The Sound of Summer

Summer is my favorite season. As a child, I spent half of my summer traveling all over the United States with my grandparents, and the other half on a lake or in the Ohio River. Summertime is beautiful in the Ohio Valley; the hills are a green that rivals anything Ireland herself can produce, and the humidity causes everyone to find relief near the water. The days of my childhood were filled with swimming, boating, and fishing, and nighttime meant campouts under the stars, our campsite lit by colorful lanterns strung between the trees and the glow of a campfire. Everyone had a boat, or knew someone that did. Even the largest city near where I grew up, Pittsburgh, is known for its rivers and killer Regatta.

As I grew older, summer got even better. Parties down by the creek and live music on Saturday nights at the boat clubs right on the river were what I lived for. Life was one giant party. If I was not working, I was outside with my friends and family. The soundtrack to those days, The Doobie Brothers, Steve Miller, Skynard, Charlie Daniels, was a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll, and all about having fun. No matter where we were, if there was a cooler of beer and Tom Petty blaring out of a speaker, we were cracking open a can and singing at the top of our lungs.

When I moved to Colorado, I loved summer there, too. But it was a different sort of experience than what I was used to growing up. Summer in Colorado was best spent in the mountains, and enjoying drinks on the patio afterward at some microbrewery. It was fun, but I am a water baby through and through and the arid climate was a bit of an adjustment for me. It reminded me of those summers out west with my grandparents, but I often wished that it was just a bit greener, a bit more humid, and had a few more lakes and actual rivers. (What they call a river out west, we call a creek back home.) It was wonderful there, but there were times I missed those simple days by the water.

Coming to Texas Hill Country, I feel almost like I am living back home again. The summers are humid, I am surrounded by rivers, lakes, and spring fed pools, and the lifestyle here is definitely one that promotes outdoor live music. There are little places all over town, especially outside of town, that have awesome summer line ups, a show every day of the week, and many of them are free. This whole long winded walk down memory lane was the set up for me to tell you about my experience at one of them.

We were looking for something to do on a date night and by chance, we just happened to stumble upon this place down the street. It’s set on a couple of acres of land. It’s a pretty nice restaurant, and they have a small outdoor live music venue. Lights strung in the oak trees, tables in the grass, a permanent stage, an outdoor bar, and a huge fountain in the courtyard. Oh, and a playground. Two, actually.  Why? Because the owner drew upon his experience as a parent of small children that still wanted to be cool and rock out, so he made a family friendly live music venue. That’s right. Date night when you have no sitter is possible, after all.

So, we went back on Friday with our four-year-old the Prince of Wails in tow. We had dinner, walked outside, and turned our kiddo loose with the other ones. At first, he ran to the slide. That lasted about two seconds until he noticed the crowd of kids in front of the stage. Then the music started. He set off at a direct run for the stage. He couldn’t help himself. It was compulsive.

Here is the deal with my boy. He has sensory issues, and loud noises and stimuli are generally too much for him. We intended to take him over to the play area where it was quieter but we could still hear the band. It didn’t matter. He ran for the stage. As soon as he cleared the corner of the monitor and was directly in front of the stage, he started covering his ears and freaking out. He ran back to the side of the crowd, off from center, and it was better. He put his hands down and started to dance his little butt off, just like every other kid there. It was hilarious. I was sitting outside in the middle of Hill Country, drinking a beer under the lanterns, listening to live music, and watching the next generation learn how it’s done. It was one of the most awesome things I have ever seen. Watching kids rock out is fantastic. They don’t have a drop of alcohol in them…they don’t need it. They just love being there in that moment with their friends, feeling the music and screaming their heads off. It’s a beautiful thing, and a reminder of what I wrote about a few weeks ago: Music keeps us young.

Today in the car, I heard the song All Summer Long by Kid Rock, and it took me back to those days. But for once, it wasn’t just nostalgia that had me singing at the top of my lungs in the car and attracting stares from the other suburban Joes sitting at the red light with me. I feel like this summer, I am going to live it all again, and get to share it with my boy. So as Memorial Day and summer in the northern hemisphere approaches, I sit here with a refreshing wheaty brew looking forward to the days and weeks ahead. I hope everyone has the kind of summer I am looking forward to, and to my pals down under, I hope yours rocked out. I am gonna head off and make my holiday plans….pretty sure they are going to involve live music and water. Cheers!