It’s just after 6 a.m. In a few minutes, we’ll get in the truck for a visit to Hopewell Junction, NY. where we’re playing a gig for a few hundred, new kindergartners. This is an annual thing, providing the five-year-olds with their first musical assembly, probably their first exposure to live musicians. Lucky me to be their introduction to the excitement of live entertainment.
When I was a boy, a group called “The Paperbag Players” came to our school. I don’t recall the content, but I recall the feelings that coursed through me. The same was true for community theatre productions where my family was involved on stage or behind the scenes. My brother, Craig, and I were bitten by the stage bug and its effect has never left us.
Local theatre and musical events are vitally important, more so now because attending Broadway and name performers has become prohibitively expensive for the majority of families. As one of my friends pointed out, “You guys might be the only live musicians some of these kids see for a long time.”
Today, we are doing our first John Lennon Real Love Project of the season for a school on the upper west side of Manhattan (Lennon’s home was just down the street). Beth and I stayed overnight in Yonkers with good friends, Marcy, Steve and their adorable Havanese doggy, Angie, so that we could shorten our morning commute and enjoy catching up with this trio.
I’m a bit nervous about today’s gig because of its complexity. It involves songwriting, recording and teaching 7th and 8th graders – not my typical day or my usual audience of elementary students. That said, I’m equally excited because the payoff for today’s work is big. We get to introduce Lennon’s higher values of peace, love and equality AND write and record a song with kids.
This is what I love the most – unlocking my own creativity and inspiring others to do the same. It’s my pleasure to give a 12 or 13 year old some secrets to express themselves with music. When I was a boy listening to The Beatles and learning guitar, I yearned to be a songwriter and, to a lesser degree, a performer. Because I had to discover on my own how to write, it gladdens my heart to give those children who are like me some keys to the kingdom.
We spent the night in Ossining, NY with friends, Blake, Sharon, their son, Julian and good friend, Joe. The laughter, conversation and fresh food was a balm to my tired mind and body.
Although the songwriting was great, the logistics of NYC proved challenging for us. Chief among them was the parking of our rather long truck in the city. It took us 90 minutes before we settled her into a spot that ended up being right in front of the school. Prior to that, we unsuccessfully traversed streets and parking lots to no avail. Fortunately, a spot opened up at about the same time one of us was ready to go home or kill someone.
Today, we’re taking trains and subways and Gary has volunteered to cart our recording equipment back to Sullivan County. Lesson learned. God bless our friends, colleagues and ourselves for making it through a tough day.
As I said, the songwriting went well. Here’s a little taste of the experience.
Beth and I are at Resorts World Casino in Monticello, NY. Have we developed a taste for high stakes poker? Are we performing children’s music here? Nope.
After we left the school in NYC, we agreed to meet Gary here because his rotary club is sponsoring a blood drive, today. At a casino? Yup. I just gave a pint and I’m happy I did so. For years, I gave platelets so it’s great to return to the practice of serving others this way.
May your weekend be a blessed one!