Concert

Concert: (n) a musical performance given in public

At a very early age I convinced myself I could sing. Growing up in a small village, there was not much competition–and since I was willing to intone and offer my voice as a possibility, folks around my community had no reason to doubt my prowess.

So when I graduated from high school, rather than heading off to college and finding out if anyone outside of Delaware County thought I funny wisdom on words that begin with a C
could sing, I put together a music group, started writing some of my own songs and planned concerts.

I immediately learned the difficulty in concert promotion.

  1. Just because you think you can sing does not mean anybody wants to hear you.
  2. And if you can convince them to come to your concert, it may require that you offer some other stimulus, like refreshments. Or prizes.
  3. If anything else comes up before the concert, or even on concert day, which is more alluring, chances are that promise to attend, even by your friends, is quickly forsaken.
  4. People’s patience in hearing you sing is based upon how well you can take them to a happier (or sad) place and make them glad they went there.
  5. Just because you can sing doesn’t mean anybody wants to buy a recording of you doing it, so they can play it in their free time.

These were tough lessons.

So ferocious was my training during this period that I often found it difficult to supply food for my family and was only able to lodge as long as I could dodge coming face-to-face with the landlord.

It was actually many years before anyone, of their own volition, walked up to me and said, “Hey! When’s your next concert?”

I froze the moment in my mind… and replay it frequently.

 

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Boulder

Boulder: (n) a large rock, typically one that has been worn smooth by erosion.

The stories I could tell ya’.Dictionary B

Unfortunately, boredom would probably set in before my arsenal was depleted. But may I say, one of the common themes of my tales would be that the ridiculous notion that human beings are terribly dissimilar from each other is a total farce.

As we square off in our “camps of conservative” and our “landscapes of liberal,” I will tell you that once you get past the initial talking points of each group, what you end up with are human beings with great hopes and promises, completing their interactions with equally elaborate excuses.

I was invited by a very large church in Boulder, Colorado, to come and put on a program. It was a gorgeous facility, right in the middle of downtown Boulder–a community touting itself as a liberal stronghold of cultural expansion. Upon arriving, I met my sponsor, who immediately began explaining why the event that he had scheduled, and was supposed to advertise, fell into the cracks or crevices of his busy schedule.

I had traveled many miles to pull up to a situation where I was neither appreciated nor particularly welcomed.

As a liberal, he remained very upbeat and comforting during his put-down. Matter of fact, when he finished talking to me, he said that he, himself, was not going to be at the concert, but wanted to buy one of our packages of materials so he could be supportive.

We faithfully set up our equipment and waited for concert time to arrive–revealing that we had an audience of three. We did an abbreviated version of our show, thanked the folks for showing up, and packed up our equipment–all alone.

By the way, I can also tell you stories of how conservatives can put the squeeze on you.

But my memory of Boulder is that it truly was … a rock between a hard place.

 

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Bassoon

Bassoon: (n) a bass instrument of the oboe family with a double reed.Dictionary B

If the goal of every endeavor is to gain fame or money, then we will end up doing very little in our lives–for fear of ending up with something that fails to deliver the goods.

I learned this early.

I made a decision to pursue things that made me happy, giggle or feel inspired. Whether other people found them to be equally as inspirational or entertaining was only secondary to my deep-rooted concern for entertaining myself.

In the process of chasing that philosophy, I found myself in Tennessee working with a partner to begin a symphony in a town that probably was completely uninterested in even learning how to spell the word.

Intelligently, we held our first concert very near Christmas and because of that and the basic human nature to be curious, we had a huge attendance, which seemed to bode well for the project.

I was so excited about the event that I wrote a special composition called Christmas. This particular piece of music began with a sprightly bassoon solo, establishing a bouncy, joyous melody which to me personified the uncontrollable anticipation of a child at Christmas.

We hired a bassoon player who just happened to really love playing the instrument. He didn’t get to perform very often in Tennessee, since there isn’t a high calling for bassoonists among the populace. So when he discovered he was going to get to play this delightful ditty, he practiced and practiced–and by the time of the concert, he literally exploded the musical magic off of his double reed.

When the audience heard the tune being played, they giggled like school children because it was such a pleasant representation of childhood memories.

I love the bassoon because it cannot hide its true personality. It is a growly, jubilant tone foretelling of grandfatherly wisdom … with just enough mischief.

 

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Ballad

Ballad: (n) a slow sentimental or romantic song.Dictionary B

There are only two reasons for music.

I guess I should present that better.

After many years of playing, writing and performing music, I have found that it offers two functions better than almost anything else: it makes people dance and it makes people feel.

Honestly, music that doesn’t elicit either of those reactions tends to be either manipulated or industrial.

That’s why I like ballads.

Even though I find the dictionary definition above to be a bit passive-aggressive by referring to this style of music as slow, sentimental and romantic, I feel that slowing things down, having enough sentiment to produce emotion and on occasion to be romantic, to be confirmation of a more enlightened human life.

I favor ballads so much that someone once commented, “You can’t do a whole concert of ballads.”

I am so amused by anyone who thinks they can manipulate things of beauty to do exactly what they want them to do to fit into the box provided. You can do anything with music you want as long as it makes people dance or it makes people feel.

And every once in a while… there is a time to dance and on other occasions, a time to feel.

 

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Approximate

dictionary with letter A

Approximate (adj): close to the actual, but not completely accurate or exact.

Pet peeve. Please forgive me. Example:

“How many people were at the concert?” I ask.

“Approximately 47,” he replies.

Yes, it bothers me when people say they’re going to approximate a number and then give me a specific one. You can feel free to say “I would approximate between 45 and 50,” but 47 is what I would call a hard count.

Also pet peeve, case in point:

“What time will you be there?”

“I would approximate 7:15ish, but it could be later.”

Now I’m confused. First of all, I don’t know what “ish” is doing on the end of any word. 7:15 comes around once a night, and all of its neighbors have names, which are not associated with it. For instance, 7:16 is different.

I know this is silly, which may be the definition of a “pet peeve. (All pets are silly in their own way. Anybody who thinks a hamster or a fish gives a crap about them should spend a day or two in the loony bin. So when my peeve is my pet, I feed it, hold it, pet it, put it back in its cage and hope it does not poop all over everything.)

I do try to be patient with people. I realize they don’t share my predilections.

I also try to understand some of their pet peeves, though honestly, their particular renditions always seem, to me, to be pet rocks.

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Amen

dictionary with letter A

Amen: (exclam) 1. uttered at the end of a prayer, meaning “so be it.” 2. used to express agreement or assent

Turning my TV channels in the wee hours of the morning, I stumbled across a whole series of religious programs, proffering their view of the holiness of God and the varying degrees of the depravity of man.

Although they were quite different in appearance and style, their content was similar in one remarkable way: every once in a while, as the speaker was touting his or her revelation, they would stop and say, “Can I get an amen?”

After a while, it lost some of its charm and spontaneity and began to reek of desperation. It was similar to pausing in the middle of a romantic encounter and asking your partner what she thinks of your lip technique. Or going to have a new tire put on your car and having the attendant insist that you come and watch him and grunt your approval during the process.

It just isn’t very attractive in the human experience to be so needy that you feel compelled to demand reinforcement.

I know we’re supposed to tell people we love them, but honestly, after a while, it sniffs more of platitude than it does gratitude.

An “amen” should come forth when the audience spontaneously feels energized by a notion or a prayer that causes them to give voice to their support.

I don’t like to go to a concert and have the group onstage, before they have even sung a note, insist that we all begin clapping. I don’t like being forced to stand up and I don’t want to be “rallied” to a cause which is either not clear to me or has not stimulated much enthusiasm in my soul.

If we do too many charlatan actions in our lives, faking our zeal, we soon will forget what it’s like to be overtaken by joy, overwhelmed by blessing and swept along by the magic of great ideas.

As I watched the shows last night and the camera scanned the audience, they were a strange mixture of bewilderment and submission.

If God needs me to merely perform the function of a pawn which He pushes across a chess board to generate the appearance of movement, then honestly, I’m not particularly interested.

But I am fully prepared to be affected, stimulated and rejuvenated … at any time.

Adorable

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Adorable: (adj) inspiring great affection; delightful; charming: e.g. she looked adorable

FBY.

It’s my new abbreviation for Facebook Yap.”

I, for one, have always been suspicious of anything that steps in to replace something of importance which really does not capture the value–just fills the space.

Muzak, for instance, is no substitute for a concert. It deserves to be in an elevator, enclosed and prevented from being broadcast to too many corners of the earth.

That’s what I feel about the conversations, chatter and implications of Facebook.

So when I look at the word “adorable,” which used to have some tenderness, in my mind it has just become a way to describe a picture you received from someone, which you did not ask for, of their dog or child, and you are desperately groping for a way to tell the person you received it. so you send back a quick message, which says, “adorable” with twenty-four exclamation points. (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

FBY has ruined so many words.

I can no longer use “cute,” especially S-O-O-O-O-O-O-O cute.

“Inspiring” is gone, since any little piece of drivel someone sends that they feel has a deeper meaning you must proclaim to be divinely unctioned.

Some of the old standards which should have died a long time ago have been dug up from the grave and re-shot in the head:

  • “They’re growing up so fast …”
  • “You can tell they’re in love …”
  • “I miss you …”
  • “Wish you were here …” and
  • “It’s really been a rough day …”

It saddens me–because there ARE things in life that truly are adorable. I once watched a bug try to crawl up a tree. Every time it got to the same place, gravity took over and it would fall. The little critter tried about seven times, and then apparently tapped some unused brain cells and decided to walk around the tree instead. That’s kind of adorable.

But when we have created a medium which focuses on US more than anything else, we have to also conjure a response to the offerings of others who intrude on our self-promotion by sending their own press clippings.

I have made the mistake of trying to write something truly significant or meaningful in one of the “comment” spaces, only to be ignored, and probably relegated as a “non-FBY’er” who still believes in complete sentences and knows the difference between “your” and “you’re.”

I value progress–as long as it goes FORWARD.

But I’m not willing to call something progressive that takes us back to the status of scrawling on cave walls, stepping back and grunting our approval.