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In Memory of Slick.

I just want to say a little bit about a dear friend and true circus legend who passed away this Thursday.

Brian "Slick" Anderson.

When I first joined the circus, I was a nervous mess. Slick stood next to me on the bandstand and gently helped me through my music until I could play the part without cues from him.

At first we didn't talk to each other much. He seemed a bit shy. But that was ok, because I was shy too :)

After a few months and a few nights out, I got to know Slick a little better. I looked forward to his hilarious stories about the circus, spiders, women, cars, etc.

I found that I could go to him with musical questions, and he'd graciously give answers, or advice, or instruction, always with a smile.

As we musicians negotiated our new contract in 2013, I saw by his actions how much Slick cared about all of us...our well-being, and the well-being of future circus musicians.

Standing next to him on the bandstand was an absolutely awesome time. Every day I was blown away by his ability to play perfectly, in any register, at a volume lower than forte (in my experience this is a rare skill in trumpet players). Yet I know that Slick was an excellent musician because he worked HARD at it. Often we would arrive at the arena and see him playing through warm-up exercises in his car.

Although I didn't go out drinking/bar hopping with him and the outgoing circus crowd, it was easy for anyone to see that Slick was a lot of fun to be around. Funny and crazy and awesome.

Slick and I shared a few great conversations. One in particular I will remember for the rest of my life. We were in Greensboro, NC, and it was the day after my birthday. Brett and the guys took me out bowling :) The alley was within walking distance of the train. At some point I decided to head home, and Slick offered to walk with me (he wasn't feeling well). As we neared his car, he mentioned that he'd be getting more cancer treatment in the coming year. As someone who has lost a parent to cancer, I wanted to share with him how I TRULY felt. I told him that I was so, so happy that he was fighting. Because my mother was not even given that chance. I wanted him to know how brave I thought he was, and how much I admired him, and how glad I was that he was able and willing to treat his cancer. He was of course completely embarrassed that I would say stuff like that...he ducked his head and said "Awww, now that's, that's a bit much, there's nothing special about it". I could see him blushing even in the dark train yard. But I meant it and I told him so, and he said "well, thanks" eventually, and we hugged and parted ways. And the very next day he had to leave partway through the show. And that was the last we saw of him for quite some time.

Nothing against any of the sixteen trumpet subs we had over the course of these last two years...but none of them held a candle to Slick. Yes, all of them were absolutely fantastic, capable players and it was a privelege to be able to play with them! But none of them had the endurance + range + control combo that Slick brought to the table every day. While he was out, we band members frequently sent Slick texts to see how he was doing and to cheer him up. Every time I wrote him a text, it was hard to refrain from telling him how much I missed his sound, and his personality, next to me on the bandstand.

As with most shows or touring gigs, when you play the same music over and over again it can get pretty mundane. We all had our little inside jokes and silly routines to help us get through the show each night. When Slick left to get treatment I started taking over some of his routines, in particular his routine of yelling "HOME STRETCH!" when we neared the end of the last show of the day.

This Thursday, when we learned of Slick's passing, I wondered whether I'd be able to yell "HOME STRETCH" in his place without bursting into tears. When the moment came, I was surprised to find that the words came easy. Perhaps because they're a wonderful memory of a dear friend. And a reminder to be patient. To look forward to the future. Because that funky vibe and those tasty chocolate martinis are just a Finale away.

Slick, our lives only intersected for a brief moment. But I will treasure the memory of you...your crazy/silliness, your warm smile, your gentle leadership, your quiet strong presence. Your quaff ;)

Thanks for everything, Slick. See you down the road.

Brian "Slick" Anderson: 8/12/66 - 10/30/14


( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 2nd, 2014 03:53 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry for your loss *hugs*
Nov. 3rd, 2014 03:41 am (UTC)
Thank you. He was a great guy :)
Nov. 2nd, 2014 04:03 pm (UTC)
My condolences on the loss of your friend, he sounds like someone who would be a great person to know.
Nov. 3rd, 2014 03:41 am (UTC)
Thank you :)
Nov. 2nd, 2014 05:15 pm (UTC)
Very sorry for your loss
Nov. 3rd, 2014 03:42 am (UTC)
Thank you.
Nov. 2nd, 2014 06:15 pm (UTC)
Love you
I'm sure he was an amazing guy, Meg. I'm so sorry.
Nov. 3rd, 2014 03:43 am (UTC)
Re: Love you
He totally was. We're all missing him big time. Thanks sis <3
Nov. 2nd, 2014 09:27 pm (UTC)
Beautiful sentiments! I can see and hear Brian through your words. We are all blessed to have known Slick. Wishing you and all on the bandstand wonderful adventures and safe travels ahead. Sean Murray
Nov. 3rd, 2014 03:44 am (UTC)
Thanks. Slick touched so many people during his life. You should hear some of the stories from people who've known him longer! Great stuff :)
Nov. 3rd, 2014 01:28 am (UTC)
Brian was a great guy always cheerful always thinking of others always thinking about the trumpet. We will miss him greatly. Miles Davis
Nov. 3rd, 2014 03:44 am (UTC)
Thank you Miles. So true :)
Nov. 3rd, 2014 11:32 am (UTC)
Thank you for writing such a lovely memory about Brian. I remember hearing him play with the Busch Gardens Boogie Band at Williamsburg in the mid 80's. I knew this was a special player, and now we know was special person he was as well.
Nov. 4th, 2014 11:46 pm (UTC)
Re: Slick
Nov. 4th, 2014 06:03 am (UTC)
Thank you for your kind words about Brian "Slick" "Bird" Anderson. He will be missed for sure. Patrick Keeley
Nov. 4th, 2014 11:46 pm (UTC)
Thank YOU for reading :)
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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