For Pete's Sake
In “Powered By Grief” I talked about how often people in grief direct their anxiety and energy into good causes, and, in fact, how they have made huge differences in many lives. Last Sunday, January 14, was my turn to try and do something that Pete would have been proud to be a part of, had he not been the reason that I had to do it. “For Pete’s Sake,” the inaugural concert benefiting the Pete Huttlinger Fund for Adult Congenital Cardiac Research and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. A labor of love. A financial success. Mostly an emotional success.
The event started on Saturday night when I had a few family and friends over to the house. Pete would have never missed an opportunity for a jam when people were available. So I threw some snacks on the table, grabbed a couple bottles of wine, and made a circle of chairs. Everyone arrived with hugs, some tears, and lots of laughter, but nobody was playing guitar. The missing ingredient was Pete leading the way—whipping out his guitar to get the ball rolling and putting the spotlight on others to force their hand. Folks were always nervous at first and then thrilled they had participated when they left. Tonight couldn’t be any different, so I designated one of the players to be the “whip cracker,” to get things moving. It worked, and the last person left at 2:30 in the morning. I call that a successful jam!
Sunday for me started early–noon. After that late night it was slow going, but I made it down to The City Winery in Nashville by two o’clock as the crew was inside getting the stage set. The City Winery is where we held the Celebration of Life for Pete and it’s where I chose to host “For Pete’s Sake.” They have always been great to work with and this time was no different. I hadn’t been at the venue since Pete’s service so it was a bit unnerving to step foot back there, but I can pretty well distract myself when there’s work to be done.
Slowly, one-by-one, the performers who so graciously agreed to perform for free, trickled in through the backstage entrance. Like any normal gig, these folks are pros, and they show up ready to go, with enthusiasm to perform. This type of show might have been even a little bit more fun for them since they get to visit with pals they don’t see often since everyone is on the road almost the whole year. Again, there were hugs, some tears, and a lot of laughter. One by one they sound checked and then settled in backstage waiting for the show to start.
Then the audience began to trickle in. This is always the nerve wracking part. I paced from backstage to front of house watching people come in, watching the seats fill in, a little at a time. Back and forth. Back and forth. Eventually the crowd took up the majority of seats. The room was full and everyone seemed eager for the show.
Once the show started, there was nothing more I could do. The next three hours were filled with some of the best singer-songwriter, vocalist, guitar-slingers known to humankind. Everyone had a good time. Thank you John Jorgenson , Antsy McClain , Joe Robinson , Lee Roy Parnell , Jack Pearson , Pat Bergeson , Paul Marshall , Sean Della Croce , Baillie & The Boys , Alyssa Bonagura , Bill Lloyd , Charlie Morgan , Mark Fein , Alan Deremo , and Dr. Frank Fish.
We all did something good that day.