Collaboration with Nina Storey

As I am writing this, I’m reminiscing last night’s performance by Nina Storey at the Soiled Dove Underground in Denver by listening to the song that I was fortunate enough to sit in on the drums with her.

The song is called ‘Sing For Me’ originally by Yellowcard (yes, I got Nina to play one of my favorite songs from my favorite band with me).

Collaboration between bass player (Tim) and keyboardist (Adam).

Rehearsal: Collaboration between bass player (Tim) and keyboardist (Adam).

I showed up on Thursday night at the rehearsal not knowing what to expect. Of course, I expected to be in a room with some greatly underrated musicians that had a greater background with Nina than I. I also expected I would be working with these musicians not being too musically inclined myself.

Nina showing off her keyboard skills.

Rehearsal: Nina showing off her keyboard skills.

My first expectation was correct: the room was filled with great musicians; everyone better than anyone I have played or worked with before and reminiscing about past shows they had done with Nina. My second expectation came up true as well. As they talked about Fs and G-minors, B-sharps and As, I sat back hoping that I would just be able to do my thing safe behind the drums with little collaboration; I hoped they knew the song as well as I did so we could just pick up and play and I didn’t have to take the musical driver’s seat on the song I suggested playing.

One thing to know about me: I get nervous for damn near anything near the limelight. I was nervous for showing a video I had made for my youth group’s film festival. I always worry: “Will I be good enough? Will I mess up? What happens if I do in fact mess up?” and those butterflies continue whirling around my belly.

Tim on the bass and Ryan on the drums.

Rehearsal: Tim on the bass and Ryan on the drums.

Even at the rehearsal, with the stakes relatively low (no audience, no family and friends watching me drum under the lights of the stage), I still was worried. I think my biggest fear was these professional musicians saying to themselves, “Man, this cover might be a waste of time,” right after I played with them.

Funny thing about music though: it can cure and/or heighten any emotion. As it can heighten romance, it can ease anger. As it can bring tears of joy, it can equally bring tears of sorrow. As it can get you pumped up, it can chase away those butterflies in your stomach. Once my foot hit that first kick, those butterflies were gone. I knew how to play this song. I’ve played it hundreds of times and I know it like the back of my hand. What was I so nervous about?

"I'm a Fighter" poster at the merch stand.

“I’m a Fighter” poster at the merch stand.

After the vibrations of the last crash dissipated through the room, I felt confident in my performance which the other band members added to as if they were thinking, “Alright, this guy can play some drums. We’re in business here.” That never-late sigh of relief left my lungs…until the next day once the lights went down.

Nina up front with her guitarist (Tad), keyboardist (Adam) and horn section in the background.

Sound Check: Nina up front with her guitarist (Tad), keyboardist (Adam) and horn section in the background.

They gave me a setlist after sound checks so I knew when Nina was going to call me on stage. Lucky number 13…of course. And handing me a setlist was a horrible idea because what did I do?…I counted down the songs until it was finally time for me to face my uneasy stomach. And of course, it became more and more uneasy the closer she got to my debut. Once she called me on stage, my family and friends were in place, one of which with a video camera to record this wonderful opportunity, and it was showtime…

I was trying to get comfortable behind the less than familiar drumset I had only played behind once before while Nina told the audience a little bit about myself. But once I counted the band in, and that first kick boomed through the venue, I knew I was going to do great. The butterflies fluttered away and I just did my thing.

The band in full swing.

The band in full swing.

I wanted to do this song in particular because of the storey (see what I did there 😉) behind it. Ryan Key, the lead singer for Yellowcard, wrote this song for his aunt that had passed away from cancer and the music video shows images and people who still fight on and create and live their life despite their hardships. Of course, cancer and cystic fibrosis are two totally different diseases; however, the fight is the same, with any illness even. You have to stay positive and continue to create who you are and live your life despite whatever may hold you back and have that support system who will ‘sing for you’ in the hardest of times.

It’s a beautiful piece of music dedicated to a wonderful woman who helped shape an innovative and creative musician in Ryan that can be used to inspire and help drive on those who are experiencing the hard times in their lives. That’s why I have that short lyric at the end of my sign off, ‘say tomorrow.’ Live for today, fight for a tomorrow. There is a tomorrow, and you need to be there to experience more of life.

Overall, this experience was nothing short of extraordinary, spectacular, practically a dream come true. I got to play one of my favorite songs that is near and dear to my heart, for a cause with which I am directly associated, with an incredibly talented singer and musician Nina Storey (not to mention her band as well). What could be better?

Great musicians, great people and even better friends!

Great musicians, great people and even better friends!

Nina silently told me after the concert we will keep in touch and be sure to do something like this again. I am overjoyed to have had the opportunity to collaborate with her and her band members and I do hope it happens again.

Now the only thing to be nervous about is if Longineu Parsons III (drummer for Yellowcard) approves of my performance, because I’m sure Ryan will more than approve of Nina’s voice carrying his lyrics. If I hear anything from LP, I’ll report back (or Ryan for that matter).

Everyone…read these words:

Keep Fighting, Keep Breathing, SAY TOMORROW

keepbreathing65

P.S. Below are some shots I took from the rehearsal and the concert.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Special Thanks: Nina Storey and entire band (thank you!), Ellen Penrod of the Colorado Chapter of the CFF, Yellowcard, Cindy Madonna (mother), Nick Williams (friend), Danise Rea (friend), Spencer Krafchak (friend)
Thank you all so much for giving me this opportunity and supporting me through it! Couldn’t have done it without you and hope to do it again!
-Tony Madonna-

Raising Funds and Awareness

Hey all!

It’s about that time again for me to start thinking about raising those funds for the CF Foundation in hopes that we can make CF stand for ‘Cure Found.’ I always participate in the Great Strides event that is held in Summit County and for the past couple of years, I have held a fundraising party the night before the walk to raise those last minute funds before sending them off to the CF Foundation. In years past, I have raised over $1000 in that one night and my team, Trek for Tony, has contributed over $3000 each year. Pretty solid stuff considering another form of Kalydeco has moved into Phase 3 trials this year.

Follow my new link I have up on the sidebar to donate to my team so we can come one step closer in finding a cure!

Check out this short article about other ways people are getting involved with raising, in this case, a sufficient amount of funds.

http://www.cff.org/aboutCFFoundation/NewsEvents/4-10-Bid-for-Cure-Nets-271K-at-Master-Chefs-Event.cfm

ANYTHING and EVERYTHING helps! No donation is too small!

Keep Fighting, Keep Breathing, Say Tomorrow

keepbreathing365

P.S. If you are in the Colorado or Denver area, stop by the Soiled Dove on April 19th to follow up with Nina Storey and I as we play some tunes to help raise awareness for CF. If you have friends and family in the Colorado or Denver area, spread the word to them!

Back with a Hopeful Vengeance

Hey all!

So, it’s been 5 months since my last post. Absurdly too long for a blog, I agree. In my defense, those 5 months are the busiest months of my life in Breckenridge, but! Let’s take this opportunity to catch up and keep in touch better throughout the summer on on through next season.

As I mentioned, I have been busy. Through the winter I worked two jobs: a ticket scanner for the ski resort and a manager at a sports bar called Downstairs at Eric’s. Both jobs make my life during winter very interesting. I come into contact with a lot of different people from all corners of the world. Through this winter, I was slowly being promoted to a higher managerial position at Eric’s that fully took affect yesterday, April 1. Very excited about that. It’s a great job with fun people and an unforgettable atmosphere. If you are ever in Breckenridge, come visit! As for the ticket scanning, the resort is open for two more weeks so it’s began to slow way down. In the middle of March, however, I informed them that I might not be able to work the rest of the season because of possible complications with my CF, so I haven’t been working there for the last month.

Although…

No new complications with my CF have popped up! I was nervous for my appointment in the beginning of March because I had gone through a busy ski season. Between working and snowboarding, I tried to get some sleep and keep up on all my treatments. I was very relieved and proud of myself for how well I was able to keep up my health through all the hustle and bustle of winter. Early March, my lung functions and weight were down a slight bit but nothing my infectious disease doctor was too concerned about. Yesterday, I went back down for a follow up with my CF doctors and my numbers shot back up to where they were back in November. I have been battling a nasty lung infection for the last 4 years and it is nice to be on the high side of the teeter-totter. I couldn’t have done it without all of the support of my friends and family!

In other news, I will be on a internet radio show tomorrow, April 3 from 9a-11a MT. This Denver-based internet radio show ‘Unfiltered and Unaffected’ will be meeting with me and a girl named Nina Storey, a singer/songwriter from (I beleive) the Denver area. She is a big advocate for CF and we will be discussing music and CF on this radio show due to her soon-to-come album release on April 19. Incidentally enough, Nina was looking for someone to perform with her during her concert on April 19 that has CF so the Colorado Chapter of the CF Foundation called me up and asked if I would be interested. “I can’t sing or dance,” I told them, “but I can play the drums.” More details to come, but Nina thought this to be a great idea and I will be joining her on stage in a few weeks to perform some songs with her. Very exciting indeed to advocate CF while doing something I love. If you can, please tune in online to the radio show and I will be back with details on how the show went for those of you who might miss it and about the concert.

Lastly, through the winter I have been volunteering at a youth group that I went to throughout high school called Summit County Youth (SCY). I volunteer for the high school program and it has been a great mentoring experience. Anyways, I went to the Easter service at the church the youth group is held at every Sunday night. The speaker, Phil Gallagher, someone who I believe will follow me all the way through my life, spoke about Easter and I came away with a thought: the rising of Jesus can be symbolic of us rising above our earthly confines. Materialism and what defines us while we are on earth does not have to define us. We should strive to rise above whatever may try to keep us down or ‘in our place.’ Because there is something divine in all of us. We are all living, breathing miracles and we should live every day as if we are miracles. One of my friends posted something on Facebook recently: “Life is not about who you once were, it is about who you are right now, and the person you have the potential to become.” I commented and said, “Everything in between the commas is true…period.” Life is about who you are right now…period.

Go out there and be who you are right now…a living, breathing miracle.

I’m back with a hopeful vengeance! (…hopeful to keep in touch :P)

Keep Fighting, Keep Breathing, Say Tomorrow

keepbreathing365