Monday, February 13, 2006

Music Sweet Music

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.


Runner Girl FL said...

I had clicked on that link on your page before and meant to ask you if that was your friends in St. Pete. It is such a good cause.

I'm also glad that your Dad had a good time in town, ejoyed the local food, and that the weather, while cooler for us, mostly behaved and gave him some long awaited sunshine. It was a pleasure to finally meet him. Now I see where the other half of you comes from. There are parts that are like your Mom who I had met before, and now I get the whole story. :)

Thanks for Lunch Dad!!

DearOldDad said...

I always know that a trip to Tampa will be multi-faceted for me (it’s quite something for a parent to get their own perspective on their child’s life.) My primary focus of recharging my paternal bond on MagnetBabe’s home turf is always such a joy to experience - this time it caused me to utter an unspoken “YOU ROCK!” when I learned of a recent decision to forego a tug towards instant gratification in favor of a decision to save for a rainy day (how utterly un-21st –century-American!) I also had a chance to do a meet-n-greet with some of her lab mates and spend some quality time with Runner Girl FL. Good choice in friends, kiddo! Another facet involves reconnecting with my friends from what now seems like another life. Even as Ted continues to display his formidable talents before an appreciative - albeit somewhat comatose - audience, it’s obvious that his passion lies in moving Music Sweet Music onto a national stage; and I both commend and support him in his effort. On a lighter note (no pun intended) Nuala Cunard posses one of the most amazing voices I have ever heard and her destiny has only been limited by her desires. MB, I thank you and Deano (and Wrigley) again for your first rate hospitality. Holy crap - I even saw the dumpster kitties!!

Scott said...

I played in a country band for about a year, but quit after playing in smokey taverns to an audience average of three. The band is still doing it though, because they love playing music. They don't have the talent that you are describing, but the love for music keeps them going.

lefty_grrrl said...

Music is such a healing force. So is family.