The mad, merry month of May

When I agreed to join the local Relay For Life committee last fall, I knew that the Relay would fall not long after the annual Symphony At The Celebration concert, one of the great passions of my adult life.

Of course, I didn’t know at the time – nobody did – about the Relay For Life “Cancer Sucks!” Crawfish Festival, which will take place a month before the Relay and a week and a half before the symphony concert. I also didn’t know that my title with the symphony concert was  to change from “publicity chairman” to “co-chair.” So I find myself heavily involved with three huge events taking place in less than a month’s time.

I’m not complaining; I’m having a lot of fun, actually, and I’m really looking forward to the next month. I just hope I can do everything justice.

First up, of course, is the crawfish festival, which will take place in about a week. We’ve already sold a considerable number of tickets. I’ll be working the water / Red Bull tent for the first six hours of the festival; after that, hopefully, I can get some photos and video. This has turned into something much larger than any of us imagined when it was first proposed. It’s a massive undertaking to stage a 12-hour outdoor music festival and crawfish boil, including a big-name recording artist as the headliner.

Fortunately, Tammy Trott, who is our lead on this project, seems to have every base covered. Every time one of us asks her about something, she’s got an answer. There are a lot of things that have to come together, but it looks like they’re going to come together. Fortunately, the ball seems to be rolling, and while I’m still trying to help out with publicity, we seem to have done a good job already getting the word out.

Our participating bands, such as Rayz’n Cain, have helped tremendously, by spreading the word to their fans. Rayz’n Cain, which includes some of my sister’s high school classmates, even created a tongue-in-cheek graphic playing off the fact that the festival takes place on Cinco de Mayo. Rayz’n Cain was sensational at our Relay For Life dance and live auction earlier in the year, and they’ll be closing out the festival for us. The cause is personal to them; one of the band members lost a family member to cancer the week of the dance and auction.

Three days after the crawfish festival will be my 50th birthday. I’m taking the day off work, but I’m not completely goofing off. On that morning, I’ll go to Tullahoma for a local-access cable talk show appearance promoting the symphony concert. That evening, we’ll have a Relay committee meeting, to discuss what happened at the crawfish festival and to make more plans for the Relay For Life coming up. (I don’t know when we’ll have the actual family celebration of my birthday; we tend to do such things on weekends, when we can get the family together.)

A week after my birthday is the symphony concert. We’re looking for another good one this year. I love telling people that this will be the Nashville Symphony’s first public appearance following their triumphant May 12 return to Carnegie Hall. That’s right: they’re going from Carnegie Hall straight to Calsonic Arena.

Calsonic Arena, which was built for equestrian events, has some permanent illuminated sponsor signs at the opposite end from where we do the concert. There’s a pair of signs promoting a local walking horse breeding operation. One sign bears the name of the operation, the other bears the slogan, “Why Breed Anywhere Else?” Last year, Maestro Albert-George Schram, in his charming Dutch accent, joked about the sign during the concert. “I think that’s great,” he said. “I think that should be the poster for dis concert next year.”

After the symphony concert, I will have two whole weeks to rest up for the Relay For Life, which will take place June 1-2 at Bedford County Agriculture and Education Center. This will be my second time to be at the Relay but my first time to be a committee member – which will be a completely different experience than being a walker, I’m sure. It’s also our first year going from a 12-hour format to an 18-hour format. We’re encouraging everyone to take shifts, but I’m going to try to be there and awake for as much of the Relay as I can, so that I can take video and photos. Some of that, of course, depends on how long I, as a committee member, will have to be there before and/or after the actual event. I still haven’t heard all of those details yet.

I may be turning 50, but I may feel more like 80 by the time the sun sets on June 2.