Every Year, as the days get longer and the nights get warmer, a new wave of tattooed and pierced creatures come out to play with the masses. It is the beginning of festival season. Touring on a massive scale will consume bands from the world over until the bite of autumn air forces them to take it indoors. And when Labor Day is upon us, the boys will vacate the streets and there will be a sense of loss for the fans that hold out for those magical moments that can only come from seeing their favorite band in an open air venue.
Yet somehow, this festival season will not be the same. You see, today marks what would have been AJ Carroll's 23rd Birthday. It has only been a few short weeks since the tragedy of his death shook this community to its core. AJ was a staple on the DFW music scene long before he could legally be a patron at the very venues he played at. AJ was already playing Rocklahoma by the time he was 17 years old, as drummer for Revengence. He was a veteran to the music industry; touring, recording, session work. He attended the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles which helped him hone his technique. He was a marvel; perfecting drum techniques that musicians decades older than him still struggled with. Many did not know that AJ also played guitar with a significant amount of competency. He refused to say he played piano (because he wasn’t perfect at it), but he did. His voice wasn't half bad either. He was poised for greatness.
But there was madness in the genius. Like many musicians, AJ struggled with the dark side of creativity; being able to feel Everything. In so many ways, he was the ingenue. He looked at the world with the wonder and awe of a child. Everything was new to him, something new to explore. It may be why he was so deeply affected by all that he saw. It was painful for him to watch the way people treated one another and often he questioned why people behaved as they did. Yet he still loved, big and out loud. It was just his way. Music was his therapy, fans were his ultimate acceptance; adoring and non-judgemental. It was just as much for the listener as it was for himself.
This tour season will be not be the same. Somehow the music will not play as loudly, as clearly, as it did when he was there. Yet somehow, I keep expecting to turn and see him.
Don Henley, AJ's favorite drummer, said it much better than I ever could, "I see your bronze skin shining in the sun, you got your hair slicked back and your Wayfarers on".
Yet, the memories are all that remain. But just like the music we discussed on a daily basis, I carry him with me. A constant reminder of living in the moment.
So, with great fervor, I encourage all fans to get out and support local music. Because all too soon the Boys of Summer will be gone.