow, and hit my room for a bit to check email prior to the gig.

The gig went fantastic – crowd really into it – folks dancing a bit, and everyone just having a great time.

The next night we had to head over to another base, Eggers. Now, it’s only a couple blocks drive, but we still had to ‘suit up & load up’ – which means put on the body armor, helmets, and load a magazine into our various weapons of choice – mine being the 9mm. Now, loading up may conjure up different things for different folks – especially military. In the AOR here in Afghanistan, the ROE states that when we ‘load up’ a magazine, we only put the clip in without chambering a round. AOR = area of responsibility, aka the theater of operations. ROE = rules of engagement – the rules for how we ‘fight’. When in this area of the city, we load the magazine, but don’t chamber a round – which means we don’t cock the gun, and we don’t load a bullet in the chamber, or barrel. Doing so makes the gun immediately ready to fire. We have the weapon in a state ready to go – but needing to be ‘charged’ before firing. Safer for us – but also brings in a bit of delay were we to get involved with the enemy. No worries.

So, we load up the gear into the armored vehicles – what a way to travel – and head out. When we arrive at the base, just after leaving, we go to the tent where we are going to play to find a 4’ stage in a fairly nice, large tent for the show. Very cool. We got to moving things around and setting up, and suddenly one of the MWA folks (morale, welfare & activities) folks tell us there is a bunker call, and to stay put. Well. Isn’t that nice. A bunker call – is what happens when there is an attack, and they want to get everyone to a safe fortified position – the bunkers. There was not an attack, but this was only a drill. Even better.

The bunker call ends – the show goes on – folks come in, have fun, even dance a little and the world – at least in Kabul – is a better place. That’s the coolest part about what we do in the Tali Band – we bring folks into a musical environment where they get to forget that there is a war going on right outside the walls. . for a few minutes. They get to relax, and be normal. . . before heading back out and defending the freedom we find so dear.

Pretty darn cool if you think about it.

I’ll close tonight with a quote from one of my favorite philosophers – John Stuart Mill:

“A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”

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