Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Plenty of family tradition


The illuminated path
Originally uploaded by V'ron
So, what do I do after I get mentioned as a music writer/photog who "documents what is happening better than any legit publication...">? I blow off art and music and spend quality time with my kids!
Friday night was Gallery Night, which I normally would have taken in, but it was also the annual Halloween Glen at Hawthorne Glen, a lovely little alternative to haunted houses that MPS puts on, and our family tradition starts right on the shuttle bus. "Penguin Lady" is the bus chaperone, and she and Stella bonded fromt eh first time we did this six years ago. (Penguin Lady still remembers her). Sammy's oblivious to this, but no matter. He's the one who's ready with a joke when the guide at Hawthorne Glen asks for jokes (and, they're hysterical in that they're not funny...). He's the one who wants to be the volunteer at all the stops. My favorite this year: Name that Scat! where the kids were presented with photographs of, well, fertilizer, and they had to guess which animal left it. Sammy and Stella liked the station about the leeches, but I was also partial to the "Skunk Fu" station, where a pair of costumed skunks with elegant British accents taught the kids how to warn and then spray enemies with their skunk juice.
Afterwards, more tradition that wasn't planned kicked in. Last year, we picked up some packaged pumpkin seeds at the snack station, and they might as well have been "salt seeds." They were saltier than salt. "UGGGHHHHH," we had said aloud, "..... but, hey, lemme have some more of those..." We were both disgusted and yet intrigued by them. Stella wanted to do it again this year. They haven't gotten any less salty this year.
Next day was the last South Shore Farmer's Market, and they ended it with the tradition performance of the Band of South Shore ("BOSS") a marching band comprised of middle and high school kids from the Bay View Area. This band is pretty good. They started with a few popular songs (of course, with the Boss himself, doing Springsteen's "Born in the USA") and moved on to Van Morrison and such. Then they finished with a pile of Mowton hits that they said they did last year. You could tell they'd been playing the Mowtown longer because they were better at it -- depsite the fact that the Mowtown material and arrangements were more challenging. I noticed this one clarinet player smoking a horn run in Stevie Wonder's "Superstition," and it made me forget that this band was almost upstaged by their terrific drumline. The band conducter explained that most of the kids in the drumline were in the regular band, but also learned how to do drums -- which is a refreshing change from the way I remember kids being guided to the drums: use dto be that the totally non music kids were relegated to drums, and every now and then one would shine and end up being a metal or punk drummer. Now it seems that drums are recognized as a musical instrument and that's a good thing -- because they are. And there seems to be a coolness factor in being in the drumline that's only going to help produce more talent. Face it, when I was growing up, marching band was for geeks, and I suspect there's still a geek factor. But it's also where it all begins. It's where you learn not only to play your instrument, it's where you learn how to be in a band, to work together, to be tight -- and I love a good, tight marching band as much as a love a good tight hardcore punk group -- for the same reasons. There's a lot to be said for tradition.

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