Thursday, November 6, 2008

Kingsmen Rock!

The Kingsmen recorded a debut CD last month. I hardly know where to begin to itemize the cornucopia of blessings it holds.

It is beautiful from so many angles. Takes me back to a sculpture class I took for my art history degree. There was something so obvious, yet eye-opening about walking around a work of art to appreciate it, as opposed to standing in one spot in front of a painting.

Music, even more than sculpture, is multi-dimensional, changing with each hearing, venue, and circumstance of the listener. 

The Kingsmen is a band of four guys who are all clients of the Music Therapy Center of California. They range in age from 10-15 and rehearse weekly with Rachel Gant as a facilitator. Charlie, Conor, Kenton and Reid hone many skills in order to make music together. They interact as a team, read each other's body language, listen intently for cues, tolerate diverse senses of humor, exercise patience, and encourage each other to new milestones. Their commitment and willingness to perform have yielded an incredible sense of confidence and achievement in each of them.

Without any precedent of what to expect, the Kingsmen pulled out all the stops to capture their current repertoire of hits including Three Little Birds by Bob Marley, Meant to Live by Switchfoot, and the live crowd pleaser, Hang On Sloopy. Each of the band members have a solo on the CD which rounds out the project. During the 3-hour recording session there were many smiles, and a definite mix of jubilation, fatigue, and concentration. Working toward a common goal, the boys now have something concrete to show for their efforts and share with the world. They are proud of the outcome!

I am proud of Ted Vaughn and Chris Hobson who made the recording session a reality at our church, Solana Beach Presbyterian Church. Ted has an interest in all things musical. More than that, he has caught the gestalt of the Kingsmen. Like a quarterback clutching a pigskin and driving toward the end zone, he has philosophically embraced what the band has to offer others in our community.  Everybody scores when they enter the spotlight and do their thing, rather than be relegated to the sidelines. Chris defies description. With the mystery of a kid-whisperer and his impeccable ears for sonic integrity, he is silently impressive. The interaction between these minds was something to behold.

At my first hearing of the recording, I used the word, "sweet" (of course, I am the Mom). The second time, "heartwarming" came to mind. I've landed on "endearing." Others say it has "raw honesty" and "tells the story of these guys." Kenton's rendition of Ingrid Michaelson's "The Way I Am" brings tears to your eyes. 

These boys are fast becoming young men; they have come a long way from "early intervention." Now they are finding a niche in society. In an effort to stay age-appropriate, their music therapy has morphed from one-on-one sessions to this more demanding and normalizing social experience of being in a band. Music is a bridge that can catapult them into "real world" encounters.

They played last year at a local Border's bookstore, Christmas on the Promenade, and several Walk Now for Autism events. What we find at these gigs is that despite their emerging musicianship and irregardless of their performance any given night, the boys have a message of struggle, promise, and victory that is universally relevant and inspiring. The manager at Border's commented that they were better than any in-store event he'd ever booked. Mind you, I know they weren't better technically, but their effort was greater and as a result the experience seems richer to the audience. Like the widow who gave her last mite, these guys are walking parables. Many life lessons are magnified by their example. Oddly, (and fortunately, for the moms listening in trepidation in the wings) not much explanation is needed for the audience to "get it." The boys can't hide their struggle or their success. People are moved for reasons that are hard to deny and don't need to be explained.

They will play at our church during December. I am both nervous and excited about this.  I can't help but hear countless Biblical foundations through The Kingsmen. Perhaps they are able to convey these truths more profoundly than the professional worship leaders we are used to hearing up front. Precepts from the Bible jump off the pages when they deliver culturally relevant lyrics like "you know you gotta help me out...." from the Killers "All These Things that We've Done" or "we were meant to live for so much more..."from Switchfoot or "don't worry about a thing..." from Bob Marley.  Are those not doctrinal sound bites that resonate with God's Word? No wonder they're so full of hope!

Now, I must figure out how to load MP3's on a blog.

If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!  Ecclesiastes 4:9-11

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.  Matthew 6:33-34

What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?  Matthew 16:25-27

"I tell you the truth," he said, "this poor widow has put in more than all the others." 
Luke 21:2-4


  1. I've been wondering about posting MP3s on Blogger too... would love to hear a Kingsmen clip. What an awesome project.
    My husband and I both do music on the side (he with electric guitar, I with handbells) and I so wonder what if anything our children will do with music.

  2. andy,

    there are a few ways to upload reids songs onto a blog, popped up first when i searched google, also if the recorded songs are .wav files or something else in the recording try ctrl click in itunes and selecting 'save as mp3' i'd like to hear them, "three little birds" is a great tune