Wednesday, December 10, 2014

December 8-10

After a week on the road I’m reaching that point where one hotel room blends into another and I don’t know what date it is without double checking.  But what I predicated when I backed out of my driveway is coming true.  I said to myself, “Judy, you are going to be a changed person the next time you drive into this driveway.” I guess, to a certain degree, that is true every day because whatever we experience changes us somewhat, but it is definitely true on an adventure like this.

Before I go any further I want to thank all of those who sponsored the trip and made this journey possible.  I have been very frugal with the money you gave me, trying to wait for the lowest gas prices to fill up (the lowest so far was 2.39/gal), and eating the string cheese and crackers I brought with me for some meals, and the grapenuts for those places where the hotel did not provide breakfast.  There’s a cooler on my backseat with milk, cheese and jerkey in it.  Thanks VERY MUCH to my friends in Auburn, NH, for giving me the delicious jerkey (90 cals a serving and a ton of protein!) plus many other healthy (and some not quite so…) snacks in a box that is in the center of my back seat next to the cooler.  Today I stopped at a Meijer store and got raspberries for $1/6 ounces! I couldn’t believe my luck.  It isn’t always easy to eat healthy on the road but I am trying.

Let’s see…when I last left you I was in Tennessee with the Winton Family on Sunday night…what fun we had together!  I didn’t really know them before, but now I feel that we are friends…as with John and Bonnie Earle, who hosted the concert on Friday, and of course, Jason Reph and his parents in PA, who have hosted me now four times.  That is the biggest blessing for me…even though I only see these folks for less than a day, friendships are forged.

On Monday I headed for Kentucky, which was a short drive, comparatively.  My friend Terri, who moved from NH to Kentucky this past summer, had booked a show for me in the elementary school where she teaches.  I sang for 500 kids from K-5, and it was a very uplifting experience for me. The kids were well-mannered, bright and FUN and I got lots of hugs and sweet comments as they left the auditorium after the show.  I went to Terri’s room to see her first graders for a little while after the assembly, and I gave each child an autographed photo.  One of the little girls told me my songs were ‘mind blowing.”  HAHAHA!!  A few others said that mine was the first autograph they’d gotten.  How nice it was for me to meet these wonderful children.

At this point I must interject the real reason why this school visit was important to me, and how it changed me.  Lately in the children’s music “industry” there has been a trend toward “hip music for hip kids” and the term “kindie” (independent kids’ artists) has been coined. At Grammy time I received lots of CDs to consider from artists whose main selling point was that parents love their music just as much as the kids do, and "hip music for hip kids."  That’s all well and good, but that’s not really my concern as a children’s musician. I have always believed that the music should be CHILD-centered, and if the parents come along for the ride, that’s great but that’s not the focus. When I was raising my kids I would have DIED if anyone had said they were “hip.”  I am NOT nor have I ever have been considered “hip.”  I’m not concerned with my image as a parent…whether or not my kids were wearing the “right” clothes, went to the “right” schools or listened to the “right” music. I just wanted them to feel loved and be happy and healthy.  That has also been my approach to creating music for children.  But lately I have felt more and more irrelevant in the children’s music “scene” as the kindie acts take over. Many of them are rockers, and that is definitely not my thing. I am more from the "Sesame Street-Sharon, Lois and Bram, Raffie" school of music for kids.  As such,  I have been labeled “old school” by the tastemakers.  It hurts, but oh well.  There’s nothing I can do about it. I can’t change my music to please them. I just have to go on the fact that children have loved my music and my performances for going on 20 years, and I can only create what I feel in my heart. But sometimes I have to admit, I wonder whether I have a future in this business. I've been wondering it a LOT lately and worrying.  Because I love performing for children. I truly do in my heart and soul. That’s one of the reason that the validation from the kids this week was so important.

I had a very similar experience at the Edgwood Elementary School in Indiana where I performed yesterday.  Lots of love and fun going around.  It fed my soul. When I’m singing and kids are laughing and having a good time, I feel like I know my purpose.  It’s a wonderful feeling.

So anyway, I spent Monday night with Terri, her husband Travis and her delightful Mom, and then yesterday I was up at six and on the road by 6:15, headed to Anderson, Indiana from Kentucky.  At some point I crossed back into the Eastern Time Zone, so I had to make good time, and I got there in plenty of time for the school show, which my host, Paul Wood, had arranged.  The school is right across the street from his house, and he was kind enough to promote my work to the principal there so I could make a little money to help fund the tour. Once again, the children were wonderful and the staff was gracious. It was a five-star experience.

The concert last night at Paul and Jo’s house was a great time also.  This was my second time there and I love visiting them because they do so much to make it special.  They had arranged for the street to be closed and they put chairs in the street and a stage right in front of their lawn so that their beautiful lights were my backdrop.  They had a space heater on the stage which I truly appreciated because there was a cold wind a’ blowin’! (Paul also had a heater in the street—pretty big, I think it was rented from someplace) for the guests.  The concert benefitted Team Rubicon, which puts our veterans to work on disaster relief projects and is a great organization, and a representative from the group was there to speak to the crowd. Then Paul introduced the Mayor of Edgewood, who, to my surprise, read a proclamation declaring it “Judy Pancoast Day!”  I was moved nearly to tears. Even after five of these tours, these types of things are still unbelievable to me.  What an honor! And when I found out how it happened, I was even more pleased. Her Honor the Mayor lives across the street from the Woods, and had been at my concert two years ago and purchased some of my CDs and said she loves my music. It was her idea to do something special to welcome me. They also erected a “Christmas Street” sign on the road!  How cool!! 
Here's a picture of the Mayor, reading the proclamation. I am looking down at Jo Wood, who is sitting at the table at her computer. That's Paul Wood on the right, and of course, their magnificent display!

I was able to sing three of the songs along with the synchronized lights (Joanne is the programmer in this family), including “The House on Christmas Street,” so that made it extra special for the audience and lots more fun for me.  There was a little table from a local restaurant selling hot chocolate and cookies, and at the end of the concert who arrived but that jolly old elf himself, Santa Claus!  The children got autographed photos from me while they waited in line to tell him their fondest wishes.  I asked him for a new van, but he said he couldn’t promise anything.

Speaking of the van, it’s now up over 463,000 miles and I’m hoping to hit 470k on the tour although, according to my calculations, it will be just short of that when all is said and done.  I did make it to a Kentucky WalMart to get the headlight fixed, but it turned out that the bulb was just loose and they didn't charge me anything. The guys there were super nice---southern hospitality.

Now here I am in Hudson, IL at the hotel doing my laundry.  I was almost out of pants. I’ll write more later when I get back from “A Dicken Christmas.” Bobby is a deejay and really knows how to put on a fun show (two years ago someone got engaged at my concert here) so I’m really looking forward to it.  Of course, I look forward to all the concerts and each one is a different experience, fun and special in its own way. 
Oh, by the way, I brought my bathing suit and four of the hotels have had indoor pools but I haven't made it into one of them yet.  I'm lucky to be able to take a shower (I gotta get warmed up) after the show and then plop into bed.  All of the hotels have had HBO which I don't have at home and that's bad bad bad because I love movies and I've stayed up much later than I should some nights!

Chat more later!!
OH! PS!  Joanne Wood and her sister made the most delicious beef stew last night!!  It was so nice to have a home-cooked meal!!  They even sent some with me. Thank you so much, Paul and Jo!

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