The perfect storm

One of the trickiest aspects of parenting is not letting the whirlwind of work and family life push aside personal interests and hobbies. It is less of a sacrifice than it is a change of priorities, but it is nonetheless easy to find that several years have gone by since you have done something that you used to really enjoy.

Attending a concert is one of those things that we hadn't done in a while. Since our Spencer is now a bit of a budding rock star, we started thinking about when we might be able to drag him along to a show. It was a risky proposition. On one hand, we figured he would love seeing "beats" performed live. On the other hand, the timing of most concerts seemed like a recipe for meltdown city.

When it was announced that one of my favorite bands, Wilco, would be kicking off this year's Newport Folk Festival, it seemed like the stars may have aligned. The park where the festival is held is only about 30 minutes from our house, and the show was scheduled for a 5 p.m. start. Plus, if there were bouts with crankiness to deal with, it would be much more manageable at a park than in a cramped row of seats at an arena or stadium. We decided to pull the trigger and give it a go.

My plan was to take a day off from work the day of the show, so we could take our time getting over to Newport and stake our claim to a good spot to view the show. That remained the plan until 6 p.m. on Thursday, the night before the show. That was when my day trip to New York unexpectedly turned into an overnight. OK, no problem: 1 p.m. train from New York on Friday, home by 4:30, quick change, and we're off.

Actually, not quite. Fast forward to Friday afternoon, and I was still ON the train at 4:30 after a delay en route. Meanwhile, Christine was reporting torrential downpours at home. I pulled up the weather report at the concert venue, and it did not look good.

When I finally arrived at home, it was pouring again, but Christine and Spencer had their rain gear ready. We set off wondering if Spencer's first concert would be a Woodstock-style romp in the mud. So much for the stars being aligned, right?

Well, it turns out that they were, and we just didn't realize it. Right as we rolled into Newport, the skies cleared, and the sun started to shine. We arrived at the venue at about 7 p.m., two hours after the scheduled show time. However, there were two opening acts, so Wilco had not yet taken the stage. We grabbed some food, found a spot for our blanket, and about 10 minutes later Wilco emerged from backstage.

In hindsight, it worked out perfectly. Had we arrived on time, (a) we would have been soaked by rain, and (b) Spencer probably would have been toast by the time the opening acts were over. Instead, he was really excited and engaged by the performance. He started dancing away, entertaining those around us with his unique dance / Taekwondo fusion moves. He also fed off the crowd and before long was clapping loudly and yelling "Woooooooo!" at the end of each song.

We parents had a great time as well. It was a blast taking turns dancing around with Spencer. I am so glad that we took the plunge and stuck with it when it looked like the weather would not cooperate. Now, when I hear some of my favorite Wilco songs, I'm sure I'll be transported back to the edge of Narragansett Bay with Spencer in my arms.

As a final note, if you would like to play "Spencer's First Concert: The Home Game," as of this writing NPR Radio has a free audio stream of the show we attended.