Thursday, November 10, 2011

Concert with Daddy

Nathaniel celebrated turning 3 on Saturday. More on his party, and the absolute joy I felt in helping to throw it, in a later post, when we get pictures and video.

The following day, Sunday, I took Nathaniel to a concert. It was a bit of a gamble. About a week before, I spied an ad in a local monthly about "power drumming" groups on a tour from south Asia. The pictures showed individuals and groups smacking what looked like bongos and congas. Since Nathaniel sees me do this with the musical ensemble at church and loves drums (and music, in general), I thought it would be nice for him to see how professionals do it. But I wasn't sure whether this would be the proper setting.

So I called the group that was organizing the concert in Providence. The nice lady on the other end of the line didn't have much information, but she did direct me to a web site called caravanserai, which showed me some of these performers in action. I still didn't know exactly who was coming, but the ticket prices were reasonable and there was an intermission after about 45 minutes, which gave me the option to cart Natty home if he was bored by then. So, I went for it.

On Sunday evening, Daddy took Nathaniel on his special night out. We got to the amphitheater just in time, found some seats and settled in. The first performer was a gentleman from Pakistan, I believe, who sat squat legged on a slightly elevated platform covered in carpets and two small bongo-like drums. He used his fingers almost exclusively to pound out beats and sounds, a rhythmic thrumming like you might do on your desk, but much, much more sophisticated. To my surprise, Nathaniel enjoyed the performance, standing the whole time and dutifully clapping energetically after each piece. I say surprised because while the drumming was indeed exceptional, I figured a 3-year-old would not be terribly impressed by a sitting man playing with his fingers. I was wrong.

After a brief pause, two long-haired gentleman from India came on to the stage. They were dressed in light robes and one of them was barefoot. The drums they held were enormous, fat tubes hanging around their waists, positioned parallel to the ground. Each struck the drum from both sides; in one hand, each held an instrument that looked like a sickle and in the other what appeared to be a drumstick. They began playing, and, well, they had Nathaniel from the first beat. He stood there, transfixed, as the drumming intensified, and one of the men began spinning, faster and faster, until the oversized drum was swinging tautly suspended from his waist, gripped by centrifugal force. Then, as he was spinning, the other drummer inserted the strap of his drum into the spinning drummer's mouth, and now the guy was spinning and pounding on one drum, while the other was flying behind him.
Let me tell you, it all made for great theater, a spectacle so intense that I thought Nathaniel's head was going to pop off. He was swaying to the beat, rhythmically clapping his hands to the drumming. Watching him, I couldn't help but smile widely. My boy was having so much fun!

What did you think? Pretty cool, huh? It was even better live. Nathaniel was pretty jazzed after that, so I decided we'd stick it out through intermission and see the next act. That was quite good, too, featuring a group of singers, percussion and an instrument that sounded somewhat like an accordion. Enough to keep Natty's attention, for the most part.

Afterward, I asked him if he liked it. "Yeah," he replied softly, still caught up in the moment.

So, I'm here to report that concert night with Daddy went swimmingly. You know, Nathaniel likely won't remember going, but I will, and it was a fine, fine night with my oldest son.

Days later as Michelle was driving the boys from the children's museum, she asked Nathaniel what "fun thing" he'd like to do after quiet time. "Go to a concert with Daddy," he said.

Guess he remembers it after all. And fondly, at that.

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