Archive for the ‘family’ Category

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I recently made a trip to the Washington DC area to visit family.  It is always fun, but this was a special trip.  Among other things, I went to see my new grandson for the first time…… It is always amazing to hold someone that small and young.  Such a thrill!  The tiny hands and changing facial expressions are precious.

On this trip, I was also reminded of how amazing my other grandchildren are.  They are getting a bit older now and it is amazing to watch them develop.  When they are alone or together, they are sharp, funny, and intelligent.  When they are together it is a thrill to watch them interact and feed off each other.  It is a symphony of fun, wit, laughs and affection that makes it difficult to return home.

I think many of us grow up too self confident.  We struggle to make new friends and learn new skills.  Our attempts at “fitting in” can be awkward.  We think we are alone and isolated way more than we actually are.  It can take time to overcome some of these barriers until we get much older.  Unfortunately, I still have not overcome many of them, LOL!

I just wish they knew how wonderful they are now and how much potential they have in their future!  They are “the bomb, and I am so proud of them!

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When I wrote the lyrics to This Moment, I had been thinking about my younger brother.  He died from throat cancer a while back.  He was the funniest and kindest person I have ever known.  Even in the last few weeks of his battle you would never know he was losing.  I spoke with his doctor and stated my brother was exhausted; no money or resources, no physical or emotional strength reserves, no medical options left.  I was told others that were in a better state might be able to hold out longer.  Soon my wife and I got a call and rushed to the hospital as we had a number of times before.  He was in ICU this time and there was nothing to be done.  The next expectation was the cancer would eat through the main artery in his neck.  I will spare you the rest.

As he woke up and looked around, he was puzzled and almost excited at the same time.  He could not talk, so he wrote something on a piece of paper and handed it to me.  “Is this real?” was written at the top of the page.  Between the medications and his state of mind, he was not sure if he was dreaming or not.  He had been in hospital rooms many times, but he knew this was different.  I told him that we are in the hospital.  I confirmed he was dying and there was little time left.  His artery would rupture soon.  A moment difficult to prepare for.

The lyrics worked their way from my thoughts to the paper as I recalled that time in the hospital.  How I felt: how he must have felt.  My thoughts wandered to the many times I have talked and laughed with him over the years.

Your thoughts and comments were truly appreciated.  I put the lyrics to music recently. This is not a perfect recording.  This is as far as it goes for me.  Please accept it as it is. For all of us that have lost loved ones and friends, sometimes we just need to share the loss.  Maybe it makes it easier to turn the pain into great memories.

My wife and I celebrated our wedding anniversary and her birthday recently.  We planned to meet with friends and have a dinner out.  We usually fill our bellies and head to someone’s house after the meal.  I have mentioned that a lot of our friends are musicians and creative types.  These are the people we invite to celebrate birthdays and such!  They are talented, creative thinkers and artistic wizards.

I bring this up to explain our tradition at the dinner tables when we gather.  Most restaurants have long tables for large parties.  Too many for the round tables available, we are all seated and start chatting.  Years ago we thought it would be more of a social mix if we chatted for a while and get appetizers and drinks when we get seated……… then everyone would take their drinks and move 3-4 seats over – in the same direction.  That way we could talk with different groups of people during the evening.

The waiter/waitress would come back and look around rather puzzled for a few seconds.  Most start to grin and roll with it very well.  Some are truly amazing and funny.

We might wait until after we order the main course and move seats again!

For our recent anniversary the place was busy and chaotic.  The manager filled in as our waitress because we had waited so long to be seated.  We decided not to rotate as we usually do to avoid further confusion and delays LOL!

Here’s to another year with friends at the not so round table.

20160919_205425As a pre-teen and through much of my early adult life, I would experience asthma attacks.  Some were very severe and lasted for days.  I underwent allergy testing and countless blood samples to find out what was causing my allergic reactions.  It turned out almost everything did, but that is not the subject of this story.  I was quite used to needles and shots and was not bothered by the poking and prodding.  As it turned out, I just needed to grow out of it.

Years later, my partner was pregnant with my daughter Teneca.  She was in for testing and they were trying to take a blood sample.  It didn’t go well and after a few unsuccessful tries, I needed to leave the room and stop watching the process.  As I left the room I was feeling woozy – to say the least. As I was walking down the hospital corridor, I thought it would be a good idea to sit on the bench in the hallway.  That is what I told myself anyway!  There was no bench or seat and I gradually passed out and hit the floor rather softy. Waking up I realized what I had done and got up to go back in the office.  This was the beginning of a long running reaction to needles and shots.  I am not sure if I actually fainted from it again, but even at the dentist I would come close to passing out. I could not watch someone getting a shot on TV or movies and had to close my eyes during those scenes.  Eventually even the thought of needles or injections would trigger this type of reaction. It was not the pain or fear of needles, it was the thought!

A little over a week ago my grandson Daniel Hopkins (as per my recent family article, he unfortunately does not carry the Kennedy name…..) was rushed to the hospital.  He was unresponsive and his skin was dull grey.  He was in ICU for a few days with dangerously high blood sugar levels and was lucky not to have gone into a diabetic coma.  That is how he found out he had Type 1 diabetes. Teneca asked me to stay with them for a while and help out.  I knew this meant more than just housekeeping and I admit I was a bit concerned and not really sure if I could even be around, let alone help with testing and injections needed for his new life style.  The last thing they needed was to have to pick me up off the floor!

My grandson was great from the start.  He realized he was in serious condition and took the disease head-on.  Learning quickly what had to be done he dug right in.  Before they got home from the hospital he was counting carbs, measuring insulin needed and testing his blood sugar levels. Now it was up to me!  Just talking about the injection regiment with them the first night I got light headed.

Luckily I had a couple days to read about Type 1 diabetics and watch them take care of Daniel before I was to give him an injection.  I am pleased to tell you that there was no issue.  I gave him the injection and not only did he not get injured by me, I did fine.  I did not pass out, get light headed or even a little woozy.  It took my grandson’s health and needs to put things back in focus but I think I can get over the needle reaction I have lived with for years now.  Full circle. Live, learn and helping each other as we go.  Life is good.

   

 

Below you will see what are probably my favorite pictures that I have ever taken.  For complete disclosure, you will want to know the subjects of the picture are my eldest daughter, Teneca, and her eldest daughter, Mary Jane, so I am admittedly and undeniably influenced.  These pictures were taken a few years ago in a local wooded area that leads to a small and well-hidden city park.  During our walk, they stopped to look at the amazing beauty of nature.  Teaching, sharing, and appreciating the fall paradise.  These wonderful times are available for those willing to look and listening to sounds of creatures all but hidden in plain site.

Seeing the smile, the simple fascination and pleasure of life all around, mixed with love and the comfort of family makes me feel young; glad to be a part of a continuing story.  To have played my part earlier and to watch it played out again.  Nothing but awesome.  I believe we can influence the future of our children’s lives in positive ways when we take the time at an early age.  You just can’t accomplish this in schools or on-line.

 

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My wife and kids are quite creative.  The list of ideas and mediums they have worked with (mostly played with!) would take a few articles to cover them all.  One of the coolest things we used to do was to hand make small Christmas Cards that we would send or give to family friends and co-workers.  We made quite a few every year.  Sometimes we would make glass ornaments, sometimes fold-out decorated trees.  Scarfs and matching hats.  Each one unique.  They became collectors items in their own little way.  One of my favorites was an audio Christmas Card.  Everyone received a recorded cassette.

My studio has always been open to our kids.  They can play drums or percussion instruments, keyboards and if careful a guitar or two!  We would record often, starting when they learned their “A,B,C’s.  So we decided we would write, sing and record a song. The idea of doing the 12 years was brilliant as we had been doing this for twelve years and there is a popular song about the 12 Days of Christmas.  As you will hear we may have plagiarized a bit in this recording.

We had a great pet cat at the time and his full name was Tasmanian Devil,  but we called him TazMo and later Taz.  He loved to curl up in the cool bathroom sink and hang out. Some other lines will describe the type of card we sent or a piece of the original song, but I think you will get the idea.

Whatever your politics, Wherever you call home, Whomever you love, and Whenever you are able, take care of yourself and your family, have a safe holiday and a great New Year.

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/perigee

**This is MidiMike’s daughter. I help my dad out with his blog. I wanted to tell all of you that this is, by far, my favorite song that my dad has ever written. If you stop to listen to any of the original tunes, I would highly recommend this one!! Thanks.**

And now a message from my dad:

On most of my tunes, I play all the instruments and sequence the drums and other sound effects.  I usually sing lead or I have my wife take the vocal lead.  Once I started working in music stores selling instruments and sound equipment, I asked friends (and customers at the time!) to come over and lay down guitar solos or I might have a guest vocalist.  What I do at Night was one that we did ourselves.  I play all guitar parts and the back up vocals.  I think at this time I had graduated from a Yamaha MT4X (I think they were called and this was a 4 Track double speed cassette recorder) to the Alesis ADAT.  So now I had an amazing 8 tracks to record on!  Actually I needed one track to record the SMPTE time code so the Alesis ADAT would sync up to the computer (now I actually have a PC and put the Atari in deep storage).  I can go into this details on this system for a later post when I am feeling nostalgic, but it allowed unlimited MIDI tracks on the PC or Atari and connect to the playback of the ADAT.

The song itself reflects my thoughts on a number of topics.  I really like to drive.  I don’t have a fast or luxury car.    I just like to drive.  When I have some free time or just want to think, I often find myself cruising the local  country side.  I would listen to music while driving and that sometimes adds to the frustration.  Most of the music you hear on commercial radio is garbage or re-packaged songs and ideas I have heard for the last few decades.  Like a lot of us struggling artists and performers, we see a bunch of bands with lots of air-play and they are just so-so.  OK music, but nothing special.  As a songwriter, I get so tired of the same theme or idea in every song on the radio and they seem to get played non-stop.

One line reflects this fairly well…. ” so I turn the radio over to the right, playing the same songs as the other night”.   Originally titled – “Rainy Day”, What I do at Night has become one of my favorite driving songs.  Enjoy.

Plain and simple, the lyrics are about my daughter.  As a proud parent, I am often overwhelmed by  the innocence, beauty and unlimited potential when holding a new-born in your arms.  Not to get weird here, but there is nothing like it.  As I cradle, rock or talk baby-talk, it is difficult not to think about the new life I am holding, how fascinating they are and to drift into thoughts of what will happen in their future and how we can make that path easier.  This song also features Gary Jefferson on vocals.  You will hear him a lot on my tunes, and he was the vocalist in the demo recording the band did in the studio.  He has pulled me into a number of projects and I often ask him to help me with mine.  There are so many musicians I depend on and work with regularly.  I will introduce you to them and the work they have done in future posts.

Most of the music is sequenced along with the drum tracks, I play the rhythm guitar parts and had a friend come in for the guitar solo, while my wife adds back-up vocals.  All grown up and with children of her own, the meaning of this song gets deeper and closer to the heart every year.

“Slick as A Dream” (c) MSK 1988

Slick as a dream, this beauty machine

Sharp and so cold, young – just as old.

Moving so sweet you can feel the heat

Smiles of sorrow can’t wait ‘til tomorrow.

One thing you’ve learned: love has to be earned

Pain must be shared, embraced if you dare.

Nightmares are gone, but she carries on

Can’t forget her, love lasts forever.

Tender love cries slowly hypnotize

The helpless day now melting away.

And if you dare she’ll become aware

Give those who bleed whatever they need.

She knows exactly who she is.

And exactly what she needs.

It all started with my dad. I grew up with a recording studio right below my bedroom. He produced and recorded hundreds of original songs at home. The whole family got involved. We sang on tracks and gave our input, but mostly we just supported him, which encouraged him to keep producing music. I learned how to use his equipment, how to play the instruments, how to run sound, which eventually lead me to start my own booking agency to help unsigned bands/artists release albums, go on tour and have their music heard by as many people as possible.
I hate that it all comes down to money. I hear shitty bands being played on the radio every day, but these amazing bands are struggling to gain fans one at a time, go on tour with very little money, stay in shitty hotels, and do it all for the love of their passion. In my dad’s case, he barely had that chance. He put his music career on hold to raise a family. I wish I could give him back the time he lost. I look at him now, years later, still in the studio, still making music and struggling to have that music heard. All he wants is to share his art with others.
I’ve never really stopped to tell him how amazing and unique his music is and how much it has truly changed my life. It isn’t about the money, popularity or fame, it is about connecting with others, reaching people with his words and being able to do something that he is passionate about. If you have someone in your life like this, please take a moment to stop and tell them how you feel. Thank them for inspiring you, support them, and don’t let them give up. The worst feeling in the world is that you are fighting for something alone. Dad, this is for you. I love you and I will always believe in you.