No matter what’s going on in our lives, there’s always something to be grateful for. Early on we learn that change is inevitable, and how we chose to adapt to it is up to us and no one else. It’s far too easy to forget about that fact when we’re feeling our lowest, but understanding its truth is the only thing that will keep us moving in the right direction. If there’s one thing I’m realizing every day: it’s the simple things in life — the moments we sometimes take fore granted — that bring us the most happiness. Going to a concert with friends, taking for a four wheeler ride on the first warm day of spring, or even spending a low key night at home with family does wonders for keeping our minds clear and focused.
There’s something beautiful to be said about these little escapes, and sometimes all it takes to snap us back into our groove is to do something we love. Personally, all I need to revive my good vibes is a two-hour set from one of my favorite bands. Seeing the Bret Michaels Band perform at Jackpot Junction earlier this month couldn’t have came at a better time in my life. At 25-years-old, I often worry I’m not where I’m supposed to be; if I’m beaming at my full potential or if I could be doing something more. To be honest, it’s a very lonely feeling — one powerful enough to rid my heart of everything I’ve ever had faith in. But when Bret sang out “Something to Believe In” that night, something clicked: he’s felt just as I’ve felt, the group of hot moms standing in front of me singing at the top of their lungs have felt this way. Case and point: I am not alone.
Listening to the songs that meant so much to me when I first heard them, this time played loud as hell right in my face, did more than lift my spirits, it made me believe in myself again. Poison was one of the first bands that gave me the courage to confront my emotions instead of bottling them up inside. In High School, I turned to songs like “I Won’t Forget You” and “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” to help me get through my first break up. These days, I’m looking more to songs like “Fallen Angel” and “Cry Tough” to motivate me to be my best possible self in my career. The lyrics aren’t complicated; they are simple stories about chasing our dreams and learning how to love, and just because I wasn’t alive when they came into existence, doesn’t mean I can’t relate to them. Dancing around with people of all ages who welcomed me at this concert for that reason alone, was just the wake up call I needed.
I loved everything about seeing the Bret Michaels Band play at a venue outside of the cities. I can only see so many concerts at the Target Center before I start to crave a change of scenery. Jackpot Junction resides in a small town called Morton, where the Minnesotan accents are a little bit thicker. It was a carefree and intimate setting — perfect for rock and roll. The crowd was one of the loudest I have ever heard, at least since the last time I saw Bret play at the Medina Entertainment Center four years ago. They played all my favorite classics including the first Poison song Bret said he ever wrote: “Look What the Cat Dragged In.” The party kept on rollin’ with “Talk Dirty to Me,” “Unskinny Bop” and “Nothin’ But a Good Time.” It was so cool to hear the crowd sing out those old school Poison songs with everything they had, as I’m sure they’ve done their entire lives.
The night was a non-stop celebration of rock and roll that I did not want to end. Bret’s band played hard and were clearly fired up by the crowd. They were running all over the stage, yelling at us to throw our hands up and clap along to the beat. The band even spiced things up and catered to today’s popular music scene with their very own rendition of “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars, appropriately changing the lyrics to ‘Uptown ROCK you up!’ But the best part of the night was when they played what is, in my opinion, the world’s greatest sing along rock song, “Sweet Home Alabama” — a cover that Bret recorded with Lynyrd Skynyrd on his latest album True Grit.
Since this night was all about Bret, I knew I had to rock my KQRS bandanna in his honor, even though our reception doesn’t even come in that far southwest of the cities. Though barely anyone recognized KQ’s call letters, I was really lucky that the band did, because they remembered me from the last show I was at. They were so genuine on stage and off; very warm and fun-spirited. Drummer Mike Bailey and Bret’s long-time friend and guitarist, Pete Evick, were hanging around chatting after the show as if they’d met us all before. I wrote Bret a letter and gave it to Mike to give to him, and when I finally got backstage to say hi, the first thing he did was thank me for writing it. I hate to say I was surprised, but I don’t think I could name any celebrity off the top of my head that does things like that. It proved that he actually does care about his fans and what we have to say.
Once you see Bret Michaels live in concert, you’ll notice right away that he lives for his music. He is constantly on the road playing shows and putting his fans first, sometimes even before his own health. As a type 1 diabetic, he told the crowd that he takes five shots of insulin a day, but when he’s tearing it up on stage, you would never know. Unlike other musicians who think their beliefs supersede everyone else’s, Bret wasn’t on that stage to give us any sort of political message. Instead he stood there proud, giving what he called a “big ass thank you” to the men and women of the military who are fighting for our freedom every day. He recorded us waving our lighters side to side and singing along to “Something to Believe In,” in order to send it overseas in show of support. I wish that more musicians made that kind of effort, because when it comes down to it, everyone can stand to be a little more selfless.
All my life, music has allowed me to form a special relationship with myself that no one can ever take away, and every chance I get to see it live, I take it. Even though I feel emotionally stuck right now for reasons I still can’t quite understand, for a distinct moment at this concert I felt proud of myself. It made me realize just how much I’ve grown since the first time I saw Bret – the very first Medina concert I worked as a KQ intern! I was just a fan of this station then, and now I’m working here steadily, closer to finding my place than ever before. Maybe we need rough patches in life to make us recognize just how blessed we are. I’m thankful most of all to have a job that allows me to be myself, where I can embrace my deep love for classic rock so openly. I really don’t know where I’d be if I couldn’t do that. It’s nice to know that if I’m ever feeling lost, my favorite tunes will help me find my way, and that’s all the reassurance I need to keep me going strong. Bret described it best on stage: “Music is feelings, that’s all it is.”