Long weekends are a rare treat, and I hope all of you enjoyed time with your family and friends this Labor Day. For me, it's a reminder of exceptionally fine times in my hometown of Morgan City, Louisiana . . . the annual Shrimp and Petroleum Festival is still celebrated every Labor Day weekend, and has been since about 1936. Like most other local events of its kind, the Shrimp Festival has its own traditions: there's a street fair, and festival royalty reigns over a street parade, while beautifully decorated shrimp boats are gather in the Atchafalaya River for the Blessing of the Fleet and a parade of their own. The food . . . amazing, and the music, well, every kind of Louisiana music you can imagine.
My sisters and I viewed the Shrimp Festival weekend as an excuse to invite every possible out-of-town friend we had to spend the weekend in South Louisiana (at our house, of course!) Most of our friends were kids we had met through music activities around the state; between summer band camps, choir auditions and music festivals, we Louisiana kids managed to do quite a bit of social networking, even before the advent of Facebook! We had lots of adventures and more than a couple of scrapes, but those weekends were the highlight of the year for us. We all loved music, and our lives revolved around making music in one form or another. As teenagers, it was great to have a feeling of "belonging" and knowing that there were other kids who felt the same way.
It's been interesting to reconnect with many of those kids we grew up with, and to catch up on the adult chapters of their lives. More than a few have had very distinguished careers as professional musicians, and many of the others still perform all kinds of music in their churches and communities. As we listened to the terrific new singers at our placement auditions, I found myself thinking of our returning singers, and really looking forward to having everyone back together next week. I hope that all of our young singers will find life-long friends and a place to "belong" here, and make their own memories of rehearsing, performing and traveling together. I hope that as adults, they will recall their experiences with the WTCC as some of their finest, and that music will still be a part of their lives.