MILWAUKEE — One of the hardest workers at Summerfest is pulling double duty as a performer and stage manager. There are a lot of hard workers at Summerfest, and Eugene Gruber is up there with the best of them.
“It's an investment in time and money, blood, sweat, and tears, you know," he said.
He’s the stage manager at the Second Floor Stage. It’s a pop up stage for local artists to get the chance at playing the Big Gig. A lot of the performers are acoustic cover artists. It's a chance for local acts from the immediate area to get exposure. On day four of Summerfest, the entire lineup consisted of people from the Waukesha area.
When you see him on stage, he's the one helping do the sound checks, put the microphones in the proper spots, and help with anything else the artists may need. Plus, basically all the equipment you see - the amps, mic stands, mixer and more - are all his.
“Put it together piece by piece and at the end of the night take it all down, and put it away, and I do that every single day throughout the whole run," Gruber said.
It's a lot of work, but it's a job that he enjoys. He's helping give artists a chance to play on music's biggest stage. But he isn't just helping other singers and guitarists perform, he's on stage too with a guitar in hand.
“It makes me feel like a kid like this is something I wanted to do when I was really, really young, and I never took the opportunity to do it, and I can’t believe at this age I'm doing it," he said.
Gruber has been coming to Summerfest for as long as he can remember. In fact, before he started performing inside the festival grounds, he was outside playing a song for those walking in.
"I always wanted to play down here. When I started to play on my own, I used to play outside the north gate," he said.
He performs at the Second Floor stage and the Local Motion Music Cart that can travel throughout the Summerfest grounds.
“(It's) exclusively designed for my crew to use because we run the stage all day and we all like to play so when we go over there. That's where we do our entertainment.”
So if he isn't playing guitar, he's helping set up for guitarists. It's all a lot of hard work, but it's a dream fulfilled man who loves Summerfest.