Photos by Larry Perez
After leaving New Orleans we headed into the direction of Texas and our last stop on the Brothers of the Sun tour. Shreveport was a good stopping point for the night and this morning we finished the drive to Dallas. Watching the bayou wetlands become dry ground as the miles ran by, I couldn't believe our trip was almost over. The Roadies covered several hundred miles and saw more of the United States in nine days than most people see in their whole lives.
This was going to be the grand finale of my trip. At this show we were going to get to go backstage and have a chance to meet Tim McGraw.
Cowboy Stadium loomed in the distance and I couldn't get over how big it is. I think this was the biggest venue I've ever been to. We arrived early to take in the tailgating fans and even the ocean sized parking lots were dwarfed by the mass of the stadium.
As an audience member, we see a show as our favorite artists coming out on stage and performing. We only get a hint at the real show that goes on behind the scenes. The Brothers of the Sun tour has over 400 crew members that travel from city to city. Every person has their job and if one person doesn't do their job, things fall behind schedule like dominoes. Watching everyone running around at top speed, it made me think of watching a dance.
People were just starting to trickle into the parking lot when I went backstage to have Tim's production manager show me around. He brought me backstage and showed how the curtains and equipment are staggered so that after one artist goes on, the next on schedule is all set up and ready to go. Cables ran everywhere and right off to the right and left of the stage were the guts of the show. Guitars were being prepped by techs and I was allowed to examine several and watched one of Tim's guitars getting worked on.
The machines running reminded me of a futuristic space ship with lights and soft humming. Whole walls of circuit boards glowed and I admit I was afraid to touch anything.
Even as we got the tour, people were jogging around us, dodging golf carts and people on bikes. I walked out onto the stage and saw the immense Cowboy Stadium spread out before me. The thousands of seats were empty, but soon they would be filled with screaming people. Even with the bustle going on on-stage, it was the calm before the storm.
After saying good-bye to Tim’s production manager, the Roadies got to hang around the bus area as we waited for our next guide. I didn’t notice the small group of men walking by at first, but then I saw him! A sassy little bulldog rear end was walking away from me and I got to check that goal off my bucket list. Merle the bulldog was on his way to a sound check with his owner. The dog is just as cute as he is in his pictures and was right at home backstage.
I don’t get very silly over famous people, but I admit to squealing at the sight of Merle. His owner probably thought this was strange. I can live with that.
After the stage we went and got a tour of the catering area. Making sure everyone on the tour is fed is a big job and the catering staff is up for the task. The crew gets a poker chip a day to turn in for meals. From the smell of the food coming from catering, I’m ready to sign up to tune guitars for a living!
Since most of the crew only spends a day or two at each venue, there are schedules and signs for where everything is. The rooms for catering are marked with Catering on paper matching the Brothers of the Sun logo. Production offices are marked out and in the halls I found schedules for sound checks, meals, when each artist is supposed to go on stage and so on.
We didn’t want to leave the backstage area with all the action, but the tailgate parties were calling and the Roadies were just getting in the way.
Outside the sun was bright and hot, a perfect backdrop for Brothers of the Sun. I’ve never been to a concert in Texas before and I thought that the tailgating was going to be something special. I was right. The people of Dallas welcomed the Roadies with open arms and were delighted to have their pictures taken with us. The heat didn’t discourage them in the least. A tent city popped up in the parking lots while we were backstage and bottles of water were thrust at me wherever I went. At one tent a girl who followed this blog recognized me and yelled, “It’s the Roadie!”
We had fun walking the rows of tents and visiting with the tailgaters. One guy sported a giant, blue foam cowboy hat and he let me borrow it for a while.
Once I got hot, sweaty and a little sunburned I was told it was time to back inside to meet Tim McGraw.
I’m going to admit to you all, I was a little nervous. My hands were shaking because this was a man whose music I’ve loved for twenty years. We just followed him for a week, visited his hometown, talked to his neighbors, and now I was finally going to meet him in person. In my hands I had the four questions from the blog readers to ask him and I just knew I was going to dissolve into a stuttering idiot.
The people waiting with me took turns trying to make me more nervous. I’m sure they will be happy to know that they were successful!
Finally we were waved into a dimly lit room with an animal print carpet and several leather chairs and couches. Alone in the center of the room was Tim McGraw.
Dressed in a pair of white jeans and a blue shirt he greeted me with a smile and apologized for the wait. His hair was still wet from a shower and he held is trademark dark hat in one hand.
Tim was friendly and answered the four questions from the blog readers thoughtfully. My favorite answer was to the question, “What is your favorite part of being on tour?” He said with a quick grin that after living in a house full of girls, it was nice to go out on the road with the guys. There is a video of me posing these questions to Tim that will go up soon with the rest of the questions!
We got our pictures taken with Tim and he did his best to make us comfortable. On top of being an amazing singer and performer, he’s also the kindest country artist I’ve ever met. He saw the extra Pennzoil Tee-shirt I had in my hand and offered to sign it. Until that moment I forgot about asking him to sign my shirt as a memento of this incredible trip.
Less than an hour later we saw Tim again from the front row of the Tune Up show. He saw Sheila and me in the front and gave us a grin before kicking into the opening son of the set.
The rest of the show was a happy blur as we joined everyone else in the stadium singing Just to See You Smile and Live Like You Were Dying. Cowboys Stadium was full and I don’t think I’ve ever been to a show that big before.
When Sheila and I staggered out later that evening, we agreed that this was the best show so far and a fitting end to our last day as Roadies.