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Columns > Annabel Lukins - Both Sides of the Rail

Published: 2008/06/03
by Annabel Lukins


It’s June 1, I am sitting in my back yard in Boulder, the sun is shining on a beautiful early summer day, and after a great talk with my editor Dean, I am 100% inspired to write a column about what I have been up to since I deserted all of you after my heart-filled piece about my wedding -almost 9 months ago.

First of all, let it be known, I am totally in love with my husband. Marriage has been the craziest undertaking ever and I truly believe that it’s more work than I had imagined, yet worth every up and down.

Now, where did I leave off? Right after our return from a 10-day honeymoon in Maui I pressed the “go” button for work and didn’t turn it off until mid-March.

Caribbean Holidaze in December, was up next, and boywhat a slam-dunk that was. 5 days and nights under gorgeous Jamaican skies, the Biscuits, Umphrey’s, Keller, the Duo, 800 fans, and about 60 of us staff, broke new grounds in musical perfection. We charted two all-inclusive resorts in Runaway Bay, built a professional size stage on the beach, and lived in paradise for a week. Shows were only at night. Daytime was spent in the ocean, the pool, playing golf, tennis , celebrating the Holidaze, or sleeping in. I only wish you all could come this year, but we sold out immediately!

Right after Jamaica was Jam Cruise 6. And yes, I may say this every time, but BEST ONE YET. Not only were we sold out in June, but also the event was the smoothest ever on board. It was seamless (ok despite a few seasick people), from the moment we boarded to the time we arrived back in Florida. And since I feel we are like a well-oiled machine after six cruises, the fans and the musicians have more fun too. Don’t forget, Jam Cruise 7 is announced and we are on sale June 4. Here are some of my super sassy photos from January.

No rest for this little girl, Langerado was in March, only two months away. With over 100 bands to advance and a team of 18 to manage, I had my hands full! We hosted 25,000 people a day, campers far as the eye could see, we all “followed the lines going South” and returned back to Big Cypressattempting to create magic once again. Now, in the history of life experiences, Phish at Big Cypress wins hands down (actually, I wrote that in the beginning of my “Union & Reunion” column). So going back there to run Langerado was a dream come true.

So, how did it go, you are thinking? Well, it was one of the most challenging but rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. But at the end of the day, it was a huge success. Plus, hanging with the Beastie Boys, escorting Sammy Bush around, & having Phix dedicate Destiny Unbound to me, made it ALLLLL worth it. See, you may not think so because I get to hang out with all these cool musicians, but my job is harder than most any out there. I have to maintain composure, leadership, professionalism, enthusiasm and so much more under the most extreme times of pressure. And I do my best to accomplish that, even if it means sacrificing my own needs. Butwhen I get the most important Phish song I never heard sung for me by the best Phish tribute band ever AT Big Cypress, and I get to spend an hour talking about NYC with the Beastie Boys, I get back to why I love this so much and why it’s ok to work as hard as I do. I am truly humbled to lead such a life.

OK before I jump to April, I need to pause and introduce Charlie. I’m such a control freak and my friends tease me all the time. At my bachelorette party, I told the girls that my plan was: Cat Kid Dog Kid. Six months into the marriage, one of my best friends Nina looked at her watch, looked at me and said “well you better get on that cat!”

So one afternoon in February, we went to the Humane Society, and there we found “Fritz.” He was this tiny little 8-week old tabby who cried and cried until someone held him. We took him home and knew we had found our kitty. Thing was, we didn’t love the name. So one day I was video chatting with my 3-year old niece Bailey and showed her the cat. “What’s his name?” She asked. “I don’t know, Bailey, what should we name him?” “Charlie,” she sheepishly replied in the cutest voice ever! “PERFECT,” I said to her. Then I asked my sister, “Who the hell is Charlie,” as I had never heard Bailey use that name. “Oh, he’s some boy she has a crush on at school.” I thought it was the best name possible. So Charlie has been a member of the Stelling family ever since then and we absolutely love him. I only bring it to your attention because HE IS ADORABLE and has also taken up a ton of my free time (i.e. “play with me momma or I will bite you.)

Off to April..FINALLY VACATION!!!! I needed a break SOOO badly no phones, no computers, nothing, just nature.Costa Rica was high on my “list” of places to visit so when my dear friend Amy decided to get married there, I planned a whole weeks worth’s of activities. People, listen up, GO TO COSTA RICA. It was fabulous, wonderful, delightful, and beautiful. Everyone should now put on their “bucket list,” go face to face with a white-faced monkey in the Costa Rican jungle.

Now, I know you all think I am crazy anyway, here’s REAL crazy with a hint of SUPERIOR planning. Upon arrival back into the Denver Airport, I dropped Peter off at his car and drove myself to City Park in Denver where I was the official “speaker” liaison for Green Apple. It was so fun to get there, bound with energy and a knock-out tan, telling everyone I had just gotten off the plane from Costa Rica and was excited to be there. Along with taking care of the mayor of Denver, a powerful congresswoman, and a very rich and cool man from JPMorgan Chase, I ran around on a PERFECT sunny day hanging with the Neville Brothers, Rose Hill Drive and a bunch of Colorado music biz peeps.

May merits a HOORAY for an outstanding month. The snow had melted, the lilacs were out, the warm weather was here and THE JAMMYS WERE ON.SO ON! I went back to visit friends and family in NYC for a week. My sister is pregnant so that was cool to rub the belly, mom made me bagels with lox and cream cheese every morning and my dad took me to see the best musical I’ve ever seenand I recommend it to everyone_Passing Strange_, I ran in Central Park, taking in the luscious smells of the cherry blossoms, and shopped till I dropped. But what I really want to tell you about was the Jammys.

The Jammys have been running since 2000 with only one year off. I was only an observer for the first two years at Irving Plaza, but at Roseland Ballroom in 2002, I won a Jammy and spent the night wrangling Trey, Robert Randolph and stressing about making an acceptance speech in front of 3000 people.

Since then, I have been a talent coordinator for the event, managing a team of artist wranglers and basically having a blast running around backstage. This year, as you know, Phish was given the lifetime achievement award.we got the band back together. I managed a kick-ass team of women that got every artist to where they needed to be, but my main role was to see that Phish was happy. And I couldn’t have been more grateful that nightfor the band that changed my life that I got to take care of, for the awards show that changed my life that I got to work for, for the scene that embraced me the very first time I saw a Dead show, for all the friends and colleagues I have developed and nurtured over the years, so many of them present that night. The Jammys were, and will always remain (despite the announcement that this would be the last one), one of the most unique and special events ever to grace our community.

Are you exhausted yet from my 2008 recap??? It’s almost over and of COURSE it has to end with my annual Memorial Day participation in the Bolder Boulder, a 10K race that over 60,000 people take part in. I love it, I love it, I love to run, the event is such a blast and I never thought that running 6.2 miles would be so much fun. My time: was 59:36.72. Under an hour baby, hell yeah. What a way to ring in the summer.

That’s it, everyone. I took months and months off from updating you, only to hit you with a multi-adventurous return. Bonnaroo is next, and you know I love to take photos there so expect to hear from me in less than a month. And just so you hold me to it, here is my summer schedule: June Bonnaroo, July Rothbury August Lollapalooza. There, you’ve got me for at LEAST 3 more months!

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