Saturday, Davies Ampitheater

Normally, I write about seeing Billy McGuigan and his band of brothers (and now son) the morning after. This one was so special, I had to take my time and really savor the experience before I could express it in words. It was a lot.

After touring for a couple months, the band was back together in Glenwood at the beautiful Davies Ampitheater. we’ve seen them there many times, it’s a great partnership; Barrett Auto, Davies, and the McGuigan’s with their musical magic. It never falls short or flat. Saturday night, it was all left on the stage. There is nothing from any of the band members to support life. It was that good.

Personally, I couldn’t wait to hear the guys again. Yes, I’m a huge fan, but there is something else about their music. When you add all the layers to their story, you just have to know they’re something so special it will heal your soul of whatever ails it when they’re finished. And it did for me again last night.

With my 93-year-old Mom finishing cancer treatment, our lives continue to be pretty baffling. She had a terrible week, which included both our birthdays and two trips to the ER. She is now admitted as a patient, so she’s getting the help she needs.

The Babe and I needed this night. A night away from all the stress, responsibility, and everyday life trials. Rock and Roll does that for you. It never forgets. And the better the musicians, the better the respite. It is truly magic.

They came out the door to the stage and ripped it off its hinges. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” is one of the first songs, with the complicated guitar playing. Who but Billy, his son Ciaran (15 years old), and Mighty Max Meyers, are picking their way through it. Young McGuigan keeps up with his mentors and leads the way for some of it. My heart swelled. It was a magnificent thing to witness. Guys, can I adopt you and be Ciaran’s Bonus Grandma? The Babe was telling people around us who’s son he was. You can have both of us for free!

Every song, introduced with flair, was stronger than the last. Steve Winwood’s “Gimmie Some Lovin'” is always a crowd pleaser, especially with the choreography. Jay Hanson, you were very scholarly. Ryan McGuigan, you’re always solid and a stage presence to be rivaled. Matthew McGuigan, you are so precise with your instruments, it’s amazing. I couldn’t help thinking about the photos you planted of your sweet baby boy playing piano/organ/keyboards. Get him young and train him right. He’s going to be great, too.

The night ended too soon. It was still light out, but easy to get to your vehicle. This event is definitely on our calendar annually, and you can bet the Raabe’s will be anywhere the guys play or the Arts Academy has an event for the rest of the year. Billy, get some good rest while you take the summer off. You’ll be greater than ever. And thank you for all you do for us, your fans.

God Awoke Me This Morning.

I’m serious.

Not just in the way He does every day. When a writer or author has an idea brewing and finds themselves fully awake on a Saturday morning at 3:45 a.m., (I checked), with no intention of falling back asleep; it’s a God thing.

The older I become, the more I believe in these God moments.

I first noticed them about 35 years ago. I divorced my husband, and set out to conquer life on my own, three kids in tow: house, car, and dog. All the situations I needed to mend in my life were finally apparent to me. And the solutions to those situations were in full view, too. I had to learn to read the signs.

So what was I awake for?

I read a lot about authors and ideas. Many wake during the night with a dream, idea, or muse that comes to them. This is probably what happened this morning. I made coffee and went to the laptop. I wrote 2,000 about our mom before I stopped. Three cups of coffee later, with quite a buzz going. By then, the dogs and the Babe were up and we were all on the deck. A hawk swooped near and took off up into the sky.

Upon reading the meaning of a hawk flying nearby, I could feel the hair on my arms rise. It signifies many things depending where you are in life.

A hawk is a predator and a protector. It has the over-all perspective and can view all that is happening. It can strike at an opportune time. Timing is everything. Choose your actions wisely. I’m liking that meaning.

I also like the idea of staying above the fray and being calm and decisive. In life right now, that is a plus. Between Mom’s health and my writing, there are many opportunities for stepping back and selecting the best decisions to make. Life is full of those opportunities if we are aware of the signs. It’s pretty cool once you pay attention.

You may think it all hooey, but I don’t. Anything is possible in this great universe of ours, and I will certainly not pretend to know it all. Creativity and imagination are the things I am blessed with and enjoy using.

After all this, I was exhausted. A mid day nap was in order and taken. We’re ready for date night to Glenwood Ampitheater to see Billy McGuigan and his brothers perform. It’s been a while, and I need the music therapy. After that, all will be right with the world.

The McGuigan Music Magic always soothes my soul. More on that tomorrow.

Have a beautiful evening. All is right with the world.

Nebraska Writers Guild, 2023

April, 22, 2023.

Yesterday was such a great day. I took a day off taking Mom to treatment and attended the Nebraska Writers Guild Conference. I missed Day 1, but didn’t want to miss today.

I joined a few years ago and am so glad I did. Met more new people today and renewed some old friendships. It is such a change from the first one I attended.

I felt as if I were the oldest person there, and the only non-romance author in the mix. How things changed at the next conference. And it’s inspiring to be with other writers. I learned something from everyone there today. From Marketing to thinking of writing Poetry, there was something for everyone. I’m eager to attend again tomorrow. So far, I may have rounded up a possible writing partner, a person to help me become a better writer, and see things I don’t realize.

As of tonight, I am glowing in new contacts made, and some ideas for new genres. Why not Poetry? Why not a Comic Book? What a cool idea. They have a two-hour session tomorrow about comics. I’d like to be exposed to the process. I have a couple Facebook friends who are comic artists, and their stuff is so detailed and such excellent art. I cannot just admire one type of art. It all has possibilities. Don’t say no unless you try it first. Just like Broccoli or Brussels Sprouts, right? Of course. And why not?

What might you thinking of doing or even just checking it out? Remember, possibilities are endless. Rather try something out and say, “No, it’s not what I’d like to do,” than to be afraid of trying it and saying no. You’ll never know then. I’m glad I’ve developed the ability to say, “Yes, let’s do it!” Rather than “On no, I could never.” As my friend, Billy McGuigan says, “We’ve never tried this before, but why not?”

Billy, you don’t know how your support during that conversation encouraged me. It meant a lot to me and did a lot for my thinking. Thank you, sincerely. I am a big fan of your shows and plays; but you taught me as a person to never say no, I couldn’t. That is so important for a late bloomer, who never thought they could do. The best is yet to come. Learning to think as a creative person has been huge for me. I hope to encourage others to do the same.

Have a beautiful day today. I’ll be at the final day of the Conference. Hope you have as much fun at whatever you do today. See you tomorrow.


AI and Creativity

I have to admit, I don’t know that much about AI. In fact, I don’t know much at all.

I’m thinking of all the creative people I know; musicians, entertainers, artists, songwriters, writers, authors, and decorators, home stagers, and many others. When they create new music, produce a play, draw, write music, poetry, or a book, or decorate a home for sale, decorate cookies for an event, create new recipes for their restaurant, some of their heart and soul go into everything they create.

They have an idea, a question, or some other yearning of their soul they want to investigate further and see what they can create from their idea and the supplies they have. The supplies can be ingredients, art experience, knowledge of music, the perfect voice, the ability to use words to tell stories, the paint to splash on the canvas, the fabric and thread to tell a story.

I cannot picture making some choices from a keyboard, processing the request, and producing a story, song, rock show, book, painting, play, poem, or frosted cookies, while you’re dressed in an outfit you constructed on a 3-D printer. It blows my mind.

Yes, I’ll be 71 years old in another month. But I’m not an average 71-year-old. I know, we all think that, but I’m really not. I was a “coder” before it was cool for a girl to do that. It was my entrance into an equal-pay career that relied solely on technical skills, nothing else. I’ve created instructions for mainframe computers, and small computer systems, and saw results from those instructions. I have first-hand knowledge of what they can do for humanity.

Where my concern lies, is will AI make us less creative and able to create if we don’t experience the highs and lows of creativity, the absolute pleasure in getting a song just right, a painting so realistic, a quilt just right, an outfit perfectly fit, a book as close to perfect as it can be. I can’t imagine we will feel the satisfaction of the good job, of struggling and finally realizing it works, the roar of the crowd when the performance is over the top and better than even you expected.

Anyone care to leave brief comments? We all might learn something.

It’s another Monday, back to work, or however we may spend our time. Hopefully, the wind is calm today. It’s much easier to get around, you know? Have a beautiful Monday, see you tomorrow.

Godspell. Benson Theater. McGuigan’s. Need I Say More?

The Babe and I had a date night tonight. We attended the beautiful Benson Theater in Omaha. “Godspell” was a theater production in the early 70s, as was “Jesus Christ, Superstar.” My then husband considered these plays/stories to be sacrilegious in the way they were presented. After all, we each had twelve years of Catholic school teaching. The 70s were a time of significant changes to our entire world. Segregation, social changes, music, and family structures all underwent massive changes. With all that, along came changes to how society viewed Jesus himself. It was time; it was necessary. God/Jesus/Holy Spirit are all much more loving and merciful than originally portrayed.

I’m glad I’ve become more open-minded and married to the Babe since then. The world is bigger when we learn to open our hearts and accept our differences.

We’ve all heard the stories of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. This play portrays scenes from Matthew’s telling of the story, and it was told exceptionally well by the McGuigan’s, the cast, and musicians. Matthew McGuigan is such a talented musical director. You can experience the love put into the songs by the ensemble and musicians. It is incredible to watch.

Billy McGuigan played the role of Jesus. He definitely does the character justice. He was a teacher, preacher, brother, and Savior. His energy reached all over the theater; you could feel it in every corner. That, my friends, is what Jesus does!

The McGuigan Arts Academy kids are developing lots of techniques, skills, and the ability to speak, act, and sing to large audiences. For this former wallflower, I’m in awe of the nerves of steel these kids all have. They were ushers for the audience pre-performance. They all were so polite, welcoming, and offered to answer questions audience members may have. You could tell the kids were proud of their new-found skills. And the Academy staff are proud of what they do. They are changing the lives of these kids. They will have the confidence to meet life head-on. How fortunate we all would have been to have these skills! Thank you, to all who work so hard to bring this all together.

All combined, the play, the Academy kids, the music, and the atmosphere make this such a top-shelf entertainment option. Kudos to Kimberly Faith Hickman and Kate Whitecotton who keep all the cats herded well to pull this off for over ten performances. Find out more at Take it in and feel it in your heart. You’ll be glad you did.

Basic Principles of Creativity

It’s interesting to me, finally making time to learn “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. As I said yesterday, I’ve been in a slump. I want to be more productive creatively, and I have identified areas I need to change.

Ms. Cameron sets out to list the ten basic principles on page three of the Introduction! Talk about knocking your socks off right in the beginning! While talking about Spiritual Electricity, Ms. Cameron lists these principles: (these are directly from the book, not my words).

  1. Creativity is the natural order of life. Life is energy: pure creative energy.
  2. There is an underlying, in-dwelling creativity force infusing all of life— including ourselves.
  3. When we open ourselves to our creativity, we open ourselves to our creativity, we open ourselves to the creator’s creativity within us and our lives.
  4. We are, ourselves, creations. And we, in turn, are meant to continue creativity by being creative ourselves.
  5. Creativity is God’s gift to us. Using our creativity is our gift back to God.
  6. The refusal to be creative is self-will and counter to our true nature.
  7. When we open ourselves to exploring our creativity, we open ourselves to God: good orderly direction.
  8. As we open our creative channel to exploring our creator, many gentle but powerful changes are to be expected.
  9. It is safe to open ourselves up to greater and greater creativity.
  10. Our creative dreams and yearnings come from a divine source. As we move toward our dreams, we move toward our divinity.

(Back to my ideas, words, and musings.)

I’m greatly enthused by reading these principles. Of course creativity is part of the natural order. Have you ever met a kid that doesn’t pretend to do/be something? They create worlds they are part of, they learn and grow in those creative endeavors. We shouldn’t discourage them. But we do. Everyone eventually is expected to fit in and comply.

The arts are where we can keep that alive. Kids need somewhere to be themselves, who they are meant to be. Music, acting, and art are where they can be. The more they learn, the more they can create. My friends at McGuigan Arts Academy do that very thing, here in Omaha, Nebraska. These folks are helping to water the creative seeds in all the student’s minds. Kids that are all talented and need to be encouraged what to do with it. It’s an amazing thing to see and experience. If you can make it possible for your children to experience classes in the arts, creativity, and growth, please make that possible. I was lucky and had piano lessons. My teacher lived across the street, and she wanted me to play classical music. I was more interested in Rock and Roll music. I quit after 8th grade.

Cameron suggests reading these principles every day. Eventually, we’ll be able to see our progress. Things we notice we didn’t notice before. I’ll take note of what changes in my outlook, the things I notice. I think this is pretty cool. And as for now? The Babe and I have some appointments today, and to navigate whatever Mother Nature left us last night while our family in South Dakota got about another foot of snow. Be safe out there, and we’ll see you tomorrow. Be Safe!

Another Year of Y & T In the Books

Since we started attending Yesterday and Today, an interactive Beatles show, there have been familiar things and new things. The McGuigan Brothers (and now Billy’s son Ciaran), have been entertaining the Omaha area audiences for quite a few years now. The pandemic changed some dates, and now, they are at a great facility downtown called the Slowdown. It’s perfect for them. Hard to believe it’s been nine years since we started going to see them. Sure, we’ve attended nine years in a row, but the show is totally different every time. If the audience doesn’t have fun, it’s on them. Kevin Klimowski attended over 40 times over the years. I believe him, too. Always nice to run into him at a show, but I missed him last night.

The addition of the saxophones and strings was beautiful. Billy adds that touch every chance he gets. Most of the music from that era has a full orchestra recorded. I remember the sounds we took for granted with our music back then. To hear it again live is the best. Many memories are in that room with the band every night. I think if we could thank the person responsible for this treasure of Omaha, it may sound something like this:

Dear Bill,

The folks of Omaha want to thank you for being such a force behind your sons that helped fuel their love of the Beatles, which resulted in the unbelievable show running several weeks. As you know, they perform every year in Omaha and also take it on the road. They’re international stars! And you started that! You also taught them what family is and how the members support one another. You taught them to come in for a group hug, and remind them they can get through anything Together. They showed that when they lost you, (way too soon). They’ve had many life events where they’ve helped each other, and get through it, Together.

We know you have the best seat in the house for every concert wherever they are in the world. We’ve had the pleasure of not only your sons performing, but now grandson Ciaran is becoming a force with his dad and uncles. His guitar playing is quite respectable, so much so he’s playing Clapton’s part of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” He is incredible. And we can’t believe he’s only 14. He’s the product of hard work, talent, and great teaching. It all shows. I cannot wait to see how he continues his growth musically, and as a person. Those crazy uncles, Dad, Jay, and Max will help him learn to navigate the world with more McGuigan wisdom. Several of your other grandchildren are becoming well acquainted with acting, music, singing, and art. Collectively (and individually), their talents are huge. See what you started? It’s a great thing.

I’ll share videos below. We’ve attended so many years in a row. And we’ll keep attending as long as we’re physically able. We’ll most likely see your great-grandchildren perform in the arts. Thank you. From the bottom of our hearts.

A Grateful Omaha

Younger Ciaran & Dad, Billy
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Matthew McGuigan and Jay Hanson
Here Comes The Sun
Yellow Submarine Ciaran w/Uncle Ryan

Folks, sorry I can’t recall this song. I still included it because of the guitar playing. He is only 14. What a bright future! Most kids that age wouldn’t want to put in that much hard work to achieve this. Good job, Ciaran!

If you’re in the SlowDown’s area in Downtown Omaha, tonight and tomorrow night are the last two performances, if there are tickets left. Getcha some!

In another ten years, maybe it will be called, “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.” Rave On Productions. McGuigan Arts Academy. A treasure for Omaha. Lucky us. Thanks, guys! See you next year, and at all the productions in between.

Christmas Week, 12/21/2022

I’m sure hoping we don’t get bad weather tonight to cause us to miss our date night tonight, “Yesterday and Today,” with the McGuigan Brothers, Billy, Ryan, and Matthew. They put on a great show of Beatles music. Their love of the Beatles came from their father. They memorialize him every time they take the stage, and I’m sure he smiles down from heaven every time. The band is expanding to include Ciaran McGuigan, Billy’s son, who is a budding Eddie Van Halen, Eric Clapton, or Wolfie Van Halen. His guitar playing is improving by leaps and bounds, and I’m eager to see what he adds to his playlist for this and their other shows. Cross your fingers we can make it safely there and home. We’ve gone for the last nine years.

We had good news from the repair guy for the ice maker. The guy did the work three years ago. When the error happened, he read the codes on the computer. He is familiar with the parts and expected longevity for them. He gave us a tip about Samsung, as they now replace these parts when they break down. Great to know for future reference. We were grateful to afford the service/repair. We both had times in life where we could not afford what we spent today. Very thankful.

Finishing up the tree will be the order of the day today. And a dentist appointment for me this afternoon, hopefully before the weather sets in. It should just be a simple winter storm, but the cold will be brutal for the weekend. Hope we all keep safe and warm. Get lots finished up for the big day as you may be inside tomorrow. Thank you for reading today. We will see each other tomorrow.

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!

Pure Imagination

Last night, we had the experience of a lifetime. We attended Rave On Productions “Willy Wonka.” It was so much fun. All of the children were students at the McGuigan Arts Academy. This is one talented group of kids. Some of the parts were played by children of the McGuigan brothers. How proud their Grandpa Bill would be! Who could have thought all those years ago, when those three boys learned to play instruments, sing along to the great music of the Beatles, and eventually have an internationally traveling group of performers, that so much good would come from all of it?

Jay Hanson was perfect as Willie Wonka. He has such a mischevious look in his eye. It was displayed often and well during the performance. There were adults in the ensemble, but most of it was on the kids. And the five gold ticket winners were played so well. Lessons abound in the play.

My apologies for not knowing the names of all the kids. What I learned about each of them while watching the performance is they are learning not just how to sing, act, dance, play with each other. They are learning teamwork, cooperation, respect of their fellow performers, and that everyone does something well. And it’s not just the kids; the adults respect each other, too.

We like to sit close, and from the second row, we could tell how the encouragement they offered each other shows in their eyes. All of the actors showed absolute respect for each other and their personal space. This is key in today’s world. On the way home, I told the Babe how nice it was to see dancers (Oompa Loompas) have actual clothes on. Being Dance Grandparents, we’ve seen the skimpy costumes and over sexualization of little girls for years. This does not happen at the Arts Academy, and I applaud that. Pure respect for everyone. Something you don’t see a lot anymore. Kudos to the culture, leadership, and people of McGuigan Arts Academy.

I borrowed a Facebook photo posted by Kate Whitecotton earlier today of the cast on closing afternoon. Speaking of Kate, I have to say, you don’t often see a CEO who works as hard as she does. Kate helps set the stages, tune guitars, place water for hydration near all the musicians, takes photos, herds the cast and musicians around so everyone is where they need to be, and is shoulder to shoulder with the newest on the crew. No job is below her. Kate, you are such an asset to Rave On Productions. Omaha is lucky to have you here. Thank you!

The whole premise of Willy Wonka’s story is using your imagination and actually seeing what exists around you. Learning lessons, telling the truth, apologizing when you’re wrong, it’s all part of becoming a good citizen. I believe these things are taught at McGuigan Arts Academy. If we had grandchildren those ages, I’d love to have them involved. Ours are into competition dance, school dance team, and elite sports. We’ll always be in the Academy’s audiences, though, cheering for other people’s grandkids. It’s just so much fun.

Keep your eyes out for the next endeavor of the Rave On/McGuigan Arts groups. August 11, 12, and 13, Billy and his band play at Sumter Ampitheater. Get your tickets now for a great night of entertainment. You’ll be glad you did.

The theater is beautiful, as were the 50s era backdrops. They were a perfect mix. We all need more imagination and creativity in our lives. Let’s practice that this week. And making the best of things. Being positive. Have a beautiful week. See you tomorrow.