The Roadie at the Blue Guitar

Before and after photographs of the Blue Guitar at the local golf course. Photos by Steve Whitmore

Back in the day, they were called roadies. They were the men and women that worked tirelessly behind the scenes to set up and tear down a rock ‘n’ roll show and generally maintain the equipment for a band.

Some roadies became more famous or at least as famous as the bands they supported. With names like Ramrod, Legendary Red Dog or Big John Duncan, in the 1960s they were stars in their own right. Books have been written about them. Television shows have been made about them.

Brad Colerick is picking up trash, making the room ready for the above concert.

That all changed as rock ‘n’ roll became more popular, but in the infancy of the rock band, they were as important as the rock band.

Recently, I had the honor of being a roadie when I went with Brad Colerick to check out the Blue Guitar Room at the Arroyo Seco Golf Course, where he puts on music events.

Everyone in town knows Brad because he’s one of those guys that gives significantly more than he ever takes. He was honored with the South Pasadena Image Award recently for his contributions to the city.

Besides being the musical director of the city’s hugely successful Eclectic Music Festival held every year and the summer concert known as BradFest, he produces, books the artists, and hosts every Wednesday and Thursday night concerts in the banquet room at the golf course.

He literally transforms the room into the Blue Guitar nightclub. On Wednesday, it’s Wine & Song, featuring singer-songwriters, and on Thursday, it’s Jazz at the Blue Guitar. Both nights the musical talent on display is of the highest caliber.

So, on a recent Thursday, I accompanied Brad down to the golf course to check out the room where that night’s performance was going to be held. I had never been to any of the shows and I wanted to see the room.

Well, let me tell you, we were in for a huge surprise. The night before, the room had been used for a well-attended function. In fact, Brad had to move his Wednesday show into another venue to make way for this function. And the room we were presented with was a mess. No easy way around it. Understandable, because of the large gathering the previous evening, but a mess still that needed a thorough cleaning.

So, Brad put his roadie to work – me.

The carpet needed vacuuming but the vacuum didn’t work. So, what now? On your knees and pick it up by hand. You gotta do what you gotta do, is the roadie motto.

Then it’s set up the tables, the stage lights, the chairs, the drapes, the sound board, the stage, the neon lights, the backstage curtain. That’s right, the backstage curtain. I had an all-access backstage pass for the Blue Guitar. I had arrived.

Seriously, Brad turned a serviceable room at a golf course into a stellar nightclub with the most intimate atmosphere that could rival any other club offering professional music. Under his direction, the Blue Guitar was ready to accommodate an audience of more than 60 patrons to listen to the band, Rich Hinman vs Adam Levy, and they were incredible. Absolutely incredible. Every seat was full and chairs had to be added to accommodate additional guests, which brought the number to about 80 people.

These shows are every Wednesday and Thursday right here in South Pasadena. How lucky we are as a community to have this.

I was honored that Brad allowed me to experience the magic of being a roadie. I helped put on that show and it made my day. Talk soon.

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Steve Whitmore is the editor for the South Pasadena Review. Steve has spent more than four decades as an award-winning print and broadcast journalist with a 16-year stint as the senior media advisor for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Steve comes to us from the Keene Sentinel in Keene, New Hampshire, where he covered politics and was a columnist.