The Story of Opening for Joe Jackson


“Fear not!” That was my mantra as I had only one week to prepare to open for the legendary British songwriter Joe Jackson at Frederik Meijer Gardens for a capacity crowd. I received a phone call explaining that Joe’s set would be too short and he wasn’t traveling with an opener. They thought my music would be a good fit and wondered if I was available to do the performance on such a short notice. The concert was sold out and the promoter wanted to “keep it simple” which meant no additional instrumentalists or even piano (an instrument I’m used to playing some during my solo sets). I was going to have to play solo acoustic. I was mid vacation with my family in northern Michigan but we decided that this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I took a deep breath and dug in- practicing four hours a day leading up to the concert. Four of the seven songs I chose I had never played without a band (remember that Fear Not is a heavily orchestrated album) and two of the songs I had never played on a guitar. “Fear not!”

Then the weather…. On the day of the show, there were severe storms predicted from the time I was told to arrive until the end of the show. When I went to the stage for my soundcheck, all of Joe Jackson’s gear had been covered with tarps, the massive main speakers weren’t hung and I got a text from the promoter that my set may be cut depending on the weather outcome. “Fear not!” It became abundantly clear that I wasn’t going to get a proper soundcheck before the doors opened. After an hour of watching the storms breaking up over Lake Michigan, we got the green light to go ahead with the show. I would be performing! However, I would have to start my set early and do an “on the fly soundcheck” in front of the 1,800 people taking their seats. I went to the side of the stage at the new time I was given and there was no one there to help me set up. All of the techs were still busy watching the weather. My wife Jill ran around and found someone who could help, I walked on stage in front of the biggest crowd of my career, got some encouraging cheers, plugged in and my guitar instantly started feeding back. “Fear not!” Worked with the sound tech for a few minutes to get my guitar sound to a tolerable place in the onstage monitor, introduced myself and began performing.

WENT WONDERFULLY! Couldn’t have gone better really.

A great end to a nail biting experience. Here’s to the many other grueling experiences that help to grow us and keep us flexible. And to the support of friends and family like you that sustain us!

Rise and Shine (from Alone On The World Stage)
Detroit (from Alone On The World Stage)
After Sally (from Fear Not)
Moonlight On A String (from Fear Not)
North Dakota Oil (from Alone On The World Stage)
Sandtown (from Fear Not)



Great to see Cameron Blake getting to play the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park Stage tonight, opening for Joe Jackson.

Posted by Local Spins on Friday, July 20, 2018




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