About six weeks ago, Ian learned of a youth talent showcase at our historic downtown Belle Mehus Auditorium. Bands 18 and under could audition for 20 minute slots, performing in the loveliest venue in town. The Belle would run sound and lights. A truly awesome experience, especially for kids who don’t normally have opportunities like this.
Of course he was IN. He put together a three piece band pretty quickly. One member was a friend already; the other is someone who was recommended by several local musicians; Ian is 11, and the other two are 14 and 15. They began weekly rehearsals and put together a fabulous show.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with our family band, my husband Jamie has played with Ian for the past six years. The band is called Blind Mice, and consists of three 40 year olds and a kid, age 6 growing up to now age 11. They are super fun, and Ian has had a blast playing with them.
His new band is called Hex Radio. The debut performance was yesterday, and though I have seen Ian on stage since he was three years old, this felt different. As it was his own band, we felt a hands-off approach was best; so after doing the basic roadie work of lifting the heavy drums out of the truck, we moved into the audience to sit back and enjoy. And the energy he poured in – the energy they all poured in – was amazing. In the audience I felt I was seeing him for the first time. I’ve heard him sing and play thousands of songs throughout his life, but to me anyway, with Hex Radio Ian felt older, more empowered, and if it’s possible, more creative.
Here’s the band performing “Are You Gonna Be My Girl,” with Ian on lead vocals. You can’t see him well (we need to adjust the drums next time), but you can hear him. Check it out.
If you’d like to hear the other pieces by Hex Radio, Blind Mice, or hear some of Ian’s originals, you can check them out here.
There are so many things to process when you’re raising a musician. What musical and/or educational paths do you take? What’s the right pace of success, and what is the definition of success anyway? How do you prevent your idea of self-worth being determined by an audience? How do you keep the focus on what’s important – compassion, intelligence, thoughtfulness, wisdom, generosity, the quality and power of the music – and keep the incredible lure of fame in its place (while still respecting that what we want after all is for people to know about Ian and enjoy his work)? It’s complicated.
As I watched the other bands – most of them more established than Hex Radio – I wondered about their own trajectory and how they and their parents make these decisions. One girl had gone to American Idol and beat out thousands of kids in the competitions. Though she didn’t go all the way to the end, she was strongly encouraged to come back when she was a couple of years older. I talked to her mom, who was still kind of shell-shocked by the experience. None of them are in a particular hurry for stardom, but simply feel compelled to take advantage of opportunities as they arise. It was an interesting story; they’re just trying to figure things out like everybody else.
Ah, but I wax philosophic, when really all I wanted to do was share Hex Radio’s awesome performance! If you have experience in this, please take full advantage of the comments section below. It’s such a fun and wonderful journey – full of surprises, and of course, music! (And yes, by the way, yesterday counted as a school day!)