To Whomever Is In Charge

of the universe:

Where there is any pain, hurt, upset, bad things happening, broken hearts, loss, grief, and all the other terrible stuff humans must endure, let there be music. Specifically, let there be people who play music for their audiences who love what they do, who understand how important their job is. All the hope, healing, and positivity I needed were served up family style last night at Sumter Theater. It was a very hard week with a perfect ending.

Mark Irwin, you were wonderful. The folks around us were talkers, so we couldn’t hear all of your stories, but did glean your story about your last son being born, and that you are going to the studio and record again. I have yet to introduce myself to you, but plan to some day. Our fathers were best of friends when they both worked at the Omaha World Herald for a lifetime each. My dad’s been gone for 34 years, and yours for ten. As you stood talking to someone before you were set up to perform, I had a sort of flashback. You stood with your hands on your hips, talking. In that instant, I saw your dad standing there. No, I’m not a weirdo. Your posture reminded me of him the very few times I ever saw him as a child. I thought you’d like to know that. My dad had so much respect for him.

Let these people gather to teach children their skills and their joy with music, let the children learn and be confident to be onstage at a young age, say 14 1/2, and have the knowledge they can play a Clapton song, and do it darned well. Great job, Ciaran McGuigan. Your skills amaze me, and I cannot wait to see how you progress. Max Meyer, well done! Not only your playing onstage, but you are imparting your knowledge to kids who act as sponges to absorb it all. How awesome!

Evelyn Hill not only belts out a song with a gigantic voice, she dances across the stage to show you she means business! I love to see you perform with the group, wherever they are, whatever they’re doing. Go see her, folks. She’ll knock your socks off.

The sax section was even choreographed a little, good job, guys. The strings! Oh my, both of these sections are what these songs need to be heard as their creators intended. All the sounds help draw out all the feelings the musicians have and can play; and the audience feels it.

Ryan McGuigan, you are always a presence onstage, and last night was no exception. Your performance had not only your usual, but you have a bounce to your step, and an extra happy smile these days. Life must be treating you well. You deserve that.

Matthew McGuigan, your arranging and composition of a new intro for Billy’s song about Cartney was on fire. It had quite a kick to it, and you made all of those songs sound like they should. I love your singing, you should do more!

Billy announced they had an all girl stage crew! Girl Power! Those ladies knew what they were about, and they did it all in fine fashion. Cartney McGuigan managing backstage, Kate, Carly, and the other young lady (so sorry, I didn’t retain your name), you were always right on, in addition to taking care of merch ahead of the show. They all were having a blast, too.

The drummer (another name I didn’t catch) is top-shelf. He rocks it out like no one I’ve seen before. Look forward to seeing you perform again.

Kathy Kersey, Kate, it was good to talk briefly with you, too. You both add a lot to all that goes on there. Thanks for all you do.

And Billy. Once again, you delivered in a huge way. Your music made life brighter and more positive last night. Keep on doing what you’re doing. You keep getting better at it, and I don’t know how. It’s a gift. It’s also a lot of hard work. No one gave this all to you. You, Ryan, and Matthew have worked harder than anyone realizes to be where you are today. And you’re going to keep soaring. And thanks for all you do. Until the next time. Rock On!

Saturday. Reflecting and Remembering.

So, a year ago, this happened. I forgot about it yesterday, but the header photo is of something I have on my window sill above the sink. It’s my reminder of Lenny and Kris and of happier times.

It occurred to me, a year from now, all those grieving the loss of someone right now will be in a different place. The tricky thing is to not let grief make you bitter, retreat into yourself, or worse yet, never speak of your loved one. Mom didn’t want to hear us talk about Dad when she was around. She became angry. We knew Dad wasn’t a saint, but we were not allowed to grieve as a family. It was eye opening when we finally figured it out.

Another thing that helps me heal from anything is music. It heals my soul, which is improving daily. I’ll go back and forth, it’s normal. Some days you feel relief they’re not suffering anymore, some days you’re sad you can’t see them anymore. Let your good memories get you through. And music.

Janet was in the choir at Immaculate Conception Church. She enjoyed that, and said, “My mom always told me singing in church meant you prayed twice.” That was long after I left the area. I believe the words to songs can be prayers for your healing. It’s why I listen sometimes all day long. If I’m low on energy, the Music Channel folks have such variety, I like Jazz or Smooth Jazz. It is usually rock and roll, classic R & R or local artists.

How lucky, the Babe and I have tickets to another Billy McGuigan show, this one: Pop Rock Orchestra. Remember, back in the day? You could hear the orchestra in the background of most songs. Strings and horns add so much to guitars, keyboards, and drums. Try it, you’ll love it! I know a lot of great music will envelop me tonight, like a giant hug, and I’ll feel better. The hard week we just finished will be a distant memory, and we’ll be stronger again. We’ll have new things to tackle this week. Music is the cure for much of what ails us. C’mon down to Sumter Amphitheater tonight. Starts @7:30 p.m.

Have a lovely evening, I know I will! See you tomorrow.

Yesterday . . . and Today

It was a good day yesterday. And it was a fantastic night at Yesterday and Today. The Babe and I have seen this interactive Beatles experience every year since I think 2014. No two shows have ever been the same, since the requests submitted by the audience drive the set list. What a very creative and clever idea. And every year, it seems as if the McGuigan brothers cannot top what they’ve just done. You even get a lovely parting gift with this show.

That challenge is always accepted by Billy, Ryan, and Matthew. Their talent and performance pays tribute to their departed Dad, who died when they were pretty young. In fact, he was pretty young; 42. They learned Beatles songs as toddlers and now make a living performing those songs. Not impersonation, but real guys singing music their Dad loved. It’s a tender tribute that now follows into the next generation. Billy’s son Ciaran is an already accomplished guitarist while not even in high school yet. Watch out, Omaha! There’s some upcoming talent here. Think Clapton. Seriously.

Other band changes include adding horns and strings; most recordings from that fantastic era included these instruments. Why not on stage with the guys who do the Beatles justice, each and every time they pick up their instruments and sing? These guys are the Kings of “Why Not?”

Last year, Ryan made quite the theatrical entrance while performing, “I Am the Walrus,” complete with a gas mask. This year, he has a cool hooded crocheted sweater he wore over his John Lennon style “New York City” t-shirt. Ryan, did someone make it for you? It was pretty cool. Only you could carry it off, too. You can tell he’s an actor at heart. He’s a blast to watch and wonder what he’ll do next. It’s a gift.

Billy’s gift, in my opinion, is the adaptability to get through anything that challenges him, and I believe that true onstage and off. His humor is off the wall and off the cuff. Or is it? It sure appears that way. I think he’s a pretty funny guy. Speaking of funny guys, Max Meyer plays a mean cowbell. He get the crowd revved for sure. I do believe he’s pretty proud of that. You’ll find out why. Go see the show. He has another surprise for you, too. Go see the show. Dying to tell you what it is, but won’t join this special surprise.

Matthew is such a professional, always steady and just enjoying the musical moments. I believe he is a very talented arranger, and can arrange things in such a manner you wonder why the original song didn’t go that way in the first place. The knowledge he has must be unparalleled. It’s his gift. There is always a seemingly “quiet one” of the groups. The Beatles had George, and The McGuigan’s have Matthew. And that’s a very good thing.

Your Christmas gift to any music lover should be going to this show. Even if you’re not a Beatles fan, you will be a McGuigan Brothers fan. Go see the show. You’ll love it. The first Christmas, the Baby Jesus had three wise men, bearing gifts. This Christmas, Omaha has three wise men named McGuigan, bearing their gifts. The Celestial Star they follow is their Dad, who shines upon them. Go see the show. The Slowdown is an awesome venue for them to call home.

A Moving Forward Monday

The Babe and I had a great time yesterday at Patriarch Distillers/Soldier Valley Spirits. We attended a benefit concert yesterday for families of police officers killed in the line of duty. I believe it was successful for the group and hope they have what they need. They were raising travel and lodging expense money. Their loved ones will be honored in Washington DC later this year. They deserve the best treatment, especially since they will not have an easy life from now on. May God give them peace in their hearts and renewed sense of purpose as they travel on their grief journey.

Jimmy Weber, Musician, Veteran, Friend to Law Enforcement

Today, after a dental check up and doing a couple things for the Babe at the VFW, I met with the new Auxiliary President. I believe this will be a good year for the group, and we will be working as partners with the Post. Unity will take us farther than remaining separate. In many aspects, we’re re-branding the perception of what the Veterans of Foreign Wars is and does. Supporting Veterans still is the focus. How we do that has changed somewhat.

Ugh! Tomorrow, we are focusing on a deep cleaning for the upstairs of our home. We’ve been too busy to make a committed effort the last month. We need to do this, or we’ll be behind all summer. If your surroundings are cluttered, messy, and out of sync, you will be, too. Sacrificing one day will be worth it. The Babe is such a great help. It’s been a year since our cleaning team quit for other work, and I do miss the nice job they did. I don’t miss what I was paying them. That frees up some money for my writing, books, etc. It’s been worth it.

Pictures depicting “Alignment.”

No matter how much of a solitary existence we think we have, we do need others in our lives. We were created to be social creatures. No one feels better than when we have a healthy relationship with those around us, each caring for others. We’re stronger then. The least we can do to thank our Veterans, thank our Law Enforcement Officers, and all their families. We would not have what we do today if not for our freedoms being protected. Thank you, to all who protect our freedoms. We can never repay you. We remain indebted.

Thank you for catching up today. We need to all be grateful for this great country, her protectors, and our brothers and sisters who lead the charge to protect us. We are forever in their debt. Be Kind. Be Mindful. Be Safe out there! See you all tomorrow.