Saturday, September 12, 2009

Meggan Carney Brings Down the Rain


It was the first time I have seen a decent amount of rain in Austin for months. I was a bit curious as to see if that would keep people from going to Momo's for a late night Thursday show but the rain was no match for the dedicated fans. I got there right at 11:45 just in time to hear Meggan introduce herself and her first song. I was surprised to see the place packed with a lively and established vibe in the air. The first song "Canvas" was a great intro because it gently warmed up her sound and voice to the new faces curious to see what all the Meggan Carney buzz was about.

Immediately, Meggan sounded like an angelic spirit had taken over her natural voice, almost as if a higher energy was channeling every word. After all, Meggan Carney is the great great great great niece of Mark Twain.

Chris Ruiz, her saxophone player added an old ragtime clarinet to the song to further authenticate its beauty. The audience was engaged, interactive and ready to hear more.

After a couple of her oldie songs, she pulled up a chair, sat down and and sang her new blues tune titled "fools gold." Her sassy, acrobatic saxophone player backed her up with love and happiness. She took her audience into many emotional levels and experience. Later in the set, during a brand new song, the band broke it down into a fun mix of solos and collaborations. The set soon ended with the appropriate named song "mr. feel alright" as everyone in the well respected venue was feeling more than alright.

Well, Meggan Carney and Friends at Momo's on September 10th was a successfully entertaining event. I am sure we will see more of her in the near future.


Chris Saad

Monday, September 7, 2009

Meggan Carney @ Momo's this Thursday!!

It is starting to get real nice out.

I hope you are enjoying the breeze, the non triple-digit temperatures we've had the last few days, and the brightly colored orange and pink blankets that coalesce behind the sun each even'n.

As we plunge back into the new semester, it's never the easiest task to readjust our well-rested minds and bodies... running back and forth in restless grids of society.

Meggan Carney and her band Josh, Chris and Tom would certainly like to play a role in making this switch easier.

This Thursday, September 10th, the four of them will be climbing up on the Momo's indoor stage at 11:30pm.

Come support this quality act as they put on their third show at this legendary venue. I'd love to see your lovely face in the crowd sippin an Austin Amber just like myself. :)

And if you haven't checked out the promo video, you definitely should.

Thanks to all who help support us and the many local artists and musicians all across Austin.
Peace, love, music, entertainment!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Lebanese Diaries (Day 1,2,3)


This past Summer, I had a life changing event. I had the opportunity to visit my home country Lebanon for a massive two week family reunion. This had been a very special trip as it is the first time my dad has been back since he left his country during the Lebanese Civil War when he was 18, (32 years ago). This was also the first time for my brother and I to visit. Since my only form communication was via blackberry email, I sent out an updated journal to over fifty friends and family during my two week adventure. I have decided to publish these journals in my entertainment blog.


Day 1

My younger brother Dylan and I made it into Beirut Sunday morning after 28 hours of traveling. We immediately drove 40 mins up the mountains to our hometown gharife to see most of the Saad family, 75 of em to be exact, 12 of us from Texas. We ate ate amazing food and conversed and then dylan and I passed out pots and pans to everyone as we started the biggest SaadFamily DrumJam that ever existed. Everyone loooved it!!!



We then toured the small village and saw where my dad and his family and my grandpa and great grandpa grew up. We walked in the village and people were coming up to my dad and recognizing him, after 32 years!!


We then went to visit my grandpas grave site to light some candles. This was the first time my dad had ever seen his dad’s grave as he passed away in ‘86 when my dad was in the US. It was an extremely emotional experience for all of us. We then drove down to Beirut to our condo that overlooks the entire city. The beach is so close and the sun set right in front of us. The smog, however, is strong as I was able to look strait into the sun for minutes.


There is a sense of uneasiness here, we passed many military check points and there are many army helicopters constantly flying over us. Also, they announced someone’s funeral today on a loud speaker that could be heard throughout the entire city. Pretty. Crazy! Five times a day, the Muslims sing their religious chants on loudspeakers as well. There are nooo driving rules! No signs, no stop lights no speed limits, nothing! I have seen many near accidents.

Yesterday, we went to the north side of the mountains to a couple different wineries. The
wine tasted pretty amazing with a fruity, tannin and acidic tastes. We were taken on a tour through these caves
underground where the wine ages in oak barrels at 10 degrees Celsius with 80 percent
humidity. The syrian army used these caves during WW1 to hideout. The winery originally opened in 1918 as a monastery to create wine for the kings and Jesuit priests. It opened to the public in 1972 and now is know to be the number 1 winery in Lebanon. I’ve never seen so many barrels of wine in my life.
alt="Photobucket" >

Today, we traveled up to the very top of the mountains to the cedar tree national park. Lebanon has been known to be the oldest country in the world as the Phoenicians used the wood to build boats. The cedar tree is also on the Lebanese flag. We took many family pictures at the highest point of Lebanon with four generations of Saad family representing.


Everywhere we go, people are so nice. They offer us food, tea, mate, fruit, lemonade and snacks. Even the park guard invited us to drink coffee with him on the way out! Everyone seems to be in a hurry on the road, but when it comes to visiting, they like to genuinely take their sweet time.
My family believes in a small religion called Druze. It is a sect of Islam that separated a long time ago. It originated in the mountains of Lebanon. There are about 250,000 Druze in Lebanon. So far, we have stopped at four different temples to visit and pray. You have to be born in the religion and in order to learn about it, you have to fully devote yourself to it.

Tonight, a group of us went downtown Beruit to a street called Gemmayzeh, (similar to 6th street but with class). On the way we saw many UN tanks patrolling the streets to keep the peace. The first cafe we stopped at had live music from two Arabic musicians playing the oud (arabic guitar) and the dirbecky (Arabic hand drum). We ordered a couple argeliehs (hookahs) and clapped along to all the traditional Arabic songs.

The eclectic rhythms are so powerful that you cannot resist moving to the beat. It made me so happy seeing my Dad sing along to these songss that he once knew when he was a teenager.

Well, its time for sleep. We don’t have air conditioning here so we keep the doors and windows open and let the cool ocean breeze flow through. Tomorrow, we are headed to the prettiest place in Lebanon!

Stay Tuned!

Warm Regards,

Chris Saad

Greetings from Lebanon (Day 4,5,6)

Greetings from Lebanon! (Day 4,5,6)

Thank you for reading my journal, I appreciate your time. Please excuse any grammar or spelling mistakes, I have typed everything with my two thumbs on my blackberry.

Ya Atiki alafee! (Good Health to you!)

As my home country is unraveling before my very eyes, I can feel my inner spiritual roots awaken inside.
May 19th, 2009

We spent the morning transferring family land to the younger generation, it’s quite an exciting feeling to own land in the oldest country of the world.

We then traveled about 30 minutes north of Beirut to a famous fish restaurant that overlooked the entire Mediterranean Sea. We had an amazing feast and the good vibes we’re shared amongst us all. As I enjoyed the freshest kiwi that I had ever tasted, I watched my family argue over who would get to treat the meal. I really like the traditions here.

We then headed to Jbeil for some coffee and sightseeing, we sat down in the middle of this beautiful courtyard in the old, but modernized fish town close to the harbor. We ordered coffee and discussed family secrets that had seemed to of fallen through the cracks for all these years.

Imagine growing up your entire life and still not knowing when you were exactly born. My dad just celebrated his 50th birthday on October 18th, 2008 because he thinks he was born in 1958. I had just found out, however, that he is still uncertain to this day, how old he really is. In 1958, Lebanon suffered a devastating earthquake. Many forms of documentation were lost and no one could remember exactly when he was born. This trip, we have put on our detective helmets and hope to figure out his true age.

In the last email, I mentioned us all visiting Grandpa Chafic’s grave site for the first time. I never got to meet him because he passed away on December 14th, 1986. Chafic was building a house in Garifi so he and my grandma could store their belongings and move to the United States. He didn’t have much money so he took some shortcuts and didn’t properly build the foundation. The cement support columns had collapsed and crushed him, he died a couple hours later. My uncle Mucrum, the oldest brother and my grandma had found out five days after the incident, but did not communicate the news to the rest of the family for protective reasons. My uncle Raja found out when his friends started coming over to his house to give their condolences, imagine how confused he must of been. My dad, the youngest brother, found out six weeks later when he called his brother Raja to tell him that Janet, my mother was pregnant with me. During the same conversation, Raja had related the news that their dad died had passed away.

It is Lebanese tradition to name your children’s middle name after the fathers first name, however, my dad broke it and gave me the name Christopher Chafic Saad, in remembrance of my grandpa Chafic Saad.

After the great arabic coffee had re-energized our souls, we walked through the town with small shops while I listened to the sun set from the melodious-friendly Muslim chants that flooded the streets.

On the car ride back, my brother tried to convince my dad to get a tattoo of the famous Lebanese cedar tree on his shoulder. If it were anything else, I think my dad would of had a heart attack. To my surprise, he didn’t seem to oppose the idea…

When we finally returned home, we grabbed our matches and immediately lit the candles for light. The country runs on conservation because there is not enough electricity for the entire city. It would seem outrageous in America if a third of our day was spent without electricity, but a couple million people here in Lebanon deal with this everyday. I honestly am coming to really like not having electricity. It has forced me to completely disconnect myself from any electrical distractions and enjoy the quite natural state of living. The main reason for the power outages is because they use fuel to run the energy, and when prices are too high, and supply is too low, the Lebanese people are left back in the dark ages.

May 20th, 2009

The theme of the day was visiting family and friends within our home village of Garrifi.

But first, my father, uncle Mucrum, his son Adam, and my brother went to see the land that was just given to us. As we followed Mukrum down the hill, we noticed the abundance of olive trees. My family use to make a living by selling the olives and olive oils from the olive tree farm. The land had been neglected for years and was in horrible shape. We kept walking to the center of the land and saw the collapsed support columns that had killed my grandpa. My dad tried to hide his emotions as I could see him analyzing and replaying the accident in his head. We then planted a flower and walked around the rest of the land. My dad and uncle talked about re-vamping the farm and bringing back the famous Saad Olives that our family had once been known for.

We got back in the car and went to visit my great aunt Lorice. It is Lebanese custom to greet one another by kissing each cheek three times. Every household has a room made especially for entertaining the company. It is also tradition to serve the guest some type of drink like tea, coffee or lemonade (made with rose water). Right after we sat down, she pulled out a small handwritten book called The Hikme, the religious book for the Druze, similar to the bible. This book definitely had some precious information in it. My uncle and father started looking deeply into the pages when all of a sudden they found what they had been looking for, the Saad family birth dates. After deciphering the hand written arabic that my grandfather had written down, my dad realized that he was actually two years older than he had thought. His official birth date is October 17th, 1956 and this explained why the 1958 earthquake destroyed his documents. His brother Raja then found out he’s actually a year younger than he thought he was. This was a surprise because he didn’t even know there was any discrepancies within his age.

We went to five separate houses afterwards to catch up with old family and friends. Lots of sweets, Arabic speaking, cheek kissing and coffee drinking.

Later that night we went to Music Hall in downtown Beirut, a live music production in an old time theater. We met up with Adham’s girlfriend Rafah and her family. The theater was classy, sounded great and had a spectacular light show. They had red suede lounge chairs and everyone was formally dressed. We greeted the family and celebrated the quality music that was accompanied by custom made drinks. Their was a house band of about 12 people with an array of all types of instruments. The band would perform two songs with a featured singer, close the curtains and then bring out another singer. Almost like a live version of American Idol. All genres of music were performed, Arabic, American, Latin etc. Halfway through the show, a very famous and respected Arabic singer named Tony Hannah came on stage. Everyone in the building went crazy, got up all out of their seats and danced the night away. Did I mention there was a $ 50.00 minimum drink charge per person? Yeah, we were feeling very good. The music went till 3:30 am, we then left to take Adham’s girlfriend and sister back to their home in Hekmay. By the time we dropped them off, everyone was tired so I volunteered to drive. The feeling of driving in the mountains of Lebanon at 5 am in the morning with the sun rising was like nothing I had ever experienced. Everyone passed out in the car so I had to call Rafah to have her GPS my way back to our house. I somehow made it back.

May 21st, 2009

Everyone woke up pretty hung over. We took it easy all day and prepared for a party that Rafah’s family was hosting. As soon as we entered her house our jaws dropped deeper than the Marriana’s trench. It was the nicest house I had ever seen! Four stores, spiral staircase, huge entertainment rooms, pool, and a massive patio with a gorgeous view of the entire village. The Mediterranean styled house reminded me of some palace made back in the Egyptian days. The food was great and their entire family was so nice. We socialized a bit. I overheard someone say Jo Biden was in town preparing for the Lebanon elections on June 7th. I also heard that there was a drum set in the basement so I found my way down, grabbed it and waited for the perfect time for my brother and I to work our magic. After the Lebanese songs and dances, we did our thing. BAM!! DrumJam was in our hearts and we gave Lebanon a great taste of it. Baby powder on the toms, beat boxing, dirbekki tricks, behind the back drumming, stick throwing and tribal drumming-Lebanese style of course. We didn’t plan any of it, I just think there is something about siblings being able to perform together really well. I knew exactly what my brother was going to play and vise versa. Dr. Maya Angelo once said “People will forget your name and people will forget what you do, but no one will ever forget the way you make them feel.” The Saad brothers definitely put on a show these people would never forget. The best moment of the performance was when I looked over to my cousin Basaam who had the biggest smile on his face. Basaam has a mental dissorder but seeing him feel our beats only confirmed that listening to my heart and following my passion of playing music is the path I shall forever stay on. Thanks Basaam.

Adham and Adrianna (my cousins) leave for Texas Saturday night. We will spend the day shopping in Beirut and then send them off on the steel bird. Who knows what we’ll do afterward. I do know that I love this country!

One week down, one more to go.

Shoucrun!!! (Thank you)

Chris Saad

Lebanese Diaries (Final Week)

Keif Huluck!? (How are you?)

I just wanted first take the time to thank you all for your kind thoughts and replies. Your response has been very humbling. Thanks for reading!

For the past 21 years of my life, I have searched for the true meaning of my name. Defining it by what I do and who I am, with the special people that I have crossed paths with. I am very thankful for this trip because it has given me the opportunity to explore my roots and discover what it means to be a “Saad”. Now that I am more familiar with my foundation, my determination will be much stronger than it has ever been. I hope my journey has inspired you to explore your roots if you haven’t done so already. I can feel myself becoming very anxious to get back to Austin so I can step back on stage and share my experiences with you all first hand!

May 23rd, 2009

After Adham and Adrianna left, we took it easy, relaxed on our balcony and enjoyed the entire city view of Beruit as the sun quickly set high on the horizon of the Mediterranean Sea. Every set is so unique and gorgeous here, I can’t even begin to describe it in words. This day also marks what would of been my good friend Christina Lacey’s 21st birthday. Her spirit was present and she showed it by painting an incredible sun set for my family.

May 24th, 2009

We went to eat lunch at Nabeh Safa, the coolest and most authentic restaurant I’ve ever been to. Imagine a hint of the Rainforest cafe, located in a Jungleset mountain village, completely covered with leaves and waterfalls flowing throughout the entire restaurant. We had to wear jackets because of the nice breeze from the mountains made it about 50 degrees. To my surprise, we were greeted by the entire Saad family. After about 112 cheeks were kissed, we had a massive feast and let me tell you, the Lebanese know how to eat! We were first given over 50 types of dangerously good appetizers that included kibi, toubouli, hummus, fatoush, mezza, sujak, stuffed graped leaves and more. We were then served the main course, bar b q grilled beef, kefta and chicken with an assortment of sauces and bread. Arak, a liquorish liquor that turns cloudy when you add water was the popular drink of the family and every few minutes a toast was proposed. We were all playing a game of musical chairs to enjoy each others company because the table was so long. They then served grape and apple argelli-(tobacco flavored hookah) to compliment the coffees, tea and fruits. The service was five star and the atmosphere was like nothing I had ever experienced.

We then went shopping at the ABC mall in downtown Beirut. It was filled with expensive cars and a lot of people dressed to impress. People would lite cigarettes in the stores because the mall was open to all elements with no roof. There were also security guards and military men at each entrance with metal detectors and AK 47’s.
Dylan and I found a sony store and logged onto the internet for the first time in weeks. I was so surprised at how weak the internet infrastructure is in this country. Just think, my cell phone in Texas can load faster web pages than computers in Lebanon.

I think this is also why Virgin Record is still breathing, the internet is too slow to share music files!

After, we went to grab some almond and pistachio ice cream at Bliss, a small but popular ice cream shop across the street from American University of Beirut. Tarek, Dylan and I split off and went to Alcazar, a bar on Gemmayzeh street to try their famous flaming Dr. Pepper and flaming Lambourgini drinks. We bonded well and learned more about the Lebanese work force and customs. Tarek works in advertising, marketing and distribution in Lebanon. He and his wife Sarah strongly believe that DrumJam would be an instant hit in Lebanon because the Lebanese love to be entertained. We will definitely stop in Beirut on our next world tour! ;)

May 25th, 2009

Happy Memorial day or should I say Happy South Lebanon Independence Day! Today, the Lebanese celebrate the day Israel left South Lebanon. Many employees were given this day off including my uncle Anwar who took my brother and I out to lunch for some chicken and beef shawarma. Anwar is a powerful man in Lebanon. He works for the Lebanese government and manages the water flow for the country. He explained to us that the reason for the holiday was because of the 1982 Israel invasion of the country. Israel claimed that the invasion was to liberate the country from the Palestinians, however, Anwar believed it was over water control. “Israel’s water supply is so scarce that they wanted to cease Lebanon so they could get access to the rivers for their source of water”. Even though this is a good political reasoning to justify the invasion, I think there are many others reasons for the war. Anwar has lived in Lebanon for 30 years and you could tell it from the many scares this week that have made him a bit jumpy. We asked him if he’s used to expecting the worst and he danced around the subject until he finally said that with or without war, the Lebanese people find a way to live, adapt to the situation and make the best out of life. In 2002, on this day, Israel left South Lebanon until they invaded again in the summer of 2006. The aftermath is still apparent throughout the city, bullet holes in the buildings and bombed bridges and buildings still in ruins. Later in the evening, we noticed a building in Beirut disperse a bunch of smoke. In Texas, I would immediately assume this was just a fire, but in Lebanon I found myself thinking that the building had been bombed. Its crazy how you become what your surrounded by.


Lebanese Diaries (Final Week)

May 26th, 2009

As we heard the Muslims begin their chants for their daily prayer, we began a discussion over the variety of religions within the country. Lebanon is split between 18 different religions including Christianity, Islam and Druze. The city tends to segregate itself based on Religion and certain towns around Beirut are noticeably grouped. One of the ways they are able to do this is by price discrimination. Charging more for a house for those who believe in other religions and cheaper deals if you believe in the same religion. Some towns have a mix of religions but usually Druze and Muslims are never mixed together. The country also shares three different types of languages, English, Arabic and French and it is common for people to speak all three languages. As a matter of fact, the Lebanese language is a mixture of all these languages and the people tend to use all three languages within one sentence.

Later that night I got to see pictures of the stories that I had heard since I was a little kid. These were the pictures of my dad holding assault rifles and bazookas when he was only 17 years old. When I was 17, I was holding drumsticks! It was almost like holding a gun was in fashion because everyone was doing it. I tried to pry him open to get more information about the pictures but I didn’t have much success.

May 27th, 2009

My Dad, Mucrum, Dylan and I woke up early to travel 20 kilometers to the Jeita Grotto caves, a strong candidate for the new 7 wonders of the world. We took a gondola up to the top cave and walked inside a long tunnel before we made our bat transformation. The security forced us to stow away our cameras to keep tourists from taking pictures but I took the risk and brought my blackberry so I could somewhat share the sights with you :) There were two separate levels of caves. The first level had a long bridged pathway to walk on. Over thousands of years, the water would slowly seep through the rock, collect calcium and form icicle looking rocks. The deep caves were lit with multicolored lights and were accompanied with a symphony of water drops. Of course I was thinking music festival!! We then went to the bottom level, boarded a jon boat and cruised the 30 degree water through the most peaceful and sacred ten minutes I’ve ever had. These caves wowed us bend belief.

We headed back to Beruit so Mucrum could meet with his attorney to finalize a deal with a condo that he had just purchased for the family. While we were waiting, I ran across the street to take a picture of these massive rocks poking out of the ocean.

We then went home and prepared for Rafah’s family dinner invitation. They took us to this classy, french styled restaurant on a roof in the middle of Ashrafrieh. Even though Adham wasn’t there, it was a successful gathering for the parents to bond and converse about a possibility of a future marriage. Adla, Adhams mom, started pouring her heart out about how it is fate and destiny. Her words were pure, passionate and sincere. This dinner was nice because I was able absorb everything that I had done in Lebanon and recollect my thoughts and feelings. Ana Mapsoot tier! (I was very happy!)

Rafah, Dylan and I then went to a bar called Proof that was pumping some Ricky Martin and we all had a heart to heart. We talked about life, her lebanese experiences and her feelings on the constant fightings in Lebanon. She further explained to me that Hesbollah, a south lebanese military group funded by Iran has been the reason for the wars. Since they are on the border of Lebanon, they have been invaded several times and over the years they became more powerful than the Lebanese government. They started their group to protect themselves and they claim to also protect Lebanon,however, they seem to be the instigators. Many Lebanese people don’t like the group but certain muslims support their efforts and allowed them to continue their doings. Rafah feels that Lebanon would be a much happier and peaceful place without them and I think she speaks on behalf of the majority of the Lebanese people. She was telling us how in 2006, during the war, her and her friends would have to wait for the bomb to go off before they could go out because once it exploded, there would be a grace period before the next bomb explosion. If it didn’t go off, they would have to stay inside all night. She recommended reading a book called Pity the Nation by Robert Frisk so I could get a better understanding of the Lebanese wars. Rafah is very smart, kind, beautiful and she has a great heart. I’m glad my cousin met her and I hope it all works out. ;)

May 28th, 2009

Back to Ghariffi to say our goodbyes to the extended family. Dylan and I played “racket” with the village kids while my dad delivered presents. Next, we attended the Saad Club meeting in Betatine. Every month, each Saad family contributes money to a box that is kept for emergencies. For example, if there is a hospital bill that a family member cannot afford, they have this safety net. Kinda like insurance! After the meeting, we let loose, played some music and learned how to dance Lebanese style. Dylan and I ended the party with another drum jam this time using a 10 gallon water jug, some pots and a dirbeki. We can’t speak Arabic but we definitely communicated to the family through our rhythms.

May 29th, 2009

We rushed back to Beirut so I could meet up a Manal, the executive producer of imagic, an affiliated production company with the Lebanese Broadcasting Company. Manal is a friend of Rafah’s sister and I had met her at the family party last Friday. I’ve always heard that Beruit was the L.A. of the middle east so I wanted to see it for myself. Her office is in Ashafrei close to Gemazeh and today she was working on picking. a game show from France for imagic to replicate for the middle east. Her job as the producer is to oversee the entire vision of each project and to make sure all the other departments are accomplishing their jobs in order to bring everything together. The most interesting thing about her job is having to make sure that every TV show is appropriate for each different cultural audience. For example, the station purchased a TV show from France about the making of sports video games. In one of the shots, there was a small cup of whine and a beer bottle. Because this show would be broadcasted to countries that are Islam dominant, she had to tell the editors to loose the shot.

Manal suggested for my last night in Lebanon to go to BA18-one of the top five underground techno venues in the world. She told me the place was created by a musical genius who transformed this building where massacres use to take place into an underground night club. So I went back to pack my bags, eat dinner and freshin up.

We ended up not going out because our plane was leaving for Dubai at 7 AM so we opened a couple local beers and enjoyed our last night in Lebanon.

Overall, the trip was a success and I have a feeling we will be back soon. After being in war for over 23 years, Lebanon has made a strong recovery and I trully hope they continue the peace and progress.

Christopher Chafic Saad :)

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Rhythm Inside is what Keeps You Alive

It's amazing how a single act of kindness can change your life.

A couple of months ago, I received an email from Marty, the director of a teen cancer organization called “The Sunshine Kids”. He asked me if my theatrical percussion group DrumJam would be available to perform for the 19th annual “Teen Lake Escape” in Lago Vista on July 10th, 2009. He further explained that there would be thirty-two kids under the age of eighteen who had all been diagnosed with cancer and would be attending the event. Unfortunately, I had to decline as my brother, the drummer of the group, was still traveling overseas. But several days later, I remembered an article I had read about the therapeutic benefits for young cancer victims who were engaged in the act of drumming and rhythmic beat, and came up with an idea. I could go to “Teen Lake Escape” solo, and lead the kids to participate in their very own drum jam! I emailed Marty a second time, and he thought it was an excellent idea.
On the morning of July 10th, I gathered together forty different types of percussion instruments that we use in my band, including djembes, dirbekis, a concert bass drum, cowbells, cymbals, snare drums, trashcan lids, wood blocks and various kitchen utensils. I drove almost an hour and a half to the other side of the lake, where the event was being held at an incredible mansion. The kids had been enjoying themselves on the lake all day, taking part in activities such as jet skiing, para sailing, tubing, water skiing and swimming. I was a bit nervous about meeting all these children with a terminal illness. I knew I had to be careful about what I would say, but I also felt that I was on a mission to inspire these kids to not give up, and to keep fighting against their sickness. Apprehensively, I rounded up about thirty-five chairs and put them in a circle on the patio, then placed the bass drum on a stand in the very center. Shortly, all the kids migrated towards the patio, sat down, and waited quietly to see what was in store for them. I stood at the center of the circle and introduced myself. I proceeded by saying, “you may not have known this previously, but all of you are drummers. Since you all have hearts beating inside of you, you all have natural rhythm, and all you need to do is figure out how to communicate that rhythm to the outside world.” I then asked for a volunteer to come to the center with me, and I taught him a very simple beat to play. Next, I passed out a drumstick one by one, teaching each kid a simple beat on his or her unique percussion instrument. As each child entered the circle of drumbeats, the energy and excitement of the group rose. By the time I had included the entire circle of children, everyone was surprisingly playing in beat with everyone else. I was amazed at how fast the kids were able to pick up the rhythm. For about forty-five minutes, I went around the circle, helping the kids change the beat that they were playing, and then encouraging the entire group to experiment with syncopated beats and dynamics. First, we would all play quietly and at a slower speed, and then I would signal for everyone to play faster and louder. Next, I would cut out half of the group and allow for the other half to play, and vice versa. One of the kids who was playing on one of the drums accidentally hit it too hard and broke the drum head. Since he had just recently had his leg amputated and was using crutches to get around, I told him to use one of his metal crutches as a percussion instrument, and the real magic of drumming began! Photobucket As it started to get dark outside, I grabbed some water bottles, and asked two volunteers to pour some water on the bass drum I was playing on, which created a cool aqua visual effect. I then asked for other volunteers to get up and play on the bass drum with me. I was able to fit a total of eight kids on the bass drum, all playing the same beat. I then instructed the rest of the group, one by one, to stop playing their instruments and to start clapping to the same beat we were playing on the bass drum. When they started clapping, they would automatically stand up and come in closer to the center. As everyone gathered towards the center of the circle, I asked the bass drum players to stop playing and start clapping instead. We started clapping faster and faster, which resulted in a thunderous applause. It seemed as if we were all applauding ourselves, and a positive feeling of worth and acceptance surmounted.

I am so glad that I was able to be involved in this entertaining civic engagement activity. I have always loved to entertain people and having the opportunity to do so for young children who are terminally ill had been one of the most exciting and fulfilling experiences I have ever had. I felt that I was a little spark of sunshine that could make a tiny difference in one extra day of their lives. I have always told my cousin, a cardio surgeon that he can fix hearts physically and I will fix hearts emotionally. I have been involved with percussive performance for eleven years of my life and I believe the act of drumming is extremely therapeutic.
I have also noticed that in the past, I have acted a bit differently towards people who have a life threatening sickness. I think I am just too scared to become good friends with a person who is sick because I know they might be passing in the near future and I am protecting myself from becoming hurt. My perspective on the situation changed though as I spent six more hours hanging out with the children, telling them stories and playing games with them. All the children that I had met seemed so innocent, they do not deserve this type of sickness. They were extremely smart, friendly, talented and genuine.

Everyone in society is affected by cancer because we all know someone who has had it or who has died from it. Disease is such a detrimental problem in our society, and especially when it is still not fully curable. The process of treating cancer is painful and depressing and when these kids are told that they only have so much time left to live, they are bound to become hopeless.
I truly feel that this activity was effective in solving this social problem. I was only assured by this when a couple days after the event, I had received many emails, facebook messages and text messages from the kids and volunteers at the camp thanking me for my services. They all told me how much fun they had becoming a drummer and how they really enjoyed the experience. When I left the event, I had given them all egg shakers with a sticker on it that said, “The rhythm inside is what keeps you alive”. As I left the mansion and gave everyone a hug, I could also see a sense of urgency and drive within each one of their eyes as some of them knew they had only a certain amount of time left to accomplish their dreams and goals. I felt that I had added an extra shade of brightness to their life and fulfilling the definition of a sunshine kid. :)