This post isn't going to have much to do with game development, so feel free to skip this one. Yesterday was the Stairway to Stardom concert. Stairway to Stardom is basically a battle of the bands, but that’s more a gimmick. The real deal is that kids get to experience what it would be like to be a rockstar for a day. They get to play three songs they wrote over the summer on a big stage in front of a thousand people in a concert that’s video taped and played on Sacramento Cable Access and emceed by Charlie Thomas( morning deejay at 96.9 The Eagle ). After they play, they’re interviewed by Staci Anderson (probably best known as the lady that reads the California Power Lotto numbers on tv), and after the interview, they go to a table to sign autographs for their fans(which is mostly their family members, but still cool). There’s also a surprise guest to talk to the kids each year before they play. The “surprise guest” is usually Frank Hannon of Tesla. This year it was someone from Y&T--old 1980’s hair metal band form Sacramento. Look up “Summertime Girls” on youtube. The drummer of Papa Roach was the speaker a couple years ago. The drummer from Smash Mouth has stopped by. The bass player of the Eagles spoke a few years back. Years and years ago, Randy Jackson of American Idol was a judge--long before he was famous. Keep in mind, these are people coming out to talk to kids for the sole purpose of encouraging young people to play music. It’s not a photo-op for them. They’re not pimping their latest album. They’re there for the sole purpose of giving back. It’s a really great program. And every year I think, “I’m way too busy… but I’ll just do Stairway one more year,” and I’m always glad I did.
In total, 16 bands played. They use a common backline (all bands use the same amps and drums) so time between bands is about a minute and they only play 3 songs, so 16 bands go by pretty quickly.
I’d mentioned that I was stressing out about the drummer in one of the bands I mentored this year. I did end up going to his house nearly every day while he practiced. I started taking my tablet so I could get some work done while he played to a metronome. He needs formal lessons and someone to get on him about practicing.
I also spent a lot of time talking to him. His dad isn't in the picture anymore and his mom works constantly just trying to put food on the table. I got the impression that she loves him very much and it probably breaks her heart she has to spend so much time away from him. He’s a good kid. He just doesn't have any adult role models in his life to teach him how to work for what he wants to achieve. It reminded me of how you can be frustrated with someone, then you understand where they’re coming from, and it changes the situation.
My hope is that even though I only spent 8 weeks with him and his band, I was able to impress upon him what it means to work for what you want. At the final concert, he ended up playing amazing(even if what he played was fairly simple) and the other parents from the band were blown away.
They didn't place in the top 3 (as they say, it’s a 13 way tie for 4th place) and the other members of the band made mistakes, but I was happy with how they played considering.
The other band I mentored this year took 1st place. What an amazing group of kids--so talented and down to Earth. I let the bass player use my bass because… well because my bass is awesome. Even though I’m not still playing in bands, it was cool to see my bass up there on the same stage that Nirvana once played on(and in the same theater where Kurt Cobain famously left behind his foot prints in green paint back stage).
This marked my 19th year as a band coach in the program. I was told they were planning to give me a Life Time Achievement award, but decided at the last minute to wait for next year for my 20th year. I was shocked by that. Coaches don’t get awards. The whole program is all about the kids--not us. But to be fair, no one else has coached even half as long as I have. I still feel weird about getting an award for it, but it’s nice to be recognized. So now I have to act surprised next year.
They also told me that after my 20th year as an instructor, they are thinking about grooming me to run the program. Wow, I don’t know about that.
Stairway always takes up a lot of my time during the summers. And I’m worried about how that would affect Stigma Games. We’ll see.
I've also been working a lot on the Raygun Rocketship story lines. Holy crap, this is a lot of work. But once I’m happy with Planet 1 - Helios, and have the right tone for it worked out, the rest will go faster. I hope to have an update on that soon.