I was Patti Smith’s Roadie (for a day)

Posted February 14th, 2013 at 3:34 pm.

Bryn Mawr Now guest blogger Laura Reeve is a Bryn Mawr senior studying English and Creative Writing. She also works part-time as a program assistant at Girls Rock Philly, a local music and mentoring organization dedicated to empowering girls and young women through music education and other creative activities. On campus she has been a part of Bryn Mawr’s feminist newspaper, the college news, and the literary magazine, Kaleidoscope. In her spare time she attends punk shows in West Philly basements.

Patti Smith really exploded into my life this semester; I was asked to participate in the Just Kids Book Club Blog and then given the opportunity to work both on campus events. I readily accepted both offers (duh). In a meeting two days before Patti was to arrive on campus, Katherine Rowe (Director of the Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center and beloved English Professor) leaned over to me and whispered, “Would you want to help me with Patti when she arrives on campus?”

“You mean, like, hang out with her?” I asked.

Cut to 2:45 p.m. on Thursday, February 7 — I am walking towards Goodhart and practically shaking. What am I going to say? What am I going to do? When she arrives 10 minutes later, I almost don’t recognize her. I offer to carry her guitar and she says, “It’s always nice to have a Roadie.”

For the rest of the day I made sure Patti and her Literary Agent, Betsy Lerner, had everything they needed. I carried her guitar from the green room to the stage, we talked about what she was reading (Japanese writers) and about Nina Simone, and after she received her medal, I witnessed her admire it quietly.

Suffice it to say, I had one of the best jobs that night. I was lucky enough to see her public performances (the first inspiring and mind blowing, the second touching) and be a part of the behind-the-scenes excitement.

I think everyone worries a little bit about meeting someone they admire; they worry that person will not live up to their expectations. I can definitely say that Patti Smith exceeded my expectations, both as a performer and a person. In fact, I admire her more now than ever before.

This will be one of my most cherished Bryn Mawr memories.

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