Thursdays are usually busy days for me, so I was looking forward to an at-home evening and maybe even getting to bed early (anything earlier than midnight counts for that goal).
Then at Katherine’s house, I heard from our grandson Sam: “Grandma, are you coming to my concert tonight?’ Oh oh.
I already knew Sam had a school-day clinic yesterday with the Dallas Brass at the Civic Center because I was not to pick him up as usual from his after-school jazz band practice. But I actually had thought the flashing marquee there on the square said the Brass’ concert was the night before. I had no idea that the clinic was to prepare the kids to join these professional musicians on stage during the second half of the concert.
From Sam’s demeanor, I knew the clinic had been good, and instantly I wanted to hear this concert. I did not want to drive home, change clothes, and drive the nine miles back to town, look for a difficult-to-find parking space, and then drive home afterwards hoping I would not hit a deer. Besides which, since I ran out of time, I had not shampooed my hair as I had planned to do that day. I was already embarrassed just to show up at Sam’s house looking like I looked; I sure did not want to go out in public that way.
Katherine was busy on the computer with an aide in the house. Sam probably had plenty of homework after being at the clinic during the school day, so I said a quick goodbye. I ran to Great Clips to see if anyone there could give me a shampoo. Just like last week I dashed in even though I knew my usual stylist would not be there that late in the day. But Shannon did a great job last week, so that would not be a problem. (A weekly appointment disappeared with the curls after Great Clips stopped giving permanents. Now I often don’t go in until the length of my bangs start making me miserable.)
I had called Gerald to tell him about the concert, which he would have enjoyed, except he was way off in a different rural neighborhood going squirrel hunting in a friend’s woods. I knew he would not want to stay up late (anything later than 9 or shortly after counts as late).
I reached home just as Gerald also arrived. I fixed him a quick supper plate in the microwave with left-overs, and then I went to change clothes. Not always, but usually I fix our main meal (“dinner’) at noon—a farm tradition. Then I serve soup and a sandwich or something equally simple for supper. I was glad I had prepared a nice meal at noon because I figured the woods outing produced more hunger than usual for Gerald.
Actually with just the two of us in the house and various dietary restrictions, all my meal preparations are very simple these days. (What I cannot figure out is why clean-up still takes so much time even though I don’t cook that much and even though I do not have very high standards for clean-up.)
I hurried out of my daily work clothes and into something warm and presentable. Although I try to put on make-up early in the day, yesterday I had not done so yet. I quickly put on a little make-up to go with my new hair style. And I felt quite ready for the treat of attending a concert in the beautiful civic center.
I grabbed the promised book I had already autographed and laid out for Jari Jackson for the next civic center fund raiser and I put her name on the envelope. I knew she’d be there; and when I arrived, someone at the center’s table said they’d take it to her. So that errand was accomplished too! I saw Jari’s beautiful white hair at a distance, but our seats were in different sections and we did not bump into each other in the crowd afterwards.
Even though I thought I was arriving early, I knew I might not be if I had to spend too much time looking for a parking space. As I expected, the square was full. So were both sides of the streets leaving the square. I was hoping I might find a spot at the library; but if I didn’t, I would have to go back to the square and go in a different direction in the hope of finding a spot in the bank’s parking lot—also more than a block away. I pulled into the library lot, which looked full, but I had to get turned around. Yay rah! There were still a few spots on the far end, and I was all set.
Although I usually don’t go walking town streets after dark, I was completely comfortable knowing that after civic center events, I could walk in any direction and would be with fellow patrons. In fact, I always enjoy the excited talk and happy laughs coming from the strangers who become your walking companions.
I sent the book for Jari on its way, obtained my ticket and settled into a good seat with time to read program notes about the five brass players and the delightful drummer/percussionist, who provided not only rhythm extraordinaire but also humor with his deliberate antics to make us laugh.
I could tell from those notes that trombone player and director Michael Levine and the other five men had enormous talent. I hope all those junior and senior high students read the list of colleges, awards, and experiences that these performers had before showing up in Marion to spend the day with our school musicians and include them in an evening concert. Their accomplishments were quite inspiring, but the evening’s performance was even more so.
Taking us on an “American Musical Journey,” they started with across- the- ocean influences and went on to George Washington’s time which brought their rendition of “Yankee Doodle,” the only song known to every generation since, Levine explained. The choice of composers and Levine’s interesting commentary was educational but the music was phenomenal, which I think was the comment Sam used as the youth gathered around the players for autographs after the concert.
Successfully arranging compositions usually played by entire orchestras, those six players delighted our ears with gorgeous sounds making it a night to remember. In addition to classical pieces, we heard patriotic songs, swing, Dixieland, Broadway, Hollywood, and even “Home on the Range.” Those musicians could play different instruments and different versions of brass with seemingly equal aplomb. We heard D.J. Barraclough and Chad Willis on trumpets, an Illinois native Paul Carlson on tuba, and Juan Berrios on horn and alto horn and even presenting one vocal solo. Not to be outdone, Sergio Carreno, the drummer/percussionist claimed his brass cowbell as a brass instrument and even came forward and played a solo on his xylophone. The stage was fairly bare, and I loved the way talent filled it up.
After the intermission, the large stage was filled with a mass of junior and senior high band members seated behind the Dallas Brass before they re-entered. As an example of how fluid and smoothly everything transpired, I did not even see those chairs, risers, music stands, and extra percussion instruments carried on stage even though I did not leave during intermission and only visited with Katherine and David briefly.
Levine invited the audience to take photos and just pause for a moment and see the beautiful sight of those dressed-up kids sitting on stage with their instruments poised to play with these professionals. He had rehearsed them well during the day and directed them with gusto and high praise for the kids’ ability. The six men in front of us were not just great musicians but great educators of kids, their parents, and the host community. Before they left the stage, Levine also called out the three local school band directors for well-deserved recognition.
Everything was well thought out, carefully timed with considerable humor and variety, and provided a fascinating evening that left the audience clapping and cheering for more, which Dallas Brass did with a final 36 songs rolled into one. I drove home without even seeing a deer—not even in the field by our lane. My heart was singing with the pleasure of an evening well spent. Gerald was sleeping soundly, which made me happy since I knew he had an extra hard schedule today before Sam got off school and the two of them headed off to Knoxville to attend the University of Tennessee basketball game tomorrow night. I was so refreshed that I chose not to go to bed until midnight.
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