Contributed by Mark Parker 
Owner, Bella Visage | Lakeland, FL


It moves the heart and stimulates the brain. It can soothe or frustrate the spirit. It frees the mind and it grabs you! Music is a part of our lives from birth till death.

We listen when we shower, when we eat, when we work, when we are happy and when we are sad. And usually it’s a part of our last celebration on this earth.

I want to tell you a short story about my dad. Yesterday marked the 16th
anniversary of my dads death.

Looking Back

My dad was a social creature and loved people. He was in the air force. He was a pilot (a gifted pilot). His biggest quality was that he was a tinkerer. He tinkered at woodworking. He tinkered at building electronics. We were the only kids I knew that had a home built computer (TRS-80 from Radio Shack). The thing he tinkered at the longest was music. For as long as I can remember my dad always had a guitar.

He would keep it next to his recliner and occasionally practice. The one thing he never really accomplished was being good. Oh, he could play the hell out of the first 14 notes to “Stairway to Heaven”. Or he could play a Spanish ballad at half speed. But not one whole song, ever!

It was after he died that it dawned on me that his comfort or joy (which ever) didn’t come from mastering the song it came from his attempts. For him it was probably the mechanics of the learning more than the perfecting of a melody. The beauty was in the process. For me, the beauty is in the music itself. It inspires me.

I started with guitar lessons. Then in Junior High I started playing tuba. Picked up baritone and Bass trombone along the way. I was influenced by the world renown musicians that resided here. From Robert McDonald to the Adderley brothers. I earned a full Scholarship to college. Played up until my Senior year. By then I had come to the realization that I wasn’t talented enough to make a living at my passion.

Dreaming of One Day

Well, one day a young fella (his words) moved in next door. He was going to FSC as a music major. He is an amusing fella. He grew up in Fort Meade and is an accomplished fiddler. After traveling the country playing his fiddle he said he was “gonna do it right and finish college.” A few short weeks after moving to Lakeland, he ran into another accomplished musician (and FSC grad). Before long they were playing the local music scene.

One night we where enjoying a few adult beverages on the back patio and he mentioned the band had an opportunity to go on tour for about a week here in Florida. After one or two more beverages a deal was struck. I would be the tour bus driver and beverage manager. Two months later my ginger sidekick, Charlie and I loaded up my motor home and hit the road with BSB.

Charlie provided the snuggles and face licks and I drove. I remembered just how much work goes into the production side. Hours of practice! Hours of driving! Cord changes. Last minute changes by a picky customer. Drastic temperature changes, all of it can affect what happens when the curtain goes up.

Fast forward 3 years. The band is no longer together. Two members are continuing their dream in Nashville and Jason is finishing up his senior year.

What does this have to do with me?

Recently, Jason asked me why I sponsor the events at LKLDLive. I think he already knew the answer but he is sly like that. I thought about that for a minute and said, because music is what helped me become who I am. While I had long ago made the decision that I wasn’t good enough to make a living at it, I am qualified to clap. I am completely qualified to clap. And that is what I’m doing when I carry the equipment.

When I unload the instruments. I can run cables and hang lights. And when needed, I can write a check. In realizing that, I found myself!

Chrissanne recently said “When you find someone else finding themselves, it’s almost as exciting as when you find yourself”! It’s because you know the struggle, the effort that was put in. The sacrifices that where made. It is exciting to watch.

My wife and I are blessed to be able to give back. I will never again blow a horn or sing, but I can encourage those who can or who want to learn. I can support their efforts. I can drive them (and their 4 friends and 400 instruments) on tour. I can enjoy the process of watching them grow and mature musically. I can help them reach a bigger audience by spreading the word.

And most importantly, I can clap.

Each day we are all given opportunities to support someone or some cause. I ask that each of you find something that grabs you. And clap.

Please help me welcome to the stage…

Also published on Medium.

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