I used to go to rock concerts like it was my job. Tom Petty, Jerry Garcia, Ben Folds a bunch of times (with “…Five” and without), Dave Mathews Band a whole bunch of times, Bob Dylan, Clapton, Festivals like Lalapalooza and the Horde Tour every year, Phish almost 20 times just to name a few. Big venues, little clubs and everything in-between. The last concert I went to was less than a week before Liam was born. Neil Young (Wilco opened) with my Dad. Neil Young has been and continues to be a musical hero of mine and finally getting a chance to see him live, and with my Dad who introduced me to his music, was the best concert experience I had ever had. It was a wonderful show and I will always remember that night but let’s be honest it didn’t exactly change the way I saw the world. I’ve been a musician since I was in the 7th grade and while I have always loved watching live music, looking back on it now none of those concerts changed my life other than a little tenitis and a lot less money in my wallet.
Today Liam went to his first rock concert. The band didn’t play any covers and they didn’t play for all that long. They played straight up original rock and roll. Songs written by each of the band members. Songs written not only by each band member but also for the other band members. They don’t write songs for the billboard charts or for radio play. They don’t play to make money or even to impress. They write for each other and because it makes them happy. More bands could take a page from what I saw at an afternoon concert in the park today.
They are The Kings and Queens of Rock & Roll.
Autism, down syndrome, early life meningitis or any other disability – none of that matters when those drum sticks start clicking and they start rocking. It is the work of the good people at RHD-RI. Guys and gals like Pat there in the fedora and with the guitar who is the only person on that stage without some form of medical or developmental obstacle. I was touched not only by the amazing talent, creativity, and musicianship on the stage but also the outpouring of support from the larger than I expected crowd. Parents, nurses, pass workers, as well as so many more adults with disabilities showing off their own talents in dancing and singing and making friends.
Liam was a big hit with this crowd. Easily the youngest in attendance there were instant friendships and connections made both for him and for Karin and I. We were able to spend a great day with a family we already know who has had a huge influence in how we see our own future. Their own son, a part of the band (on the left at ground level), finally getting a chance to meet Liam face to face.
I’m having a hard time putting into words how much impact today had on me. Talking with people we had just met about all that we have gone through in the past, enjoying a wonderful present, and envisioning and experiencing the absolute joy we are still in for in our future. I was moved in ways that seeing a millionaire rock star on a stage could never come close to comparing to.