He may be terrified of rides, but he sure loves spending his summer at an amusement park. Meet Thomas Carley: bassist in The Tidal Waves by day and Hot Rhythm Nights by night. In his third season performing at Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom, Thomas gave us a glimpse at his day as a musician in the park’s most entertaining shows and some of his favorite parts of the job.
What goes into preparing for your shows?
We get the music about a month or so in advance, so you have the time to prep (I like to have everything memorized and ready to go before rehearsal). Once we get here, we have 12-hour days – split between Tidal Waves and Hot Rhythm Nights. I’m not gonna lie, you have a really intense week or two of rehearsals, and that’s all the prep time we have. It’s not easy, but it sure is fun.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
This might be a little cheesy, but I really like performing for kids and seeing them be inspired by what I’m doing. Who knows, they may see me and want to do what I do some day. It’s kind of like paying it forward.
Do you have a favorite memory on the job?
There’s a lot of good ones… half of it is the cast and the goofy stuff off-hours and the moments we have on stage. One cool thing that’s happened this year so far was during one of the first shows of Hot Rhythm Nights. I looked out into the crowd and the kids from last year saw me and were super happy to see me. I was like ‘alright I have to play, but I am feeling happy emotions!’
What are some of your career aspirations and how does your job at Dorney Park help with achieving that goal?
Ideally, I’d like to be in New York playing in Broadway pits. If the stars align perfectly: the SNL band. Or even like what I do right now as being a “side man” playing in a singer’s band. I don’t want people to come see me, I want to help support other’s artistic goals and visions. Doing these types of gigs lets me have fun and be an entertainer. I get to practice jumping around like a goofball with my bass and get paid to do it!
What is something you wish you would have known before going into this industry?
I wouldn’t trade doing this for anything, but it is very hard performing outside in the elements. It’s very hot and you deal with everything from humidity to rain. A lot of people come from theater work, which is an air-conditioned space. When you are in an environment like this, it can be a lot. At the end of the day, it makes you that much better.
Morning: I try to wake up as early as I can (usually around 8:30am), eat breakfast, meal prep, and stretch. Stretching is so important to make sure you’re not stiff when playing your instrument.
Afternoon: I head to the park around 1pm, grab all my Tidal Waves equipment and head to the stage for sound check. Do our sets at 2:30pm, 3:30pm, and 4:30pm. In between we usually hang out in the green room, eat, and hydrate (very important). The Tidal Waves day ends around 5pm when we pack up.
Evening: Eat dinner. Start sound check for Hot Rhythm Nights around 6:30pm. Shows are at 7pm, 8pm, and 9pm with meet and greets in between shows. After the last show, I head home to hang out and get some work done (laundry, errands, etc.).