A Wizard Rock Concert for Air Force Kids

I know I already posted all about this on Twitter and Facebook earlier today, but 140 characters (even if used several times) is not enough to convey how amazing my morning was.

I met a librarian a couple of months ago who works at two libraries here in town: one in Shreveport, and one at Barksdale Air Force Base. She invited me to do a Witherwings show at both locations. I was eager to perform at both libraries, but particularly excited about the show on base. I’m not sure how many Wizard Rock shows military kids get to attend, but I bet they are few and far between. I know these children move around the country every few years, and I know many have spent long periods of time with a parent over seas. I was yearning to do something fun for them.
When I arrived, I saw the round tables set up with white paper ties and piles of markers. A Harry Potter house tie coloring activity!? How perfect!
Then a packed school bus pulled up and a bunch of (I am estimating) 7-9 year olds got off and lined up neatly to come into the library. I was told it was a teen program, but I knew the kids from the Child Development Center were also coming over, so I planned my set to be for a young crowd.
From the beginning I knew I was going to be a fun audience. Nearly all raised their hands when I asked who had seen the Harry Potter movies, and nearly half raised their hands when I asked who had read the books. I started into the first song and got lots of smiles. After I finished “Be S.M.A.R.T,” a little girl to my left said she liked that song, and from that point forward, I had a little fan club of children at the two nearest tables who told me that they “loved that song” after each one I performed.
They clapped, they snapped, they got up and danced and they even flew around the room like Buckbeak. It was completely magical.
After the show I asked the kids closest to my keyboard to place their ties on the table so I could take a photo. Then they all wanted to be in the photo. I wish I could post those pics, but they are minors and their parents weren’t there to give permission. Trust me when I say they were wearing huge smiles.

 

Barksdale AFB library show. House ties!

A few moments later, one of my little fan club girls came up to me and said in the smallest, saddest voice that she didn’t get to be in the photo. So I offered to take a selfie with her. Then my other “I love this song” girls jumped in. It might be my favorite show photo of all time. These children were really just the best, most amazing kids!
As I was packing up my gear, a handful of girls hung out at my keyboard and asked me question after question.
“What is this?” Me: My set list.
“Why didn’t you do this song?” Me: The Tale of Tom Riddle is a bit scary. I cut it if there are little kids in the crowd.
A timid girl turns from a nearby table to say “My favorite part was when you said Buckbeak wouldn’t really eat Malfoy. That it was pretend.” (Uh… yikes. SO GLAD I said that!! O.o)
“Did you take piano lessons?” “For how long?” “How much did your keyboard cost?” “I think it was $267.” “I think it was $8000.” Me: Is this The Price Is Right? (BLANK STARES.) “Who does your hair?” “No I mean, what is the name of the place you go to?”
They were cracking me up.
Then they were told to form a line to get back on the school bus. The shy little girl who got the selfie with me ran up and hugged me.
As I rolled my amp out to the car, they all waved at me from the bus like I was a rock star. I sure felt like one. Hours later, and I still feel my heart could burst with joy. There is nothing as wonderful as an appreciative crowd, but young kids, as yet untouched by social pressures, who jump and dance and smile and laugh, THAT is the best audience I could ever dream of.

 

 

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Life’s Toolbox, Introspection, and Why I Write Songs

I realized something this morning. Every person goes through life with a toolbox. We pick up tools as we go along and others are passed down from our parents. The key to a happy life, and to being a solid parent, is to periodically go through the toolbox and check to see if some of the older tools are broken, and if so, determine if they can be mended. If not, perhaps they can be thrown away.

We’ve already inherited some baggage from our parents and picked up bad habits along the way. It’s best to get rid of that stuff before we start building the toolboxes for the next generation.

We will never be perfect and we will always have a few things we wish we’d done differently. However, if we make every attempt to be mindful of our thoughts, actions, and reactions, we can hope to make our children’s lives that much more stable than our own.

I realize this isn’t overtly about music and may seem out of context, but writing lyrics is one way for me to dig deep, pull out all of my junk, take a close look at it, and attempt to purge what is old, useless, or even harmful.

It can be an uncomfortable process, but the introspection is worth it in the end.