Mike Vial & the Great Lake Effect

My Best Worst Gig Ever

Mike VialMy worst and best gig were actually the same gig. I had been playing regularly in a small town in Michigan, one lost between Flint and Lansing and farmland, and I had made some new friends in the town. One new friend said, "We have a huge festival in town you need to play! Here's an email for the festival organizer. Her name is Natalie."

When you start out in music, you don't ask questions about gigs; you are excited to play anywhere. I looked past that this was a train festival (Yep. choo, choo trains), and focused on the promise that there were supposedly going to be tens of thousands in attendance.

What I didn't know was the stage area was half a mile away from the actual festival grounds. So it's 11 AM on a Sunday morning, and I'm standing on a stage and playing to no one. Well, except for Natalie, who was not the festival organizer, but the person who had gotten stuck booking acts in the doomed, off-site entertainment area.

Here's where my worst gig becomes my best gig: Natalie is gorgeous! Who would have guessed the person booking me for the worst gig ever would be a beautiful, intelligent blonde in her 20s? During my set, Natalie clearly felt terrible that no one was there, so she sat down to listen. After I played my last song, we spent the next hour walking around the festival together.

Three years later, Natalie and I walked down the aisle and said, "I do." To this day, my wife is still embarrassed that the first time I saw her, she was wearing a pink conductor's hat and a bright orange train festival T-shirt. I'm still embarrassed I played at a train festival. But we are both happy I did.

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