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Downhere Tour – Finishing Well

December 1, 2007

 

Dave, Cali, Jess, JGray, Jason, Lanae Hale, Erin, Jeremy, Glenn, Don the bus driver, pizza, and Marc

Dave, Cali, Jess, JGray, Jason, Lanae Hale, Erin, Jeremy, Glenn, Don the bus driver, pizza, and Marc

Well, after two tours with our favorite Canadian rock’n’roll band, it’s finished. We spent a lot of time on the road together and looking back shared a lot of life! The birth of a baby (who became as much a part of the tour as anyone), laughter, loss, budding relationships, birthdays, successes, hardships, and above all an easy friendship that fit like a glove. I came to love those guys (and gals) – all of them – and got intimately acquainted with their quirks and gifts and daily found new reasons to admire them. My whole family felt it, too. The boys have Downhere continuously playing in their room and even little Gus is always singing their songs while he works on his legos. He knows most of the words (or at least close enough – sometimes he sings “Remember me, every time you eat, every time you sleep” instead of “drink”)

Jeremy is the drummer, and he plays like a mathematical wonder of nature – which is also why he’s the bands accountant. He keeps the time and he keeps the books. He’s also pure of heart and one of the hardest working guys in the band. The first one up in the morning to unload the trailer and the last one out of the trailer at the end of the night. He’s a big guy, but gentle as a teddy bear, and just like a drummer is the backbone for the band’s music, he provides an emotional backbone for the band’s members. You can always count on Jeremy.

Glenn is the last resident Canadian and keeps the groove on the low end. He’s one of the least pretentious people I know and his humility is only matched by his drivenness (a rare combination!). He was known to run marathons right before our shows. Show off. He told me once of how each night as he’d hear Marc & Jason in his monitor how proud he was to be in a group of not one, but two distinctive singers who could each front their own band if they wanted to. Glenn is away from home a lot, and you know it takes a toll, yet everything he does feels like it flows from a deep well of gratitude.

Then you’ve got Marc, who is definitely the rock star of the group. People always say he sounds like Freddie Mercury (of Queen), but I think he sounds better. In fact, I’d rate him as one of my favorite vocalists of all time. He also writes unassumingly smart pop songs that ought to rule the charts at radio. That they don’t is further proof to me that radio doesn’t work like it should anymore, leaving many deserving artists/ministries out in the cold. At first I was intimidated by Marc, but as you get to know him you find that he doesn’t take himself that seriously and he’s as kind as they come. We always shared taste in movies, music, and jeans (except for the life of me I don’t understand why I can’t get him on board with Nacho Libre). Taya and I feel blessed that we got to be with these guys at a time when Marc grew into some kind of new authority on stage. It’s a privilege to be a part of that sort of thing.

Jason Germain to Taya and I is the heart of the band. He can’t not be genuine. The warmth of that tremulous low voice (which reminds me of Peter Gabriel) is backed up by the warmth of his personality. He’s safe to talk to and makes a good confessor. Like me, he’s in his brain a lot (maybe too much!), so we hit it off really naturally. He’s also a little global like me and does perplexing things like leave doors open wherever he goes. It was kind of like watching myself. He and I had many long conversations about hopes, fears, struggles, and faith after everyone else had gone to bed on the bus, and we both enjoyed us some Tom Waits. The love he has for his bandmates is a part of the glue that holds them together I think, and the love he has for his wife was a constant inspiration to me. Almost every night when we’d be meeting people at the venue, I’d always toss out the line “I’m Jason G, and this is Jason G. One of us good looking and the other even better looking – you figure it out.” Well, I had it figured out all along and I’m happy to cede the competition to Jason Germain.

Behind the scenes you’ve got their wives who are so supportive of what they do, including Erin (Jeremy’s wife) who was out on the road with us for most of the tours. Taya and she became fast friends and Erin is one of the genuinely sweetest people you could hope to meet. I would intentionally try to make her mad and couldn’t do it. Then you’ve got Jess who is the tour manager and keeps things running as smoothly as possible on the road, overseeing the kinds of details that global people like myself don’t even think of. Poor Jess was always fielding my and Taya’s incessant requests for Starbucks stops and showers. Her equanimity suits her perfectly for the work she does and I never saw her be unpleasant once, even in the face of several challenging circumstances. She’s always kind, and her and Dave’s little girl Callie was like a little burst of sunshine on that bus.

Then there’s Dave the sound man extraordinaire, Jess’s husband, and he wins the award for hardest working guy on the tour. He’s up with Jeremy right away to empty the trailer in the morning, and the one to usually close it up at the end of the night. In between those two tasks, it’s up to him to make the room sound good and he stands behind the sound board to check all of us for most of the day. When I’m done with my check, I go find a shower, but Dave usually has to stay and check the next artist. And he doesn’t get much glory from it. Well, I guess none of us do at the level that we’re at, but at least we get to hold guitars and stuff. Dave is funny, but is quick to weigh in on serious theological discussions.

All of them are a little crazy, but that’s what makes them good at what they do. They do what they do because it’s what’s been given to them to do. There’s little money, long hours, and lots of sacrifice, but it’s their God-given vocation, their worship, and I didn’t hear them gripe. They are among the kindest people I know. Maybe it’s their Canadian-ness.

I introduced them night after night calling them “losers’ and “my favorite boy band” (or worse if I thought of it) and they responded in kind by joking about my stuttering in their set – this kind of sophomoric verbal jest was a constant and is just another testament to how easy we got along. We laughed a lot. it was a great time that I’ll always remember fondly. I don’t know if the chance will come around again to go out on the road with them, but I’d jump at the chance to do it again.

If you’re reading this and you’ve never heard a Downhere record, go out and do yourself a favor and pick up “Wide-Eyed & Mystified” at www.downhere.com or iTunes.

I’ve posted pics from the tour in the media section of my site and I hope to post more in the coming days.

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