A great stagehand has a good head on his shoulders, a powerful work ethic, strong hands and a gypsy heart.
I could easily be a stagehand.
I worked on Wednesday for this weeks On The Job in the cold evening rain with the coolest guy —Blayne Partica, of Royal Oak, Mich. Partica works for Budweiser setting up a traveling bar at events all over the region.
I was supposed to help set up the Jagermeister stage for Bike Week but after standing in the rain for half an hour getting soggy it was obvious there was a rain delay. But I still needed an On The Job assignment so I looked down Columbus Avenue and saw a man setting up a trailer. I walked up to Partica and convinced him to let me help him set up the awesome Budweiser two-level bar.
It was a great time.
Partica, in his younger days when he was not married, could handle traveling all over the world with the rock bands he loved. He retired from that lifestyle of a roadie two years ago to work for Budweiser.
“The fun part is I still get to be on the road but I am never to far away from home,” Partica said.
We pulled down the side of the trailer, making the first level bar.
We then pulled down the stairs leading up to the roof of the trailer, which would be the second floor. I helped Partica bolt in the stair railings.
All the while he was telling me stories.
Up until two years ago, Partica hung out and worked with rock artists, such as Tom Petty.
“My favorite artist to go on tour with. He is so laid back,” he said.
Then there is Bruce Springsteen — Partica made the mic Springsteen hangs from while performing.
There was the tour with Justin Timberlake.
“He invited us all to his home for a barbeque,” Partica said. It was Timberlake's childhood home – with an expansion later added to the home, of course.
His last gig was building the stage for the Black Eyed Peas. He shows a picture on his cell phone of him and Fergie.
We tackled setting up the top floor, a tricky prospect since the rain made the surfaces of the bar slick.
We had built the stairs when Bike Week Director Steve Ernst stopped in and broke the bad news-- They were a safety risk and had to go.
“Steve, you're killing me. We just built this,” I said.
“That is the life of a stagehand,” Ernst said with a laugh that was a little bit sadistic.
Partica, who has it happen all the time to him, took it in stride.
We broke the steps down.
Collin Dyer, operations supervisor or site coordination for Bike Week, stopped by.
“When are we getting power,” Partica asked.
The bar needs electricity to power its television and pounding sound system.
Dyer was on his radio, setting it up.
A good site coordinator makes all the difference for a stagehand setting up in a remote location, Partica said.
The life for both men are either 20-hour days during an event or 2-hour days beforehand.
There is nothing else they can see themselves doing.
“Would you hire me sir?,” I asked Partica before I left.
“In a heartbeat,” he said.
I could have a new career.