From before I was born up until I was about to start kindergarten, my dad was a musician by trade. I spent my first years of my life traveling around the country with my mom and dad and our “family”, the group of people in the band. I only remember snippets of that time: getting my own official band jacket made to wear along with the grownups, living out of a trunk with stickers all over it from the places we visited, my mother allowing me to listen to the first couple of songs in a set before being taken drowsily to bed.
When my dad settled down to raise a family, he got a “real” job and never looked back. He still plays his drums and piano for fun, but enjoys the comfort and security of a 9 to 5 job.
Two of the other members of the band, Ted and Nuala, never had kids and saw no need for a 9 to 5 job. They fell out of contact and eventually moved to Florida permanently to keep being musicians. My dad had only spoken to them a handful of times over the years until I thought about moving to Florida for graduate school. When I came down here to tour the campus, they picked me up at the airport and gave me the “hard sell” to move down here. That included dinner on the beach and speed boating alongside a school of dolphins. I hadn’t seen them in 18 years, yet they were still “family” and I was perfectly at ease.
Now, whenever my dad comes to Tampa, we go across the bay to St. Petersburg and listen to them play in their new band consisting of the two of them and a new keyboard player. 30 years after Ted and Nuala started playing edgy music in smoky bars they are playing standards at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club. But they are still making music several nights a week, doing the only thing that makes them happy. Ted has an amazing musical mind organizing arrangements, filling out the trio with synthesized beats and taking his turn on saxophones, the flute and vocals. Nuala is a quiet, petite woman. When she opens her mouth to sing, a 300 pound black woman comes out. She is incredible.
Once they established themselves in the community, Ted and Nuala set up an organization to bring music therapy to a local children’s hospital. Music therapy involves teaching sick children to play instruments to express themselves and take their mind off their illness and even ease their pain. The organization is called Music...Sweet Music and you may have seen the link on this page. It is now a blossoming organization with several fundraisers and has gotten a lot of local attention. If you are ever looking for a tax deduction, click on the link!
While my dad was in town this past weekend, we watched Ted and Nuala’s band do three sets at the Yacht Club. We chuckled at the rich members putting their expensive salsa lessons to use during covers of Marc Anthony songs. They requested Stones tunes and shouted, “I can’t get no…satisfaction!” and boogied to “Play that Funky Music”, a song Ted and Nuala played with my dad- the first time it was famous.