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Palm Beach County native performed at Las Vegas music festival where shooting took place

Posted at 4:55 PM, Oct 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-06 21:13:29-04

As we continue to hear survival stories from the Las Vegas massacre, we can't forget about the musicians who were just trying to entertain a crowd when tragedy struck. One of them is from Palm Beach County.

Drummer Matt Crowning grew up in Palm Beach County and now lives in Nashville. He helped open the Route 91 Festival in Las Vegas on Sunday, playing a gig with artist Tyler Reeve.

He says he is "still foggy from the whole event, I can't believe what happened, happened." 

He never imagined the night would end the way it did. He says he was hanging out backstage and watching the other acts when Jason Aldean took the stage. "Halfway through Jason's set we thought, 'OK we're gonna go back to the hotel.' "

He just arrived back to his hotel, the MGM, when the shooting started. 

"The problem was no one really knew what was going on so we were getting all kinds of rumors that there's something going on and then I saw an influx of people coming into the MGM," he says.

He adds, it was pure chaos as everyone was making phone calls, trying to figure out what happened and if their fellow bandmates and crew members were all OK.

"There were people without rooms, they didn't know what was going on so we opened our room for people to come in gather their thoughts, use the bathroom etc., while we were waiting for reports and messages, and anything we could get from people on scene. So it was just unbelievable," he says.

Crowning stayed on the phone with his wife, fellow South Floridian and Country Artist Amber Leigh.

"Honestly I was glad she was safe here at home in Nashville," he says. "We were just trying to make sense of what was going on and I kept telling her I'm OK." 

He says it was surreal to leave his hotel the next day and walk onto the Vegas strip. "It was a very eerie feeling walking outside, very silent, you don't hear the hustle and bustle of the normal Las Vegas. I couldn't wait to get back home."

Crowning says it is difficult to think about being on that same stage earlier in the day. "Looking back it's hard to even look at those videos or photos. You still can't even believe it, it doesn't feel real, it doesn't seem real. All my friends, we all have the same glazed over look; we don't know what to say. We don't know how to feel; sadness, anger the whole 9 yards."

But he knows as a musician, the best thing he can do is get back up. "As a performer, as an entertainer you have to get back on stage. You have to get back, do your job, because if you don't, then all this evil wins." 

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