The Mix Tape of My 50thYear

My 51st birthday has come and gone. Not sure if anyone remembers my goal for my 50th birthday year, but it proved to be quite the task. What I thought would be an easy and exciting journey of live music became a fun but formidable challenge. 50 live shows in honor of my 50th year. It seemed doable right out of the gate, what with Arlo Guthrie, Black Sabbath, Robert Plant and The Who leading the charge. But soon, and very soon, the choices became harder, the time between shows grew lengthier. By September, my purchase of concert tickets stalled and the voices in my head grew louder, “I told you it wasn’t feasible… I told you it was crazy.” The voices were wrong.

No, I didn’t hit my goal of 50 for 50, but it wasn’t crazy. It was amazing. And my goal was feasible, because what I truly wanted to accomplish was to spend my 50th year basking in the marquee lights, the beat of my heart one with the bass and drum, surrounded by sweating bodies in sync with the sounds and the feel of my body releasing itself the burden of every day stress and boredom. Live music. The healer.

It wasn’t until this past year that I realized how much live music was missing from my life. If anything, this goal I set encouraged me to go to shows I might have talked myself out of the previous year. Don’t get me wrong, I did excuse myself from some shows since I’d made a promise to myself not to go to a show simply to be going. There had to be an attraction, a desire, not just a “yeah, sure, I’d like to see that show…maybe…whatever.” No, it had to be a OMG decision complete with too many exclamation points and at the very least, a YES!! proclamation before scheduling in my calendar. I kept to my promise of seeing old school, new school, up and coming, and scratching bands off my music bucket list, as well as big arenas, intimate theaters, and a few outdoor pop-up stages and bar patios. My list also included many local bands from the ICT music scene, a handful we’d seen numerous times and a few first-timers. It was a whirlwind of diversity. So damn fun.

Each show was memorable in a unique way and many were shared with people I love. There was even a forfeited show (Amos Lee at the Stiefel Theater) when I chose to stay home to watch my Cubs win the World Series. I figured I’d get another opportunity to see Amos, but not live another 100 years to see the Cubs capture an MLB championship. But, I’ll never forget those first shows. Honestly, Black Sabbath, Robert Plant, and The Who should’ve been worth triple points, shouldn’t they? I mean, really. Black freaking Sabbath. The King, Robert Plant. Bloody Pete Townsend and Roger Daltrey. Now that I think about it, The Who should’ve been worth quadruple points since my brother and his wife joined us for the show in KC. A lifetime of memories in one year, set against the backdrop of stage lights and blue haze.

So, I might be 20 or so short on my goal, but overall, the soundtrack to my 50th year was like a really diverse and incredible mix tape your best friend would make just before a road trip to see one of your all-time favorite bands. Or the mix CD with the title only the two of you could appreciate and the songs that made you smile, laugh, and say, “No way…yes” with each opening chord. I couldn’t have asked for a better gift.

*Arlo Guthrie*Black Sabbath*Robert Plant*The Who*Aoogah*Dave Matthews Band*Cherokee Maidens*The Mischief Makers*Andy Frasco & the U.N*Wild Adriatic*Moreland and Arbuckle*Fishbone*80-proof Engine*Fun Girls*Carrie Nation and the Speakeasy*Bad Mother Hubbard*Mountain Sprout*Los Lonely Boys*Klondike 5 String Band*Calamity Cubes*Split Lip Rayfield*Lalanea Chastain & Alex Nordine*Haunted Windchimes*The Cult*Tom Page Trio* False Flag*Rosco Del Rio*Elvis Costello*Black Violin*Anthony Gomes*

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Inspired, yet uninspired

Not sure how that happens. To be inspired. Yet, uninspired. I’ve been inspired by many things as of late. By the crazy rain storm that positioned itself last week directly over our house. While it poured for an hour in our neighborhood, most of Wichita experienced only droplets of rain. Then the temperature dropped 20 degrees. It was beyond wonderful after 100+ degree weather.  My inspiration? I put on jeans to go out for dinner. Jeans.

Then there was the excitement of this band in town.

I’m still not sure what was more fun. The Dave sightings throughout Wichita (“just saw Dave’s bus in front of The Hyatt…Dave’s at The Anchor…), the pre and post parties, or the concert itself.  All of it made for an exciting and inspiring 24 hours. I giggled in search of Mr. Matthews and his band, I smiled and enjoyed the company of family and friends, and I danced.

Then there was the Sunday of bicycle riding with family. An entire day spent on bikes along the river, outrunning a storm, spending a few hours in Merle’s watching the downpour while hogging the jukebox and drinking cold beer, then riding again but with the temperature a crisp 15 degrees lower. As is common with our bike rides, we gathered friends along the way. And at one point I gazed across the patio at my family and friends, our bicycles parked haphazardly along the patio railing, and I was overwhelmed with the simple joy of it all.

And on Tuesday..

Yes, Norah Jones. We sat in the fourth row, on the aisle, with friends who had shared the DMB experience and were continuing the musical ride. The stage was blue-dark, lounge-campy, and a perfect setting for a perfect performance. You could almost smell and see the wisps of cigarette smoke in the stage lights and hear the clink of Martini glasses. Norah’s voice was ethereal at times, bold at others, always Norah. The band was amazing. Amazing.  And as we streamed out into the humid evening, I felt pity for those who missed such a show, and inspired that from this moment forward I would not miss out on such experiences.

And yet, I’m uninspired to write. Writing has taken a back seat to the day-to-day experiences of what is my life without classes.  Life without classes, research, book lists, workshops, presentations. Just life. Life with family, friends, music, deck lounging, wine sipping, beer drinking, bike riding, movie watching, book reading, coffee breaking, dog walking, dog blogging, Facebooking, lunch dating, nap taking, game watching  life.

With this, I am inspired.