Backstage: Sex, Drugs and… Bar-B-Que?

beaverdamusa.com music musings zach claytonMany of us have watched the old VH1 series “Behind the Music” as it pulled back the curtain on many of our favorite music artists. There were stories of fighting, contract disputes, affairs, orgies, etc.

It, along with Rolling Stone stories, always painted a picture of debauchery backstage at concerts. How many of us have witnessed hot girls flashing their backstage laminates (gotcha, didn’t I)? We just knew that as soon as they went behind that curtain, there were nekkid people, beer flowing out of fountains, liquor being passed around, and the smell of Mary Jane in the air. You figured that even the shy freshman at a small Midwestern college could even get lucky back there.

backstage beaverdamusa.com music musings

“Excuse me, have you seen the hot slaw?”

Well, I have been fortunate to be able to go backstage at a few venues, thanks to my friendship with a professional musician. The first time I went backstage was after a particular show where it was basically an empty picnic area at Starwood (Nashville’s former amphitheater). I figured the party had already moved to the bus since they were leaving. Somewhat disappointing, but I could rationalize why I wasn’t met by the nekkid people I mentioned earlier.

The next opportunity came again at Starwood when my friend suggested that I pick him up at the hotel and go to the venue earlier. He said we could go to “catering” and fill up. I just knew that was a rock & roll code word for “wild ass party”. We roll in and park in the VIP lot and in we go to the “backstage”. Wait! Where were the buxom beauties with free flowing booze? All of a sudden, I was back in summer camp in the mess hall. It was a buffet of….. food. There was bar-b-que, hamburgers, chicken, ice cream, etc. Honestly, I couldn’t find a single drop of beer or liquor. The fact that most band members were somewhere between steps 7 and 12 might have had something to do with the omission. Now, don’t get me wrong, the food was great, but it was a bit of a letdown. I will tell you that Starwood had a basketball goal backstage where I shot hoops with my son once.

Recently, I did have a tremendous experience backstage. I got to go backstage at the Ryman Auditorium. It was pretty small and cramped. We were in the Johnny Cash room where his pictures covered the walls. As I walked down a hallway behind the stage, it hit me who all had walked these halls – Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Roy Acuff, Loretta Lynn, and thousands of others. Kind of made me stop and ponder (or muse). Wonder what they thought about as they walked there before their first performance. Were they nervous or were they chomping at the bit to take the world by storm? It was pretty intimidating to think about.

While my backstage experiences may be tame due to the 12 step thing or the fact that most of the band members are over 45, it is still backstage. Occasionally, I will drop the nugget that I went backstage and give someone a wink. Let them wonder and turn green with envy. Only I know how many times I filled my plate up with bar-b-que.

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