Living in North Dakota makes us creative as a family when we travel. Since we are fairly geographically bound when at home, we look for opportunities to connect with authors and musicians as we make our way from state to state during our annual cross-country trip to visit our families. Last year we were able to set up a private lesson for Ian with jazz drumming legend Jimmy Cobb, who happened to be in Minneapolis when we were (thanks to Husband-Jamie for arranging it!). THAT was Awesome. In their hour long session, Cobb reminisced playing with Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, and Dizzy Gillespe among many others. It was a true connection to history.
On this year’s trip, we set up a date with Jamie’s best childhood buddy Kevin Smith at his recording studio, Six+1, in South Carolina. Ian’s been working on a new song, and he invited his fabulously talented Uncle Jason to lay down bass, his equally fabulously talented dad (i.e. Husband-Jamie) to lay down guitar, while Ian worked on vocals and drums. Kevin orchestrated the recording, and once we record the strings, piano, and harmonies back in Bismarck, he’ll mix everything down into a polished piece.
The experience was wonderful – all that fun family vibe! They all worked so well together. And Uncle Jason was able to give Ian advice on recording consistency to help his other musicians match up with him more professionally. Once everything is finished, Matt Fern of The Creative Treatment in Bismarck will produce a music video to go along with it. We’ve worked with Matt before, when he featured Ian on his series The Daily Dakotan. He does great work, and is a wonderful person to work with. We’re pretty excited.
Leaving SC, rough CD mix in hand, we headed up to Asheville, NC, where Ian met up with percussionist River Guerguerian for his third private lesson (we started working with River several years ago, and try to get by every time we come home). River works at a private primary school in Asheville, where he records and performs when he’s not teaching kids to do the same. He also travels, playing in concert halls all over the world. River is not only an amazing talent, but kind and compassionate; we feel very lucky to have him in Ian’s life.
From River’s, we stayed with our dear friends David and Deanna LaMotte. David has made his living for many years as a professional musician and public speaker, advocating for peace and social justice and generally most things that are Good for humanity. He’s been Ian’s mentor for several years, providing a fabulous balance of musical experience and creativity, a deep concern for the world, and an astounding ability to listen and support. As Ian gets older, we’ve discussed having him go with David on some of his various speaking/music tours to help him learn the ropes.
David’s also a pretty connected guy, and was slated to perform in a George Harrison tribute benefit show that composer/performer B.J. Leiderman was organizing at the White Horse in Black Mountain, NC. David asked B.J. to let Ian sit in on a song, and voila! Magic was made. The stage that night was full of the region’s most talented musicians, who had all come together to support the good causes of the benefit (housing and food access). Getting to play with such a group was astounding, and B.J. and Ian hit it off very well, discussing their intention to stay in touch and work together in future years. (For those of you not familiar with B.J. Leiderman, he’s the guy who writes a lot of the theme music on NPR. Listen up next time when you’re tuning into Weekend Edition, Marketplace, Car Talk, and more. Or check out his funny and impressive NPR radio sampler video here.)
Needless to say, we are full to overflowing. So many wonderful people, so much love, so much talent and encouragement. Ian is fired up to get back to recording, get to work on that music video, and make tons of music with his high school buds. I am returned home feeling connected to the world, supported on many sides.
How do you connect with mentors? Do you feel comfortable asking experts to support you and your children?
Oh, and just because I had so many sweet photos of our trip, I’m going to include a few more below. Just click on a photo, and it will open as a gallery. Following the photos is a video clip of the night in Black Mountain. Enjoy!