The guitarist wrote about the heart-warming experience on Reddit:
I play guitar in the alleys of Denver, Colorado and have been doing so for about 5 years since moving here. It’s been a ton of fun and I’ve met some fantastic people doing it, but what happened this past weekend is nothing short of astounding. I wanted to share it with you guys because I know you’ll appreciate it.
I play over backing tracks on the street. It’s kind of my thing. I was doing just that on Saturday afternoon (3/8) when a pedestrian walked up to me and just started listening. He probably stood there for about 30 minutes before saying anything. He was a black guy, about 6 feet tall and he didn’t seem altogether remarkable. “Hey man, that was pretty good,” he said, “lemme hear you play something else.” So, I obliged him with some reggae I had queued up.
He appeared to like it. He then asked, “Hey, we’re playing some music tonight around 8:30, you want to sit in with us?” “Sure, I have nothing else going on,” I replied, “Where should I go?” “The Fillmore,” he said. That took me aback. The Fillmore is where big names play. BIG ones. But, I thought, this is probably just some little shindig -maybe someone rented out the Fillmore for a little jam or something. Whatever. I’d still go. Sounded like a good time.
The man who approached me was Robert Randolph, of Robert Randolph and the Family Band fame. If you haven’t heard of him, look him up. He’s a phenomenal lap steel player. I was floored. I did a little more research. The show that night at the Fillmore was SOLD OUT, and Robert Randolph was opening for Galactic (from New Orleans).
So basically, I was going from having nothing to do on a Saturday night, to playing guitar for thousands screaming fans. This promptly blew my mind. What was I going to play? What about rehearsing? Sound check? I didn’t have a pass…who do I get that from? All these questions! Then I realized that in a few hours I was going to be showing up to the Fillmore and saying to security, “Excuse me, yea -hi guys. I’m playing tonight. Where’s my entrance?” And well, that’s pretty much what happened when I first showed up.
I had my guitar (custom Warmoth) and pedalboard. I was ushered inside by the tour manager for Galactic, a super nice guy. He brought me into the production office where he asked me a little bit about myself and then handed me a backstage pass. “Meet me backstage here at 8:50. You’re on at 9:30, but I want you standing stage left,” he said, “Now follow me, if you would.” And I did.
He led me back to Robert Randolph’s tour bus, where I was brought in and introduced to the rest of the band. HOLY DOPE TOUR BUS. DAMN. Walnut counters. Silk-laden sleeper cabinets. Just…damn. Anyway, I shot the shit with the band for a few minutes and was told what to play (simple, Em Santana-style song). I then left the bus and went backstage to wait. And wait. And wait…ugh. The minutes just CRAWLED…Finally Robert and his band took the stage. I was only going to be sitting in on one song, and it was going to be toward the end of their set, so I had some time to wait and listen. If you’re at all into slide or lapsteel guitar, you GOTTA check this guy out…he’s unreal.
Anyway, my time had come. The crowd -easily in the multiple thousands -was packed shoulder to shoulder, eyes on the stage. They were already revved up from Robert’s set so far, so the cheering was just out of control. It really started to set in, now -I was about to sink or swim on the mainstage with professional musicians in front of thousands of music lovers. Holy. Shit. Robert had explained to his audience over the mic that he just heard me playing on the street earlier that day, and that he invited me to play. And so the crowd was of course curious.
I took a deep breath, pulled my shoulders back and walked out onstage into the light. The eruption of cheers sent shivers down my spine. I kept as calm as I could, but I couldn’t help but gaze out into the sea of people. What a rush. “This is what it’s all about…right here,” I thought. I grabbed my guitar and slung it on. “We’re in C!” Robert said. Of course. A change. He said E originally, now C. Welp, fine. C it is. And it started.
Folks, it was amazing. For the next THREE ENTIRE SONGS he kept me on stage, playing fills and solos where appropriate, and giving me at least two full 8-bar solos which I completely DESTROYED. It was like nothing else I’ve ever done or experienced. Having those people, both on-stage and in the crowd, groove with what I was producing on my guitar…it was just surreal. After a final crescendo, the set ended.
I left the stage, waited to go back on after lights-out to pull my equipment, and then I walked outside to catch my breath. I could not fathom what had just happened. I swear to you I thought I was dreaming. After calling my brother and explaining what happened, I went back inside to be greeted with high-fives and back pats like you wouldn’t believe. Everyone was thrilled about how I did. I was gobsmacked. I stuck around for Galactic’s set, which was freakin’ killer. I then went home and relived what just happened, in my head, until I fell asleep from exhaustion.
I can go on record now as saying that this past Saturday was the best day of my life as a guitarist. Bar none. You can understand why I felt compelled to share this with the guitar community.
Thanks for reading, and keep pickin’ and grinnin’, guys.
Randolph shared a video of his encounter with the guitarist on Instagram:
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