Builder Bowl I - A Band's Eye View


      Try to remember or imagine the morning of September 29, 2001. Picture a dark building site, the sun not yet up and a flurry of activity under the yellow glare of halogen lights. The scene unfolding before you is one that is common in the hours before the unveiling of great events. The sense of urgency that you see in the crew's labor impresses you with the feeling this IS the beginning of a great event. 


Now put the scene against the backdrop of an America that is on a war footing, mourning, regrouping, and rallying against a deadly and terrible attack. Shock and grief are turning into anger and resolve. The Commander in Chief has issued an order for the country to "go back to work." With all this still fresh in your mind the sun slowly unveils the silhouettes of men and women in tool belts and hard hats, with tools in hand, moving toward the center of this place. If you can picture this, then you can still feel the electric current of expectation that hung in the air like fog. When the curtain rose, Builder Bowl I was born.


As members of Chute Nine it was our pleasure and privilege to provide music for this groundbreaking event. John Lancaster had informed us of the idea to orchestrate the building of a house in one day's time. But even as the idea was explained to us it was clear that John had a much larger purpose in mind. As John explained, the house itself would be merely the vehicle for the message. The message was, "Take another look, America, at the games we play. The greatest game is life itself and it is played every day." Skill, dedication, pride and discipline are not attributes that are exclusive to the sport arena. The fact is, skill and excellence are all around us, and should be celebrated in any form or any arena.


At this point you might be asking, "Why a band at a construction site?" The answer is obvious when you really look at how we celebrate in America. We have a tradition of putting our best activities to music. Our best days all have a soundtrack. Music raises our spirits and urges us on when we're tired. Music signals to everyone within earshot that "something is going on here." And so we played, and we celebrated, and we signaled and, I hope, we honored the work going on in front of us. We had the opportunity to write some music just for the event. It gave us the chance to say some things that needed to be said about the workers who were there that day, and their brothers and sisters across the country who were playing their game without cheerleaders, TV crews, bands or crowds. We tried to say thank you with some "on the spot" songs written expressly (and very quickly) for some of the key players. We wanted to offer our talents and efforts to help draw attention not only to the work being done but also to the incredible untapped potential of what could be.


If nothing else we can certainly say we had seen it all. We were there at the singing of the National Anthem, and we saw the last light go out and the last trailer pull away. We got the chance to see the satisfaction on the faces of the workers who pulled it off. We saw the enthusiasm rise at the same rate as the productivity. That's not supposed to happen. We saw the crowd shake their heads and smile as the walls went up and the shingles flew. It's impossible to predict the future or know what's next, but we in the band felt that we just might have witnessed the model for the future of the industry. More importantly, we thought we had seen the seed of an idea planted on a wider scale; a brand new way of doing business.


The day ended just like it started, in the dark. This time the halogen shown down on people who were moving slightly slower but no less determined. In the end we were amazed and we were not alone. The house was in fact, built, and it stands now as more than a monument to the effort. Now it's a home.


Thanks for the chance to be a part,


Chute Nine

Builder Bowl Magic

"Garth had that dance thing all wrong, happiness is a warm trim gun."

And so my boss became mildly possessed by this idea, perhaps the Big J was tappin his shoulder or something, but either way his obsession had turned reality and I was called upon to perform my talents in his parade. Not taking his dream as serious as I should have I, as is my usually daily habit arrived late to be suddenly confronted upon my arrival by the sight I can only compare to the circuses of old. There were tents, stages, stage trusses and flags. People were everywhere, and tools were stacked haphazard everywhere and in the middle of all this confusion stood a house finished in frame with men working feverish towards its completion. My first encounter with one of the players was a framer cutting a piece of soffeit on the ground. No chalk line or Bob Villa bullshit method for this dude and in merely seconds he had cut to width and cut out an electrical box and was delivering the ply to its awaiting installers. Seconds, not minutes.... Damn, I thought, these guys are good, and instinctively I wondered if my own measly 27 years of experience were enough to play in this game. And for a moment I felt some incredible urge to bow out and run like hell.

After unloading tools and claiming an unoccupied piece of dirt as my own personal country, I relaxed and took a second look at my surroundings. My God, I thought, there are cameras everywhere. And music roared undercurrent to JL's emceeing comments. Each move on the structure birthing in front of me, was being filmed, recorded and scrutinized offsite by bleacher bound audience members bombarded by continual expletive comments and video feeds to a huge TV screen, as singers bashfully and unabashed took flight on the karaoke stage behind. And, my gawd, just to the right, masseuses worked fervently to ease the knots in the players finished with their part in the program. This is too much I thought, and immediately felt the need for the solace of the ever safe Porta-Pottay, and after somewhat confusing directions imparted by and might I add much finger directional support pointing, which I hate dearly, I made my way to the plastic domed safety of my beloved sanctuary. After the slight navigational path was accomplished and rounding the last obstacle to home I was confronted by a halo lightened woman, obviously the one I had been warned previously about, the recipient of the home we had been entrusted to create, who was committed to hugging and thanking all involved. And being the gentleman and wannabe comedian that I am, sidestepped, flashed the vampire-go-away finger cross.. (just joking of course) she stopped my heart with just two words.


I didn't actually hear her, but she quite pointedly mouthed them to me.... she just said... 


Thank you...


And so I was asked to write about what I felt and saw during this, Builder Bowl I. I could tell you about the fact that we had absolutely no plan going in on how we, the trim carpenters, were going to accomplish our appointed task. And when our time came, and there were cameras in our faces, we kinda got scared. No one wanted to be the first to commit to a move. Our leaders conveniently abandoned us, and standing seemingly naked in front of everyone, eyes connected between us.


And a song unheard except by us, began to play.


And the puzzle lacking pieces slowly started to fill in, and each of us assumed their skill appointed positions without thought. And as I started to hang the first door, another old one, (okay, excuse me!) another with laugh lines and pain lines as deeply etched in his face as mine, a brother I didn't know I had, stood right beside me and said, lets whip this muther-(expletive deleted) . And the music grew louder...and the dance began...


And we did, what we do, out of just love I guess, and the fact we got to show off a little. And as I nailed trim, the painters caulked and puttied beneath each arm, the carpet dudes laid tack strip at my feet and everyone did their best without reservation. And barring a slight false start, the ballet swirled in it's own choreographed glory, defying logic taking life of its own. And as I walked down the hallway yelling, "where's my side cases" for the next door, in passing a brother's holding of a header trim on the bifold door across the hall, the nail gun in my hand just reached out in a rhythm of its own and spotted the header in place. Go figure... Zen carpentry I guess....

Or maybe that dang magic,

Thank you,