Bill: I’m Dr. Bill Thomas and this is the Ask Dr. Bill podcast. And I’m joined as per usual with Nate Silas Richardson.
Nate: Hello, everybody.
Bill: So as regular listeners know, Nate is a musician and recording engineer who tours with us on the ChangingAging Tour, been with us since the beginning, Nate. Here we are starting the fourth year on the road.
Nate: Jesseph, one of our crew members just put out the word the other day that it was a…what day was it? February 28th, 2014 was our debut performance in New York City.
Bill: Yeah. And when I tell everybody how much we’ve learned in the very first year, first performance. Where did we open? Sixty Eighth Street on Broadway. Not the…
Nate: Not the best choice for opening night.
Bill: Not the best choice. But actually, we’ve done almost 100 cities since then. It’s getting really close. And Nate and I wanted to clue everybody in, podcast listeners in on what’s gonna be happening with the tour this year and there’s like some new stuff. So we want people to know about the new stuff and Nate, you’re just back from Seattle where there was kind of a two-day extravaganza kinda prepping for a new version of Disrupt Dementia.
Nate: That’s right, yes. It was a transformational experience for me and I think everyone that was there. There was 6 of us from the tour and 12 local elders living with dementia and several care partners and family members, and I think it was 4 hours each day. Maybe it was six, but we spent a nice chunk of time with them over two days, got to know each other really well. Jennifer Carson facilitated the whole thing and she did an amazing job of, you know, just everything from the icebreaker to the closing ceremony was just really expertly guided, and we really opened up to each other and explored a lot of ideas that are, I think, really important to people living with dementia, and I’ll never be the same.
Bill: Wow. So no spoilers but is there anything you can say that’s gonna be new and different in Disrupt Dementia? Something that you think came out of that audiences who are gonna be seeing us this year might look forward to?
Nate: That is a good question. There was some ambiguity as to whether or not we were going to possibly tear the show apart and reassemble it as an entirely new experience or not. I think we have since clarified that it’s going to be an iterative process, which it has been since we started.
Bill: It has.
Nate: We’ve always found that we can talk to each other about how each performance goes and how we might make it better. That’s been an ongoing process and quite effective, in my view. But as far as what’s new, my goal in going there was to record audio of elders living with dementia. In the past, we’ve read quotes and that was a major part, a central piece of our show was we are bringing quotes from the elders which illustrate some of the ideas we’re trying to get across. I thought it would be great if we could actually play the actual voices of the elders. And I’m not sure. We didn’t end up getting all that much audio because of the nature of the whole thing was very interactive and very group oriented. So there was, you know, a lot of background noise and when you play an audio sample over a PA system…
Bill: In a theater.
Nate: …in theater, it’s really…we’re sitting here in this recording studio in this booth and there’s background noise here. I don’t know. You probably can’t hear it but they’re actually fixing the pipes up here at Rep Studio. So the heating elements. But I don’t know that we got a ton of useful audio but I think we got some so I would expect that we’ll be playing some audio clips.
But we definitely got, I think, a much deeper understanding for those of us like myself that don’t have a ton of experience working directly with elders living with dementia. Jennifer Carson obviously, and Kyrié Carpenter have lots of experience, but myself, I really needed to kinda get my feet in the water as it were and really start to get a very personal experience of what it’s like to work with folks with dementia, and it was really enjoyable. It was extremely fun and in many ways, it was very profound. In many ways, it was a lot of just lighthearted fun kind of people just letting go.
One fellow, Rafe, was a…I have an app on my phone which is called ThumbJam. Maybe see if they’ll give us a little sponsorship or something, because it’s designed such that you can just run your finger over the surface of the phone and preset the key, the instrument and its high-quality samples, very interactive and very simple. And so, I plugged the phone into the PA that we were using and handed him the phone and he just had so much fun. He was dancing and playing, and there’ll be a video of that.
Bill: Yeah, for sure.
Nate: I’m sure we even caught some of that on video. But another thing that I’d like to mention is that…and this is…remains to be seen how it works out but…
Bill: Right. Preview.
Nate: Hopefully, one of my hopes is that we would have a section in the show where a local person who I work with can come on stage and do something like that where they’re actually doing some expressive musical aspect. Another fellow, Vic, got up and sang some Burlive’s [SP]… a Burlive song.
Nate: Something like that where I can choose someone from the audience based on the interaction within the lobby.
Bill: Their interest and desire and…
Nate: Yeah. And work with them to kind of coach them through what it’s like to be part of our show, and hopefully have a little window in the show where they can shine just on a purely musical level.
Bill: Great. So, you know, what you were hearing, I think, from, you know, the experience Nate was talking about was a couple of things that are just important to us. Love. You know, love the people, collaboration, community, people really opening up and sharing, creativity, the power of music, the power of song to open new doors. And then, I think a real pivot away from the tragedy narrative toward a new story that’s just more complete and more hopeful and more human than what we’re being given right now.
So if you’re gonna be with us or gonna be seeing us this year, that’s…Nate just gave you a little sneak preview of how it’s gonna be. Some parts are the same but iterated, upgraded, changed, adapted, I think enriched. And I’d like to…I’m gonna shift to the work I’ve been doing on the evening performance, Life’s Most Dangerous Game. I have been touring on stage with Nate doing the show. We call it nonfiction theater. It’s been huge fun. This year, we’re looking at adding a new cast member, Namarah McCall, who I have really enjoyed working with so far and we’re heading…we’re in the studio recording now, but next week for us…maybe not next week for you listening, but next week for us, we’re gonna be here rehearsing and working on some new stuff.
And I think the biggest change for me in Life’s Most Dangerous Game in 2017 is just trying to make the line of…the line that we’re following cleaner, sharper, more vibrant. If you do a show…I just wanna say to everybody. You do a show 100 times, you get a feeling for parts that you can just let go and parts that need to be added or improved. So that iteration that Nate was talking about. And we’re gonna iterate this show. In some ways, it kind of reminds me a little bit of like vaudeville where they…those guys would do the show over and over and over again and constantly be improving it. I think it’s like that.
Some new music. Some new visual imagery. Some new stories. If you’ve seen the show before and you come see it again, you’ll recognize the arc of it but there’ll be a lot of really new stuff and a new performer on stage with us so…
Nate: That’s right.
Bill: Kind of excited about that. And so, let’s just tie up here with all new…well, it’s not all new. Well, lots of new. Lots of new stuff in 2017. We’re starting out in early April in the Bay Area doing a swing through the Bay Area, winding up in Reno. And then in May, we’re gonna be in the Pacific Northwest. Can’t wait for that. I know we’re gonna be performing in the newly remodeled Town Hall Theater in Seattle.
Nate: Oh, back there. Yes.
Bill: Back there, yeah.
Nate: That’s gonna be nice.
Bill: It’s gonna be nice.
Nate: And Pyuleyap…
Bill: Puyallup or something. We apologize.
Nate: My favorite name of a city so far.
Nate: Pullyallup. Pull us up and we’ll pull you up.
Bill: Now we’re gonna…do you know the amount of email we’re gonna get from this? I’m just saying. And then June…I believe it’s June, we’re gonna be heading out to New England. It’s gonna be a great time to be in New England.
Nate: Oh, yeah.
Bill: Metro Boston, Hartford.
Nate: Yes, and this is looking like it is in the running for my favorite or could be the most widely traveled year, or just the most exciting musical year for me since 2006 when I got to play in the Bahamas and in Hawaii and in Japan with a couple of different bands. That was 2006. Well, I’ve had some great travels with you, but this year it looks like between our travels and travels with Samite, it looks like we’re…looking like we’re gonna make it back to Uganda in July or was it June. I can’t remember. But John Brahms’ Body is looking like they’re gonna need me on a couple of shows in July.
Nate: And then 10 Foot Ganja Plant just booked a couple of shows right after that in July so…
Bill: Oh, my God. You better…
Nate: It’s gonna be a really busy summer and it’s looking like an amazing year.
Bill: You better get those callouses on your fingers because you’re gonna need them.
Nate: Though, they never go away.
Bill: That is so right. So that’s kind of the news. If you go to changingaging.org, changingaging.org, you can read about the tour, read about the news, see some pictures. We’ve got a little video there. And I’m hoping, if you’re listening to this podcast, that we’re coming to your town. But even if we’re not and you have a friend in Vancouver, Washington and you’re like, “Well, I’ve got a friend there. I will just tell him we gotta catch the show.”
Nate: Share the link.
Bill: Share the link so…
Nate: And send us a note because we wanna know where you’re at and we wanna come directly to you.
Bill: Yeah, that’s true. I will tell you. We were just talking about the spring. The fall, we have cultivated some openness about where we’re gonna be in the fall. So if you’re hearing the show and you want us to come to your community this fall, send us an email.
And until then, see you down the road. Just to remind everybody that this is the Ask Dr. Bill podcast, and it’s brought to you by the Center for Growing and Becoming and the ChangingAging Tour, and produced at the venerable Rep Studios in Ithaca, New York.