Last week I had the honor of opening for the man many credit with “inventing” rock n roll. John Lennon once said “if they didn’t call it rock’n'roll, they’d call it Chuck Berry.” Whatever you call it, it’s obviously keeping Chuck Berry young… this man at 86 years old is still doing his famous Duck Walk and showing moments of absolute awesomeness. I can only imagine the rocking that was happening back in the day… when he invented rocking.
It was at his venue in St Louis called the Duck Room (at Blueberry Hill) and it was a sold out show, packed wall to wall with Chuck Berry fans (some just fans of music/history who came to get a glimpse). We played a 45 minute set which went really well as we won some new fans… but the whole time I was thinking “don’t say Chuck Berry.” It’s one of the few rules you are told when opening for Chuck Berry is that you are not permitted to say his name. My first thought was that Chuck Berry must be as evil as Lord Voldemort (referred to as “He Who Must Not Be Named” in the Harry Potter books). Then, I figured it makes sense – a man of such fame and reputation needs no introduction. Touche, Chuck Berry. It was especially difficult because I had planned to tell the story of how the first song I ever sang on stage was a Chuck Berry song. I ended up just naming the song title (Johnny B Goode) and everyone screamed as though I had said “free money!” or “welcome to Oprah’s giveaway show!”
All joking aside, and despite Chuck being very elusive (got to shake his hand and barely get this photo – he’s yelling ‘next’) it was a true reminder for me that this whole thing is one step at time. One exciting small event by small event. If there’s a skip in the beat of the heart, you’re on the right track. Like I said in my FB post that morning…
“About to board a plane to St Louis where tonight I open for Chuck Berry. This photo is me singing his “Johnny B Goode” at my cousins wedding over 20 years ago. It is the first song I ever performed live. So I’ve been at this for over 20 years and I’ve got a long way to go to get to where I want to be, but I do know when to stop and appreciate full circle moments like this. Thanks all of you who support and inspire me along this journey. #stickwithit ”
Rock on, Chuck. And thanks to you, Mr Berry, the rest of us can too.