On December 3, 1994 Aerosmith's "Get a Grip" tour made a stop at Louisville, KY's Freedom Hall and I was there with my dad. I was 12 years old, it was my first concert, and I was excited beyond belief.
The openers for the series included some of the biggest rock acts (and one-hit-wonders) of the last decade – Megadeth, Soul Asylum, Mr. Big, Collective Soul, Mr. Big, Robert Plant, etc. If I had seen any of these groups the show would have been arguably better, but it wouldn't have impacted my life in the same way.
I got to see Jackyl. They were known for a song called "The Lumberjack."
In the same way that Megadeth's Dave Mustane is known far and wide for his abilities as a total guitar shredder, Jackyl's Jesse James Dupree is known for revving a chainsaw in rhythm with some good ol' fashioned hard southern rock. I got to watch him cut apart a stool during a 10-minute jam version of "The Lumberjack" and I was changed forever. I know that sounds crazy. Even in the sixth grade one half of my brain knew that what I was seeing was an incredibly stupid and obvious gimmick. The other half of my brain was completely amazed.
After all, this was a full-blown arena rock concert featuring pyrotechnics, video projections, a light show and one of the biggest stage setups I have ever seen – and here's Chainsaw Jesse James shirtless and destroying perfectly good furniture in front of a sold out crowd and doing chainsaw solos. The audience loved it.
At that moment I realized that you can do anything with music. There were thousands of people in the crowd just losing it over this guy using a power tool as an instrument. Jesse James and co. were seeing some measure of success and obviously having a good time. (I mean, their frontman had a chainsaw.) If this guy could do it and make money, then why couldn't I do it just for fun? And who says what music even is now? I never expected anything out of it, I just wanted in. Deep in my heart of hearts, I knew I had found something that I wanted to contribute to. I got my first guitar that Christmas.
Now it's just a few days past 19 years later and I am fortunate enough to have a great job that, between my work with The Music Council and Musical Family Tree, allows me to interact with the Indianapolis music scene on a near-daily basis. I get to have a hand in helping shape local culture. It's more than I ever expected and I'm extremely grateful for the opportunity.
But if it wasn't for Jackyl and their ridiculous stage show I might not have had the urge to get involved with music. Maybe I would have more passion for animal care or the visual arts.
Not everyone has the same experience. A concert I went to 19 years ago influenced how much I wanted to have some involvement with the music community, and so I sought out the path that could lead me there. It's not always easy work – in fact, it can be a little taxing at times just like any other job – but it is something I am passionate about.
This year I will continue to follow my Jackyl and do all I can to help promote the music of the fine people of Indianapolis.
I would encourage everyone else to look to their Jackyl as well - let it lead you out in to the community and put your passion to work - whatever it is. Don't have a Jackyl? Find one. There is a great video at the top of this post. Start there! Once you're inspired you can click here for a list of volunteer opportunities in Indianapolis.
Find your Jackyl. Be someone's lumberjack.
This post is part of Think Kit by SmallBox
Today’s prompt: How do you want to get involved in your community this year?