December 14, 2010

Special Times: Drawing God

Thanks to all of you who came out to Earthshaking Music this past Sunday. For those who couldn’t make it, joining me on stage for three songs was drummer Brandon Faulkner and guest tamboriner, Valentino “Tino” Gray. Brandon and I am looking for a bassist to complete the trio. I’ve got a radio interview on 88.5 FM in January covering topics related to Special Needs kids and its relation to my music.

Last year I worked with Tino, who was born with Downs Syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), at a huge high school in Cincinnati. He is the spark of Princeton, taking a boring hallway to full levels of joy, calling out obvious physical defects in people – even a 6’5″ security guard named Big John who’s a little scarce up top ¬†– “Bald head, bald head!”; hollering at (only) attractive girls; and tricking people on a daily basis with the same tactic: faking a hand bump and running his hand over his head with a body roll, suave as a tango dancer. Though he may be afflicted with two game-enders for most people, this kid is a legitimate player.

Valentino Gray with his wonderfully-loving adoptive mother.

Because Tino has family in Atlanta, he’s been down here for December. So we hung out all Sunday. I didn’t want to drop him off after the mall, so we had a slumber party, which included a chance to get on stage with me at the open mic. One thing I learned was that he doesn’t sleep at night. Instead, he sleepwalks and talks. In total exhaustion, I tried to chill him out by drawing a picture together. at 4:30 am I found paper and colored pencils and told him “Just stay in your room, Tino. Don’t talk, don’t come out, don’t complain about the cat.”

Twenty minutes trying to sleep and he’s dropped something loud in the kitchen.

“Can you help me draw God?” he asked. ¬†Knowing he probably means “Jesus”, I drew a face and beard turning into clouds (all of which he proceeded to color in brown), knowing he wanted to draw lightning bolts coming down to Earth. More on that later…but for now, enough to say he’s one of my inspirations for my music.

My Special friend, “Tino”, drawing lightning bolts from a possibly angry God.

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