Shortly after moving to Austin, Peyton and I discovered a local musician named Bob Schneider.  Actually, I fell in love with his music, especially the song “40 Dogs” and then made Peyton listen to every song I could find on iTunes.  But very soon, this music became a connection between us.  It was something we both loved and could share in.  Many times, we would drive to meet his dad with the windows and sun roof open and one of Bob’s songs blaring, while we sang at the top of our lungs.

Each spring, the radio station KGSR sponsors a music series called Unplugged at the Grove at The Shady Grove restaurant near Barton Springs. They have a neat little outdoor stage sitting underneath a huge old tree with limbs that hang down and create a very intimate setting.  For these events, they put up seating of plastic lawn chairs, which fill up fast, so most people stand or sit on the rock wall that surrounds the huge patio.  No matter where you are, you have a pretty decent view of the stage and the sound is perfect.  After all, you’re outside on a beautiful spring evening in one of the greatest music cities in the world listening to  an artist who may turn out to be the “next big thing.”  And its free to get in.  Which means is usually crazy crowded.  But its worth it.

In April of 2012, Bob Schneider was the opening performer for the Unplugged series and Peyton begged me to take him.  Since I knew it would be kid-friendly, I agreed.  I mean, it would give me a reason to see my secret boyfriend and experience his music with my son.  What’s not to love? And it was also Peyton’s first up close concert.  He’d been to the Houston Livestock Show to see concerts before, but everyone sits so far away there  that its only a Jumbo Tron experience.  At Unplugged, he could get right up close and maybe even get to say hello to his favorite singer.

My friend Jamie, her son, Ayden, and my nephew Trevor agreed to go with us, so we loaded up on a Thursday evening and made the drive down to Barton Springs in Austin.  This is one of the trendy and hip parts of town, which  made us feel like we were really part of the Austin scene.  Once we arrived, we got a table inside pretty quickly.  Of course, no one wants to sit inside when the music is outside, but we were hungry.  We ate and then made our way outside to find some standing room in the crowd.  This turned out to be easier than we expected, as people in Austin are generally pretty laid back and friendly, especially when we told them the boys had never seen Bob before.  Eventually, they were able to make their way right up to the front of the stage for most of the show. Peyton was enthralled.  His face beamed with joy each time he ran back to me to say how awesome this song was or how funny another song was. He was having a blast.   During the acoustic show, we found several new songs to love, like “Batman.” and “Tarantula.” “Batman” was one of Peyton’s favorites because in it, Bob refers to himself as a super hero and its really pretty funny.   At the end of the show, as Jamie and I made our way up to the stage to gather the boys, we found ourselves face to face with Mr. Schneider.  As quickly as I could and trying hard not to seem like a crazy groupie, I asked if we could take a picture or two with him.   Bob was happy to do so and posed with a huge smile, arms around the boys.  Since I only had my cell phone, the pictures are not great, but you can see how happy Peyton is in each of them.  In fact, I had to send them to him before we even left the restaurant.

After that night, listening to Bob became even more important to us and we saw him together 2 more times.  It was just one of those things that we both loved.  As Peyton grew up and became a pre-teen, shared interests were much fewer, so this was one I cherished.  The weekend before Peyton died, I was able to see Bob in concert again, but because it was in a bar, Peyton couldn’t go.  I did, though, send him videos and pictures throughout the night because  I wanted him to feel like he was there too.  Later, I found those same pictures and videos stored under Favorites on his phone.  Now, each time I hear any of Bob Schneider’s songs, I remember some of the best times spent with my boy.

On July 3, I’m going to see Bob perform for the first time since Peyton’s death.  I hope that, as I sing along to some of our favorites, Peyton is singing along in my ear too.

This is from Bob Schneider’s new album and it just speaks to my heart…Its called “King Kong”

I’m like old King Kong
I miss ya all day long
You put my heart in a thong
And that ain’t cool
And with your sugar hammering on
Your maybe 5 foot small
And I’m as big and tall as the wall of China

I can’t stand to be here
I can’t stand to be here
I can’t stand to be here
Without you

There are ghosts that walk
Upon the face of the earth
I’ve never seen them myself
But get the feeling
That there are things that can’t be seen
Forces at work
Just underneath the skin of the world

I can’t stand to be here
I can’t stand to be here
I can’t stand to be here
Without you

So I’ll put in a good word
With the Lord I heard
He’ll listen to what you say
If you say it slowly
And I’ll ask real nice
And say it real slow
And I’ll be sure to let him know

I couldn’t stand to be here
I couldn’t stand being here
I couldn’t stand being here
Without you