Author: Campbell, Bruce

Rain and Other Minor Tragedies

Spring is a tantalizing but often frustrating time of year. There are glimpses of the true beauty of California weather - perfect days where the sun is warm and the shade is cool. So, you get complacent. You dare to revel in the sunny green wonderfulness and bam! Here comes a rainy stretch.

I should mention I donít like rain. Or being IN the rain, I should clarify. Those smarmy singles ads listing ďlong walks in the rainĒ as romantic are not referring to cold California rain. Rain makes everyone a terrible driver and causes people (including myself) to scurry with hunched shoulders - as if hunched shoulders somehow keep you dry.

Look, I know rain is good for the environment, and all the plants and drinking water and what-not. Iím not saying rain should cease. It should just not rain on me. It should rain every night, from 2AM to 5:30AM. The planet would be lovely and green and I wouldnít have to hunch my shoulders.

Itís not like I can stay home and hunker down when it rains. Life goes on, and that includes almost any activity you can think of. As a musician, I have had gigs affected by rain, and oddly, for a guy who hates rain, they often make for fond memories.

One of the very first festivals I ever played was an outdoor event called Two Day Town in Livermore. Itís held in late April or early May which is always a crapshoot in northern California. So, I was excited about playing a real festival. Thereís a big stage, and an impressive sound system, and a green room and I was feeling a little like a rock star. We watched a bunch of other acts play throughout the afternoon and eager awaited our turn in the evening, under the lights.

The skies began weeping softly in the mid afternoon, and steadily increased the waterworks as time went on. ďDonít worry!Ē, the promoters intoned from the stage. ďThe festival will go no matter what the weather!Ē They tarped the monster stacks of speakers, and the crowd grew thinner and thinner.

When the lights came, they revealed a scene eerily reminiscent of a Woodstock without a crowd. The glare of lights turned the misty rain into a thousand reflectors and it was hard to tell who was out in the audience. We could sort of make out some shadowy figures, but they could have been spectres of our imagination. The show went on and we played our set - all 35 minutes of it. I discovered there were some people in the audience, because I heard the sound of 8 or 10 hands clapping. I donít regret the experience.

Last year, I played a wedding at a lake in Alameda County, and it was late spring or early summer, but for some reason, Mother Nature decided to test this coupleís mettle. They had reserved a lovely meadow on the lake and set up tents to be prepared. It didnít rain a little that day - it rained a TON. We schlepped PA gear and instruments in several 200-yard trips and got as soaked as Molly Brown after the Titanic went down. It was, far and away, the wettest gig I have ever played. I was miserable, but my heart went out to the bridal couple. You plan so long and hard on a wedding, for a special day in a special setting. Your friends and relatives come from near and far, and elderly relatives endure travel, and prolonged standing or sitting to partake in the celebration.

We didnít dare plug in a PA - it would have fried everyone. So we played commando, for people huddled under the tents while rows and rows of white chairs got rain-soaked in the meadow.

But a wonderful thing happened. These were people who did not need the weather to cooperate. They decided it was their special day and it didnít matter if things went according to plan. The bride did not freak out. No children whined and no aged relatives groused. Fine black trousers and beautiful white dresses all wicked brown mud up to the knee level. And they got married, and they celebrated. And it rained.

So, me - Mr. I-Hate-The-Rain - learned some valuable perspective. Itís only rain. Thereís no law that says you have to be dry and warm all the time. And thereís no law that says the being dry and warm are the only timed you can have a great time. This couple will have a great story to tell for years to come, and I was honored to be part of that story.

Posted:  4/30/2014

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