March Madness 4: Kids Gigs
What a difference a year makes. In March 2011, our then 6-year old Noel was still wrestling with basic chords on his new Martin Junior Acoustic-Electric, though it didn’t stop him busking his way through some rudimentary shapes for a performance of Gustafer Yellowgold’s “Wisconsin Poncho” at the Phoenicia Elementary Variety Show.
Since then, he has rewarded our faith in making the Martin purchase several times over, turning into something of the prodigious guitarist and a natural performer to boot. Having started taking proper guitar lessons, attended a couple of local open mikes, opened for Uncle Rock and Ratboy Jr. at a kid’s birthday party at the Utopia studios in Woodstock, gatecrashed an Arts show, busked on Saturday afternoons on the Woodstock Village Green, and been unexpectedly invited on stage for a major book launch in Woodstock (an event that got him written up in the local paper), he was especially well set to return for this year’s Phoenicia Variety Show, held on Friday March 9. There he played one Gustafer song solo, and another with his close friend, fellow 1st grader Jamison Brown, on drums. By the end of it, they were holding the beat together on “I’m From The Sun” pretty well. See below.
They were hardly the only talented kids on display; two separate elementary age girls sang Adele’s “Rolling From The Deep” a capella (that’s some real girl power), and there were other drummers, guitarists, singers, violinists, as well as magicians, comedians and dance troupes. I would happily show clips of the other kids but for permission issues. The event ran until 8:30 pm, by which time many of the younger kids had “crashed,” and certainly there was no opportunity for an after-show party for Noel, given that he had his first real solo gig the following night, at our local version of “Prairie Home Companion,” a show known as Cabaradio, hosted at the Pine Hill Community Center in front of a local audience, and broadcast live on the new public station WIOX. Amongst other musicians, poets, storytellers and actors (which makes it sound like an adult version of the school variety show, though it is considerably deeper than that), Noel bounded on stage to perform, but of course, two Gustafer Yellowgold songs: “Slim Gets In ‘Em” and “Butter Pond Lake.” The closing minute of the first song is shown below. Noel’s 16-year old brother, at a birthday party 40 miles away at the time, kindly halted proceedings so they could listen in live on the radio. Props.
I’d love to be able to say Noel inherits his musical talents from me, but I didn’t start playing guitar until I was at least eight or nine, could not manage a barre chord much before I was a teenager, and am still unfamiliar with many of the chords Noel is picking up from Gustafer Yellowgold songs. (C+? F#mdim7?) I also didn’t play with a capo, let alone engage in drop tuning. In other words, though I grew up musical, I was never more than an average musician. I realize now I did not have the same hunger for practicing and playing music the way that I did for writing about it. Noel, on the other hand, can not go more than a few hours without picking up his Martin. He is currently designing a cover and a trailer video for the first album by his “band,” The Rocks (for which he wants me to play bass), which he has entitled Little Boys Problems. “Songs” so far composed include “Out Of My Mind,” “My Favorite Rock ‘n’ Roll Instrument” (the guitar but of course) and “I Just Can’t Deal With This.” What, exactly, is the “little boys problem” that he “can’t deal with” is beyond us, but we can’t argue with the energy. Watch this space.