By Matthew Breit, Project Manager at Nexus 5 Group
Work hard, play hard. This is the age old, cliché saying that you've heard over and over.
At Nexus 5, this phrase is said on a regular basis, second only to our “Serve Well” battle cry. You hear companies across the globe brag about their culture, but here at Nexus 5 Group, we mean it and we live it. Work/life balance is not only encouraged, but also expected. It looks different among us.
We all have family we hold near and dear. Some coach their kids in their sports and activities all weekend long. Some are into cycling. Some are into hunting and fishing. Then there are the campers and lake goers. Whatever it may be, we all have those things that drive us outside of our demanding careers, and I think those drivers keep us healthy and energized. It keeps your attitude refreshed and better able to manage the challenges you face every day.
What drives me?
I've been asked to share what drives me to work hard and play hard. For me, it is music. More specifically, I front a Red Dirt Country band called Sons of Sterling.
This blog came about after performing in one of my biggest shows yet- Miller Lite Hot Country Nights. These are the kind of shows that musicians would kill to perform at and we had been asked to perform in front of thousands of people. As the newest project manager at Nexus 5, I felt a little hesitant to ask for a couple days off to pull off this show (which was years in the making for me). But after putting in my request, I realized how much support I have from my team.
I got the old “work hard, play hard” pep talk from managing director, John Hinman, and I was pumped and set to go.
Years in the Making
When I said these shows were years in the making, the back story is music wasn’t always my thing. Even though I received my first guitar when I was in 3rd grade, it wasn’t my top priority. My youth was consumed with football and wrestling.
It wasn’t until college when a couple of buddies unknowingly signed me up at an open jam at a local bar. I was just sitting at the bar when my name was called. And my buddies were laughing and pushing me to the stage. I'd never performed in front of anyone before and I was so nervous. I did a few songs and the nerves settled and from there I was hooked.
I started hitting up local open jams and within a month I had my first show booked at a local bar. From there, I assembled my first band, Interstate 49, and we played local venues for 5 years including opening for Whiskey Myers at PBR Big Sky in Kansas City’s Power and Light District.
In my music travels, I've seen it all!
Unlike what the music videos portray, being in a band is way different than the backstage parties and super model groupies. It's more comparable to the movie Roadhouse, where the stage for the band is surrounded in chicken wire to prevent beer bottles and tomatoes from hitting the band members. (Except most bars don't provide the chicken wire).
There are no tour buses, only personal vehicles loaded down with gear. Backstage is normally an area out back by a rank smelling dumpster. Every member of the band is their own roadie, typically unloading gear at 2 o’clock in the morning after a show.
I have seen some wild things in my travels. These include bar fights, drunken dancers, and tons of Luke Bryan song requests from the women in the audience. When they say music is a tough industry, they mean it! One of the toughest things about music is that bands break up. And as most bands do, my first band, Interstate 49, had an amicable split and I found myself looking for my next adventure... Sons of Sterling.
Sons of Sterling
Opportunities often present themselves out of the clear blue sky. This is how I landed with Sons of Sterling. In 2017, I received a phone call asking me if I would front a newly formed Red Dirt Country group. I jumped in and basically started from scratch. It was back to playing the bars and trying to make a name for ourselves, and for 4 years we did just that.
Fast forward to 2021. I started with Nexus 5 Group as a project manager. In no time, the team found out I was in a band. Within a couple of weeks, Nexus 5 Group project engineer, Tony Cowan, joined Sons of Sterling as the new band and media manager. With his help in promoting and managing, we kept plugging along until we got the call to open for Jordan Davis at Miller Lite Hot Country Nights sponsored by 106.5 The Wolf. This is a free concert series featuring national performing artists every Thursday night during the summer at Kansas City’s Power and Light District.
"Pumped" is an understatement to be asked to play this show.
We showed up at 3:00 pm to load in, only this time we had union stagehands setting up our gear. You’re not even allowed to carry your own guitar in because that's their job. Then we sound checked from 4:00-5:00 pm for an empty venue. On every pluck of a bass note and thump of the kick drum, you can feel the sound wave move you with the whole stage rumbling beneath your feet.
Now the nerves set in. For 3 hours, we wait backstage with anxiety building by the minute. By 5:30 pm, there is a crowd gathered at the front of the stage. Our performance started at 8:00pm and the most surreal thing I've experienced in my life was at 7:59 pm. Standing at the backstage doors, half nauseous with nerves, they announced our name and flung the doors to the stage open. We walked out to a crowd of 6,000 people.
After years of hard work, it was time to savor the moment and play hard! And that we did. For 45 minutes, we were rock stars.
Monday morning 8:00 am Back to 8500 Merriam Lane at Nexus 5 Group. I finished my last drop of coffee in my truck and walked in, still reeling with a big smile on my face. I'm energized, pumped and ready to work hard, all over again.
What motivates you to work hard? Leave a comment and let us know!