|photos by Bill Slavin|
Bill and I perched on stools at the bar at the Rite Spot Cafe in San Francisco. We were hungry, but the cafe wasn't open. The old bar and cafe in the industrial part of the City was closed for a fundraiser. Ear plugs came with our entry at the door. We munched on potato chips and drank beer while we waited eagerly for our son's band The Brankas to perform. The rest of the room filled up with young kids from a rock band school and their parents who came to raise money to send several of their bands to a band competition in Idaho.
Our son has performed in bands since sixth grade. First, in Japan, then Paris, through high school and college at home. Sitting in this small bar brought back memories of spending late nights at Blake's in Berkeley, in dark bars in Alameda and San Jose, and at rock band competitions at the Metro in Oakland and the Red House in Walnut Creek, where we came to watch Theo's various bands perform. We usually were the only ones over 40 in a room filled with rock fans. We dressed in black to fade into the background. Bill took photos while I sat sipping a drink during the shows.
In high school, Theo attended several rock band camps during summer vacations and performed in front of large, appreciative audiences. Now, as a working adult, his two-man band plays locally on weekends and travels occasionally around California to play at other venues.
After the first band finished, the Brankas came on stage. Theo grabbed the microphone and welcomed the crowd, encouraged the young musicians to work hard, and thanked the parents for their support of their kids. He said to a round of applause, "I'm glad to see you here to support your kids in following their dreams. In fact, over there at the bar, my parents are here to support me too." He waved a hand, "A shout-out to them: thanks for coming today. I really appreciate your being here." The Brankas began to play and the crowd erupted with wild enthusiasm for their music.
As Mother's Day approaches, memories like these come back to remind me what an incredible experience parenthood can be. We never imagined that Theo would be in a rock band. When he asked to join the school rock band in Tokyo, the instructor wanted to know what instrument he played. He told him, "I don't play an instrument. I want to sing." Later he learned to play the guitar and work guitar pedals. His music has sustained him through much of the ups and downs of his teenage years and into adulthood. We are proud of him and glad that we have been able to share these moments with him.
What better place to be than an old, crowded bar on a sunny Sunday afternoon?
Happy Mother's Day to all of you moms!
As Theo once said, "We should celebrate Mother's Day every day."