Full Circle… Pit

Funny how life sometimes comes around full circle…

About a year and a half ago I spoke in a school called Sheppard Hill in Dudley, Massachusetts not too far from Boston. A pretty standard school-talk morning in Massachusetts, I woke up to Dropkick Murphy’s, drove around listening to Dropkick Murphy’s and then found a way to weave my love of Dropkick Murphy’s into my presentation. Sheppard Hill was far from an average school though and I’d like to think the following is far from an average story…

I got a message a day or two after my talk at Sheppard Hill from a grateful girlfriend.  She wrote to thank me for my talk I gave and the eye-opening affect it had on her boyfriend. Days later, this same inspired boys’ mother would also message me. In this message there were also thanks that warmed my heart and reminded me yet again why I do what I do. There also was a pretty knarly invite that got me right stoked!!  This boys family just so happened to be related to a certain member in a band from Boston called DROPKICK MURPHYS!!  I guess the boy between praises for my presentation also mentioned my love of DKM to his mom.  Then his grateful mother reached out to her relative in DKM.  Then DKM dude checked me out online and extended the invite back my way.  Small world with a punk rock twist… one for the Gimme Gimmes

So I have told the story you just read thus far to any punk rocker or Dropkick Murphy’s fan who would listen countless times over the past 18 months. Unfortunately mine and the DKM’s schedules never seemed to line up. So no show. But I didn’t get discouraged and sure didn’t forget.  A nice little evening to have in my back pocket.  I had two particular shows in mind… one being the epic annual St Patty’s week shows at Boston’s House of Blues on Lansdowne across from legendary Fenway Park.  But as unreal as this would be, in the back of my mind I thought I also pictured how awesome a Vancouver show would be.  This way I could take Hayley and my mom” (both big fans). Well my friends after spending St Pattys close to home this year, the latter Vancouver opportunity presented itself earlier this summer upon the announcement of two DKM shows at Vancouver’s famous Commodore Ballroom.

And last night was the show…

Now as a general rule, I try not to get my hopes up too high when looking forward to things because I think it is sort of setting ones self up for potential disappointment going into any situation with expectations.  Life is unpredictable. Hope for the best.  Prepare for the worst.  I live by that rule. I also know my track record for being on stage, hanging with, singing with, and becoming bros with bands I love, listen to and look up to has been well beyond anything I could have ever dreamed thus far. I have been given so many gifts already in this life that I am happy and content.  I don’t expect anything more.  So I went into last nights show with the attitude that as long as we get in the door and have fun I am stoked! As long as my mom and Hayley have fun I am super stoked. But that’s not to say I didn’t wonder what if…

I did go in prepped for the worst.  This proved to be a good thing.  There was some confusion at the door that had us all wondering if we were going to get in.  I believed we would though.  We did.  And that to me was good enough!  The three of us and an old school bro named Taeben who met us at the show all found a great spot stage right where we could see just fine. The bouncers were being awesome and keeping our line of sight to the stage clear. Sound was great!!   The opening band Blood and Whiskey from Ireland were RAD and getting us and everyone going.  Then a circle pit happened and maimed bodies started getting dragged from the mosh pit.  Elbows started flying.  No way am I going to let my 60 year old mom or 19 year old sister take an elbow from some crusty overzealous punker with a studded vest and liberty caps.  Then mom said “too bad we couldn’t just get on stage!?”

It was on…

I asked a bouncer. Taeben approached NOFX’s roadie Limo who remembered us from a Warped Tour many years back.  A Warped Tour where Fat Mike from NOFX invited me and Taeben to watch from backstage.  Pretty rad.  Then mid song Fat Mike invited me to the front of the stage in front of thousands of people and nicknamed me Wheelchair Willie.  Pretty funny!  It even made Vancouver Georgia Straight newspaper.  And maybe 7 years later I still have the odd punker come up to me at a show and yell “WHEELCHAIR WILLY!!”  Pretty priceless!!

Well something worked last night because we were soon after invited on stage.  Man did we rock the stage last night! It was awesome!!   Having been on that stage many times before I can honestly still say the novelty has not worn off. There is something magical about being right there and arms length from people who make music that has brought so much happiness, inspiration and drive into my life for so many years. But the absolute best thing of all last night was seeing the smiles on my mom and Hayley’s faces. They were over the moon. And even though my mom was likely one of, if not the oldest fan in the room last night, she sure didn’t look it! In fact, she rocked out so hard that after the show DKM’s tour manager invited us all back for another round of VIP tonight.

I think the pictures say it all!  What an incredible night.  One I know none of us will ever forget.  We didn’t try to duplicate it tonight.  We might have, had it been possible but my mom had to work, I am now in Grand Island, Nebraska (long day on 3.5 hours sleep!!) and Hayley just didn’t feel right going without us.  What a sweetheart.  My bro Taeben did take up the offer and brought another bro Scott.  So glad they will have a doozy tonight.  The fam, well we are more than happy with our memories, pictures and a couple setlists.  Mom got hers signed by Ken Casey even.  He was pretty awesome to us.

As the dust was settling and people were leaving the show last night two different groups of people up front yelled “JUST WIGGLE YOUR TOES!!” at me.  Like a reminder of where this story all got started.  I stuck around until I was almost the last person out of that place to chat with these former students and take pics.  The two who waited longest even got a shot with Ken Casey too.  I gave all the rad people from the DKM camp my card and explained what I did and said we should do some cool stuff together one day.  I am hoping to see an email or two!!

Last night was such a special night.  From west coast to east coast and one family to another gifts that will never be forgotten were shared. I am very grateful for the people who will remain unnamed for setting this up for me and my family. I can only hope that my talk still resonates with the young man who flipped this story over and gave it another awesome chapter. Thanks so much. Thanks to the Dropkick Murphy’s and their crew. Thanks to everyone from the Commodore Ballroom. And thanks to you for reading.  I have learned that the best gift of all is the one that we can give to others.  The best reward is knowing we have made another smile, or helped them through a rough time or learn a lesson… anything positive really.  I also have learned from experience when we give without expecting anything in return we are often rewarded with greater gifts than we could have ever dreamed of should we have given our initial gift with any sort of expectation of return.  I think that’s called karma.  In karma I believe!