I have four noteworthy items to report after spending a weekend in and out of a Purple Honda Fit. I will go into more detail about these four items, but really, this is all you need to know.
We played my favorite hometown public radio station (WYSO in Yellow Springs, OH) and invited anyone listening to attend a show in my childhood living room.
We played a set in the aforementioned living room, during which I realized that I had way more than one father and one mother.
We spent a day recording new songs and I haven’t felt better about anything ever probably.
We played in Cincinnati with Palamara, who writes really thoughtful songs which you should listen to on Spotify and follow on Facebook, Instagram, etc.
Continue reading for a glut of personal information and sentimentality.
The summer after high school, I spent a few days a week at WYSO in Yellow Springs. I was the music intern, prepping for my time at Belmont University, jazzed about studying Music Business and a bright little future of convincing people to listen to music.
I organized about 20 thousand CDs, helped out with live acts in studio, and copied and minimized a lot of press sheets for CDs they would get in the mail. And also, I spent a lot of time with Niki Dakota, the Music Director of the station. I recorded a jingle (I need to call myself a jingle writer more often) and she played some high school songs on the radio for the whole Miami Valley to hear.
It was all quite deeply important and meaningful to pre-college Sam.
So, last Friday, five years in the future, I came back with a three piece band to the station that’s been spinning our record since it came out. And we shared our songs. And it was good. And she made me beatbox like when I was in an a cappella group in high school. And I did. And I wasn’t terrible.
We played on the radio because it was fun, but we had some serious business to attend to. We were playing a show, and wanted to drive people to come see us if they liked our music on the station.
However - plot twist. The show was in my childhood living room. In my parents’ home.
So we pretty much invited radio strangers to my parents’ house. And I got a handful of emails requesting the address. And several strangers came and were welcomed with drinks and homemade cookies.
I grew up with two parents. They loved each other. They still love each other. They were married when they raised my two sisters and I. And they're still married now. On their last anniversary, I gave them a call, asked how it felt to be married to someone for a few decades. Mom said good, that there were only about 4 hard years. And then I heard my dad yell from the background, the way that people do when they’re not really on the phone call, but want to be heard
“Yeah! Just about four!”
Strangers from the radio weren’t the only people who showed up in my childhood living room. The following people were also in attendance.
Stephanie Bange: Ms. Stephanie read stories at the local library on Far Hills across the way from our house. She described me as “one of her storytime kids.” She loved to see who they grew up to be. I never remembered Miss Stephenie personally, but I’ve always had a warm and fuzzy feeling about libraries in general. I guess I’ve got her to blame. I think I read every single one of the Encyclopedia Brown’s in the whole Dayton Metro Library system. And she helped me when I couldn’t quite handle chapter books yet.
Brody McDonald: Mr. McDonald was my high school choir director. He's the main reason I started singing. I wanted to be a beatboxer for the group - they were the highlight of the choir concerts that I attended under duress in support of my older sister. I remember being close to falling asleep the whole time, the warmth of the squeaky seats, the smell of the auditorium. But I also remember this exciting part when kids came out with personal microphones and sang covers of pop songs. And they harmonized while another kid attempted to make drum noises with his mouth.
I decided that I also wanted to make drum noises with my mouth. So, between 8th grade and high school, I auditioned for this a cappella group. I learned my part to a four part arrangement of Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight,” and tried my best. I made the team, but as a tenor.
I sang in choirs and in a cappella groups all through high school. I also tried to make drum noises all through high school. I still do one of those things. And I have Mr. McDonald to thank.
There were other family friends, grandmothers, sisters, cousins and people who may as well be cousins, friends and the younger siblings of friends. But mostly, my parents lit up the room all aglow with either pride for their son or elation that nobody spilled a drink on their carpet.
We spent most of the day playing around in the living room, demoing seven songs for a new record. I kept noticing the door to upstairs was cracked when I would go up to use the restroom. I’d close it behind me, walk past Mom making stockings, do my business, then go back down and close the door. But every time I walked back upstairs, the door would be cracked open again.
They said it was like old times, hearing music around the house when they were going about their business. But better (thanks to Dan, Jack, and a few years of doing something).
We also played in Cincinnati and spent a lot of time with Dan’s family. The highlight of the day was finding this incredible picture of him at his Bar Mitzvah. He’s serving up some looks and generally killing it.
They sent us away and back to Columbus with little chocolate coins as a gift.
In Cincinnati, we played with Andrew. The band is called Palamara. He works as a docent at an art museum in Cincinnati and he writes some really incredible songs. This is what he looks like when he begins the B section of one of his songs and it breaks into the higher register of his voice and it sounds good and real and honest and splendid in The Listing Loon.