D.W. Ulsterman On Showtime’s New Original Series, “ROADIES”

Love me some Roadies.

Showtime’s original series  joint-effort with longtime Rock -n- Roll quasi-documentarian Cameron Crowe, starts off a bit slow, but then the tour bus gets a rollin’ and the smiles arrive in ever greater succession.

It’s a kind-hearted affair to be sure – but that’s the point. In an era where violence so often fills in for substance, Roadies has good-old-fashioned heart.

Oh, and the music is GOOD.

Really-really, GOOD.

And therein lies the show’s episodic blank canvas, a very similar quality to a musical tour itself where an empty arena then becomes the temporary focal point of the entertainment universe as the band hits the stage, is greeted by the approving roar of the crowd, and the collective troubles of everyone involved melt away, if but for an all too brief moment.

The effortlessly affable Luke Wilson anchors the cast, aided greatly by his female counterpart, Carla Gugino. Both are veteran actors who play veteran tour managers, with a lifetime of accumulated experience, but a still-youthful zeal to experience yet more.

The supporting cast is just as strong, including a potentially break-out performance by British-born, Imogen Poots, who plays seemingly wayward artist-in-the-making, Kelly Ann. It is the kind of female character whose earth Roadies creator Cameron Crowe has farmed often, but Poots’s performance adds a freshness and appeal that keeps it from feeling like mere deja-vu.

And here is where a much-deserved shout-out must go to actor/comedian Ron White, who plays something of an Obi-Wan-Kenobi of Rock -n- Roll roadies in the form of “Phil”, a seen-it-all, done it all, gun-toting mess who is as devoted to life on the road as its travelling brigade of lovable malcontents are to him.

White devours each scene he is in, and should be given serious consideration for an Emmy come next year:

Ah, but back to the music. Nearly every episode this season has had a drop-in appearance by Rock -n- Roll royalty as well as from some musicians aspiring to some day be. The songs are thus given an eclectic mix of the known-by-all, and known by some. Such is the nature of music and art – that undefinable dedicated happenstance that takes an artist, and transforms them into a star.


D.W. Ulsterman is a bestselling author and socio-political commentator.

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