Are you listening?
I confess, I lost the Blind Boys of Alabama…
Well, not all of them, just one of them and it’s a pretty funny story.
Although I was fortunate to get to meet [and sometimes hang out with] many bands and artists — from up-and-comers to big names, one of my favorite memories working in radio happened in my first year at KINK FM in Portland, Oregon. For that matter, many of the stories I will eventually tell come from my days at KINK.
This particular one is about when the Blind Boys of Alabama were in town doing our radio station’s annual Holiday Benefit Concert at a place called the Roseland Theater — it’s not a “theater” by the way, at least it hasn’t been in forever.
OK, so back to my story…I lost a “Blind Boy”, kind of literally. I didn’t mean to and no one got hurt, but it became a bit of a long-standing joke at the station afterwards. One of a few purely “Cheri” things I became known for.
I don’t even remember which of the “Blind Boys” it was, but I was side-stage keeping my eye on the stairs to the basement of the Roseland (our “back stage” area) so that concert goers didn’t go down. This area was adjacent to the stage stairs where security was. The band’s road manager was standing with the security dude.
The band was still playing, i.e. their set wasn’t over, but the manager walked over to me with one of the “Blind Boys” from the stage and asked me if I would lead him to the back-stage bathroom downstairs.
The band member and I made our way through the cluster of people who were now congregating around the side of the stage and headed to the stairs going down; he behind me, with his hand on my shoulder.
There was a lot of traffic on those stairs and being relatively new to this station and their events, I felt a little awkward going back-stage. I wasn’t quite sure it was OK for me to do so however, I was on a mission for one of our guests so I didn’t think I would get into trouble.
For some reason — in my mind right now as I write this, I feel like the staircase was bigger than average. Like taller, but I could be wrong as this is the only time I have ever been on them.
When we finally got down the stairs, the radio station’s program director, Dennis Constantine, and one of the air-staff, Dave Scott, were at the bottom and started talking to me. I paused in my steps to respond not noticing or realizing the man’s hand had left my shoulder.
My co-workers asked how the crowd was upstairs.
I asked where the bathroom was downstairs.
All of a sudden I noticed the “Blind Boy” I was supposed to be accompanying was already across the room and “entering” a door. However, he wasn’t “entering” he was actually “exiting” as that door led to the outside at street level!
Out in in the dark!
Hmm, well technically I guess “in the dark” doesn’t really apply when one is already blind, but he went outside where there was a very busy 4-lane main street called Burnside.
You can see the door I am speaking of in the Google street-view shot below…
It was an innocent mistake. Not really even a mistake. I have no idea why he just kept on going! I ran after him, I mean, wouldn’t you have?
I got him back inside, to the bathroom (I waited outside the door) and then back up to the stage. Whew! That was close!
I got teased for a long time after this night. What’s worse, is the band’s road manager, Chuck, had taken quite the serious liking to me and stayed in touch for a long time after; even sending flowers to me at the radio station and trying to get me to agree to him flying me to other “Blind Boy” shows in other states.
I was faithfully married at the time and turned him down, but even so, I don’t think I would have made a very good groupie. I mean really, a few more events like that and he wouldn’t have any band members left with me around!
Have you ever lost someone? Was it a funny situation like mine or was it a scary situation instead?