Many of you know that I travel with my family to play shows at schools and libraries featuring science demonstrations and weather/astronomy-themed songs. If you’ve been to a show, you also know that it is a production. Okay, there’s no laser light show or pyrotechnics, but I still bring a lot of equipment — demo materials, amplification/microphones, merch to sell, and all those musical instruments.
You may also know that I like to act. In Fall 2021, I played the role of Rev. Mervin Oglethorpe in “Smoke on the Mountain” and I am reprising the role in Starkville Community Theater‘s production of “Sanders Family Christmas” (we open 12/1/22 — good seats still available). The premise of both shows is that the Sanders family (father Burl, mother Vera, their children — June, Denise and Dennis, and Burl’s brother Stanley) are a 30’s/40’s-era gospel-singing family that travels to play music at churches, fairs and festivals. They wind up at my character’s church (Mount Pleasant Baptist) as special musical guests to perform for the congregation (audience).
The poster for the current show depicts the Sanders family vehicle (likely packed with people and instruments) with a Christmas tree on the top.
The image reminded me of a couple of photos of my Swanson family. The first was taken one early morning in 2018 as my family was about to load up to drive to another show during the “Taking the State By Storm” tour. The second is from this past weekend. My three boys — the younger two pictured here — were scrunched into the back seat of our Santa Fe. We were on our way to play a show in Tupelo. You can see my weather jacket, the box for my “tornado in a box,” and part of a mandolin case in the background.
During the Sanders Family Christmas show, proud papa Burl says, “I wouldn’t trade those kids of mine for anything.” I feel ya, Burl, I feel ya . . . .