This has been a draft blog for 5 years. I’m publishing now at last. Something to do with age. Anyway. Here it is:
Last Saturday at St.Aldate’s Oxford, my band, “Our Dad” performed at a wedding. Due to budgetary limitations, we were not able to field the entire team, featuring our spectacularly talented singer, keyboard and brass players, Naomi, Raul, Gabriel and Roger. This leaves us with five people, four of whom are children of the fifth (me). Funnily enough for a band called “Our Dad” this line-up has never occurred before and may never occur again. Jo and I singing, William on piano, Dan on drums, Matt on bass.
In fact I had assumed the instrumentation would be merely a problem to overcome, and set myself to worry over a set list that would not suffer too badly from the absence of brass, and not having everyone playing their first instrument. But on the night everything was different to what I expected.
We arrived in only two cars. The set up was easy. The staff knew us and offered us food and drink from the moment we walked in. We used the big stage for the first time in that venue. The audience was completely ready for a great time from the first song to the last. All of these things were to be expected, but I just hadn’t expected them. However, the big one was this; I had not realised that this night would be a specially significant example of the Our Dad principle. It’s A Family Affair. It was just me, and my four children on stage.
Every tune began with chaos! People shouting, How does this one go? Because they usually play different instruments. And then in half a minute we’d discover a new way to play the song, sometimes extending it into an improvised jam.
It was time for me (aged 57) to learn something. We are deeply privileged to have three or six wonderful musicians that augment our family into a big band, but when it’s just us, what you get is incredible energy of all different sorts. The Dad and The Four were loose and free, and full of joy. And we rocked!
When singing, I set myself two objectives, it’s normally one; to think, “Tom Jones” (which involves making your entire body the instrument, and works well) . I added an additional objective; sing like it’s your last chance to sing. I found that this concept helped me get the heart and soul locked in to join with with the whole body thing.
We should have rehearsed because everything was unprepared, but I’m glad we didn’t because it proved to me that the strength and joy of the band, the thing that appeals to our audience and makes them smile and dance and shout and laugh, is that it doesn’t matter whether we’re playing what we know or what we just made up, what matters is the joy and unity that is expressed by the way we unite musically. It’s almost better when we make mistakes, because you see us working it out and always working together to create blameless harmony. It’s a musical parable for family relationships.
Many years ago – about 35 years ago, somebody said to me, don’t worry Steve, when your kids grow up you’ll have a great band. I was offended. I was committed (I thought) to earning a living for my family, and that meant I must do something better paid than music. Many years later I realised that it was a good plan. I needed 3 decades of practice anyway, and now it has finally come, it is the defining joy of my life. Playing with my children is an amazing expression of all that matters to me. Togetherness, music, fun, faith, love, joy, determination, thankfulness, and much more; they’re all expressed in our coming together to play. Saturday night was special to me, because it was just the five of us.
A Pivotal Lifetime Moment, celebrated by this blog entry – thanks for sharing it with me. BTW, The picture only shows four of the five of us, my band, my children.