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Trip Durham's picture

For well over twenty years I have produced or co-produced at least 1,500 events, primarily in sports. From game day football to season ending banquets and all celebrations in between, I have planned and executed a variety of programs. I am surprised (and frankly, disappointed) that I didn’t realize the power of making sports memories through music until this summer when I attended the Home Run Derby for the All-Star Game in Cincinnati. Here’s how it happened.

When I entered the stands at Great American Ballpark on July 13 I saw a pre-event band on stage playing at the pitcher’s mound, entertaining the fans. Their live images on the video board, along with a lower third title graphic, told me that the group was Walk the Moon. Now, at 47 years old, I am not nearly the student of contemporary music as I was decades ago. I had never heard of the name “Walk The Moon.” Settling in to my seat, just before 8p, the public address announcer proclaimed that we were about to be joined by ESPN as they start their live show from the Derby. It was then, with perfect timing, that Walk The Moon struck the cords of their hit “Shut Up and Dance With Me.” Turns out, I knew that song and I liked that song, a lot!

I should mention, as well, that as I get older, I find there are other things, much like music, that do not hold my attention the way they once did. I don’t cruise the mall any longer, I don’t yearn to stay up all night, and I don’t follow Major League Baseball as ardently as I did in my teens and twenties. On July 13 as I sat with a group of really good friends, Walk The Moon and the Cincinnati Reds linked me forever to a song and to a night along the Ohio River.

For years I programmed my events to fit a script and not to evoke emotions. My canned music, my run of show, the cheerleaders and marching bands were all scripted for the night and not with an intention to make a lasting memory for the fans. Professionally, I could not dictate who won a game or lost a contest. Personally, I have always tied music to my wedding reception, my road trip to Baltimore, my father’s funeral, and hundreds of other events in my life. Yet, as a show producer in sports, I never thought of connecting a fan’s memory of their experience memories in my venue through music.

Since July 13, anytime I hear “Shut Up and Dance With Me,” I am back at the All-Star Game. I am sitting with friends, drinking good beer and watching dusk fall over the rushing waters beyond right field. I don’t know any other song by Walk The Moon and as I write this blog, I have no idea who leads the American League East or the National League West. But I know the rush I felt when the lead guitar beckoned us to get happy at the urging of the public address announcer. I will have that memory for a long, long time.

Oh, and remind me, who won the Home Run Derby?

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