Singing “Everyone’s Lonely” with my Korean Immigrant Mother

At this past Louisville Waterfront Wednesday concert (sponsored by WFPK, a Louisville Free Public Media radio station on 6/26/2019 ), I experienced several firsts.

A first: My wife performed live with a Rock band!

This happened, as these things go, because she happened upon the right group of people—joined Louisville Civic Orchestra as 2nd violinist a year ago—who happened to have the right connection: the conductor, Jason Hart Raff, who happened to meet the lead singer of Jukebox the Ghost, Ben Thornewill, at a children’s party where they shared their childhood dream of putting together an orchestra and a rock band. That serendipitous spark took two years of conversation and hard work—as these things go—to become an evening delighting the packed Louisvillian crowd.

A first: People screaming for a conductor’s baton.

Half way into the song “Somebody”  Jason threw his second baton to the crowd when he had relocated his first and favorite that had slipped from his fingers when he was conducting while jumping to the driving beat as any good rock loving audience would. He threw the baton with the charisma of a rock star and everyone scrambled for it as if Slash of Guns n Roses had thrown his guitar. Who knows? Maybe a girl caught that baton and the fever of conducting strings and winds—because Jason makes it look so freakin’ cool!—has been passed on and you will hear this story from her perspective 15 years later?

A first: my mother, who moved down from New York a week ago, was next to me at the front of the stage raising the roof, singing “Everybody’s Lonely.”

I would believe that my mother climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro before believing she would be rocking next to me. She is a Korean immigrant who 39 years ago left all the friendships she had invested in for 34 years in Korea, for a different future for her children. She understands English, but she laughs and cries watching Korean drama. She hums hymns when doing dishes and never heard of Coldplay or Maroon 5. And she has arthritis. But there she was dancing next to beer chuggers. She herself wasn’t drinking so I can’t credit the alcohol. Certainly, she wanted to wave to her daughter-in-law on stage. But it was also the music of Jukebox the Ghost, a sound that crossed boundaries of age and culture, though it’s a very particular American pop.

Their sound is a blend of Maroon 5 and Coldplay….(continue to Cultural Weekly)

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