In high school I was voted "Most Likely To Be A Star". Not gonna lie, it was amazing to receive that affirmation from my peers and all signs pointed to such things.
Years later, no one cares, I make less that 20k a year and I'm still not a star. I hate to be the guy to put a time stamp on senior superlatives but come on! Was this it? Am I foolish and maybe a bit selfish to expect more?
See, my biggest strength and weakness is that nothing is ever big enough. I'm a dreamer--some might say visionary, which I use in the humblest regards. I always want the result multiplied by a thousand. Not sure why, I just am wired that way I guess.
Growing up, my dreams were to be a rock star. I spent my summer nights under the stars at Red Rocks Amphitheater seeing thousands of people join in joy laden melody with thick rock guitars soaring into the atmosphere. I would scream the lyrics and air guitar my little heart out til my voice was horse and my arms couldn't move. On the way home I would stare and the sky and bargain with God on the terms in which I could accomplish what I had just seen.
Music has been a life long journey for me. I have dreamed and worked relentlessly to make things happen so maybe, just maybe, I would find myself in the heat of the lights at Red Rocks on a summer night singing my songs. All you hipsters and punk rockers may shrug and call me a sellout but whatever. You have your dream, I have mine.
Fast forward 15 years. I just finished a set at Draper Correctional Facility in Montgomery, Alabama, and am shaking the hand of Vernon, a young man no older than 25 who has eyes full of pain and rough hands that have wrought things that he wished he could take back. With tears in his eyes, his lips quivering with every ounce of humility he could muster, Vernon looked at my band and I, and said "thank you", shook our hands and proceeded to follow orders to go back to his cell for the night. Vernon was the first in a long line of guys who followed suit. We aren't allowed to bring cameras into the prison but I will never forget the faces of these men, young and old, so grateful that guys like us would take the time to remember that they are still here.
As a young boy I never dreamed of doing this but last night something in my heart said, "you've made it".
I may or may not play massive shows, my bank account may or may not ever reflect that I was voted Most Likely To Be A Star but I have made it. My brothers and I are making music that matters for people that matter and that is what I am forever committed to. It seems that in all my dreaming big, the Vernon's slip through the cracks--but they still matter and I love being that band that can be apart of letting them know. This is the reason Medic started making music: to give people hope.
What a weird life this is: a half black rock band from Colorado playing a weeklong bluegrass gospel event in the prisons of Alabama and Florida. I wouldn't have it any other way.
I wish I knew 15 years ago what I know. I wish I could tell that 7 year old boy not to worry so much; to enjoy the ride and not put so much pressure on himself to be a star. I would tell him to love as best he could first and foremost and then to play as hard as he could and that everything would be okay. I'm not sure he would've listened but I can pretend I would've.
This tour has confronted my dreams face to face and made me question what I do. We've played for everything--crying middle school girls, empty bars, screaming sororities backed up by tough guy fraternities, and prisoners. All of them different, all of them beautiful, all of them exactly what we signed up for.
I've made peace with where I am at. I'm not wishing that we were something bigger and better than what we are because where we are is exactly where we need to be. Night after night we are able to join in song with people of all religions, races, shapes, sizes, socioeconomic status, and age. I will return home with less money than the onset of the tour, I will sleep for days but I will have created memories with my brothers and planted seeds of hope around the southern states. What else could I ask for?
There is something beautiful happening and I'm glad to be along for the ride. Tonight? Easterling Prison. I'll tell you how it goes.
-Aaron // Medic