Proud

Honestly, I’ve always cringed by the thought of having to watch a bunch of kids perform music or choir at my kids’ schools.  My internal fear is that they are completely out of tune and parents that proudly spring into action when their kid has a 2 second solo, or walks on stage.

Parents starts screaming proudly, probably embarrassing their kids even more, while pushing each other away from the isles just to tape these few moments on their high def cameras – and posting these recordings on Facebook or Instagram, for the entire World to see how amazing their kids were.

Now it’s my turn, as my daughter was preparing for her big moment on stage.

She had been working hard on the sax, honking away upstairs at all hours of the day, much to the nuisance of the local wild life.

Amazingly, I notice a significant improvement in her talent for the past few weeks, and may even may some resemblance to the late John Coltrane.  She was really turning a page in her talent.

daughter_concertFinally the evening of the big event had arrived, and the family traveled to the local school to watch her band perform.  It was a school event so most parents and kids were there, and plenty of excited kids.

As soon as we had dropped her off for band rehearsal / warm-up, I rushed to buy some flowers for my little artist.  I had to push aside a few fellow parents, and bought the last bunch for my special sax player.

We found our seats, a few rows from the stage, and had the cameras ready; taking pictures of an empty stage, the proud teachers, ceiling, decorations … anything that might resemble the event.

Suddenly the kids walked on stage.  First up the orchestra, then band (my daughter) and then chorus.  A tightly packed program was ahead … and I was dreading it.

BUT BUT BUT these kids blew me away.  I was expecting sounds from horror movies, pulling cat tails and stepping on ducks.  These kids played extremely well, and in tune and harmony.

The band came on stage and I was up there diving over parents, knocking over kids, just to get pictures of my little girl on stage.  She was so proud, and smiled from ear-to-ear.

They played four tunes and did excellent.  Again, the band played together as one, and I was utterly amazed.

Even the choir did a phenomenal job, and sang very well.

Well done to all the kids and I’m one proud dad who will go to their next gig!

Surviving the Party

diy birthdayYou want to make your child’s birthday special, no matter how old or young they might turn.  My wife and I are no different.  However, we also have a budget and don’t just splash out on insane Sweet 11th kit; professional dancers, DJ, party decoration, catering, etc.

Nope – we go the DIY family realistic budget route instead, doing a lot of the activities and food ourselves.  We generally stay away from crafting our own decorations, mainly because I tend to cut the pieces too small or get frustrated and tear them all up again!

Our daughter recently turned 11 and as she decided to invite her closest friends over for a sleepover.  I assumed it would be 2 girls, but somehow we ended up having 5 girls volunteering to celebrate our daughter.

Not a big problem really.  We have a nice big basement, and we simply needed to prepare it by getting rid of the biggest spiders and tidy up the toys that had been scattered around by our 4-year-old wonder kid.

  • Outdoor Christmas lights does wonders to any room
  • Party City has some good cheap paper decorations
  • Christmas table-cloth looks good on any occasion
  • Praise the plastic cup and paper plate inventors
  • iMac in the corner pumping out Now! 53 tracks, with screen saver, kick-starts any pre-teen birthday party

Within a few hours, the basement looked pretty awesome if I had to say it myself.  All we needed now was the screaming pre-teen girl invasion.

What do you feed a horde of 5th grader girls?  Easy guys!

Doritos, Cheesy Puffs, Brownies and chicken & beef fajita party.

Feeding-FrenzyIt turns out that the snacks were extremely popular, and within seconds of putting the bowls on the table, a hurricane of fingers started to dig into the snacks – picking the bowls clean, and asking for more.  I have been to the reptile section in the zoo seeing alligators rip into their meat lunch, but nothing compares to pre-teen feeding frenzy.

The girls headed back into the basement after dinner, and started to listen to strange YouTube video/songs, screaming about cute kittens, and singing along to the new Annie movie.  It was awesome to see how these girls had so much fun, but scary that I could not hear anything for several minutes after emerging from the basement.

That evening we had our very first outdoor camp fire with the girls, while roasting marshmallows.  We had to keep feeding the sugar rush and the girls loved sitting outside chatting (giggling) about awkward potential boyfriends – or just talking about who the other girls liked.

Bedtime was approaching, mine that is, and I was hoping the girls would turn down the music humming from the basement.  My eyelids were getting heavy when relaxing on the sofa, and it was only. 10.30pm.

I’m not too sure when the girls finally collapsed, but I do know that my wife was awoken around 1am by two girls suddenly standing in our bedroom saying they couldn’t sleep.  I’m confined my wife thought it was the ghost from ‘The Ring’ standing in our bedroom, and I’m sure she screamed, but I slept right through that event.

Another early morning, as I had to prepare breakfast for the masses, consisting of pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages and juices.  Sounds easy, but not when you have to feed an army of kids.

Then they went hiking in our little forest and visited the neighbor’s farm, bringing back all kinds of lovely smelling animal sent and poo footprints on the tile floor.  Oh well, they had so much fun and that’s what matters the most.  I had warned all the girls that they might step in dog poo, and to be careful, but somehow that advise was completely ignored within a few minutes.

I think they have agreed to make this a regular event, so have to prepare mentally for the next sleepover party.


Happy birthday to my lovely daughter!  Hope you enjoyed your Bday party.  Your parents (us) survived another pre-teen invasion 🙂

… I’m too old for this shit!

scavenging

Throwing Copper

liveEd Kowalczyk has come a long way in the past 20 years.  Almost full circle from an artist’s prospect.  He started out in York, PA, and probably played small venues, but suddenly he was standing in front of sold out stadium tours.  Now he’s back doing what I think he’s awesome at; playing small intimate gigs in front of true fans, celebrating his music and dedication to his fans.  He has even grown a beard 🙂

When I bought my favourite album 20 years ago I did not expect to one day sit in the same room as Big Ed, listening to all 14 tracks in acoustic version.

Throwing Copper celebrated 20 years in 2014 and Ed K went on a long tour to promote it, and at the same time bring a generation together who really appreciates his music.

First time I had the privilege of seeing Live was when they performed at the awesome festival in Denmark, Roskilde Festival, in 1995, where they entertained approx. 50,000 people on the main (orange) stage, mostly drunk and drug dazed young people with at times questionable intentions.  I was too in a somewhat haze probably due to lack of sleep, too much music, beer and partying, but it was such a great evening I shared with my friends.  The weather was awesome, or so I believe, and the music was flowing through the hot summer evening … perfect atmosphere.

Fast forward 20 years and my Throwing Copper experience has come full circle too.  I got tickets to see him 13 February in the City Winery, New York, with my wonderful wife on our Valentine’s date.

The audience was all the same age group so I can only assume that many of these people have been following Ed for a few decades.  When 98% of them started to sing along to the songs, my suspicions were confirmed.  It was the acoustic version, as I mentioned further up, and each track was played with such emotions and tenderness that almost made it unreal.  He had synchronised his performance with a guy playing various instruments to the tracks, and was joined by a younger artist playing a selection of guitars, incl. a piece that looked like an electric ukulele.

The tickets I had bought months ago were meet ‘n greet, which too me was the ultimate fan experience although I had no idea what I would do or say when I met him.  Knowing me, I would say something completely weird, giggle awkwardly or just hug him spontaneously.  Unfortunately, or perhaps thankfully for him, we got stuck in traffic going into the City and never made it to the meeting.  Perhaps next time!

I have to admit, I almost lost my cool and was ready to tear up the Shit Towne, as the waitress claimed that my ticket was only for meet ‘n greet.  But, she would happily sell me tickets for the gig to which I shared some of my Irish proverbs and communicated fairly honestly.  I was really selling the drama, but it was defused when the manager came to offer us seats at no extra cost.  Honestly, I had no idea that I would have to buy meet ‘n greet as well as regular tickets.  It just doesn’t seem logical.  Why buy two tickets?

And, if they had checked the guest list for the meet ‘n greet they would’ve noticed we did not show up as we got stuck in famous NYC rush hour traffic!!

Anyway, and the most important thing, I got to listen to Ed Kowalczyk with my beautiful wife, celebrating Valentine’s Day and in the company of beautiful people.

Thanks Ed.  I seriously hope that I will get to meet you one day, shake your hand and share my appreciation for the joys your music has brought to my life.

I love life and everything in it, I just like songs about the end of the World” – Ed Kowalczyk, City Winery February 2015.

Flight of Gordita

It was the time of the year where I had to be mindful of my lovely wife, as she turns another leaf in her yearbook and one step closer to the menopauses.  You never know when it hits, so better be prepared, and I decided to take my lovely gordita out on another date night, celebrating her past year as a mother and awesome wife.

What better way than a romantic dinner and a concert with a band she loves?

I secretively bought tickets some months ago to see ‘The Black Keys‘ at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, and judging by their recent album it would be a great night of high hitting notes, rough guitar games and retro piano solos.

Due to the fact that I dislike public transportation, especially as I own a car, we jumped into the family wagon and headed towards Brooklyn.  It was a Wednesday evening, so how busy could it be?

There’s a reason New York is branded the city that never sleeps, because it really doesn’t.  No mater what time you attempt to cross one of the many bridges or tunnels into NYC, from New Jersey, you can be sure to hit some weird gridlock.  Access roads go from 4-5 lanes into 2 narrow tunnel lanes, a delivery truck blocks half the road on Broadway, yellow cabs pick up or drop off passengers in intersections and huge luxury cars change lanes as if they were at the local race track.

Despite leaving 2 hours before the gig started, or rather doors opened, we ended up spending 1hr 45min in the car.  I love spending time with the missus, but not stuck in traffic trying to impress her with a lovely dinner at a little Mexican place in Brooklyn.

We skipped mamasita’s joint and walked towards the amazing Barclays Center, where I invited her on “awesome” chicken fingers ‘n fries, while sharing a diluted coke.  Another romantic dinner on date night – just like when I saw Idina’s butt!

I don’t want to be labelled cheap, but the tickets for the gig were in the upper levels.  We are not young any more, we don’t dance publicly and we like to enjoy music while sitting down, so why not sit on the balcony.  Unfortunately age has introduced my wife with a phobia … fear of heights.

Our seats were by the edge of the balcony, perfect view of the stage, but also perfect view of the 40ft drop.  And, the stairs down to our row made my wife gasp for air, while letting out small peeps – much to the amusement of our fellow music lovers.  As we planted our small butts in the seats, she gripped my arm and neck tightly, and closed her eyes tightly.  She remained in that position for the first 20 minutes of the concert!

She slowly built up her courage and started to open her eyes.  I actually thought she had fallen asleep so got a little fright as she was suddenly sitting up starring at the band, and tapping along to the cool rhythms of ‘The Black Keys‘.

It was an awesome concert and the band filled the arena with their awesome rhythms, all while the audience clapped and sang.

We left as the band finished up, or at least started our ascend of the stairs.  I had to consider that I might had to carry her up the stairs or her moving up one step at a time on her butt – which would take some time.

blackkeys

Jump in My Time Machine

deep purpleA few days ago I had the gnarly opportunity to go see some serious old rockers – and I do mean old, but yet legends and ancient rock heroes.  It was none other than Deep Purple playing at a local venue, or rather small theatre with room for about 500 people.  It was nothing compared to the arenas they were able to fill in the past, but nevertheless, the place was packed full of an equally aging rock following, with me one of the younger fans.

Well, fan is probably slightly overstated as I actually only know one track, which I’ve listened to many times while a young kid and it was also the first tune I managed to learn rather quick on my electric guitar back in the days.  I was even able to play this awesome tune at a college event, much to the amusement of my inner-child … my first rock concert.

The tune is of course “Smoke on the water“, which is a classic by all standards and many boys have played air-guitar, raised their hands in the heavy metal tribute and headbanged quietly along to the rhythms.  Steve Morse has mastered it well, but Ritchie Blackmore is the true artist behind this track.

Anyway, back to the time machine.

I knew that this legendary concert would be well attended, primarily by middle-aged men around the same ago as the band members.  So, the average age of the audience was around mid 50’s, leaving me to drag down the average.  The village was funnily packed with all types of middle aged rockers, all wearing their ageing metal t-shirts supporting Tesla, Motorhead, Toto, Black Sabbath and I might have spotted a single Poison shirt too, much to the amusement of the gathering crowds.

dio metal saluteIt was amazing to witness how all these people have transformed back into what they were back in the 70s and 80’s, wearing their tough gear, bandanas and several women were trying to fit into their Hooters tops and tight worn jeans shorts – with bits hanging out from various spots.  They all must have fuelled their DeLorean, raced back in time, stolen some of their old gear from their younger self, and then rushed back to the future pretending they were young again.  I’m sure they even forgot they had kids and jobs, and would have to return to civilisation from planet rock the next morning.

The concert was kicked off when advertised, and there was no messing with warm-up bands, as Deep Purple headed to stage with a big bang.  The first seven tracks were one after another – no break and no prisoners – full on heavy metal tunes vibrating through the theatre.  Men in their mid 50s stood up, saluted the ageing Deep Purple guys with the sign of awesomeness (some might say devil worship), head-banging and mumbling along to the iconic voice of Ian Gillan.

A few mature rock ladies started dancing in the isles, much to the amusement of the equally mature rock dudes – who still managed to shout encouraging words to their dancing skills.  Some of their skills would in a normal world include a dancing pole, but these totally cool women pulled off such moves with ease.

weeman metal salute
Borrowed from Rick Kosick’s web site

Suddenly the theatre was filled with the awesome cords of Smoke on the Water, and I will admit the hairs on my arms stood up in anticipation of the upcoming track.  It something else hearing this decade old tune.  The reaction from the crowd was immense.  I swear some of the rockers were silently weeping and were enforcing their admiration with a double heavy metal salute.

2 hours later, the concert was over and the audience dispersed heading back to the future to attend their normal life, secretly waiting for the next gig to port them back.  Perhaps Toto or Iron Maiden?

I had a blast and it was great (and very impressive) that these guys can still rock hard!

Rock hard my fellow headbangers!