We are in the last months of my son’s first deployment. It is an emotional roller coaster for all of us, but especially our daughter who is 14.
Chelle and her oldest brother have always been close. I didn’t realize how his pending deployment was affecting her until one day she sang a song she composed. For our daughter, like scores of other young people, music has a way to sooth over the roughest times in their young lives. For our daughter a band out of Indiana, Late Nite Reading (LNR), has been particularly helpful during this deployment.
Chelle first learned of the LNR through an online chat for Harry Potter fans. She began listening to their music, watching their YouTube videos and watching one of the band members YouTube channel, My Life In Color (MILC).
I try to learn about my children’s interests. My two sons like MMA, and UFC fights. We’ve watched some of these together, quite a stretch for me. When my oldest son decided he wanted a career in the military, I began to study up on how to support him in his dream. My second son loves to cook and has a gift for working with customers. I’ve talked with scores of restaurant owners and bar tenders to learn about that industry. Now my youngest is a “Fan Girl.”
I’ve always loved music and sang in both church and school choirs growing up but I’ve never been a band groupie, until this past year. Last summer Chelle learned that Late Nite Reading would be in Atlanta on a Friday night for a “Meet and greet” at Lenox Square Mall. We were told to meet outside of the Vans store inside the mall. The group was late, but thanks to constant Twitter updates we knew they were on their way. Eventually two young men came to the store and asked the assembled group of about 40 people (mainly young girls and their parents) to follow them out to the parking lot. It seemed pretty strange that we would just follow these two people out to a parking lot where there was a white unmarked van filled with young musicians. What happened next was so much fun. The band spent the next few hours getting photos taken with their fans, playing an acoustic set then autographs and more photos. I don’t think I have ever seen my daughter so excited and happy.
Since that Friday night last July I’ve taken her to see them in concert four more times. Most recently this past weekend. They are on tour with Bryan Stars, a young man from the mid-west who has an online presence on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and his own website. Bryan interviews bands by asking them silly questions, but he also gives the fans an insight into who the band members are.
The concerts are in small venues. They sell VIP tickets so you can get in early to spend some time with the band members and buy their merchandise, called “merch” for seasoned concert goers. Since my daughter was 13 when her obsession with all things Late Nite Reading I made it a point to know about the band and it’s members. I follow them on Twitter and Facebook. Since the past few concerts I also keep up with a second band they have traveled with called Farewell My Love.
The bands are terrific with their fans, most of whom are in high school or early college years. I’ve gotten to know them a bit as individuals too. What I have learned is this group of young men are incredibly caring and sensitive to their fans. Their tweets and posts can be a bit off-color and not what I’d want my young daughter to read. A few bands look a bit scary with their dramatic make up, but they also post incredibly caring pieces. Brady Szuhaj of Late Nite Reading posted a very encouraging video to his MILC site about not giving up called For Those Struggling. When they meet their fans each member takes time to talk to them, give them a hug and sign what ever they’ve been asked to sign.
On the surface this all looks like fluff. Dig a little deeper and you learn that these young musicians also save lives.
I don’t know why, but there is a sharp increase in the number of young people who feel so isolated and depressed that they are cutting themselves and in some cases go further and attempt suicide.
Band members in Late Nite Reading and Farewell My Love are credited by their young listeners and their parents for saving lives. Just this past weekend I heard a story from a parent of how band members helped save her young daughter by listening to her concerns and encouraging her to stop hurting herself.
These young men are not trained counselors, but some have gone through their own tough times. They encourage their fans to keep going in life. Let them know they care, and after meeting them, I believe they truly do care. I do know how caring they are toward our daughter who worries constantly about her deployed brother.
The band members told me stories of girls sending in their razor blades and vowing not to cut again. That is pretty heavy stuff given that most of the band members haven’t reached their 21st birthday. I admire these young men. The band members care for their fans in ways many of the parents of these fans do not understand.
To celebrate the end of the school year this past weekend we saw the Bryan Stars Tour in Marietta, GA then again in Jacksonville, Florida. For a few days the fun of following this group of bands from Georgia to Florida kept us from being preoccupied with where our deployed soldier is serving. As an added bonus we even heard from our soldier while on the beach in Jacksonville!
I am grateful to the members of Late Nite Reading, their manager, Bernie Szuhaj, the band Farewell My Love, and to Bryan Stars. You are more than entertainers to so many of your fans. This mom of a deployed soldier and “Fan Girl’s Mom” appreciates you.