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Dispatches From Mexico: The Big Pop Show

Say yes to things.

That’s the biggest takeaway I have from this past weekend.

When my friend Roberto called me up saying he knew someone who was looking for a banjo player for a big pop show, I was hesitant, to say the least. After some pretty major upheaval in my personal life, I didn’t know if I was ready to step completely outside of my comfort zone. But Roberto eventually convinced me that it would be a good opportunity, and in the worst case scenario, it would be a good story in the future.

And boy was he right.

A Mexican pop singer named Dulce Maria was releasing her new album, and her musical director Eddie was piecing together a band to bring the songs to life on stage. Many of the recordings included banjo, mandolin, and ukulele. One of which I play well and two of which I have a basic understanding of. That was enough to get me the gig.

ChannelE2E contributing editor Ty Trumbull, back left on the banjo, performs with Mexican pop singer Dulce Maria.

The first rehearsal was two Thursdays ago. The next day I moved into a new apartment. The following week we had three more four-hour rehearsals and the big show was on Friday. This was all in addition to my regular day job and the other gigs I had to play. Needless to say, it was exhausting but it really did give me the opportunity to peek behind the curtain of how a giant pop show operates.

And this was a giant pop show.

I was told there would be more than 1,900 people in attendance (more people than I have ever played for), professional dancers, singers rising to the stage on hidden elevators, light shows, lasers, and a decent paycheck at the end of it all. All of which were very new experiences for me as a long-time struggling musician.

Luckily for me, I only had to learn six songs and one medley of four songs. The other folks in the band, most of whom have been playing with Dulce for years, had to play nearly every song in a set that lasted around an hour and a half. It was grueling work for those gentlemen but my part was relatively easy. When it came time for me to play I would walk out on the stage, plug-in my banjo, and smile for the crowd. Between songs, I would retire to the wings and sip from my beer and take in the show.

One of the things that struck me the most is that dancers work WAY harder than musicians. Between the dancing, the costume changes, and the need to always be “on”, it’s exhausting work.

As the night came to an end and the curtain fell, I was struck by how routine it all ways. There were little technical glitches here and there, but overall things ran smoothly. Once it was all over the musicians and dancers and crew shared a beer or two and then everyone retired to their homes or maybe a party or another gig.

For me, this was an experience unlike any other in my life. For everyone else, it was just a job.

It remains to be seen whether I’ll get the opportunity to play with these folks again. I hope I do, but even if I don’t it was well worth the trip.

Ty Trumbull, from his base in Mexico City, covers the entrepreneur’s journey, M&A and business continuity for ChannelE2E. On the occasional Tuesday or so, he offers views about his adopted hometown — his personal Dispatches from Mexico City. Oh, but sometimes he pops up in his home nation of Canada.