I lost a good friend this week. Not only me, but a good many local musicians, the Colorado music community, music educators in general, and the town of Denver, period. We all lost a friend, a buddy, a musical partner, part time peace keeper, referee, and all around musical good guy.
Rich McDaniel had, for many years, been the founder, mentor, leader, and driving force behind a seventeen piece “kicks” band named “Swing Incorporated”, or “Swing Inc.”if you like the shorter version better. The band’s primary purpose was to play selected charts from the big band era. Charts by wonderfully talented composers that not only suited the band’s capabilities, but were also dependent on whether we could make them swing or not. Many rehearsal nights saw the volume as well as the room temperature go up several degrees when we couldn’t, and sometimes even when we could! There was however, just like in any other volatile, stormy, domestic situation, plenty of rise and fall, and nothing ever stayed the same very long!
Rich was the victim of a disease called Multiple Sclerosis. Most of you know what it is without too much elaboration, but to watch it in action is enough to chill you to the bone. It’s a cold, cruel, crippler that destroys muscle function and leaves you helpless with no way out but for the assistance of others. In this, Rich’s wife Linda has been a godsend. She has dedicated her life to the enrichment of his, and has been the driving force that made so many of the things he was able to accomplish, possible. Linda, thank you so very, very, much.
There are always plenty of stories to tell, and in this particular case there are probably enough stories to fill half a dozen blog pages. However, after a little consideration, I think the most important story to be told is just what a good, honest, straight ahead person this man was. No matter the time of day or day of the week, you always got the best (or worst) Rich McDaniel had to offer, and sometimes after an especially good, (or sometimes not so good) performance, we all got to see some of both! Rich was never embarrassed to tell us when we sounded great, nor was he afraid to tell us when we stunk the place up! He was an equal opportunity appraiser and I for one, now have a huge hole in my life to fill. That… is going to take a little time. We will all miss you Rich!
The other side of the musical coin is that I would be remiss if I forgot to thank all those wonderful people who faithfully contribute their hard earned money which allows me to play some healing music at the VA Hospital, North Suburban Hospital, and other local facilities where folks who may not have financial means, enjoy and benefit from music just as much as those who do!
Music is an equal opportunity helper and healer and it really doesn’t care whether you’re rich or poor, hearing it in a room at the local hospital or a box seat at Boettcher Concert Hall, it’s purpose is singular and direct, and that is, to make your day more enjoyable and for a few moments, a better place to be!
Every time I think of musics’ soothing qualities, I’m taken straight back to childhood and my father’s farm at milking time. The barn would be warm and cozy, there would be plenty of fresh hay in the mangers, the music would be playing, the milking machine would be humming along, my Dad would be whistling some fiddle tune and those cows couldn’t be happier! Years later, somewhere along the way, I ran across a dairy whose slogan was, “Milk from contented Cows,” and I couldn’t help thinking how much the guy (or girl) who came up with that one was really on to something! Without the music, that picture would have been incomplete! Music is the “not so silent” sales tool for shopping malls and business offices everywhere, making life a little more pleasant for all of us, and for that, we can all be thankful.
Please send your comments and critiques. I’ll be sure to read them all and use them if I can.
Thanks, and have a great week everybody.