This weekend I had the opportunity to take in a live performance of my favorite band. Again.
This show marked seven, maybe eight? I’ve stopped counting the times I have seen them perform. This weekend’s concert experience was different however, Doug and I bought the Meet and Greet package AND once again, I talked my way into a photo pass. (Call it perseverance, I dig until I find the right person to ask and I don’t give up.)
In the currently relevant spirit of the Olympics and in admiration of people who work endlessly and tirelessly at what they love, I began thinking about Big Head Todd and the Monsters and what they have represented for me over the years.
Big Head Todd and the Monsters have inspired loyalty among their fans, most of whom admire their unpretentious attitude. The Monsters are inspired by their love of music and don’t aspire to be rock and roll stars. Even with that guy next door image (jeans and t-shirts on stage always), fans still put them on a pedestal at times. The band has enjoyed a slow and steady ascent into stardom over the years.
The Long Haul
BHTM formed in Colorado in 1986, the year I graduated high school. Their blues guitar influenced rock music was something that resonated with me as I was exposed to new music in college. Todd Park Mohr on guitar and vocals, Brian Nevin on drums and vocals and Rob Squires on bass and vocals attended Columbine High School and the University of Colorado together. (These days they are augmented by Jeremy Lawton on the keyboards and steel guitars). The three began touring clubs in Denver, Fort Collins, and Boulder as Big Head Todd and the Monsters in 1987. They toured extensively throughout the Mountain States and West Coast in their van The Colonel, which was driven over 400,000 miles.
Mohr, mentions in an article on the band’s website, “I don’t think it’s really unusual that we started in a van because everybody does. But what is unusual is the fact that we were in that van for probably seven years.”
Shepard Fairey artwork was all over at the Revolution. He’s an American contemporary street artist who’s fame came from designing the Obama HOPE poster from his first presidential campaign.
The Support of Others
All artists, emerging and established, depend on their fans and patrons to keep them sustained. The Monsters one big hit “Bittersweet” gave them a taste of stardom, but didn’t allow them to stay in the limelight. Despite this, the band has a loyal following that’s large enough to warrant it playing venues like San Francisco’s Fillmore Auditorium and the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado annually in June.
Fans of BHTM, myself included, are in it for the long haul. EVERY time I see them in concert I meet folks who have been following them for years and have seen them in many locations. This weekend we met folks who traveled from Grand Cayman to Ft. Lauderdale for the show. Fans are my age, they are really into appreciating the music, meeting cool people, and having a good time. BHTM peeps are considerate and friendly, they hold the restroom door for you and they make room for you at the bar.
I’ve seen Hazel Miller live touring with the band a few times but never like this weekend, because this time I got to meet her. I was in the VIP area near the stage left entrance when Hazel explained to the bouncer that she had to go back there because she was “with the band.” That’s when it clicked for me.
“Are YOU Hazel MILLER?!!” I asked her “Well, yes I am.” She responded with a humble posture and quite a big smile. Well, I cozied right up to this very warm heart and told her that I really admired how she BELTED out backup vocals. Hazel was in no hurry, she told me about how she has been singing since she was 16 years old, how she’s opened for both James Taylor and James Brown, and how she’s been with The Monsters since they were famous. She said she loved touring with them because she really enjoyed them as people. We talked about her grand kids and my dancing daughter (Hazel had college advice for my dancer based on her own granddaughter’s pursuits).
Talk about appreciating your fans and taking the time to let them know, Hazel went on to wave to me from stage during the performance. Nothing made me smile more than when she started cranking it up and belting out the vocals on “It’s Alright” like I knew she would. “Here it comes,” I said to Doug as she began to vocally build. I never get tired of listening to Hazel sing live with my favorite band.
Wait for it. At about 3:25 into this YouTube video, Hazel shows her stuff.
Meet and Greet
Before the show guests with Meet and Greet passes were allowed in a half hour early to chat with the band members, enjoy some drinks, and get autographs. Of course I had to make a B-line to have my photo taken with Todd himself, but my best conversations were with the other band members.
Rob the bassist was the most modest and talkative guy, I joked with him and said “You know, every time I tell my friends I’m going to see Big Head Todd and the Monsters in concert their reaction is ‘Who?'” His response? “Yeah, we get that” with a big smile. I reminded him how awesome it was that the band all agreed to sign one of my husband’s photos he mailed to them along with a white pen — as a gift for me. Their tour manager Jeff worked really hard to get the guys all together to sign it, since they were not on tour at the time. Rob told me the back story about where they were when they signed it at a charity golf tournament event. Brian laughed and talked about how the pen ran out of ink on him so he had to shake it and go all Jackson Pollock on it. It was Jeff who said “We try to do things like that for our fans.” when I thanked him again for facilitating it and for actually personally calling Doug to tell him it was taking longer than he had hoped to get everyone together. And Jeremy was talking to Doug and I about watching the TV show Breaking Bad at the bar before we even realized it was him. “Wait a minute, Are you Jeremy? “I exclaimed with excitement. “I am.” he said to me, and he leaned over to Doug and said, “I like your Heisenberg T-shirt, I have the Chicken Shirt!”
Appreciating those who support your art, being humble. It goes a long way. Persevere and never give up on your goals. Ask and you shall receive, right? (My Dad used to tell me that, right before he said “no.”) And find your passion, it fuels everything else with fire.
Click to enlarge any of these amazing photos by ©Douglas Nelson Photography
thank you, thank you Doug for all your support!
Check out 40 photos from this show on Douglas Nelson Photography’s FB page: