So, here’s where we are going this next week. We are just waiting on our flight details to arrive from Princess and we’ll be setting sail for another fun adventure.
My first trip outside North America was back in 2003. We noticed on the internet that two of my all time favorite musicians were performing in London during the American Thanksgiving holiday, David Bowie at Wembley Arena on Tuesday and Radiohead at Earls Court on Thursday. These are two huge famous venues that hold tons of people. Makes sense that these two British artists would be in such amazing places. Lucky for us that it was all in the same week. We used three vacation days and spent 10 days in London exploring it’s music, culture and history. What an amazing life changing experience.
The first day/night we arrived, we found Trafalgar Square and it’s great lions. Here I am posing…
On Monday, my friend, Sam, my God Daughter, Gabi and I went downtown to check out the Detroit Science Center. I really thought it would be a fun thing to do while I am being a tourist in my home city this summer. I had never been there. Sam hadn’t visited since she was in the 6th Grade. And Gabi, well, she’s 3. They have been advertising this Rock n Roll Exhibit all over the billboards around the Detroit and also in the local and national papers. Since I’m a musician, it seemed appropriate to visit.
There’s a few things you should know about this little adventure. I don’t spend alot of time around children and I’m biased about Little Gabbers. Gabi’s very well spoken. She’s quiet and speaks in full sentences. She’s a smart girl, very pleasant to be around. She barely comes up to my hips in stature and I’m 5′ 9″. She’s cute as a button and impossible not to fall in love with. But, that’s all coming from “The Godmother”.
We found a spot to park for free on the street a couple blocks behind the Science Center. That saved us about $15 that we would have given to the public parking attendants. Looks like we now had a budget for a snack inside.
It cost us about $20 each for the adults and $17 for a child pass. These included all of the exhibits, the special Rock n Roll floor and also would have allowed us into a couple of their imax movies. (Not all of them, but a couple select ones.) I had no idea that the Science Center was also an imax. Very cool.
Once inside, there are a variety of exhibits that are very interactive and educational. They have a whole section dedicated to the manufacturing process. (Go figure, manufacturing in the Motor City.) They also have an area about building and road construction. Both of these very male oriented exhibits are right by the door. Guess they figure girls have a longer attention span when they laid out the exhibits. LOL. When you get a bit further in, they have a replica of the Mackinac Bridge you walk across to get to other exhibits.
As we crossed the “Mighty Mack”, we noticed an ampitheater a few flights of stairs down where they were having an educational session teaching children about food and digestion. On the next floor down on the opposite side, we noticed an actual kitchen lab area where students waited for a Summer Camp teacher to come in and instruct them on cooking methods. Who knew all this in person educational activities existed there.
The stairs to the top floor have motivational words in between each one where it encourages you to keep going because exercise is good for you, keeps you healthy and puts you in a good mood. The top floor is the location for the special Rock n Roll exhibit. You show your passes to the gal by the exhibit door and wade your way through a bunch of road cases. I felt like I was right at home in my basement.
When you enter the room, they have several waist high tables that have headphones and are interactive. You can learn about pitch, tone, and meter at the different stations. The tables were too tall for Gabi, so we skipped them. The next spot had side by side full size Pearl electronic drum kits. They had interactive screens where you could record yourself playing, change the song and control the volume for the headphones. Most of the instruments that you could play and interact with had headphones to hear. I’m sure that they were trying to help it not be a completely miserable noise factory up there.
We really dug the station where you can remix the song “Space Oddity” by David Bowie. It’s not just because I am a huge Bowie fan either. It was helpful to explain to a young person who is learning the different channels and groupings used in the recording process.
Along the center of the room they have some historical artifacts on display categorized by decade, the 1950’s, they show an acoustic guitar and some other Bill Haley things. For the 70’s they had 8 track tapes. For the 80’s they had a newspaper clipping for the day John Lennon was shot. The 90’s focused on grunge, and so on. These cases were also just a bit too high for Gabi to see in. But we did pick her up to see inside and explained the cultural significance of each item to her.
On the far side wall of the exhibit, they had four vocal booths set up with windows and headphones to view and hear what’s going on inside. When you got in the booth, there were four songs to pick from. Of course, a Marvin Gaye Motown hit, “Heard It Through The Grapevine”, then the home state, Michigan hero, Bob Segar’s “Old Time Rock n Roll” and a hard rock classic “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath. We put on the headphones, stood at the mic and howled our lungs out trying each track. They actually had a way to record a video and audio track to email yourself. I’m still waiting for our videos and photos to come through. It sure would be a nice memory to have as silly as we were.
Last but not least, they had a huge performance room with a monster video screen that you can watch live music videos on. I also heard that on Sunday they had the kids from School of Rock in Royal Oak performing there. (We missed that.) But Gabi loved dancing and running in circles to the music. We signed the guest book and walked through the exits to see the rest of the exhibits.
Thanks, Detroit Michigan Science Center for providing an opportunity for young people to learn about the acutal creation of the music that they listen to every day.
While we were in San Francisco, California this past spring, we met up with Jake’s cousin’s Mollie, Annie & Toby. We had such a nice time catching up with our family and meeting young Toby for the first time. We went to a nice little restaurant for dinner and a few beers. As Mollie described her job as the Programming Director at a local Seniors Center called Stepping Stone, Jake & I thought it would be a fun idea to volunteer to play some music for her center. Mollie helped us borrow an acoustic guitar from a friend of hers that has a 60’s Beatles Tribute band for a few hours on Monday afternoon.
Stepping Stone is in the heart of San Francisco. Right near the Yerba Buena Gardens, close to the fancy W and around the corner from a cute little Pete’s Coffe, sits a well used building that holds daily activities and lunches for a great many of San Francisco’s Senior population. Mollie said that San Francisico has the highest number of Seniors in the country. She really enjoys her job and I thought it was an amazingly fulfilling environment.
We didn’t bother with a microphone or even any other amplification. We just stood in the corner and belted out our best oldies from the 1930’s, 1940’s and 1950’s. These fine folks at the Stepping Stone clapped along, sang along and smiled the widest grins. Many of the visitors are actually from Asian countries and English is their second language. The best way to communicate with them was through song. Mollie said that several of their visitors actually have physical ailments that prohibit motion in their arms or legs. Yet somehow, they were toe tapping and hand clapping along to “Hound Dog” and singing along to the “Sea of Love”.
Thanks to cousin Mollie for an amazingly fulfilling afternoon. When we’re back in San Francisco, we would love to perform at the Stepping Stone again.
We really have a blessed and #LuckyLife.