‘Rock The Square’: The awesome life of a journalist

When the guard at the gate walked away, we made a run for it, opened the gate and snuck backstage. As we made our way to the tour bus, we kept in the shadows and out of sight from the police officers. Every time a guard or officer came near by, a surge of adrenaline ran through us. Finally, we saw .38 Special exiting the smoke-filled stage. Before we knew it, the lead singer was coming toward us and we almost tripped over ourselves running up to him. We thought to ourselves, “Wow, this is really happening!”

Fellow Flare staff member Hunter Lohr and I covered the music event Rock the Square in Tyler on Saturday, Oct. 17. We were warned we probably couldn’t get to the bands because they were under contract. However, that didn’t mean we weren’t going to try. Journalists will not give up just because they’re told no.

The experience overall made for one of the most memorable days of my life. Rock the Square consisted of a classic car show and a concert. It began with the car show which boasted dozens of classic beauties including a Chevy Chevelle and several ’60s Mustangs in mint condition. It was a classic car enthusiast’s paradise. Once we finished touring the car show, we realized there were a couple of food trucks on the square and we could not help but wander to them. We opted for a burger from a food truck called Rock n’ Dawg. It was absolutely delightful. The patties were savory and hand pressed while the fries were flavorfully seasoned. They also had interesting names for the food relating to rock, such as the ‘Fall Out Boy’ and the ‘ZZ Top’.

After lunch, we had a couple of hours to kill before the concert started so we decided it would be a good idea to walk to a record store. Bad idea. Not only did we not have proper walking shoes, but we also ended up in a shady part of Tyler. On the upside, I did find some rare records and we made it back to the festival alive just in time.

Special guest Jimmie Vaughan and his band were the opening act. They played mellow tunes featuring amazing guitar solos. It was a perfect transition between the car show and .38 Special. While we were walking around looking for good angles to take pictures from, Hunter and I discovered an opening that was not guarded. It lead to Jimmie Vaughan’s tour bus. We quickly slipped in and watched the rest of the show from backstage. When the show ended, I noticed Jimmie coming off the stage towards us. I turned to Hunter and yelled, “Jimmy’s coming! Hurry, take out your camera!” While he fumbled to take out the camera, I ran up to Jimmy and introduced myself. He was very nice and cool about letting us take pictures. He even took out his guitar. After, it took us a while to process what had happened. We were overjoyed.

We then made our way back beside the stage to capture .38 Special’s epic performance. By this time, the place was packed. Energy was high and people were dancing. The band played several of their most popular songs including ‘Rockin into the Night’ and ‘Caught up in You’. They had the crowd going wild.

About halfway through their performance, we decided would try to go backstage like we had for Jimmie Vaughan. Unfortunately, our secret spot was now completely blocked off and guarded. The number of police officers had doubled as well. We were not discouraged, though. I told Hunter that we would walk around the block all the way behind the concert. When we got there, we were faced with a gate and a guard.

Amazingly, the guard left and that is how we found ourselves sneaking in and hiding while freezing to wait for .38 Special. We had an amazing spot to witness their closing song, all time favorite ‘Hold on Loosely’. Most of the band was on the bus before we could even say hello. But it was just our luck that lead singer Don Barnes was walking our way. I jumped up faster than I’d ever have with Hunter right behind me and we went up to him, introduced ourselves, and got some great pictures with him. He was also very nice and I feel like he would have talked to us more if the policies officers had not discovered us and asked us politely to leave.

And that my friends, is what you call a great ending to our night. Now you have some insight into the life of a journalist. Pretty awesome, right?