Sunday, July 17, 2005

When You Have Happy Lemons, Make Happy Lemonade

by Tom Bozzo

Should I have the opportunity for future cybernetic enhancement, my first implant will be a good digital camera. See, we left ours at home for this weekend's quick run to the Twin Cities, and while the obligatory trip to Punch Neapolitan Pizza may not have been overly photo-bloggable, the same cannot be said for the main event of the voyage, a Ralph's World full-band show on the plaza between Nicollet Mall and Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis. Ralph's World, for the uninitiated, is an indie children's rock group from Chicago that the Marginal Utility household considers essential listening in the department of music kids and parents alike can love.

This was John's second concert, the first being another Ralph's World concert at the Wisconsin Union Theater. As the concert was free as in no admission charge (but q.v.), we arrived quite a bit early to stake out a good, and shady, spot. Minneapolis had been suffering through what anyone outside of the desert southwest or like environs would consider miserable heat, so the latter was particularly valuable.

Anyway, as we were settling in, we saw the band arrive, with Ralph himself bringing up the rear lugging two huge roller bags. We deduced that the bags probably contained Ralph's World stuff, which was borne out as Ralph wheeled them over to a tent on the periphery of the plaza. John was pretty much agog at seeing Ralph in person, and Suzanne took John over to say "hi" to Ralph while I held down the fort at our shady table. At this point, I was really wishing I had the camera.

Then, after some exchange of pleasantries with Ralph, Suzanne got behind the table in the tent and started helping Ralph set up the stuff! Then she went on to staff the table!! A no-camera double-d'ohh!!! John, at this point, was just standing in front of the tent trying to figure out, I suppose, what exactly Ralph and his mother were doing at the same place at the same time.

Anyway, I can tell you, and Suzanne could tell you better, that the admission price may have been zero, but many of the patrons voluntarily contributed to a pretty substantial haul for the band — even at prices seemingly designed to minimize change-making ($20 CDs, etc.) rather than constitute a bargain.

Interestingly, while many of the other early-birds presumably knew what they were in for, and indeed just about every parent near me was singing along to the concert even if their kids weren't, Suzanne reported that there were plenty of people who were just down there for an event without any Ralph foreknowledge, so she ended up fielding questions like:
Suzanne left her uncompensated work for the band highly impressed with Ralph's generosity in dealing with his audience. Ralph was available to sign stuff and pose for pictures afterwards, and that meant dealing with everyone (including us) in a long line on a 97-degree Minnesota afternoon, with no obvious diminution of spirits.

As for me, I was bailed out by the camera attached to our newish cellphone. The image quality isn't worth a damn, but it's better than nothing.

Ralph, Suzanne, and John. Did I mention it was 97 degrees outside?

Thanks, Ralph! (This is the cover from a nice solo album of mostly acoustic grown-up but kid-friendly music, predating the Ralph's World phenomenon.) Come back to Madison soon!
Hmmm. Given that we share esoteric music taste, I may have to look Ralph's World up. It's getting expensive for me, reading your blog!

I love the new Ergo Baby carrier, though...
Glad you like the carrier. If you haven't clicked through yet, there are plenty of audio clips on the Ralph's World site, so you can check the music out first. It also is not necessary to pay $20 for the CDs.
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