How are you today?

Sometimes social media can let you down (alright: more than sometimes). Last week I heard some delayed news on the radio. I feel like we always hear about bad news so quickly now—yet I hadn’t heard for 6 days.

Scott Hutchison had died.

98% of you probably don’t know who he was. That’s ok. He was a singer/songwriter/frontman for the band Frightened Rabbit. You might know a song or two. Get Out was one of their hits a couple of summers ago.

We all have special memories of which we have complete clarity. For me, one of those was a magical musical moment.

My daughter and I were waiting at a small stage in the forest for Frightened Rabbit to play their set. I am one of those parents that brings their kids to festivals. Feel free to judge, but with ear plugs and sunscreen they’re good to go. They’re festival pros now at 14 and 12. So my youngest daughter and I were waiting. Frightened Rabbit never made it. I was pretty disappointed. I had already bought the concert t at the merch table in anticipation of hearing their show! Now I’d have a t-shirt for a band I never heard play. THE HORROR. I have a rule that I never wear the shirts that I buy at the show, but I always get a t-shirt at a show as a memento.

So we walked around a bit. Enjoyed some of the experiential activations. Took mental notes.

Suddenly I got a notification on my watch. I screenshot it:

I may have been the only person to get the alert because when we got there, it was just the two of us and Scott. There was no tent. It was just in the middle of the forest between stages. He explained that his flight had been canceled. Cursed the airline, then started to play.

I could tell that he was NOT EXCITED to be playing for a growing group of 6, but the show must go on. The crowd grew to 10 then 20 then 30. He asked us to come in closer, so that our bodies could provide some sound proofing from the larger stages around. The crowd continued to grow around us. It was about as intimate a musical performance you could get at a major festival.

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I took a video of him singing Get Out. You can hear me laughing at the beginning, and at points singing along. I stopped about three-quarters of the way because I felt like I was ruining the vibe, even though I was just holding the phone against my chest. The camera work is a bit iffy as a result. But I captured that moment. I’ve never shared it. It was just for me. I have probably listened to it 20 or so times. I know when it cuts off.

He played 5 songs until his voice was overwhelmed by the overly-amplified stages triangulating our spot in the forest. So he said thanks. Then he posed for a photo with my daughter and left.

It was a magical music moment. He didn’t have to do it. It was about giving his fans something when he missed the show. I’m not sure many artists would make the effort.

He died the week before last at the age of 36. He was suffering from mental illness.

There was so much talent and so much passion for what he did. It is such a waste.

So why am I sharing this story?

We all know a Scott. Someone who is talented who has a job that we can’t imagine being anything but enviable. Someone who has touched us. Someone who seems to have it all put together. Life can be so complicated. We can make a difference though.

This story is a reminder that mental health is something we can’t take for granted. We need to be aware of the fact that we all have bad days. However, it can be hard to imagine an escape from what may seem like an endless series of bad days. It can be a trigger for dark times. It can be anything.

We need to be aware. We need to be empathetic. We need to be present. We need to be available. We need to ask not just, “how are you?” but “how are you today?” And, we can’t stop. We can’t ever stop.