Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Tale of Two Goodgames and the Little Concert that Could

When I was in college, I heard about this guy named Randall Goodgame. If his name alone wasn't enough to get your attention (or at least become the fodder for bad jokes), his songwriting certainly stopped traffic. His lyrics were insightful, lighthearted, and melodic. Catchy. Turns out he was an alumni of my alma mater, BSC, (located, of course, on Arkadelphia Road, not far from the laundromat). And so somehow (I don't remember exactly how it came to be), I got to pick him up from the airport when he came to play a concert at our school. I remember three things from that experience: hearing him play "John 11" in Yielding Chapel, how he helped me revise some of my poetry for Professor Sprayberry's class (he'd taken her class, too, and man he was really nice because I look back on some of those poems now and they were awful), and how he talked on and on about his lovely daughter, Livi, who had recently been born to him and his wife, Amy, also a BSC alum.

This weekend my experiences with Randall Goodgame came full circle. I got to see that beautiful daughter Livi all grown up into a gracious 6th grader, playing violin alongside her Daddy. And hear her sing along with his songs. In my friends' backyard. With about a million kids running around. Eucharisteo!

this is how I spent my Saturday night

Here's how it came to be: For the past few years, Randall has felt this calling to minister to children through his music. It began when he and his buddy Andrew created a kids' album with some silly (and some more spiritual songs) called Slugs and Bugs and Lullabies. There was, apparently, a show scheduled for this past Saturday in Atlanta. My friends and I and our brood of little ones had all been excited about it for ages -- we were needing a Slugs and Bugs concert fix. However, on Wednesday evening, we found out it was cancelled. "Egads!" we said. "This cannot be! Someone, please, think about the children!"

So, I wrote Randall and asked if he was still planning on coming to town and if we could find a place for him to play, would he come?! And he said yes!

There were lots of e-mails back and forth. A group of my mom friends had been planning a book group for that night (appropriately, on parenting), so many of us already had Saturday evening reserved. So we did the right thing, rescheduled book club, and had a Slugs and Bugs concert in the Sayler's backyard instead! (Thanks again, guys, for hosting and setting up and everything!) It was the shortest time I've ever promoted a concert, much simpler than anything I've ever done, a far cry from the concerts I used to book in the Cellar at BSC and not at all like the one I'm promoting for September 29. But it was fun!

One of the best parts about experiencing a Slugs and Bugs live event is seeing the lovely animated cartoons and watching Randall sing along with the background music and also lead the hand motions. It's like some kind of acrobatic act.
"I Wanna Help" -- the S&B version of "We Will Rock You"
Thankfully, we even found some folks with a projector and a screen, willing to bring them. The funny thing is that by Saturday morning, we had TWO different sets of folks willing to bring projectors and screens. All day I kept thinking that I needed to tell Ron that he didn't need to bring his set, but I was out running errands away from the internet and I forgot. However, it turns out that the other folks (Becky's parents) got stuck in traffic, so it was fortunate (providential, even) that Ron showed up early and ready to go with a projector and portable screen! So thanks, man!

Team Redd also got stuck in traffic. The news and the internets misled us about the extent of construction on I-285, and we thought it was only the eastbound lanes. Alas, we spent an hour and a half on the road, moving very slowly. On the bright side, two little Redds got naps and the parents got to chat. When we arrived, it was apparently perfect timing, as we sat down on a shared picnic blanket just as Randall began his first song, "God Made Me."

The concert itself was amazing. About ten families sitting on lawn chairs and picnic blankets in a shady yard on a perfect fall evening under a clear sky, enjoying one of our favorite musicians perform our kids' favorite songs. I found Randall even more entertaining in such a small setting, and cracked up a few times at his exaggerated expressions to entertain the kids. Livi is an excellent assistant for her Dad, reminding him of song lyrics and demonstrating song motions, as well as playing along on a few tunes on her violin and singing BGV's. She even played the foil in the "Under where?" song, stealing her poor father's favorite stuffed bunny.

 (Thanks, Hwangs, for sharing your blanket with us!)

Still waking up from naptime in the car.

At one point, Randall took requests, and Jacob got to hear his favorite S&B song, "Who's got the ball?!" I don't know why he likes it so much, but it is memorable, and the song involves the names of Andrew and Randall's kids, and the acutal Livi was in attendance, so that was kind of cool. And the video is fun, with all the kids acting out the ball game and running around like crazy. About halfway through, though, Randall remarked, "I forgot how long this song is!" while strumming along on his guitar as Andrew's voice narrated the action. Good time for a water break!

During the concert, the kids learned new hand motions, and got to parade around the backyard, sing and dance and clap their hands. Or they could just sit and listen, if they so desired, like mine. And where else but at a backyard show can you bring your picnic dinner with you and enjoy it while you sing? We were also treated to two brand-new animated videos from the latest Slugs and Bugs record.

Last night was a lovely evening full of lovely people. As my friend Becky mused, "It felt like we won some kind of contest!" I'm pretty sure a "backyard house show" was one of the upper levels in the latest Slugs and Bugs Kickstarter campaign, so yeah, it was quite the special experience! We are just going to have to do this again sometime -- in fact, I suggest if there's another Kickstarter offer, that we all pool our money to get them to play another backyard show. Jacob asked me if we could get Randall to come to our neighborhood. We shall see.

Ethan also had a request. At the very end of the evening, when everyone was leaving, I asked Randall to play Ethan's favorite song. It's not from the Slugs and Bugs albums, but he requests it every time we ask him what he would like to hear from our music collection. Though Jacob wasn't feeling well and I had to take him to the van during part of the song, I was able to hear Randall finish playing "Bluebird" as the sky darkened and the evening came to a close. His daughter joined in and she sounded so much like her mother! I hope I never forget the look on Ethan's face as he watched them play and sing. What a beautiful way to end the night. We sang that song and talked about the show all the way home. "Bluebird, bluebird, don't you fly away..."
Here are the rest of my photos from the concert. I tried to actually just enjoy the show and the moment instead of cataloging it all through the camera (in this case, my ipod), and I think, in that, I succeeded.

Mesmerized, I tell you.

delightful daddy-daughter duo