Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Concert in the Park

Last Thursday night we treated ourselves to a concert at the gazebo in Speedway’s Meadowood Park. The TomKats, a blues-rock cover band out of Muncie, entertained a crowd of around 300 with a rollicking two-hour set. Children played and danced while their parents and grandparents chatted and noshed, and surprisingly few people hunched over their electronic devices.

Soon after the set started a boy about five stepped in front of the bandstand, transfixed by the blues he was hearing, and started playing air guitar. A girl about eight left her family of nine In front of us and joined him. As soon as she left, her mom and dad started using her chair as a table for pizza boxes, cups, and napkins. She started an air blues guitar solo, too. More children gathered, fascinated by the blues.

We all toe-tapped to some great medleys–-
“I’m Not Your Steppin’ Stone”/“Theme from Gilligan’s Island”
“R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.”/“That’s What I Like About You”/“Coconut”
“Hiway 69”/“Maybelline”/“Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On”
“Werewolves of London”/“Sweet Home Alabama,”
and many others.

The old Hank Williams/George Thorogood song  “Move It On Over” was a big hit with the kids. One song popular with the older set was “White Castle Blues,” which included the lyrics “Gonna eat them sliders, gonna pay your dues,” and the group easily medleyed this tune with “Hey Joe.”

“Tennessee Whisky,” “All Along the Watchtower,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Sweet Home Chicago,” “Takin’ Care of Business,” “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” ’Work with Me Annie,” “Sympathy for the Devil,” “Further on Down the Road”–-all the songs played by the quartet went down very well. A trio of girls used sticks for guitars, then flutes, then back to guitars, and a little brother joined them in dueling guitars for “Roadhouse.” Mindful of their young audience, the TomKats changed the lyrics to “Roadhouse” to “Well, I woke up this morning, I got myself a Kool-Aid” and earned appreciative chuckles from parents and grandparents.

A young woman was holding a five-month old when the baby dropped her pacifier on the grass. The mother, also tending a two-year-old as she stood chatting with a friend, nonchalantly picked it up and gave it back to her. “The dog licks it all the time,” she said. No problem.

Many people seemed to know each other, from the neighborhood, or from church, or from meeting at concerts in the park. When we received a few inquiring looks and smiles as if to say, “Do I know you?” we just nodded to the music and smiled back. We’re regulars at the park, too.

The audience was scattered enough that parents could keep their children in sight even as they ran around. It was good to see little ones romping barefoot in the grass, untethered. The nights I best remember from childhood are summer ones-–roasting marshmallows over the embers in the grill after a cookout, catching lightning bugs, playing “Kick the Can” and “Ghost” and running the streets long after the street lights came on. I can still see my dad sitting in the screened-in porch reading the newspaper as moths fluttered around the lamp, the hot humid day settling down into a cool evening.

It was a good night for those children to make memories, too.

Here is a link to the TomKats on Soundcloud: