Where I Work: Six Flags Fiesta Texas

Where I Work: Six Flags Fiesta Texas

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Some of my earliest memories are of me watching and listening to my grandfather play music in his garage in Corpus Christi. Even in the humidity, my brother and I would sit on the ground for hours. We would be mesmerized, listening to him banging on the piano and singing slightly off-key. But it was on the drums that he truly transformed. I could never take my eyes off the way his hands moved, the focus on his face when he would play. I was in awe of what he could accomplish with just two sticks in his hands. I knew just from watching him play that it was something I wanted to learn, something I had to learn. So, my grandfather became my first and all-time favorite drum instructor.
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I was around five years old when he began teaching me. We spent a lot of time sitting side by side, playing simultaneously on practice pads and snare drums. My grandfather knew how my brain worked better than any teacher I ever had. The way he taught me through repetition and example helped me pick things up very quickly at such a young age. After about a year or two of playing on nothing but a single snare drum or a practice pad, he finally allowed me to move to his drum set. This is where my life truly changed.

For hours we would sit and play music, him at the piano, me at the drums. Learning how to play songs by legends such as Billy Joel, Frank Sinatra, and Chicago. What he taught me was the foundation of the drummer I have become. I would not be the musician I am today without the hours he spent with me in that garage in Corpus Christi.
Drummer Analina Devora rehearses two songs for the upcoming Mash Bash 2021.
Drummer Analina Devora rehearses two songs for the upcoming Mash Bash 2021. Credit: Bria Woods / San Antonio Report

During the summer of 7th grade, my friends and I would spend all day at Six Flags Fiesta Texas. While they were preoccupied with roller coasters, I was all about the music. I would drag us all over the park to the different venues to see the shows. Being an aspiring professional musician, seeing another female drummer onstage playing shows at a professional level was an absolute inspiration for me. For years and years after I would watch her play in the Fiesta Texas shows, constantly thinking to myself, “I want to do that.”

After 10 years of manifestation, practice, and a whole bachelor’s degree in music later, I learned the position became open. In February of 2021, I landed an audition through the help of some good friends and was hired as the new house drummer for Six Flags Fiesta Texas a few hours later. After spending months in lockdown, wondering if I’d ever be able to play music in front of a live audience again, I had landed a job where I would be playing drums to an audience every day. Not only that, but it was the job that I had wanted since the age of 13.

The busiest time of year for us is spring and summer, which happened to be my first official season playing with the park. After about a month of rehearsals to learn the three new shows we would be playing over the course of the season, we finally laid into our typical show day routine: five shows a day, five days a week.

Leon Sanchez, band director, gives feedback to the band during a rehearsal for Mash Bash 2021.
Drummer Analina Devora arrives to the Zaragoza Theater to rehearse with the Six Flags Fiesta Texas band.
Devora rehearses with the Six Flags Fiesta Texas band. The drummer remembers becoming passionate about playing in her middle school jazz band.
Leon Sanchez, band director, gives feedback to the band during a rehearsal for Mash Bash 2021.

The shows are all outdoors which, if you’re from Texas, you know that means one thing: heat. After each show, you can find me frantically removing my sweat-soaked costume, catching my breath, and trying not to die of heatstroke. Breaks in between shows consist of practicing, sound checks, bonding with my fellow bandmates, and supporting the other performers by watching their shows in between my own. At the end of the night, after playing music all day, we sometimes take part in some workplace perks and watch the nightly summer fireworks show.

I loved all the shows I have played in this past season, however, our Latin pop show “Fuego” was my baby. It was the first show I learned with the band and it was also the very first show I played onstage at Fiesta Texas. During the last song of our final “Fuego” show of the season, it started pouring rain. But the audience didn’t care. Everyone stayed and danced and screamed, pouring out their energy to us onstage. Thunder was clapping and the rain wasn’t letting up, but there was no way we were going to cut our last performance short. Looking out in the audience after the final cymbal hits, seeing everyone soaked from the rain, clapping and cheering, made all the hard work and sacrifice I made this summer worth it.

I really couldn’t ask for a better job. Although I have only been working for Fiesta Texas Entertainment for less than a year, it has been a dream. Nothing can compare to the backstage belly laughs with fellow cast and crew members, feeling the adrenaline and excitement of being onstage, and of course, making a living by playing your music every single day.

When I’m onstage, I can’t help but think of my grandfather and all the hours and hours we practiced over the years. Without this time he dedicated to teaching me and believing in my talent, I would not be the musician I am today. I hold this gift he gave me near and dear to my heart and I am very proud to carry on his legacy of music.

Source: https://sanantonioreport.org/where-i-work-six-flags-fiesta-texas/

Henry Strother

Henry Strother started working for Business Journal in 2020.  Henry grew up in a small town in Western Florida, but moved to Tampa to attend college.  Before joining Business Journal, Henry worked as a freelance journalist for several radio stations.  He covers business, technology and lifestyle stories.