Cross it and step into a new year
Welcome to 2022. New year, new you, etc.
Our January issue is traditionally about change, regrowth and reassessment. You’ll find plenty of articles about the future in these pages, from Barb Shelly’s article on political traps Missouri and Kansas might fall into to Liz Cook’s adventure in the boutique world of cocktail rehab IV .
You can read it all here:
We, as a publication, also look forward to the adventure that awaits us in ’22. Part of that journey begins with, in case you haven’t heard it yet, a new owner. My wife, Vivian, and I joined a group of local and regional businessmen to buy Field. Wild, right? I don’t know how it happened either. What I do know is that we can’t wait to embark on a new era.
The pressure of navigating that purchase while running a post turned the final piece of 2021 into the most complicated and poorly controlled time of my adult life. My coup as a solution to this situation has traditionally been a double blow of overwork and self-sabotage. Pedal to the metal and do not recognize anything. Taking care of yourself is not my strong suit.
In the midst of all this chaos, I came across a chance encounter with Candice Rukes.
Rukes is a local, or at least was one in a previous life. She has spent her career as a touring production coordinator. Whenever a musician / performer goes on tour, someone has to lead the small army of roadies: sound engineers, caterers, bus drivers, security guards, etc. She has toured for several years with John Legend, the Jonas Brothers, Justin Timberlake, The Killers and Will Smith and his entire extended family.
She managed halftime Super Bowl shows. She spends most of the days of her life starting a stadium extravaganza from square one and bringing it to fruition by the time the clock strikes midnight. Rinse and repeat the next day, in a new town.
Rukes, along with some friends in the industry, has long recognized that people in their world are suffering from their own specific epidemic.
“You don’t talk about your problems on tour. Not at all, ”Rukes told me. “Because you are replaceable. The production wants you to pull yourself together or not show up. Nobody gives you a little time off when you get a bipolar II diagnosis. Dealing with huge performers – and often accompanying groups of up to 20 musicians – means no one is ready to help. Even if they wanted to, they didn’t have time.
Rukes told me his story on the road, interspersed with some sordid gossip.
“A touring production is essentially a military maneuver,” she says. “Don’t ask, don’t say. No resources will be allocated to help you. You have 120 people going from town to town every day, none of whom see their families. This culture of brotherhood of hazing and abuse fills the void.
This frustration is what led Rukes and a small group of other touring professionals to start The Roadie Clinic. Currently housed in a facility in Niles, Michigan, the Roadie Clinic provides resources to those in the touring world who need services they would not otherwise have access to.
Employees on tour often do not have a permanent address. This leads to issues like the inability to work with banks (and the idea of applying for a mortgage is a pipe dream). In the absence of advocacy groups or unions on the ground, most truckers do not have health insurance. Safe housing and skilled professional care are not available to all of this field of employment.
Or it wasn’t until now. The clinic provides access to online mental health counselors, in-person rehabilitation services, and even accountants to help overcome the daily obstacles of road warrior financial battles. It’s a top-down system to restore the lives of professionals in the industry who, like a shark, will die if they stop moving.
Rukes wants to see the Roadie Clinic expand to a KC location as soon as possible. This city is a hub for touring productions, and its location would make it an ideal destination for those seeking its support throughout the Midwest.
“This building in KC can be a beacon,” Rukes says, “to let the rest of the country know that on so many levels, KC doesn’t care about advocacy.”
My conversation with Rukes left me inspired and invigorated on many levels after feeling like I kept hitting the same walls over and over again. It’s one thing to hear this advice from a therapist, it’s another to hear it from someone who travels along your same patterns: put your head down and try to get through it rather than to take a moment to breathe. I could trust her, she was like me.
While I can’t wait to spend my year pushing community leaders to help us establish a Roadie Clinic branch, I personally have no one to thank more for helping me turn my year around Rukes – and this traveling companion encouraged me to turn against all my normal inclinations. Just stopping to enjoy life and take care of myself has been a radical transformation.
When you’re going through it, sometimes the quickest way out is to stay completely still.
Go ahead and we’ll make it happen,