if you take your kids to a show

Last Saturday afternoon, my band had a rare daytime show at a local music store.  For those of you who are only aware of mp3 files and iTunes, back in the early days, there were these things called CDs and LPs.  People would listen to an entire collection of songs from one artist.  Often the songs were crafted and ordered in a way that would allow them to flow one into the other.  You could almost tell a story through songs.  Well, this store sells those things.  It also hosts bands on a nice stage and they invited us to play.

Since it was a Saturday, I needed to bring my kids.  I had been looking forward to bringing them to a show since they know the other band members and have been listening to our music for as long as it has been recorded.  I think my daughter knows the lyrics to some of the songs better than we do.  They were looking forward to it too, there was only one obstacle.  We had to hit a birthday party in the morning at Kango.  Kango is sort of a cross between Chuck E. Cheese’s and those climbing rooms at the YMCA.  We had been there before and I knew what to expect.  I’ll just say that morning parties there are much better.  Saturdays it takes people a little longer to get out of the house so the place doesn’t really fill up until the afternoon.  We were in and out before the tables filled.

Back to the show though, I had two really good helpers who were happy to be on stage putting the drums together.  The rest of the band was setting up too and somehow the kids managed to know where to stand or not stand.  The guy running, or at least setting up sound, showed my daughter how to run the lights which meant for the fifteen minutes before the show she asked “are you ready to start yet? I want to turn on the lights” every thirty seconds.  My son was prepared with his LP shakers and G harmonica (Hohner of course, I don’t go in for the cheap plastic stuff).  It was time to start, the kids were off the stage and we were ready.

I had vastly underestimated what a distraction it would be to have the kids there.  Oh, they were perfectly fine.  They stood near the stage as we started.  My son played his harmonica and shakers along with our tunes and my daughter put her hands in her pockets and looked like she was getting ready to sit in the dentist chair.  I found myself watching them more than paying attention to the music.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I played poorly or didn’t do my parts, I did.  When I drove away after the show, I couldn’t really recall much of our performance, just what the kids were doing during it.  After we played a few songs, I asked someone to open a few folding chairs so they could sit down.  About half way through the set, I noticed my son starting to doze off in the chair.  Hey, the kid had a busy morning, it was afternoon and he was relaxing.  As we ended a song, I jumped off the stage, picked him up and brought him to a softer chair to the left of the stage.  He curled up on that and slept through a few songs.

My daughter kept her best poker face going.  I was kicking myself for not remembering to pack a pad and paper for her to draw or write stories.  I did notice she was watching intently, not looking around the store and certainly not running up and down the aisles.  So, I guess I shouldn’t complain too loudly.  One of our tunes starts with a drum solo, as I started playing, I heard the sound of shakers off to my left.  My son had woken up slightly and was playing his shakers with one hand while still lying on his side on the chair. 

Our show continued, we had a small but responsive audience and played a solid set lasting an hour and a half.  Then a funny thing happened.  We finished and suddenly both kids were on the stage and ready to help me pack up.  They were excited to be helpful once again and I took them up on their offer.  Soon they were handing me folded stands, cymbals and drums and I was packing those away.  I asked my daughter if she liked the show, “daddy, it was loud, but I’m glad we were here.”

So what did I learn?  First, bring paper and a pen for the writer/artist in the family.  Second, shakers and a harmonice are a good idea for the musician, and a pillow in case he gets sleepy.  Third, earplugs might not be a bad idea.  We’re certainly not a metal act, but we’re not just a violin playing either.  Fourth, letting the kids on stage isn’t a bad thing as long as it’s a day time show in a place that doesn’t serve adult beverages.

Finally, if you take your kids to a show, be ready for the question as you drive away, “when can we go to another one, daddy.”


One Response to “if you take your kids to a show”

  1. Miguel Says:

    Great post Aaron. Growing up, my father was the road manager for the Skycoasters. I used to go to shows with him all the time. I used to help him set up and take down the drumset all the time. That looking back, that is one of my favorite memories of my childhood. Music is a strong connector, bit seeing what goes into it makes it stronger.

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