I have not been shy about my roots over the years, especially when it comes to music. In the movie of my life, music has always been one of the main characters. An old friend that helps provide mile posts for various moments in my journey.
What led me to the world of actually playing music though, started when I lived in New Orleans.
It was the start of my 7th grade year at Livaudais Junior High on the Westbank in Terrytown. Like most people, reflecting upon my middle school years don't exactly spring forth a flurry of blissful memories, however this particular one was life changing.
Every morning, all of us would gather into the gymnasium for morning announcements. Think of it as a sort of mini-pep rally to start our day. Sometimes, we would get yelled at if people were doing too much fighting (which was a daily thing) or vandalizing the grounds (which was also common), sometimes it was a pleasant occasion such as when the faculty would do a uniquely New Orleanian "12 Days of Christmas" sing along.
Each morning, though, there were two things that happened: the school band played the national anthem and then would play the school "fight song". It was that second one that changed the trajectory of my life forever. To begin the school song, there was a percussion fanfare that included a long-haired boy on the snare drum. This kid was unlike anything I had ever heard before. The way he hit those drums with absolute ferocity, yet the timing was impeccable. He was far and away the most talented member of the band - which for a middle school ensemble I admit is not saying much. But in my pre-teen mind, this was the coolest and baddest musician I had ever seen.
I wasn't alone either, because the way he attacked his drum caught the attention of every other kid in the school. These morning announcements were rather ho-hum but during this school fight song and the drum performance, kids were dancing in the bleachers, people talked about his prowess on the drums in hushed reverence.
He was a god.
It was at that moment that I decided I had to learn how to play an instrument. I wanted to be in the band. Trouble was, we couldn't afford anything substantial and I couldn't read a single note of music.
So my parents, to help nuture my budding thirst of music knowledge, bought me a small Yamaha keyboard. I played it for hours, learning where the notes were, teaching myself chords, finding melodies of songs I liked.
Over the years, I upgraded to bigger keyboards and eventually guitars, but my desire to play music began the first time I heard that long-haired kid beat the hell out of those drums back in 7th grade.
Now, nearly 30 years later, I have returned to the scene of the crime, so to speak.
After three decades of living in the Carolinas, I have returned home, to Southeastern Louisiana. I am now settled in here in Mandeville, a town roughly 30 minutes north of New Orleans on the northshore of Lake Pontchartrain. I am just now startling to dabble my toes into the local music scene. Checking out open mic nights and scoping out venues to see what kind of acts are in town, what kind of audiences are around and what their reaction to the music is.
So, let's see where this takes us. I am back where I started, in the place that made me fall in love with music in a whole new way. Let's hope that I have a chance to help pay that feeling forward with my own songs!