Sunday, September 20, 2009

Music On The Lawn

I’ve mentioned before that we have several activities, and even entertainments here at the Grand Court.

One of them occurred on Grandparents Day, September 13.

One day in July, Timi Neff, our Lifestyles Program Director (or is it “Coordinator”), asked me if my son Jim could suggest a musical group to bring in. (I had told her about his singing with the Springfield Symphony.) She hadn’t been able to come up with a group that could come.

I called Jim, and he said he would think about it. Then, before long, he called me and said he would be glad to bring his guitar, and present some Folk, Country and popular music for the time.

I asked him to come by to meet with Timi. He did. They got together, and Timi asked him to participate.

Occasionally Jim and I would discuss this, including the fact that the Grand Court no longer had a “sound system”. He thought of his friend, Jim Lafferty, who not only had a sound system, but who was proficient at “guitar picking”. “He’s good!”, Jim said.

Jim mentioned the whole thing to Lafferty, and he agreed to come along and participate - and bring his amplifier.

The Thursday before the event, Jim and I went to the Laffertys (he has a wife Julie. They are “dinner” friends with Jim and Joyce.) to rehearse. When Jim L. played the guitar, it “blew me away”. He is awesome! Just like Roy Acuff.

In addition, Jim M. and I practiced a couple possible duets, and he played and sang some songs. He wanted to know if I would like to sing a solo, and if so, which one. I couldn’t come up with one, so we dropped it.

That night, I was listening to my iPod music before going to sleep. My iPod now has over 900 songs on it, with plenty of memory left. While listening, I came across some Neil Diamond selections. While listening to Neil sing “Secret Love”, I got the idea of trying to “mimic” his style, and maybe sing that song. I had listened to him before and thought I could ALMOST do it. In fact, I HAVE done it before - to myself.

I replayed it several times (maybe 15), and increasingly thought I would like to mimic his style, and sing the song on Sunday.

On Friday, I tried to find a CD that had the piano accompaniment of Neil’s version of the song, but to no avail. I decided to practice singing it “a cappella”.

During the day Friday, I called Tracy Figley at WEEC to see if I could borrow a microphone, stand and cord for Lafferty’s amplifier. Jim M. had misplaced his.

“Come out and get it”, Tracy said. I did.

I listened to Neil again Friday night, and practiced mimicking him.

Same thing through the day Saturday, and Saturday night.

The longer I listened, then sang along with him, the more I thought I could pull it off - comical as it might be.

I Listened some more on Sunday before leaving for Church.

“I’ll try it”, I told myself.

After Sunday lunch, I saw that the “lawn” had already been made ready, with maybe 30 chairs, and a long extension cord lying in the grass.

At around 1:30 (scheduled to start at 2:00), I took the microphone paraphernalia out to the lawn, and already some of the residents were beginning to fill the chairs.

Jim Lafferty arrived with his guitar and amplifier. Jim Maddex arrived with his guitar and equipment.

By starting time, quite a large crowd had gathered, and more came even after we started.

At 2:00 PM, Timi Neff, the Lifestyles Program Coordinator of The Grand Court went to the microphone, welcomed every one, and introduced “Jim Maddex, Mike Maddex and Jim Lafferty”. (I didn’t think she knew that I was planning to participate.)

Jim L., Mike M. and Jim M.

Jim M. then went to the microphone and announced that he was going to do several Folk Type songs, similar to the styles of “Peter, Paul and Mary”; “Everly Brothers”; “Simon and Garfukle”, etc.

After singing two or three songs, he introduced me, and he and I sang the duet, “500 Miles”, an old PPM favorite.

Following that, he introduced Jim Lafferty and his steel guitar, and he played two or three arrangements similar to Roy Acuff.

Jim then sang a couple more Folk Tunes, then he and I sang the Gospel Song, “Day by Day”, followed again by Jim Lafferty on his guitar.

I had not told either of the Jims about my plans for the Neil Diamond “sound alike” solo, until this time when I whispered to Jim that I had an a cappella love song to do whenever it suited him.

He said OK.

There were two or three more selections by both of the “Jims”, then he told me to just go to the microphone and “perform”.

I introduced the song by mentioning Neil Diamond, asking how many knew of him, and if they would recognize his style. Several hands went up.

I did my Neil Diamond impersonation with “Secret Love”.

Though the song got some laughs and applause (they applauded every selection), I wasn’t very pleased with my “mimicry”. Too late now, though I am unlikely to do it again - except for my personal “amusement”.

Timi took 43 pictures of the event - including all the residents who attended, along with some visitors from next door. I shared some of them with the “boys”.

On Monday, several residents told me of their enjoyment of the occasion, and I passed along these remarks to Jim and Jim.

The “Jim, Mike and Jim Show” was fun for us, and I appreciate the music provided by the “Jims”. Timi did too, and she sent each of us a nice "Thank You" note.

No comments: