Tag Archives: music

Guns Blazing

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We're going to need some grace to get through this week

We’re going to need some grace to get through this week

I remember the first year I agreed to help my friend lead the singing for VBS.  She gave me a DVD two months in advance, but I was too busy throwing together a prom and grading final exams to give it much thought. Besides, how hard could it be to learn to sing a couple of ditties?  Anytime you ask yourself a question that you think has an obvious answer, prepare to get blindsided.

I popped in the demo the day before the opening ceremonies and immediately saw the error of my ways.  I watched the creator of the musical series sing the western theme song and contort his body through five minutes of choreography so complicated that it made West Side Story look like the hokey pokey by comparison.  After showing the audience the polished product, he then led us through a teaching segment that broke down the movements and showed beginners how to pair them with the lyrics.  With every minute that passed, I envisioned myself up in front of the 100+ people who would be attending the following afternoon, trying to remember whether I was supposed to leap left or right after lassoing the imaginary steer on the loose and hitting that high note at the end of the bridge that would require the removal of my spleen for perfect pitch. Panic set in, which in turn released a glorious stream of adrenaline that had me two-steppin’ like a cow poke on crack.

It took me half an hour to learn the song well enough to graduate from total social embarrassment to moderate personal humiliation, but once I knew that I was capable of mastering the one, I thought I had it whipped. And then I watched the rest of the demo. Turns out that there were five more songs for me to learn, each and every one unique in its dance routine, tempo, lyrics . . . How strange to find one of Dante’s circles of hell at a church function. I can’t fully recollect what happened next, but I think psychiatrists label it regression. All I know is that the fetal position never seemed quite so comforting.

After an hour or so of cataloging the spots on the ceiling, I dragged my carcass off the floor and gave myself a pep talk that succeeded in imparting enough energy to learn one other song.  I went over those numbers so many times that I nailed that 90 degree bunny hop every time, and I remembered to fling my rope at that imaginary herd of cattle with enough confidence to win a rodeo buckle. But my real moment of glory came two days later in the grocery store when I ran into a mom of one of the kids.

“Caleb sure does love having you as a music teacher. He says you’re enthusiastic and really have those moves down pat.”

“Thanks.  I was terrified that I wasn’t going to learn the songs in time.”

She giggled and leaned over the buggy to whisper, “Caleb also says you have big muscles in your arms. You know that part when you have to flex on the word strong?  Well, Caleb told me, ‘Mom, Miss Traci has some great guns.’  He was real impressed.”

I couldn’t think of a thing to say about my guns other than, “Well, it is a western theme.”

We use only the finest guns at VBS

We use only the finest guns at VBS

© 2013 – Traci Carver

The Tagalongs

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My family and I walked into the karaoke bar at the resort ready to dazzle the onlookers. What we found was a gaggle of girl children, who claimed to be Girl Scout Troop 69375643&76, hogging the mike and singing every Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber song known to man. Which would have been alright except that they were hitting pitches that would cause a canine unit to file a complaint with PETA. But even though the listing on the activity sheet clearly said Adult Karaoke, the pre-teen sensations seemed to be having a great time, so we filled out our request sheet and waited our turn.

About a half a dozen sappy love songs later, Callie and I performed our duet and accepted the applause and adoration from those still wearing retainers and training bras. As we were exiting stage left and smiling for the cameras, a group of frat boys walked in on a babysitting nightmare. 

The hand motions were a huge hit with the Bieber cult

The hand motions were a huge hit with the Bieber cult

Talk about a Kodak moment. As soon as they saw the mass of screaming girls, their expressions went from confusion to annoyance. They had sauntered in for a beer and found themselves in the middle of a slumber party.  How in the world were they supposed to pick up chicks when so few of the females in attendance even had a driver’s license?  Were they supposed to offer to buy them a Hawaiian Punch? These shrieking singers were probably out past curfew as it was.

Luckily for them, one of the troop leaders saw this mass of masculinity and rushed to the rescue. She strolled over, pulled out a bar stool for her 40 year old behind, and began flirting with men almost half her age. I guess someone’s a fan of Cougar Town.

Just give me a second while I spruce up for the frat boys

Just give me a second while I spruce up for the frat boys

I leaned over to Callie and said, “I bet her daughter’s dying.”

Callie nodded. “I can just hear it:  ‘Please don’t date him, Mommy; he’s only 5 years older than I am.'”

We laughed and stayed just long enough to hear one of the college boys sing an ode to his draft beer: Draft beer, you’re a fine girl, what a good wife you would be . . .

As we walked to the car, I said, “So we got to sing karaoke with Girls Scouts and frat boys. Interesting night.”

Blake returned, “Yeah, it’s not often you see those two at the same bar.”

“Unless it’s cookie season,” Callie added.

Indeed. It’s a shame we didn’t come out of that deal with a box of Samoas and Thin Mints. It almost would have made up for the screaming.

© 2013 – Traci Carver

Dueling Vocal Chords

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Callie was slotted to sing first, and when the MC delayed the kickoff with several commercials, a list of thank you recipients, a couple of announcements about the food (Speaking of which, my BLT was MIA, and I was about ready to KSA if she didn’t bring me some grub sometime soon), I thought I was going to have to show those folks what a real, wild country woman can do when she’s feeling slain in the spirit. Or just really miffed. But then my Callie took the stage.

She began with “Crazy” by Patsy Cline and then knocked it out of the park with “Gunpowder and Lead.” She was brilliant and beautiful to boot, and I’ve never been more proud. Now all we had to do was wait and see what the other contestants had to offer.

I’ll freely admit that the participants who followed my girl were talented. Some in varying degrees, of course, and then there was the stage presence factor to consider, but all in all, the men and women on stage were all worthy opponents. The only aspect that caused me to roll my eyes was the attire chosen by two of the female artists. From the looks of things, they were focusing not only on the musical component, but the anatomical category as well, since they were spilling out of both ends. One brought a real level of sophistication to the ranks with a giant cross nestled between two chest boulders barely strapped to the cliff by thin strips of fabric. This new spin on Christianity gave me pause as a modified Psalm 23 sprang to mind: Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of breasts, I will fear no cleavage, for thou art singing . . . A couple of twists and turns by the Daisy Duke Duo made me wince as skirts deprived of calcium during their formative years rode high, and I pitied the mothers of the boys standing beneath the stage, staring wide-eyed into their first Cinemax experience, as these moms would undoubtedly have to explain the term thong to their innocent offspring. But otherwise, the contestants were top notch, and I knew a win would be hard-earned.

The Psalms were the original songbook, after all . . .

The Psalms were the original songbook, after all . . .

 

Important for bones and fabric

Important for bones and fabric

After the last competitor left the stage, a band took over during the deliberation period of the judges, and my sandwich arrived a mere two and a half hours after I had placed the order. I split the plate with my sister, whose order never did materialize, and we watched a throng of people who had passed sober a few miles back take the dance floor. As I surveyed a man leave a table with enough empty beer bottles to give me an insider trading tip on Michelob stock, I noted his blue and orange jersey shirt along with his khaki knee length shorts, and I had to ask the age old question: how many beers does it take to get a Gator fan to do the grapevine in front of hundreds of people? I sat back, let the music flow over me, and reminded myself, “These are your people.” Then I spotted a couple in their fifties on the dance floor doing pelvic grinds, and I was once again a woman without a country.

The finale came as the winner was declared and, unfortunately, it wasn’t my Callie. But she held her head high, smiled her gorgeous smile, and let the world see a real class act.

We exited with the masses and stared out into a downpour that matched the depressing outcome. I hugged Lauren goodbye and then prepared to flee from the heartland. As I tucked my purse into the crook of my arm, I heard a voice from an older gentleman to my left.

“You run out into that mess, and you’re going to get your pretty self wet.”

Nothing like a good old boy for stating the obvious. I took a deep breath and darted into the night.

© 2013 – Traci Carver