The Hope in Music

People can talk about how rough the Pandemic, lock-down, and ensuing time has been on us. We are supposed to be nearly back to normal now. After that rough time, I deemed Billy McGuigan and his brothers, (international touring entertainers living right here in Nebraska) Ryan and Matthew, to be the cure for COVID. They were the first live show we saw, socially distanced, after the long quarantine. It restored my hope in life continuing.

Once again, last night we attended the last show, “Don’t Stop Me Now,” in a 3-show run at the beautiful Sumtur Amphitheater, in Papillion, just down the highway from us. (Do I sound like a small town-girl?). Only when I heard the fantastic band play and cast sing did I realize how off I’ve been from all the constant bad news this year; the children killed everywhere while at school, the economy, prices spiraling out of control. My soul has been given hope again. The hope there is in music.

For the first time in my memory, the show had an emcee other than Billy, who emceed the first night. The second night, Julie Cornell, of KETV Newswatch 7 emceed, followed on Saturday by her co-anchor, Rob McCartney. They are both great people in the community and regular people. He added some humor about the huge storm that passed through about an hour before showtime.

The show’s musical director was Matthew McGuigan. He had a different presence onstage last night. He is a genius with music anyway, and was much more animated last night. He comes up with some really fantastic arrangements; they make full use of the vocal ranges the women and men have. It is a thing of real beauty to all your senses. And the instrumental parts are always top shelf. What will he think of next? Great things, I’m sure.

Not only did I regain hope in the world, but seeing all these younger people Billy has brought into his talent pool are all so good, so full of promise. They will carry the torch of hope forward for all of us. Each night of this three gig run, a student from the McGuigan Arts Academy selected one student to be featured with the band as a lead guitar solo. Last night was a young man named Miles. He was fantastic! Had his first band photo taken and posted. He played well, and, most important, he had the rock-star-head-motion to move his massive head of hair out of his eyes. That’s the critical part, boys and girls! The header photo is his very first band photo!

I’m delighted to see Cartney McGuigan co-wrote this production, utilizing her love of all things acting and singing. She also was the best stage manager (giving Kate Whitecotton a chance to sit and enjoy the show!). Here’s a link to their website, to read about all the great performers; Erika Hall Sieff, Nina Washington, Evelyn Hill. Jesse White, Ejanae Hume, and Julian Hinrichs. Check out the other shows scheduled for this year; Willie Wonka, Pop Rock Orchestra, Yesterday and Today. It’s the real deal, folks. See these shows. All of them. You will love these people as I grown to.

Below, I believe was one of the first time Ciaran McGuigan performed with dad, Billy. I share this because you see the young man, feel he’s a bit nervous, but is determined to do this. Glances to his band mates help. The beautiful Beatles song, Yesterday. It’s from December 8, 2019.

It All Starts Somewhere





Now that your eyes are sweating, fast forward to last night. In this photo, to the left, the young man with the red guitar, is also Ciaran. I feel like a grandma (well, I guess I am one) saying I cannot believe how he’s grown! Not only in stature, and maturity, but also in guitar playing. He is to be watched, believe me!

Ciaran has the red guitar. And he has a collection to switch off with, too. He’s as tall as his Dad & uncles! (sorry guys, it had to happen).

Check out McGuigan Arts Academy. If you kid is going to have any kind of lessons, they may as well learn from the best.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, guys. Know that your hard work is appreciated so very much. You do what gives me hope for life again. Go see them, wherever they travel. billymcguigan.com is where you can find schedules for all things related to these guys. If you live in Iowa or Nebraska, he’ll be at Davies Amphitheater July 9. Well worth the $15 at the door. And it’s a beautiful place, too. Perfect even if it’s hot outside.

It’s a humid, hot day in Nebraska. So glad the show didn’t get rained/stormed/tornadoed out last night. Figure out what your dreams are and follow them! They could lead you somewhere fantastic! I’m making time to get back to mine, and I’m much better when I’m creating. Gonna be a great week! See you tomorrow.

Memorial Day/Tuesday Thoughts

A lot of things happened between Sunday night and today.

We had a Memorial Day Ceremony at the VFW Post 2503 Monday at 1 p.m. It was a Memorial for our members lost since last year. We read the names of both Post and Auxiliary members who passed between April 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022. These dates represent the Honor Guard Year. We had many funerals delayed because of COVID, and the restrictions in place.

A beautiful day revealed itself as we had our ceremony. Our Congressman, Don Bacon, spoke and so did the Marine Corps League Commandant. We had a windy but beautiful day (no, not from the speakers). We were blessed with Tammy Marshall, Nebraska Author and member of American Legion Riders, Bloomfield Post 249. Tammy read her poem, “I Stood a Flag Line Today.” It was written as a tribute to her boyfriend’s son. He was a soldier who committed suicide. It was an honor to meet his father, Kim Erickson. Tammy & Kim are both Legion riders and attend many funerals for Veterans. What an honor, and what a blessing they are. Her poem is the back of her book, Ticker Tape. You can find more information on Tammy at :

https: //tammymarshallauthor.wordpress.com

I have told Tammy her poem needs to be a song, it would be beautiful. I’m going to share it with someone we know who may be able to set it to music. You know who you are!

Trevor Erickson shall not be forgotten, and deserves all the honors we would give any soldier who dies in battle. This battlefield happened to be vast and dark, it was with his mind. The wounds caused are the hardest to heal, and perhaps easiest to conceal. We need to work hard, bringing mental health issues out of the dark and into the light where they are discussed, dealt with, and normalized. We all experience some mental health challenges from time to time. There is no shame in it.

Remember Trevor Erickson. Remember the good he accomplished in his lifetime. Remember his family. Remember all those we have lost to battles that are seen and unseen. Be grateful for their sacrifices.

We will publish a photo chronicle on Facebook of the day from putting the flags up, Linda Humphrey feeding the volunteers breakfast, and the Honor Guard at their last duty of the day; firing at the Post Ceremony. These men put up flags, participated in three ceremonies besides our own, and finished by taking the flags down before the winds increased. They are very serious about demonstrating honor and respect.

Remember our fallen and their sacrifices well beyond Memorial Day. Once the speeches are over, the flags retired, and the uniforms hung back in the closet; empty chairs are still at the dinner tables, broken hearts still visit graves, and memories remain in minds afraid their soldier will be forgotten. We cannot let that happen. We need to remain a grateful nation, now more than ever. God Bless them all, and their families.

Suddenly Saturday Again!

There is a lot going on here at the Home Office at Raabe Ranch. I need to make a list about making a list, and categorizing everything we need to do in the next week. Not only are there blogs to write, I vow to begin again on my novel, The Freeing of Katie Fitzgibbons.

I know the story will come back to me, after all, I lived with it the whole time I learned to craft the chapters, scenes, character development, and all sorts of things. Sam Tyler is not only my friend, but I hired her last summer and fall as my book coach. She does a marvelous job. I learned so much from her about good writing. She is tough, but very respectful about it. She won’t dash your hopes; to the contrary, she will encourage them along with your confidence. It’s worth the fee. We met at a Nebraska Writers Guild Conference over a year ago. That was before COVID. Here is her contact info if you would like to learn more about her. After an intense summer and fall of hard work, I took one month off (December) and somehow it extended into January, 2021. That’s OK.

I have a 2 p.m. Masterclass today about “The Build a Better Brand Method.” I need to update my “About Me” information. It’s necessary to build a community and a following. I’ve experimented with Tags and Categories, and since I started to blog about being on the Keto Diet, I’ve gained a lot of followers just on that point alone. Whether that’s good or bad, I’m not sure. I have nearly 300 followers for the blog alone. I’m happy with that, since I started at zero nearly two years ago.

Any part of life is dynamic, you never reach a static existence except maybe in death. Nothing happens much after that on this earth. We must change with the times about some things. Communication, actions, networking. All of the brand building is simply 2021 talk for marketing. So there we go. No one talks marketing any more, although that is what we do. I’m interested in finding out how to do that. Since I’m an Indie Author, I need to learn about all of these things. I would learn about them even if I had an agent and a publishing company interested in me. I may look one once I publish a couple books on my own, but I do enjoy this whole process.

The future is ahead of all of us. From this point on, I believe I can pick and choose where this career will take me. The opportunities are about the best they’ve ever been, and the authors I’ve met are all generous people who seem to genuinely want to help each other. Many creatives are like this. They are particular about their circle of people, and will help in any way they can. It amazes me.

How are you spending your present and your future? Are you thrilled to wake every day and do something you love? I’m there, and it’s just too bad I can’t be at a desk, sewing machine, or an easel for longer periods of time. I’d probably be a creating machine! It’s ok, we all can only do what wee do. At any moment, a person my age could have a stroke or another medical mishap and not be able to create anymore. That would seriously hurt me no end. I’m praying for good health and longevity together. Hope springs eternal.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading today. I hope it’s a beautiful day for you. Be kind, be safe, be on the lookout. Help someone out. See you tomorrow!