I think I was in second or third grade when my dad announced he would be taking me and my brother to a concert. No, it wasn't a symphony concert or a children's concert or anything wholesome like that. My dad was serious. He was taking us to see John Cougar Mellencamp. On a school night! It was our initiation into the world of rock 'n' roll.
And what an initiation it was. I put on my favorite outfit and got ready to go. It was something totally inappropriate for a rock concert, I am sure, but my parents didn't let me wear black leather in elementary school. We parked and walked into our local concert venue, a huge place with stadium seating. It was dark and smoky, our seats were right under the speakers, and though it was way too loud for my little girl ears, I had a blast. Dad, my brother and I were singing along with the songs. Somewhere in my elementary-aged brain I thought I was as cool as all those older people there, and I couldn't wait to rub it in to my classmates that I had stayed out way past my bedtime at a concert. The only puzzling thing about the whole night was my mom's reaction when we got home. She sent us straight to the bathtub and scrubbed us down hard. Turns out I didn't know the smell of marijuana yet, but my mom sure did. She had lived through the 60's, after all.
In the years to come, my dad would take me to many more concerts. As I grew older, I worried less about looking cool and more about enjoying good music, even if my friends thought it was weird music. Most of the concerts weren't big rock concerts at huge venues. Usually, we opted for quieter, more interesting artists in small places, like the Down Home. Many of my favorite memories involve listening to artists like Gillian Welch, Iris Dement, Lyle Lovett, and Townes Van Zandt with my dad. His willingness to take me to hear live music from an early age definitely influenced my love of good folk, rock, and bluegrass.
It made sense, then, that I would do the same with my children. I still regret the fact that I didn't take Calvin to hear Doc Watson when he was just four months old. But he has seen him since. Hobbes was initiated at seven months, when we took him and then 2-year-old Calvin to their first concert. Who better than Earl Scruggs and friends to initiate my boys into the world of music? My boys hear more bluegrass, folk, and good rock at home than children's music. They love the Beatles and Doc Watson, the Wailin' Jennys and Eddie From Ohio. Although, just like me as a child, they insist that Bob Dylan can't sing at all. In time, dear ones, in time.
And so it is at our house. That's why I bought tickets this week to go hear the Cowboy Junkies with my sister-in-law. I never miss a chance to see them live. My husband is not a fan, so he will stay home and have some bonding time with the two older boys. Me? I'll be taking our newest music enthusiast in a sling and heading out to a small theater in my minivan, no more cool than I was in elementary school. But I don't care. Little dude will be six weeks old. Time to start the initiation.