As sit in my red, vinyl bean bag chair, headsets on, cord attached to my turntable, I remember......
July 16, 1969.
Even though I was only 9 years old, I vividly remember this day. My family was taking a short vacation to Ocean Shores, WA. My 18 year old brother, Wayne, didn't want to go. He was afraid he would miss Apollo 11 landing on the moon. My parents, 2 other siblings and myself left him at home. We couldn't check into our hotel room, because the previous people refused to check out. So after begging the check in clerk, we were allowed back into the manager' living area. And on a gigantic Magnavox Tv console we watched the first man walk on the moon, in a room full of strangers. The image was grainy, black and white. But we still watched and heard Neil Armstrong's famous words, " That's one small step for man, one giant step for mankind."
47+ years later, it's easy to take for granted all of the accomplishments that we've achieved since then. I've been a flight attendant now, for 30 years. 2001 Space Odyssey no longer seems futuristic. Every seat back has their own TV screen. We have Wi-Fi available on all of our flights; even internationally. You can carry a live text conversation at 40,000 above the ocean. You can place an order on Amazon during the flight, and have it sitting on your doorstep when you arrive home. Everything is easily and instantaneously available to us. What is left for us to dream and desire for?
Enter the Seattle-Tacoma area band, Grieve The Astronaut.
I first listened to their concept album up our ski condo at the Alpental Ski Resort, on Snoqualmie, Pass. If you read my introduction on this Guest Blog, you will remember that I grew up on a small farm. After Mom passed away in 2011 ( Dad had passed away from cancer in 1980), my siblings and I sold the family farm. I reinvested my portion into the ski condo. Through writing this blog, I've come to realize that this ski condo, fondly called Norwegian Woods ( my Mom was Norwegian, and I love The Beatles Rubber Soul Album), is a grownup version of my childhood bedroom. Except, instead of being on top of a wheat field, it's on top of the Cascade Mountain Range. Instead of a red, vinyl bean bag chair, I have a brown, fabric bean bag chair. Instead of a turntable, I have a CD player. But, the intention is the same. It's a place where I can slow down, 'drop the needle', and get transported into a different, musical dimension.
I received my Grieve The Astronaut CD in the mail, because I had given money during their pledge campaign. It's very expensive to record an album, and giving money during a pledge campaign is a way to support an artists vision. I brought the CD up to the ski condo during winter of 2016. After a day of skiing by myself, I soaked in a hot tub, lit a log in the fireplace, poured a glass of wine, sat in my bean bag chair....and dropped the needle on my new Grieve The Astronaut CD.
As I heard the music flow out of my speakers, a sense of calm immediately came over me. I was transported to another time and place. I heard a child's voice on the CD say, 'Daddy I want to be an astronaut.' I remembered the awe of watching Neil Armstrong walking on the moon. The innocence of childhood. Realizing I still had my whole life ahead of me. A life filled with hope and dreams. Big dreams. I could do ANYTHING, and ANYTHING was possible!
And then the CD ended, and I came back to my current reality. I had achieved my dream of graduating college. I had been working my dream job for almost 30 years. I had my dream life of being married and having children. Those children had already graduated high school and were moving on with their lives. I had buried both of my parents. Basically, I was reaching the last portion of my life. If I wanted to achieve a dream, NOW was the time to do it! The question was, though, what's my dream? And, at 56, am I too old to do it?
When Raymond Hayden first started advertising the date of the Grieve The Astronaut concert, I was so excited! I immediately bought tickets. Actually, Ray said I was the very first person to buy them! It seemed like forever for the actual concert date to arrive, but finally it did. I was really looking forward to this production. I realized how much love and effort had been put into making this project come to life. And, I knew it was going to be very special. And...it was.
I had never been to the Auburn Avenue Theater before. What a cute, retro venue. I loved walking in, and recognizing so many familiar faces. That's the great part about attending local shows. You see the same people, and a whole community feel comes along with it. My husband and I chose seats up close and on the left side. I knew I would be taking a lot of photos and videos, so I wanted an unobstructed view. The lights came down, and the magic started to happen.
Ray came onstage to his keyboard, and was joined by guest soloist, Regan Lane. Lead singer of Strangely Alright. Regan's words were so impacting and profound. These times are so confusing and turbulent. However, his well chosen and well spoken words immediately brought a feeling of hope and peace into the venue. His words led into a powerful cover of David Bowie's "Major Tom'. I dropped the needle, and was transported into another musical dimension.
Something unique to Grieve The Astronaut, is that the band has two keyboardists. Backing Raymond Hayden on keys, is the talented Calissa Knox. I've been playing the piano since I was 7 years old. So I understand and appreciate the relationship between the musician and the instrument. I loved watching Calissa perform. There was a beautiful flow between her body and her hands. It was like watching her soul dance with the music. Her hands were delicate, yet powerful. And her hair. Her hair has nothing to do with actual musical performance, but I loved looking at it! I've come to the conclusion, that creative and talented women have amazing hair. Maybe I should dream of having amazing hair.....
Anyway, back to GTA. For a band to be successful, they need to have a solid support to keep them moving forward and filled with energy. That solid support for GTA would be drummer, Mike Burt. Two words to describe him..BAD ASS. I love watching him. He gives everything he has into each song. He has no fear. He has a message to share, and you're going to hear it! Tight, controlled and massive energy. He makes sure Grieve The Astronaut has enough rocket power, for sure.
And to keep things interesting, a band needs guitarists to shred it out onstage. GTA has the power house duo of bassist Ben Beman and guitarist Taylor Enloe. WHOA! What a combination! The audience went wild when they were tearing up the stage! My husband and I kept looking at each other and saying "Are you kidding me? This is crazy!". I felt like we had VIP tickets, to a private rock concert. They sent GTA WAY out into orbit.
Special guest appearances by vocalist Krystle Pyette on the beautiful song 'Twilight' and guitarist Ricky Dunn tearing it up on the final song, just added icing to an already Blue Ribbon cake. I wasn't ready for the show to end! And Raymond Hayden. This was your creation. Your baby. You orchestrated an entire concept album, and breathed it into life. You breathed life into your band members. You breathed life into your audience members.
You breathed life AND hope into me. I walked out feeling like I could do ANYTHING!
So, in conclusion, before this show, Ray had suggested I start writing a music blog. I share alot on my FB page, so why not make it official? I was a bit hesitant. I mean, what do I know about music and writing? I'm just a middle aged Mom. 'What if people laugh at me...".
But you know what? I love music. I love sharing and inspiring others. I want to encourage others to pursue their dreams and live life at their full potential.
So, here I am. In full orbit with Grieve The Astronaut. Make sure and see their next show, so you TOO can have life breathed into your dreams.
Susan In Seattle