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Teen Music

Teen boy listening to headphones

Joan Baez singingWhen I was a teenager, I pretty much liked any music that my parents didn’t like—especially if it was being played by long haired guys dressed in black leather. I mean, that’s just typical for teens to be that way, right? That dynamic has changed some by now, and I know teens who actually like their parents and hang out and listen to music with them. Back in our day not all DJs had to adhere to programming rules or meet quotas of how many Beach Boys songs they played per hour, so sometimes they actually played some interesting music. Of course, in those days payola was still very much part of the computation and it was more or less expected since the greedy studio fat cats were still running things.

Now don’t get me wrong—I liked and still like the Beach Boys, but as music listeners in the 60s and 70s, many of us were angry and looking for musical ways to express that anger, or we were in a kind of clueless pot fog. Or maybe that was just me… The Vietnam war, unjust drug laws, crass commercialism, the lack of support for women’s issues, the double standard for equal pay and opportunities, civil rights for all people…the list was long and is STILL long, but I am encouraged by the fact that many teens are still listening to the same music that used to get our juices going back in the day. Relevant and important music and pretty darn creative.

Violinist AvailableA Chorus line posterI recently attended a wonderful presentation of the long running Broadway musical ‘A Chorus Line’, performed by the young adults of Jungle Arts and Dance and Pied Piper Productions down south in Uvita. It was flat out brilliant. To see these kids dance and sing and act with such professionalism and skill was just remarkable, and even more so when you realize they all live down here, where we do not have many of the benefits and influences that come with living in more sophisticated or urban communities. Kelly Sylvester, choreographer and producer, worked with Sara Cattani, the musical director and assistant producer, and they were joined by director Sharon Boucher, whose experience kicked things up a notch. They spent untold hours coaching, costuming, rehearsing, and inspiring the cast and crew, and I guarantee they will all walk away from their experience with more confidence and pride.

Realizing how difficult it must be for aspiring young thespians, dancers or musicians to get exposed to the arts here, I quizzed my friend Kelly about how her two beautiful and very talented teen-age daughters found their inspiration or even realized what skills they needed or how to acquire them. I was completely surprised by a couple of her answers, but when I thought about it I remembered that the life lessons you learn living here are pretty darn relevant—keep on your toes, get creative, laugh about the little stuff, and make lemonade out of mangos. Or whatever is handy.

Probably most important to Ava and Kaya Sylvester’s artistic growth was the fact that their folks played a wide variety of music around the house. They also listened to one of the few radio stations we get here, Radio Dos, 99.5. That is an English speaking station that plays a lot of old rock and roll, modern favorites of the teen set, and news in English. My friend Margie is the early morning DJ there and she’s gonna be thrilled when she realizes she’s got a whole new fan base and demographic.

Kids nowadays can use the internet in many ways (unless of course the service isn’t working or it’s raining so hard you can’t hear anything), including going to Spotify and typing in what genre or artist you want to hear. Want to hear nothing but the Grateful Dead? No problem. How about Willie Nelson 24/7? Or jazz music from the 30s? We can hear anything at the touch of a finger, and certainly the younger generation is better at navigating the internet waters than us old fogies.

GLEE posterAt first I was kind of surprised that Kelly’s girls used to watch the TV show Glee, but I can see how it would be fun to watch your urban counter-parts in the states as they are being creative. It was a pretty cool show, and it showed the vulnerable side of kids their age without being totally un-realistic. Creativity can be fed from all kinds of sources, especially when your family and friends are supportive and having fun also. I can imagine young actors here getting ideas on fashion and hair and make-up from whatever magazines and shows and information they can find. Shoot, kids here can at least find a cool Led Zeppelin shirt and listen to their music! A young girl with a wild imagination might like Katy Perry’s music as much as she likes her outfits!

Pretty much everyone in my family were musicians of some sort, but we rarely agreed on which musical variety show we could all watch on the tube. The TV was only turned on for a limited amount of time per day, so the voting was fierce. My Dad liked Lawrence Welk—cornball skits involving accordions, skilled musicians, smiling dancers, and a big guy who played the barrelhouse style piano. My Mom liked Tennessee Ernie Ford—more cornball stuff but with a bit of American patriotism and family nostalgia thrown in. And he had a cool mustache. My brother liked Perry Como, with his pastel sweaters and super clean songs. Me, I liked the Smothers Brothers.

Andy Williams and Osmond BrothersAll of us liked Andy Williams, with his beautiful voice and the Osmond family backing him up with their lovely harmonies. Well, Andy and Claudine’s son Christian Williams lived here in Dominical for many years and was loved by everyone who knew him. He launched and was editor and chief writer for a local newspaper called Dominical Days. He raised two super smart and witty and lovely daughters here, who he loved dearly. He was a champion of the lifeguards and helped get funds for them. He was a heck of a surfer and worked his teak farm. He loved music and was a beloved and very funny friend and member of our small community. May he rest in peace and I hope the Broncos win the Superbowl in his honor! So before these teen-agers around here grow up and quit talking to us, check out their next music theater performances—they will be presenting ‘Annie’, ‘Footloose’ and an adult/teen version of ‘Mama Mia’. I promise to post the dates and ticket info.

I’m through accepting limits ‘cause someone says they’re so. Some things I cannot change, but ‘til I try, I’ll never know.From WICKED

The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return. From MOULIN ROUGE

Take my hand, and lead me to salvation. Take my love, for love is everlasting. And remember the truth that once was spoken: To love another person is to see the face of God.
From LES MISERABLES

Climb every mountain, ford every stream, follow every rainbow ‘til you find your dream.
From THE SOUND OF MUSIC


2 Responses to “Teen Music”

  1. Toni Trello said:

    Great article Nancy. Enjoyed reading this.I always look forward to reading “Fiddlin Around.”


  2. michael r. hadley said:

    …..I was lucky enough to have a father, who wanted a stereo system,,,,we had a Garrard turntable a reel-tp reel tape and an FM tuner….( because my dad hated AM radio…and FM was in “Stereo”…..Dad loved instrumentals and Jazz….But, he did something for me, I will never forget…..He took me to my first Jimi Hendrix concert….how fucking cool was that.!!!


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