It was time to leave our Omaha hotel room and head out for a night of fun – an outdoor concert with one of our favorite rockers, Peter Frampton! We were smack in the middle of a long weekend summer road trip to see two back-to-back shows with Frampton’s “Guitar Circus”. As Peter said, the shows included “No animals but a lot of guitars.”
On this tour, in addition to Peter and his amazing band (big shout-out to Stanley, Rob, Adam, and Dan!), we had the opportunity to get to know other guitarists that were new to us, as well as enjoy others we already loved. Because they all had Peter’s endorsement, we were excited to be in their presence.
It’s been such a joy to see each of the band members completely light up when playing with the greats. It’s obvious they’ve all been having a blast! There had already been so many memorable moments for us on this tour, and on this particular night – we were thrilled to see blues legend B.B. King (for our first time!) as one of the openers.
Often times, before we embark on an adventure, Bill and I have a ritual of setting our intention together. So in the hotel room, we briefly discussed our shared life mission and the importance of living its meaning wherever we go. Its essence centers around embracing the things that bring us joy and inspiring others to do that in their own lives.
Obviously we were heading out for a night of joy for ourselves. But, we wondered, how could we also inspire others to experience joy that night? Sure, the concert in itself would bring tremendous joy to the crowd, but how could we help play our small part in the shared experience as well?
In that moment, we didn’t know the answer, but we set our intention and let it go.
The show was general admission seating, and we got there early to line-up before the gates opened. If you know us, you know our plan would be to secure our sacred spots right in front of the stage, and we did just that. Up front is where we feel like we belong, similar to Norm and his steadfast barstool in the TV show “Cheers”. It’s familiar. It’s our place. It feels like home.
We were SO excited to be right up against the railing in front of Peter and his band for the night. I could barely contain my enthusiasm!
Crossing paths at just the right time
The crowd started growing near the stage, and behind us was a family of three – a couple and their fifteen year-old son. We learned that the teenager, Levi, was a huge B.B. King fan and as a musician himself – considered B.B. his biggest influence.
Bill and I have been so blessed to enjoy so many amazing concert experiences up close with all of our favorite artists. It’s what we love and it’s what brings us joy. At the same time, we love to pay it forward and share that joy with others. From giving away tickets to other unsuspecting fans, to passing along guitar picks we receive to fans we know will treasure the ultimate rock concert souvenir.
After hearing Levi’s story, Bill and I gave each other an all-knowing nod without saying a word. We both knew we were thinking the same thing.
Pitching the idea to Levi as though it was asking a favor, Bill said: “I’ll tell you what. If you can hold my spot while I go to the bathroom, then you can stay there and be right up in front during B.B.’s set, okay?” Levi glanced at his parents and then sheepishly smiled at Bill and nodded in agreement.
The King of Blues
On this beautiful summer night, and after a royal introduction from his band, soon-to-be 88 year-old B.B. walked slowly and cautiously to his chair stationed at the front of the stage, with one of his entourage assisting him. Adorned in a big Hawaiian shirt, he sat down, graciously waved to the cheering crowd with a big grin, and moved on to his familiar and legendary guitar playing.
A few moments into it, he stopped playing and looked right at Levi.
B.B. pointed him out and then motioned for the security guy to come over. B.B. gave the guy a guitar pick and instructed him to bring it over to our new friend. Wow! Out of the 4,000+ people there, this admiring young fan was chosen from the crowd to receive a coveted guitar pick from the King of the Blues himself.
Yeah, I know. It’s only a guitar pick, you might say. But really, it’s so much more than that…
I could see the exchange being filmed by several people around us (including some of the guys onstage) and I still couldn’t hold myself back from tears. I will never forget the wide-eyed look on Levi’s face with his jaw dropped. I put my arm around this highschooler and patted him on the back in a maternal type of way as if to affirm, “Yep, it was you that he saw.”
Every kid, at the core, needs to be seen for who they are. Let me re-phrase that. Every human being, at the core, has a primal need to be seen for who they are. Regardless of their age. It’s a way of validation; it’s a way of knowing that they matter. I’ve seen this time and time again in my work with clients and workshop partcipants – that basic need to feel seen and heard and ‘claim their place in the world’.
This precious gesture was about being acknowledged at a soul level. It was a full-circle moment that transcended words. A young kid looking up to his hero…and his hero looking back at him. Reminds me of the Sanskrit expression, “Namaste” – which translates to “the divine light in me honors the divine light in you.” The ultimate recognition that we are all equal and share a common thread. Perfect.
I turned around, and as though it was rehearsed, Bill and I simultaneously clinked our beer bottles with Levi’s dad as a celebratory toast to life. His eyes were filled with tears. No words necessary.
The little things in life really are the big things.
I couldn’t help thinking about the intention Bill and I set just before we left the hotel room a few hours earlier. When we remembered that our purpose in life – and for the evening – isn’t only about embracing our joy. It’s just as much about helping others experience their own joy.
Later during one of his songs, B.B. asked Levi from the stage if they could be friends. Awesome.
I know Levi won’t forget that memorable evening when he was fully “seen” by the legendary musician he adores.
And I won’t forget what it felt like to have the privilege of being a part of that interaction.
Thanks, B.B. for being so cool. And thanks, Levi, for being the angel who came into our lives that night to remind us that we’re all connected and we’re all here to help each other experience joy.
The joy continues
For his final song, B.B. invited Peter to come out onstage. Peter was overjoyed in B.B.’s presence and his larger-than-life smile proved it. They sat next to each other and played “The Thrill Is Gone.” Wow! Together, Levi and I both got to enjoy our respective favorites play right in front of us as we both beamed huge smiles.
It was magical.
What brought the whole experience full-circle (again!) was seeing Peter’s joy as he played guitar with B.B.
Peter’s genuine enthusiasm and humble gratitude for the opportunity to play with B.B. was priceless. Earlier he had posted on Facebook: “B.B. King is the coolest guy on the planet! I can’t thank him enough for being a part of the Guitar Circus! I get to play guitar with him every night!” He continued, “Still can’t put into words how it feels to sit next to B.B. and jam. ‘Heaven’ is a good one!” And on another day: “Jammin’ with The King! Pinch me…” (He probably doesn’t even realize it, but he was unknowingly spearheading the best and brightest PR campaign for this tour with his passionate enthusiasm!).
Lucky us, we got to see those two together in action, enjoying each other. Bill leaned over to me during the song and said “Woah, Peter looks twenty years younger!” It was true. He actually looked more like a kid – similar to how a fifth grade boy might light up in awe when meeting his favorite sports star or shaking the hand of an astronaut. I was so touched by that childlike wonder – the universal feeling we all share when we’re in the presence of greatness. I bet that’s how other guitarists might feel when they get the chance to play with Peter…
While they were playing, B.B. pointed to Peter, asked us to show him our love, and acknowledged him with such genuine gratitude. Pretty dang cool.
In witnessing that deep mutual respect and admiration between two legendary musicians, I had goosebumps.
It’s joyful moments like these that keep each of us going. It’s really why we’re here – to experience, enjoy, and revere life. Just as good ol’ Anonymous once said:
“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the number of moments that take our breath away.”
Thanks, guys, for inspiring the rest of us to embrace life, to honor what brings us joy, and most importantly…to fully “see” each other.
There is no greater gift.
Author’s Note: Stay tuned! I’m in the process of writing a book interviewing my favorite rockers – giving them a stage to shine their light and be ‘seen’ in a whole new way. If you liked this post, you’ll love the book!