Stage Crew.

MerleFest main stage closed for the night.

“Do you want to volunteer for stage crew at Merlefest?”, my sister asked.

“Sure”, I said.

I thought it would be kind of fun and not a lot of pressure for a small-town event.

Then, just a few hours before my first shift, my dad started reading from Wikipedia.

[MerleFest] … attracts crowds exceeding 79,000, making it one of the largest music festivals in the United States.

My heartrate started to climb.

My volunteer application had been lost in the shuffle until last night when my sister brought it to the attention of the coordinator.

I got my schedule this morning and my first shift was tonight.

So of course when I arrived at the volunteer booth, my name wasn’t on the list.

Before long, though, I had an official stage crew t-shirt and wristband, and I was standing backstage.

Of the main stage.

“Be professional. Don’t badger the artists for autographs or anything like that”, said the stage manager.

Well that won’t be a problem for me.

I couldn’t name a bluegrass artist to save my life, let alone recognize one to ask for an autograph.

I had no idea what to do, but everyone was super friendly and helpful and I started to get the hang of it.

There’s a flurry of activity between sets.

The most challenging part is learning all the new jargon.

“Take that wedge over to the riser by guitar city.”


And then there’s a lot of waiting.

And by waiting, I mean standing on the side of the stage and listening to an amazing performance right up close and personal.

Sorry, no photos allowed (gotta keep it professional!), so all you get is this picture of the empty seats from the main stage after the show.

But I did score my first set list ever from Grammy Award-winning Steep Canyon Rangers (thanks, Trent!).

And a guitar pick from Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer John Prine.

Does this make me a groupie?

Three days to go!


Swag from backstage at MerleFest.


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