Sunday, July 29, 2012

Do dreams really come true? Heavenfest experience 2012

This weekend, Saturday July 28th, I did something I honestly had never even thought I would be doing.

A couple months ago, I jumped on the Heavenfest website to see the process for applying to play a stage. I found what I was looking for, put in my request, and happened upon a submission form to volunteer as a media team member. I thought it would be a blast, but I didn't have a lot of experience and didn't think I'd have a shot. I applied anyway.

A month and a half later, I got an email inviting me to become that media team member.

I was completely blown away. Here is the thing, I just started filming basically. I haven't even had a year of experience under my belt. But somehow, I have been afforded the ability to film some stuff people in the industry for 10 years haven't been able to film. And now, to add to that, I have a full 12 hr day of experience filming major bands on some of the biggest stages out there.

All I can say is that God has graced me so much.

Here is a quick summary of what happened on Saturday -

Woke up at 4:45 am, drove the 2 hours to Loveland, Colorado, checked in at 8 am, got our assignment (which was roam free and shoot everything) at 8:30, packed up the equipment and headed out to the 7 different stages at 9, shot for 12 hrs straight (with an hr and a half-ish combined total time of sitting and resting), checked out at 9 pm, and drove home after a late dinner at PF Changs (holler!) to arrive in my bed at 1:30 am.

If I tried to write out everything that I saw and had the chance to experience yesterday, we would be here all week. This is what I can tell you, I had an All Access Pass to anywhere on the festival grounds.  I mean AN Y WHERE. Try to wrap your mind around that one.

I'll tell you some of my highlights.

I was on the main stage shooting 7th Day Slumber and wanted to switch to the other side of the stage to hit some angles I hadn't gotten yet, so I walked through the back drape to make my way across the stage. Standing 6 feet away from me was Brian Head Welch. Formerly of KORN. If you don't know who KORN is, they were a HUGE rock band a few years ago. Really weird looking rockers, scary sound, but incredibly famous. I grew up listening to their untouchables cd. So I pulled out the camera and shot him walking by me. I don't know if he minded, but, it was insane. If you read this Brian, sorry if this made you mad! HA!

A little while ago, he gave his life to Christ and became a Christian. You can see his video here:

The next encounter really made the weekend for me. My first major show ever, besides the local shows watching my friends play, was a band called Thousand Foot Krutch my senior year of high school. I kid you not, at least once a day, for my first 2 years of high school, I listened to Rawkfist off of their Phenomenon cd. That was my anthem. I used it to pump up for hockey games, get over girlfriends, and do anything else to I could use headphones with. Yesterday, I filmed it live.

Not only did I film one of my favorite songs of all time live, I got to meet the frontman of the group Trevor. Before the show was starting, I looked back stage to my left and there he was, in all of his Krutch-ness. I made my way down the stairs, had it planned out, "Hi, my name is Sean, my first show ever was you guys in Colorado Springs at a club called the Black sheep." Then we would be friends, forever.

This is how it came out, "Hi, your first show... I played... me... er, it was my show."

I'm an idiot.

I don't get starstruck really, but this time was completely different for some reason. It ended up alright though. I started over, and got the words out, and shook his hand. He is one of the most down to earth musicians I have ever met in my life. He took time out to just talk to me just before going on stage. That shows how much character he has, and the whole band has for that reason. Who knew, 6 years ago after grabbing his hand as he leaned over the crowd at the Black Sheep, I would be shaking it backstage at a major festival, and filming what was the anthem to my youthful days. Thanks, so much, Trevor.

And, for the final encounter, the final shot of the day, and probably the most stunning shot of the whole day was a tiny, little known band named Switchfoot.

Ok, they're huge.

I also grew up listening to these dudes. It was Yellowcard and Switchfoot. In my skateboarding days, I lived off of them. Switchfoot also got me ready for hockey games. I couldn't go a week without my rock bands, and these guys were at the top of the list.

They were the headliners at Heavenfest this year, and let me tell you, they didn't disappoint! They blew the place up with incredible light shows, hard rockin, and Jon Foreman even made his way through the crowd of  40,000 people singing his hit songs. Just incredible. I was right in front of the stage, the final song of their set, literally up against the bass boxes for the stage. My insides were thumping along with the bass, and 3 feet above my head was the floor of the stage, and about 2 feet in front of me on that stage was the guitarist Drew Shirley. I lifted up my hands, held the camera as still as I could, focused in on him, and tried to get something that looked good on camera. I would say it was a success. Just wait til you see the footage...

Going though the footage today, it hit me hard: I was actually there filming my heroes of old, walking around with a camera I am only just starting to be completely familiar with, and getting access to literally anywhere I wanted to go. 

Now, I did not grow up a Christian. I thought that God was cool to think about, maybe it was fun for people to believe in so they could feel better about life. It wasn't for me. Or so I thought. 

After starting a life living for Jesus, I have had so much opportunity that Im completely in awe of what has happened thus far, and what will happen in the future. I'm not saying that God is a genie, and the minute you say yes he will give you the desires of your heart and your dreams of being famous (he may give you those things, but not because He is there to grant all of your wishes), but what I am saying is that if you truly and honestly accept him into your heart and follow his cues, he will take you to places beyond your dreams, beyond your desires. He will challenge you to walk in a faith that requires a grind like you've never experienced before, but through it He will bless you in ways you couldn't possibly have ever imagined. 

This is insane, and I have no idea what is happening next, but if I continue walking in this faith, I can promise you that it will be just as insane if not more...

Dreams do come true, even dreams you didn't even know you had.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


You guys may have seen the picture on my page... now it is time to tell the story.

This night basically affirmed why I do music, but more than that, it painted a picture of pure, unhindered LOVE that only God could produce at a given moment like this one.

This is how it went:

It was a regular show at Jives Coffee Lounge in Old Colorado City. Quiet, but enough noise to let you know there was summer in the breezes coming in through the double glass doors at the front of the shop. I was on the stage, sitting on a stool plucking away to the few friends and later-night coffee goers seated at the tables that filled the space between me and the counter. It was faint at first, but grew louder. Some rumbling noise that sounded like someone dragging a plastic bin across concrete. I opened my eyes to see a mini jeep driven by a mini diva.

You could tell she was the main attraction on Colbrunn Ct that evening. She parked the powerwheel directly in the middle of the sidewalk like she was waiting for a valet, hopped out, and strolled through the open doors like she owned everything and everyone inside. In her summer dress, sunglasses at night, and a white scarf tied fashionably around her neck like a boa at a gala, ms. Blonde Bombshell claimed her spot right next to the stage, followed by her daddy who sat next to her at the table.

It was awesome. And, I was a little jealous because of some early childhood drama of not having a powerwheel of my own, but I quickly got over it.

I started my next song and was just through the last chorus when I heard "give it to him". I opened my eyes to see two blue, glossy eyes staring up at me and an outreached hand attached to a dollar bill. My heart jumped, how amazing is this. First of all, I think it was the first tip ever given to me at a show, and second I had the most gorgeous girl giving it to me. WIN/WIN. I said thank ya miss, tipped my hat, and put the dollar bill in my front shirt pocket, er, I mean said thank you and put the dollar in my pocket.

I continued on with the set, and finished about three songs later, invited anyone up to buy one of my CDs and/or T-Shirts, and hung around the merch table. The crowd of people cleared, rather quickly actually since I think 2 people came up, and I was just packing up when I heard her soft footsteps walking up behind me. I turned to see Riley with a $5 bill clutched in her right hand, and a quiver on her lip. Either I was unfathomably good at music, or she was 5 years old and shy. I'll take both.

"Hi!" I said. She remained quiet. "Would you like to get a CD?" I asked. She nodded, as only a child could do, and you know exactly what I am talking about. There is something about children that makes the world stop in its tracks when you are talking to them. They don't quite know how to respond to conversation, so you supplement your speech with a soft tone and a smile to let them know you are not a scary person, and their honesty in their emotions melts you with every second. I turned, grabbed a CD, and turned back to give it to her. She warmed up a little bit. I couldn't resist, so I said "would you like a shirt too?"

Her eyes lit up a little bit, and I got another nod. "What color would you like?" I asked. "Green." I turned to grab it, and from out of nowhere, "And," (she said very quickly) "can I have one for my brother too?"

This is the point when I felt my heart skip a beat.

I don't think, up to this point in life, I have seen God's love portrayed so tangibly to me.

Matthew 19:13 Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

Let me explain. To you and to me, a shirt that is sold at a show costs money. It is also something that, usually, you would buy for yourself or maybe a girlfriend/spouse whatever or as a present for a birthday maybe. It is a shirt, something you throw in the droor, wear every laundry day, and don't think more than twice about it.

But to Riley, there was no concept of money, there was no concept of laundry day, I don't even think there was a concept of the shirt (as in when will she wear it or what will she do with it). To riley, none of this mattered, except one thing, sharing LOVE with her brother. Without hesitation, not even a second to think about herself and if she would get anything in return, she asked if she could have a second shirt to give to her brother. I have never seen a love so honest in my life.

Now, I know the response to this might be, "She's 5. That is what 5 year olds do." We're older. We HAVE a concept of money. We HAVE times to give gifts like Christmas and Birthdays. Yes, this is all true, but let me ask you this, what is the deeper motive here? Is it the t-shirt, is it the single act of giving a gift? Or could it be the fact that she was thinking about someone other than herself FIRST, and proceeded to share a deeper love with her brother to see a smile hit his face, and to invite him into the joy she experienced.

I know she is 5, I know she was just being the sweetheart that she is, but I also know that the kingdom of Heaven belongs to her. What can I learn from this? Everything. The most important command in the bible is to love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love your neighbor (brother, sister, girlfriend, boyfriend, people closest to you) as you love yourself. She did just that.

I'll be the first to tell you that I am incredibly selfish, in more than one area. This single act of a little girl getting a dinky t-shirt for her brother, broke my heart into a million tiny grateful pieces. I don't think I am overly dramatic, or exaggerating this in any way, I believe that God used her in my life to show me what the condition of my heart really is, and to give me an example of what His looks like and what I should be striving for. Matthew 18:3 says "Then he said, 'I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.'" Unless I recognize my selfishness, and turn away and become like Riley, thinking of others first, I will have no idea what Christ is like.

SO, I said no because I have to pay for pei-wei and coldstone ice cream at dinner tonight.

Just kidding.

Of course I said yes. "What color do you think he would like?" I asked. "Blue!". So,  I swung a blue shirt into her arms. She was so excited, it was awesome. We unrolled her green one, took a picture of her and I, and I left that night with the biggest grin on my face. This tiny woman made off with 2 t-shirts (both colors, and I think one of the last smalls I had in blue) and a CD, a bill of 25 bucks, for $5.  What can I say, I guess I have a thing for blondes. She is going to do well in life.

Thank you Riley, if you ever read this, you are one heckuva girl.

I'll leave you this time with a song from NEEDTOBREATHE called Let Us Love. It sums this one up pretty well I think.