Thursday, May 31, 2012

R.I.P. Doc Watson

Damn . . .

As it loosing Earl Scruggs wasn't enough for this year alone . . . I just read where we've lost Doc Watson, perhaps one of the more famous flatpick folk guitarists and singers in Amereica.  He was 89 years old.  

For one of the many news articles about his life . . . click here.

Doc's Guitar Webpage announcement is here.

We have lost some special people this year . . . mentors, sages and elders all.
God's grace, and music, still amaze me . . . ><>

Monday, May 28, 2012

Tigger update . . . and life goes on . . . cause it has to . . .

An update about Tigger, our Sheltie who died on May 20th.  We received his ashes the following Wednesday, and gave them a noble spot in my wife pottery display case.  We walk by the cedar  box his ashes are in several times a day.  It feels good to have his "with us" as we continue to grieve.

Much appreciation, by the way, to those of you who read this blog, who responded directly to us with calls and cards.  My family all checked in with calls and test messages.  I have a good family.

Life goes on . . . because it has to . . . at least in my case. 

The day after Tigger died, I sang at one of my regular Monday nursing home gigs.   Can't remember a time I cut loose singing and playing guitar like I did that morning.  It was good for those in attendance, as many sang with me, clapped hands and yelled "Ye-Haw".  

It was therapeutic to me as well.  A great release of emotions in a positive way.  

Then . . . life came calling big time.

I officiated the funeral of an 18 month old this past Saturday.  A beautiful little boy.  His family has such faith, but I know they are hurting terribly.  It was an honor to be there pastor for several days.  The funeral was through Foust & Sons funeral home in Grapevine, and I was called to see if I would officiate.  

How does a pastor say "No" to a family who has lost an 18 month old??   

The service was healing, everything went well.  I hope to see this family again in the future. 

The next day, this past Sunday, I was honored to officiate at the baptism of a beautiful 3 month old baby boy, the first born of a couple whose wedding I officiated at a couple of years ago. 

Talk about life coming full circle.  Bury one . . . baptize another.  

But then, that's how the ministry is sometimes.

This Friday, I will officiate the funeral of a 2 day old baby girl.

Life goes on . . . circles . . . cycles . . . ups and downs . . . those of us alive needing keep moving along, even if we stop long enough to say goodbye to someone or something no longer with us.

When does the grieving take place?  Well, sometimes we work it in when we can, or when the grief gets to us, often blindsiding us in the process.  Grief is sort of like the small child that bugs you at odd times with the request "Please deal with me!"   But even in the process . . . you have to start moving again . . . start living again. 

How long does it take?  As long as it has to.  Grief is an individual journey.  But life goes on . . . because it has to.  At least if you are a UMC pastor. 
God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Monday, May 21, 2012

Goodbye to our beloved "old man" . . .

This blog of mine has served many purposes.  It is a way to share what I am thinking and feeling about the journey of life.  It is a way to promote my thoughts about music, and why I sing and play guitar.  It's a way of sharing my thoughts about spiritual things.

It is also a journal of sorts . . . at times a public journal, when I have something to share that seems better suited to an audience than to my personal private review at some point down the road.

Some of those sharing times come when you are grieving a loss of something loved and dear.

As a general rule, I don't share information about my family in this blog, out of respect for their wishes.  This time I am breaking that rule, but just a bit.  This time I don't think they will mind that much.

Last night, May 20, 2012, we lost a member of the Mang family . . . our beloved Sheltie . . . our beloved "old man,"  . . . Tigger.

He was 14+ years old.  This had been a bad year for him health wise . . . our vet cautioned us that he was getting to that point, as all Shelties do, where his health issues would be a constant matter of concern.  He wanted in his own way to let us know that Tigger's quality of life was going to start a downward path.

Over the last few year, and definitely more so these past couple of months . . . Tigger started having breathing issues associated with old age.  He has had breathing issues before, always due to his having more allergies than I can imagine a human being ever having.  This dog was just about allergic to everything.   We had to shop around and buy dog food that had "duck" in it, because he was allergic to just about everything else. 

Do you know how much dog food with "duck" costs??  You don't buy it at Wal-Mart either.

Thank goodness he wasn't a big dog, and didn't really eat that much . . . dog food wise.  Man, did he love hand outs from the table.  Never saw a dog relish eating an orange or banana.  Sliced Pepperoni??  You didn't dare drop the bag.  It was his favorite treat.  He walked by and took a hamburger out of one of our hands a while back.  We all laughed until we cried.  He liked that hamburger.  Begging was an art-form with Tigger.  No one was exempt from "those eyes!!!"

My wife and daughter shared that Tigger seemed comfortable on the back porch when they left to pick me up from a district church meeting yesterday evening in.  For the consumate "inside" dog, Tigger seemed to  once again enjoy staying out on the porch more these last days.  He seemed comfortable lying in the shade on our deck, face to the wind. It seemed to us that his breathing was better when he was laying down outside.  He seemed at peace. 

Perhaps we should have sensed the end was nearer than we thought. We knew in our hearts we didn't have much time left with our little tuxedo wearing "old man."  He was a tri-color sheltie, black and white fure with a little brown.  He always looked like he was wearing a tuxedo.

When we got home, he was laying unconscious by our back door, protecting  our home from who knows how many imagined intruders . . .  like squirrels, cats, birds and butterflies.  Even so near the door of death, he looked dignified, handsome and proper. 

When I picked him up, he was as limp as a dish rag.  We knew it was bad.  We  also knew what we had to do.

We immediately took him to the nearby pet ER, and once inside, we made in a matter of seconds the decision that we would let him go.  He apparantly had had a massive stroke or heart attack, one that at 14+ years of age he would not recover from, no matter how heroic the efforts to save him.

When the pet ER employee came and told us that "it's all over,"  my wife and I cried.  You would have thought we had lost a child.  Perhaps in some way we did.  We both were feeling such loss, and perhaps a little bit of guilt, mourning for what we hoped could have been still.

We went home, and after sharing the news with our girls and their husbands, and our grand-daughter, and a friend who "pet-sitted" Tigger for us, we knew it was time to cry, grieve, and begin in our own way the journey of celebrating what we had experienced with Tigger in our lives, instead of grieving about what might have been.

That's a good decision, actually.  A healthy decision.  It's the same advice I give as a pastor to "humans" when they suffer a loss.  There comes a time, when greatfulness for someone or something's life outweighs it's loss.  That's when we begin choosing healthy memories that are worth remembering and passing on to others, because those memories do us good.

As a pastor, I have the opportunity to officiate at lots of funerals for "humans." In fact, I'm pretty good at it, having been told many times that I am one of best at doing so.  In the process, I've held countless people when they have cried after losing a loved one, and I have also held a few people when they died.  It is a sacred thing, the ending of one's life journey.

For a pet, though, it's something different.  There is always the knowledge that you are the one who must feed and care for a pet.  You see, being "Master" carries an awful lot of responsbility. 

I think I felt cheated out of something last night, perhaps because my wife and I had to play "God" at a time when we would have preferred a different outcome.  I would have prefered something more "sacred" in Tigger's death, but I honestly am not sure what that would have been.  We had a crisis and the crisis demaded our immediate response.  It was all a rush.

But today, as I process and as I look back on last night . . . I think there was something sacred in it all.  Before being taken back into the pet ER clinic, my wife and I said our goodbyes, and shared our love with our little old man, and told him it was OK, that we would be OK, that he didn't have to be our little shepherd anymore, that is was OK to go.  Even though he was unresponsive . . . I have to believe  . . . oh, how my heart aches to want to believe . . . that he heard us . . . confirming in perhaps his own way that it was time.

My mom, who herself recently lost a beloved Golden Retriever, shared with me that "dog's know when it's time."  When it was Tigger's time, even though we couldn't have done anything at all if we had been there, and that hurrts . . . he knew it was time, and laid down by our back door . . . doing what he did best, which was always living up to his part of the bargain in our relationship . . . in a last symbolic act of protecting his home . . . laying down knowing we would find him, and that we would honor him and do right by and for him out of our greatfulness and love for him.
In the end, Tigger died a good dog!  A fine dog! A handsome noble dog!  One of the smartest dogs I have ever seen or heard about.  A full, 100% . . . just the best dog ever. 

Our "old man," . . . noble and dignified, loving us to the end.

Grieving is a time for recognizing lessons learned in the course of a relationship.   Lessons I learned from having had Tigger in our lives have in fact helped shape my understanding of unconditional love and loyalty.  Tigger was the textbook picture for both.  Oh, you could scold him for something . . . and he would saunter off, only to return shortly and put his head on your knee and give you that "please forgive me look."  If you were sick, he was at your side or on the floor by your bed. He loved to be petted and rubbed and brushed.  And he loved to reciprocate his love with lots of lick to your face and neck.  He liked kisses.

He was a Sheltie, by nature a herding dog, a sheep dog.  He always seemed most happy and content when the entire family was present.  As our family grew as we welcomed two son-in-laws and a grand daughter, Tigger was pleased as punch because his "herd" was getting bigger.  Well perhaps not so much for the family cats . . . but they all seemed to get along.

And speaking of getting along, that was another thing Tigger taught me . . . the importance of which, from a personal and Christian perspective, has overwhelmed me in terms of my passions and personal core values and ethics these past few years . . . that we all need to work harder to get along, becasue we are all in the same family!!!  Tigger welcomed every new cat with calmness, welcomed every person who came into our home with a sniff, a look, and his trademark, "I guess we have enough room for this one" look.  He protected his "herd" whenever he thought he was supposed to.  Especially from the incredibly dangerous windshield wipers on our cars..  If he was in the car, and it was raining, one of us had to literally restrain him, otherwise, he was going to defend us from the attack of those infernal evil windshield wipers.

We are going to laugh a lot, and loud, every time we share that particular story when we gather as family.

I've said before that I would not have another dog after Tigger is gone.  And I mean it now more than ever.  He was our first pet, ever, that we got as a baby (6 weeks old), who lived a long life with us, and died at the end of a long good life . . . even if at the end he got a gentle loving caring push to the other side from the injection my wife and I told the vet to give him so he would not suffer anymore.   There is no other way for me to process all of this other than to acknowledge, even if others fail to understand, that his death is a real loss. 

I will never smirk at anyone anymore about losing a truly loved . . . truly beloved pet / member of the family.  I have cried today as much as I have cried in years.  They have been all good tears.

Some will say . . ." he was just an animal . . . a dog!" 

They are wrong, oh soooooo wrong . . . Tigger was as full a member of the Mang family as any of us. 

Something to consider, as one our church staff shared with me this morning (a dog lover in her own right) that 99 times out of 100, you are going to out-live a pet.  Unless you are elderly, or God forbid, something happens . . . part of the experience of owning a pet is both it's arrival into your life, followed by it's later departure from your life, either by loss or by death.

The arrival is a time of celebration and preparedness.  The departure just hurts.  I mean, it really hurts.  But in the end . . . yeah, it's still a sacred thing.  Tigger was one of God's little creatures, a part of God's family as much as you or I.   We did him good. We thanked him, loved and appreciated him, and then we let him go.  We are a family of faith, we all acknowedge and believe that he is in a better place.

A pastor friend said the other day, "we are at our best when we remember, and we are at our worst when we forget."

Tigger, my old man, I will never forget you.  We loved you so much ... but you knew that.  We know you loved us.  In our eyes, you were just about the greatest most handsome most smartest most loving dog in the whole wide world!!!  And, you were a big part of our family.

We are going to miss you greatly.  And we will acknowlege our lives are better because you were a part of our family, and our life journey together.

Jesus, O Jesus my Lord, Savior and brother . . .  if you could, please take our Tigger for a walk in Heaven.  May that be his faithful reward for what his being in our life has meant to us.

Until my own dying day, I will always believe that God's grace, a good dog, and healing tears,  all amaze me still . . . ><>

Friday, May 18, 2012

Can music bring peace?

I guess I'm in a rambling writing mood these last couple of days.  I haven't written this much in some time, and I do feel I have rambled on a bit, jumping from subject to subject.

One of the concerns / passions on my heart these past few years is to answer the question, "can music help bring peace?"

I think the answer is "yes."  I want to believe the answer is "yes."  I want to hope that the answer is "yes."  I am not sure to what extent . . . guess I have to sing some more, play some more, and preach what I believe a peaceful preferred future can look like.

Part of the deal for me, is that I have to work toward a common of peace.  I'm an ordained United Methodist pastor.  I really have no choice.  To say that working for peace, between individuals, families, groups, communities, nations, cultures . . . is a waste time, and not worth the effort . . . well I don't get to travel that easy road.  My ordination, and the belief system of my faith tradition won't let me off the hook that easy.

One of the open doors in my life right now, is leading me to spend time, perhaps associating more with the "Playing for Change" program, or the anti-bullying program started by Petter Yarrow.  Maybe it will be something I come up with.

Whatever this may be, this is a path I have to walk down.  I hope it leads somewhere special.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

What I do know about guitars . . .

Oh, I guess I should say this . . . because I know it to be a fact.

The best sounding 12-string guitar . . . is the Guild F-412 (maple) or Guild F-512 (rosewood.)

I should know . . . I have played both, and own the rosewood.  If you are an old John Denver folkie like me . . . you understand.

So far, I haven't played a Taylor, or any other brand of 12-string guitar, that is even in the same ball park.

A Guild F-412 or F-512 is worth every single penny you send on it.

It will last you a lifetime and beyond if you treat it with love and respect.

Warning!   They are heavy guitars.  Seriously, they are heavy guitars.

Sing loud and strum on!!!!

God's grace, and my silly personal opinions, still amaze me . . . ><>

What I know about acoustic guitars has been tossed on it's ear . . .

I don't know 'nuthin . . .

Let me explain.

Today, I sang with Jim Newton and Paul Hill of Hugworks.  We all use Guild Jumbo's (theirs have maple, and mine are rosewood.)   Great guitars.  I love mine a lot.  My Guild F50R was the perfect guitar for my week at Philmont Scout Ranch this past September.  I played outside for all the stuff I did there.

I took my new Taylor Custom GS to play when singing with Jim and Paul today.  Was basically told to not bring my Guild back, but bring the Taylor back when I sing with them next.

Again, let me explain.

I am somewhat old school about acoustic guitars.  At least I have some old school assumptions.

1)  A "good" acoustic guitar has to have a spruce top and rosewood back and sides.

2)  A "good" acoustic guitar has to be a Martin, Guild or Gibson.

3)  A "good" guitar has to have phosphor-bronze strings.

4)  A "good" guitar has to be made in America.

5)  A "good" guitar has to be "hand crafted" ... at least most of the parts.

Stupid assumptions.  Wish I could remember how I came to these assumptions.  Probably from believing what others told me, that I believed without careful examination of the facts.

Could be because I have been helping at my friend's guitar store for the past 6 years, and have heard customers saying "spruce, rosewood, Martin, Guild, Gibson, phosphor-bronze, American, hand crafted."

For the past 4 years, I have been putting up Taylor's on display at Sean's store.  Initially . . . pretty much a machine made guitar . . . not in the same class as the others.   New company, upstart California owner, no track record compared to Martin, Guild and Gibson.

I've had a Taylor NS-74 for the past 3 years.  Love it!  But I just could not pull the trigger on getting a steel string.  Gave a GS-8 a hard look.  Gave a DN-5 a hard look.  But just couldn't do it.

Then, I play a Custom GS with the sinker-redwood and maple sides, and my guitar world turns upside down.  A few weeks later, Sean has it in my hands as a birthday present/pay for work I have done for helping paint and setting up his new showroom.

Last night, I play it at our 3rd Thursday guitar jam at the church.  Russ Logan, my musical "PaPa" bring in a brand spanking new Martin HD-28SV . . . a round shouldered, slotted-head, 12 fret to the body Don McLean guitar.  Frickin' awesome.  The consumate Martin folk guitar.

I play it for one-song . . . and then reach for my Taylor.  I wanted the Taylor back in my hands.  It was the best sounding guitar of all that were there (3 Taylors, 1 Martin and a freakishly great sounding Tak.)  How do I know?  Because everyone there told me it was great.

Today, singing with Jim and Paul . . . Paul tells me to bring it back . . . and he smiles like he found his first love when he plays it.

So, my sinker redwood top, mahogany back and sides Taylor, with bronze strings, made in America, most of the parts made by machines, bolt-on neck guitar . . . has just completely won me over.

It sounds totally different from the rich bassy sound I thought I wanted.  It is full sounding, brite, has a great balance of bass-mids-and highs.  The neck . . . well damn, it's just awesome.

I don't know anything about guitars . . . well at least I am going to profess from now on that I don't know anything about guitars.

But, I am learning . . . at least the following lessons.

1)  You can't depend on others to tell you what you want.  You have to play it, hold it, have a vision with it, let it talk to you.

2)  You've got to let go of every assumption you have about guitars.  There are a bunch of great guitars being built these days, and a high end Taylor . . . they are all great guitars.  You can play a hand made Gibson one day and it will be awesome.  Play the same model guitar made on another day, and it could be a dud.   Taylor's are much more consistent.

3)  You can't get a guitar based on what you think other people will say.   Screw them.  It's your guitar.

4)  If you want a good guitar . . . it's going to cost you some real money.  Save up.  Wait for the guitar.  You will find it one day.  There are a lot of wonderful used instruments out there.  Nothing wrong with a used instrument . . . if it speaks to you.

So much also depends on the style of music you like to play, and if you finger-pick or strum.  I am a strummer . . . so I went with larger bodied guitars (the GS is the next to largest body Taylor makes).  Strings (bronze or phosphor-bronze) are up to you . . . you just have to rotate a set of both on the guitar. You will know which one you like.

Am I going to part now with my Guild's?   No, I plan to use them a lot.

Am I going to part with my Martin?  No sir!!!   It's home, 5 feet from where I type this . . . retired to a life of luxury and playing songs here at home.   Now, if I ever do an all rock-n-roll concert . . . it's coming out of the case!!

But, through the summer, I will be mostly playing the Taylor.  I want to get to know it very, very well. I want to put it through the ringer a bit.

Truth is . . . it's the best sounding, playing 6-string guitar I have every owned or played.  And it's a custom one-of-a-kind guitar.  It's meant to blow you away.

Consider me blown away.

Sing loud and strum on!!!!

God's grace, and what little I know about guitars, still amazes me . . . ><>

Singing at Cook Children's Medical Center today . . .

Today I return to singing in area hospitals for children with Jim Newton and Paul G. Hill of Hugworks.

I took a needed break from public singing that began before Lent.  But today, thanks to my schedule not being so full this week, I will leave here shortly for the drive into Ft. Worth to Cook Children's Medical Center.  We will sing in individual patient and activity/game rooms this morning, and then do the same after lunch.

Jim and Paul are my music mentors, for both singing and guitar playing.  I always pick up an answer from then for a question I might have . . . as well as an answer or two to questions I hadn't thought to ask yet.

There are both very good at teaching me something I need to know.  But then, that is the nature of our relationship.  I am the student/learning in this relationship.  They are the mentors.  They have the experience I both want and wish I had.  I think having mentors in various areas of life is a very proactive thing.  Even at age 55, I have so much to learn, far more so than I could ever imagine.

As I begin this journey of mine, toward becoming an elder, I hope I can travel the road well enough that I can teach others about Therapeutic Music Entertainment for children in hospitals and for seasoned seniors in nursing home and care facilities.  It is an awfully good thing to be doing, and it enriches the children, nursing home residents, and myself in many wonderful ways.

Off to sing!  Off to play guitar!  Off to make a joyful noise!

What joyful noise are you going to make today?

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

We will be spending some time in Arkansas . . .

Yesterday I received word that I have been approved as a new board member at the Mount Sequoyah UMC Retreat and Conference Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

I do sooooo love the Ozarks.

As a board member, I will be at Mt. Sequoyah several times a year for board meetings, perhaps serving on a sub-committee this first year, and helping to raise money and spread the word about this sacred place that means so much to my wife and I.  

More info on this in the future.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

One would believe that someone as big as I am . . . even though I have lost 35+ pounds in the past 4 months, would intimidate children.

I think it's the guitar that wins them over!    As Willie Nelson said, "As long as I have my guitar, I'll be fine."  I'll 2nd that.

I believe that children can read people's hearts instantly, and I hope what they "read" about me is that I am not a threat, but someone who cares, and who has some important things to share with them along the way of their life journey.  Yeah, I will always be "Pastor Rick" to the one's at the church, and the guy from "Hugworks" to the children at hospitals in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, but I am also a friend, and one who genuinely cares about the world we are leaving them.

I've reached 55 years old . . . still have my health, still have a loving wife and a great family, who are receiving much more of me these days than I have seen fit to give them in the past.  I have reached that point in my life where I am comfortable with not being preoccupied with meeting the expectations that others have of and for me.  No, I know what is important to me, and I'm comfortable with it.  I know what my values are and why I believe what I do.

In other words . . . I am desiring to embrace the title of "Elder."  Perhaps even the title of "Sage."  My values now are centered in all of us getting along, discovering things spiritual together, helping younger generations, to start giving away stuff instead of inquiring it, and quite frankly, to focus more on the environment than I have in the past.  I think I can be both elder/sage in all these things over time, and I can use music in the process along the way.  I think I can use music a lot.

My truest heart's desire . . . to be someone that people can look up to because I will listen to them, and perhaps they can learn something from me through the things I ask them to think about and consider, and as I share my life's experience to them as they come to make their own decisions about life.

I will be writing more about this in the coming weeks ... and how I hope music will play a big part in it all.
Oh, and as always . . . God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Mother's Day "Children's Time" . . .

A great Mother's Day song  . . . sung to the tune of the Oscar Meyer bologna song . . .

My mommy has a special name, it's M-O-M-M-Y . . .
My mommy has a special name, it's M-O-M-M-Y . . .
I love to hug and kiss her everyday
And if you ask me "why?" I'll say . . . . .
I love my mommy yes I do,
I L-O-V-E Y-O-U!

The response wasn't half bad! 

Thank's to Tommy Green of our church for the photo.  This was my first time to use the new Taylor sinker-redwood BTO in public.  Loving this guitar.

God's grace, and Mom's, still amaze me . . . ><>

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wow! Over 15,000 page views and counting . . .

Mercy . . . I just noticed that there have been just over 15,000 page views of this blog since 2007.  And that doesn't count the number of views back when I accidently deleted the entire blog before that.

Thank you everyone.  Hope you've found something good to read, and that all of you are making your own joyful noise as best you can!

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Yeah, I'm 55 now . . .

Could be why kids like to hear me sing . . . I sound like a grandpa . . .

Could be why seniors like to hear me sing . . . the musical "slightly younger brother" . . .

I turned 55 yesterday.  A good day.

There is something to say about a "positive collaborative combination of maturity and experience."

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Another blessing on it's way . . .

Well, the one-of-a-kind custom Taylor GS sinker redwood topped guitar that I wrote about earlier . . .

It seems that Sean Simon (the best sponsor a children's and nursing home singer could ever have) at the Grapevine Guitar Works store (the best guitar store in the world) made arrangements for me to have it.  It is scheduled to be delivered by UPS this Thursday.  I do work for Sean at the store as my schedule allows, and he has been a very generous sponsor of my music ministry for over 6 years.  I got mad at him a while back for allowing me to use such good stuff.

His response . . . "never ever stop anyone from having the opportunity to be generous."

Funny, as I pastor, I should already know that.

I started out singing in nursing homes years ago with instruments that were crap.  Only had a Sigma guitar I got back in the early 90's.  Then, just before I came to Grapevine in 2005, my friends Joe and Floyd, along with a grant from the Central Texas Methodist Foundation, I was able to get a really decent Martin DC-16gte.  "Marty" is my baby, and is now retired  after 7 years of hard use, and living in my home study.  They say good acoustic guitars come into their own between 8-10 years of age.  Marty is just on the cusp of sounding so great.  But, she is banged up a bit . . . and my sentimental attachment is too deep to risk it.  Anyway, with Sean's help, I have my two Guild's and will have two Taylors, the redwood GS and a NS-74 nylon string.

Man, I need to be done . . . like really, I need to be done.  What other guitar do I need?

Oh, wait . . . there is a Gibson AJ-45 I saw the other day . . .

I say need . . . not want!!!!

Today, I am excited, and yet humbled beyond measure about the Taylor GS.  I am also a bit ashamed, yet once again, about how I lust after guitars, and I plan to confess a bit to Floyd when he comes for our semi-annual visit-jam session-conflab scheduled for this Friday.

I have noticed something about better built guitars . . . I play them more, a lot more.  I pick one up and strum or fingerpick several times each day.  And I always start singing when I play, because that is what I am, a singer of songs.   When you practice sometimes twice a day, you can only get better.   And if I get better, then some child or some senior adult is going to be able to enjoy themselves that much more.

And that is why I sing and play guitar in the first place . . . to make a joyful noise, or to cause one to be made where ever I am!

God's grace, and a good guitar, still amaze me . . . ><>

Singing to seniors again . . .

On Monday, I sang at the Legend's Health Care and Rehab Center in Euless at my new 1st Monday at 3:30 PM time slot.

It appears that I am the once-a-month "before dinner" entertainment.

Works for me!

When I started, there were 7 waiting for me.  When I finished 50 minutes later, there were over 30 in the room.  I think we all had a blast.

When we sing to children in hospitals, our catalog of songs is limited to those that have been vetted for us by child life specialists and other experts.  The reasons for that are many, and all good.  I'll touch on them in another blog in the future.

When I sing to seniors, however, I have access to a much, much larger catalog of songs.  Songs I sang on Monday included . . .

-A Thing Called Love (maybe Jerry Reed's best song)
-For Bobbie (one of John Denver's best ballads)
-Route 66
-Love Me Tender (a favorite Elvis song for many of them)
-This Land is Your Land
-Blowing in the Wind
-Inside, Inside (a great TME song for kids and seniors, both)
-Friends of the Family (another great TME song)
-Try a Little Kindness
-Johnny Be Good
-I Believe in Music

And, they get my somewhat skewed sense of humor. . . .

A preacher, priest and a rabbi walk into a bar.  The bartender says, "What is this, a joke?" (Rimshot!!!)

There's more folks. I'll be here all week!

I took my trusty Guild 12 string with me . . . and again, fun was had by all.

Especially me.

You know you've done a good job, when staff members come in and join the fun!

God's grace, my senior friends, and good music still amaze me . . . ><>

Friday, May 4, 2012

A busy day of singing yesterday . . .

Well, I announced that I was going to start singing in public again as part of my ministry after a 10+ week break.

Yesterday, I sang at Silverlake Elementary here in Grapevine, TX for 4 of the 3rd grade classes, as part of Career Day.   I went to share my work as a Theraputic Music Entertainer singing to children in hospitals and to senior adults in nursing home/rehab centers. 

It was fun . . . the kids were great.  Most of the other presenters gave talks, etc.   I shared that the best way to tell the kids about what I do musically, was to do it with them. 

It was awesome.

Last night, I had the honor and privilege of presenting a concert for the Southwest Retired BSA Executives Reunion at the Hyatt Park Hotel.  I sang a selection of folk and camp fire songs, and threw in a couple Elvis tunes so folks could sing and clap together.  A fine bunch of people, including two of the guys who planted the seed in my head several years ago about going to Philmont Scout Ranch as a Chaplain.

My Guild F-512 got a work out yesterday, and I did to.  The evening concert involved having to use my mic and amp, and for once I had it dialed in to the room almost perfectly.  You have to understand, I was in a small banquet room with 75 "retired" people, and no one complained about the music being too loud, or that they couldn't hear. 

I take that as a "win" any day.

God's grace, and a good sing-a-long-song, still amaze me . . . ><>

I miss an audience . . .