Music is the ultimate all access pass and not just in the superficial sense that most of us know it or speak of it. Isn’t it funny how musicians and music lovers tend to covet and measure success by the apparel version of the all access pass? It’s a hard pass. A plastic laminated picture of the event, or our marketable faces, complete with a lanyard sponsored by some corporation that is probably siphoning away our intellectual property as we wear it. Ok, that statement may a bit dramatic and craven even for me, but I’ve seen it and worn it.
There are so many false indicators of success and crude measurements of importance in this business and ironically, we wear this one around our necks. We think it says this person belongs here. This person is special. This person’s contributions should be noted, at least until they take their pass off. But all it really means is that this person is allowed free beer and green M&M’s from the hospitality tent and has a right to use the exclusive porta johns that are nicer than the bathroom’s on their bus, or in this musician’s case, their own house. Worst of all, we only seem to wear it when we need to separate ourselves from the very people we are trying to share ourselves with, our audience. I know in some set-ups its necessary, but any pride taken in it strikes me as BS and fake.
Music itself is the all access pass. Runaway Home has travelled around the country in the last three years with astounding access to people, their loved ones and their lives, all because of music. Just last night, the band played at a woman’s thirtieth birthday party. Private party gigs are good because they pay well and you’re taken care of at every turn. On the way home though, I got to thinking about what it really means to be a part of a stranger’s birthday or other type of family celebration. You don’t’ know us, and Lord knows inviting musicians into your home with free food and drink comes with inherent risks (like the band never leaving). The mind-blowing part when I stopped to think about it was that this family decided that our music needed to be a part of their special day. Our music needed to be a part of the tapestry of their love for their daughter and their friends and the enjoyment they share in each other’s company. That’s humbling in a way that a plastic show-off pass is not.
In most of our travels, we have gained the quick and total confidence of our audience. They have laughed with us (sometimes at us) and even cried with us. They have introduced us to their friends and their extended families. They have let us in on family secrets, personal points of pride and some heart wrenching regrets. After our shows, they have opened their restaurants, opened their homes and in one case, even cranked up their antique carousel for us (at 1am). They did this because they connected with our music. A particular song seemed to speak directly to them. A key opens a lock, a long closed-door opens and we are allowed in. A true all access pass does not divide it connects. A true all access pass denotes trust not privilege, and once it’s given it is rarely revoked.
Climbing off my high horse here for a moment, I will say that this band is a fan of free backstage beer, green M&M’s and ultra-nice porta johns, and we don’t plan to relinquish our noose-like credentials for any of them anytime soon. But we know that a promoter, stage manager or security guard can’t give us a true all access pass. Only someone who has chosen to let our music into his or her lives can do that. As it should be.