CREW is a Four Letter Word.

June 10, 2012

A tough and rugged, well-worn hard-shell Samsonite is my primary suitcase. It isn’t very big. In fact, the pride I have about its size wouldn’t fit inside it if it was tangible. I love that its compact and can support me for months on the road, keeping shoes, books, and all around general tour stuff that one acquires, separate from my dirty laundry while at the same time keeping my hats protected. Mary Poppin’s purse ain’t got nothing on my bruised and battered overnight bag. But the case itself, with the stories it could tell, doesn’t deserve all the credit. It’s a thing of beauty yes, but like a guitar, the art lie in how you use it.

 

Traveling through Japan years ago I learned to use a luggage strap to ensure my bag remained closed en route. In the old days it was not uncommon to find one’s bag on the carousel spewing laundry or missing a few items. One time my case didn’t EVER arrive on the carousel and it was 14 months before we found it. 14 months!! Fortunately I’d just done laundry before it went missing. AND my roommate had gifted me a satchel of lavender to keep things fresh inside. When I opened the lost arc-ish time capsule of a case, all my items were there, pressed, clean and folded, and smelling oh so flowery.

 

This is tour in a nutshell. Or hardshell rather. Playing music often gets the glory, but tour is really about moving people and all of their stuff. Lots of stuff.

 

The word TOUR is best defined as a voyage. And when I hear the word voyage I can’t help but associate it with magic, or some kind of heroic or brave adventure; navigating high seas, dodging monsters, castle anthrax, etc. But for us the musicians, we have it easy. We have our suitcases and our backpacks, our books and our breakfast buffets. We’re on deck smiling, waving and playing shuffleboard while THE CREW is below deck keeping the engine running. People stop me daily and say, you must be tired, or they ask me, how do you do it? The real question is How do THEY do it?

 

When our crew arrived in Korea a few days ago, they hit the ground running. First they connect with the shipping container that brought our gear over from the US. Then they get it unloaded into the venues, assembling everything; stage, lights, PA, instruments, all of it – by mid day, just in time for some well oiled musicians to leisurely stroll in and tinker with it. Then they work the show, making sure all the lights, sound and equipment operates properly, in alignment with the musicians desires and the crowd reactions. THEN, they tear it all down, pack it all up and drive it to the next gig, with a SMILE.

 

How do they do it? How do they work 10 times as many hours as the band and get such little credit? It must be the coffee. Last night I bashed my guitar tech in the face during a blackout between songs. I didn’t see he was standing as close to me as he was and when I took my guitar off, the headstock went right into his headstock. If it were me, I would’ve needed a time out after that. But to him it’s just another battle scar; just another badge of honor.

 

So how do they do it? The smile might be the giveaway. After all the sleep deprivation, the packing – unpacking – and repacking of trucks, the wiring and rewiring of electricity and sound, and not to mention the musician requests to change the whole set up – how do they keep smiling though it all, day in and day out? Easy. They’re bat shit crazy.

 

Just kidding.

Sort of.

 

The answer is in their love of putting on a show. The way a director sits behind the camera, so too do the crew hang tight in the wings bringing the shows to the masses. You don’t see Steven Spielberg acting in his own films, but for those two and half hours, he’s been right behind you.

 

I am grateful for my hardworking crew and all the blood, sweat and beers they sacrifice for us.

 

See them in action, the real men in black, this summer in a city near you.

COMMENTS (26)
  • Avatar of puipui.athome
    puipui.athome said ...

    “I woke up thinking about your impressive concert in Bangkok last night and literally felt like it was just a dream in which you were real, genuine and perfectly beautiful on the stage… The performance was fantastic and Jason Mraz, you were incredibly amazing!

    Thank you for bringing us joy and happiness. Thanks a bunch for the 2 hours of “vacation”. Worth the wait and we already can’t wait for you and the crew to come back again. I would love to say this, once again “It is fun to be in the same decade with you.” Ha la la la la la la ~”

    Jason, The lines above are what i wrote in my journal on June 17, 2012 and i ever wished i could share it with you someday, just wanted to let you know how your “TOUR is a four letter word” means to your fans patiently waiting all around the world, actually i wanted to say your FRIENDS all around the world instead, the way you make us feel :-)

    And after reading the entire journal of yours i’ve realized that i should have looked deeper through the telescope so i could see that your “CREW” was inside of YOU, definitely! You’re such a warm-hearted person, Jason. And i guess those people are happy working with you as well :-)

    Love
    Thailand

  • Avatar of Ally
    Ally said ...

    Tis better to have travelled and lost your Samsonite, than to have never travelled at all…

    :)

  • Avatar of shorekimmy
    shorekimmy said ...

    This would make the coolest episode of “How it’s Made.”

  • Avatar of misange
    misange said ...

    I just wanted to give you guys words of gratitude as the least I can do to tell you really how grateful I am for all of your hard work. I mean, all of your crew, the band members, the technicians, makeup artists, producers, assistants, and ever so many more people and job positions I don’t know about.

    I just was in your 2012 Beijing concert, and it was beautiful. Beautiful in all its dedication, effort, passion, humbleness and love. The first time I heard a song with your name was when I was thirteen and “You and I” was out. For ten years I had wanted to see one of your concerts, it happened, miraculously even, because I checked before, and China was not in the earliest tour plans. Why it happened I will never know, and that makes it even better, it’ll be another pretty little mystery that life gives.

    Thank you, for pursuing your passion, for uniting people equally as passionate, and for creating beauty and music in people’s hearts. Thank you so so much.

    I’ll be praying for all of your safety and for an amazing tour!

  • Avatar of normason
    normason said ...

    93 million miles: I can hear the “ohm” of “home” being sung by thousands, reverberating off the walls of a big arena, reverberating off the stratosphere. I bet you did, too, when you wrote it. The promise of it is almost as good as the actual hearing of it, isn’t it?

    Love

  • Avatar of mrazwordplay
    mrazwordplay said ...

    Yes, it’s important to give your crew lots of love or your mike might not work properly and your food might taste funny! ooh, lots of four letter words in there! I’m enjoying watching the videos of the new tour, love the violin, bass, flute, and all the new elements of the current “superband”! Can’t wait till Vancouver!!!!

  • Avatar of 4meclara
    4meclara said ...

    I’ve never realized how big and complicated this whole machine could be. Also impressed by the modesty behind this post and the whole story. Praying for you all!

  • Avatar of normason
    normason said ...

    By the way, did you become an accomplished guitarist on your off-tour vacation or am I just looking at you through rose-colored glasses? Either way, things look awfully rosy!

    Love

  • Avatar of CarmenS
    CarmenS said ...

    Note to your hardshell:
    Remember to always make a little space for love.

    Much love,
    Carmen

  • Avatar of Rose
    Rose said ...

    I have often paid close attention to the “roadies” (I lovingly refer to them as). I notice how fast they work and wonder how they know what chord goes to which outlet and amplifier and mic. It’s mind boggling to me! I guarantee that every time I go to a concert I mention to my husband…I would love to spend a summer as a road just once in my life…it looks hard but rewarding. I love the behind the scenes kind of life. I think it is great that you take the time to acknowledge them. I wonder what time they go to bed, what time they wake up…do they have nice accommodations… I love the guys that set up for Neil Young in their mad scientist outfits…

    Anyway, sounds like you are off to a great start…93 million miles from home…see you soon!

    Rose

  • Avatar of consuelo
    consuelo said ...

    Very good review on your Nami Island show. “He had the flair, the energy and charisma of an opera star.”

    http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/art/2012/06/143_112741.html

  • Avatar of lovePEAR
    lovePEAR said ...

    Juuuuuust a spoon full of Sugar ….

  • Avatar of lovePEAR
    lovePEAR said ...

    Gratitude,Smiles,sweat & beers ! haaaaaa sounds GOOD !!!! When u got the Love, any “hard” work becomes bliss :) Lucky beers ;)

  • Avatar of gamachan
    gamachan said ...

    How can you put all your crew in your Samsonite?

    Parallel universe?

    ps: Not-near-me City.

  • Avatar of easalonga
    easalonga said ...

    Make sure to take the crew out for some great food while in Korea. Just came back from Seoul and Hong Kong last Thursday, and the people and food were amazing. Your songs have been helpful the last 2.5 months as I am still mourning the loss of my Angel, Donald Jude Egan. Take care Jason. Take care of your crew and band. We’ll see you in NYC on August 31st and in Toronto on September 9th.

  • Avatar of floriazulvi
    floriazulvi said ...

    i can’t wait any longeeerrr. See you in Jakarta :D

  • Avatar of mishy624
    mishy624 said ...

    CREW = LOVE
    see you guys soon!!!

  • Avatar of mishy624
    mishy624 said ...

    CREW = LOVE
    see you guys soon!! ^_^

  • Avatar of GloriousMe
    GloriousMe said ...

    Looking forward to seeing “the men in black” at the Gorge, row 23. Hopefully close enough to see the back-show madness. Love the post!

  • Avatar of mrazfan1031
    mrazfan1031 said ...

    Jason,

    That is so nice that you wrote about how grateful you are for your crew. They do work very hard, my husband works on the crew for an iconic artist and I see first hand how much blood, sweat and Gear go into preparing for one show. I hope your guitar tech is alright. I am hoping sooo much to be able to see you this tour. You and your music really have an impact on me and my heart. Safe travels. Keep singing and shining your love!!

    Love & peace & music.
    xo
    Linda

  • Avatar of akb79
    akb79 said ...

    Normason, your comment made me chuckle. Thank you! Hahaha.

  • Avatar of akb79
    akb79 said ...

    I’ll be watching all of you in action in Minneapolis. ;)

  • Avatar of normason
    normason said ...

    Yes, but how do you and your crew stay regular? When I break with routine, my colon clamps up. As my outside pace speeds up, my insides come to a complete stand still. And then there’s sharing a hotel room with your sister’s boyfriend who snores like a buzz saw. I don’t know about you, but all it takes is a couple of sleepless nights and a bit of irregularity to turn me into a banshee. So, I bow low to you and your crew for the tolerance you have for the irregularities of the road. All to make us happy.

    Love, Love

  • Avatar of muthiakn
    muthiakn said ...

    See you in Indonesia, Jason! I believe you will do love your stay here ;)
    Be loved.

  • Avatar of gemmakim72
    gemmakim72 said ...

    Ah, thanks for the enlightenment Jason!
    I was there yesterday at the live concert in Korea, really finding your show healing my soul.
    Did see you in the dark changing guitars/instruments but didn’t see you being enlightened!
    Your gratefulness towards the crew touches my heart and I found myself honoring my own crews in life reading this journal.
    Thanks for both such healing moments yesterday and the this eye opening journal.
    I did make the RIGHT CHOICE IN LIFE, like you said yesterday :)

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