Last Friday, the 14th, I took a half day from work to take The Boy and Little Bear to see the a cappella group Home Free perform in Cleveland. It was a truly epic day and a real "Dad Level Up" kind of moment!
Now, I had been planning this since August, when I bought the tickets. We did not tell the kids that they were going on this trip - I wanted it to be a surprise, because this was the primary Christmas/Channukah present for them. (Side note: wouldn't it be great if the presents that I was able to give my kids revolved more around an experience like that, as a family, instead of toys? That deserves some more thought and exploration, but I digress.) mission accomplished - everyone involved (me, The Wife, their teachers) managed to keep their mouths shut long enough.
I left work at noon, came home, and napped for an hour. I got to the kids' school at two, and we were out the door at 2:20. After we left the school, I sat down on the bench and told them where we were going. The Boy's jaw dropped to the ground, and he began bouncing up and down with excitement. Little Bear, being of cooler variety, merely nodded his head: "Cool."
We got in the car for the roughly three hour drive to Cleveland. As I hoped, the boys fell asleep fairly quickly and slept for a shade under two hours - for a concert that starts at eight (which is around their bedtime) they needed to be well-rested. They woke up in time for a gas and potty break, then we completed the drive into Cleveland.
The concert was in the Ohio Theatre in Playhouse Square, which is a nice theater district in town. We drove around a bit until we found the theater, then we found a parking spot about two blocks away. We walked to the theater, picked up our tickets, and used their potty.
We spent fifteen minutes looking at the restaurants before choosing Otto Moser's restaurant. It was a forty-five minute wait, and we spent the time playing on the various iDevices I brought along with me. Dinner was sandwiches, and we had a nice conversation with the couple in the table next to us.
When we settled in the theater seats, we did a little more playing and some talking with the people around us. The theater was packed full - I did not see any empty seats around us, and we were about halfway to two thirds back from the stage.
Then, the show started. Wow, those boys can sing.
Home Free won the Sing-Off in December 2013. They're a country and pop a cappella group from Minnesota, and they are our family's favorite singing group right now. They do a nice mix of country covers, pop/rock songs, and original tunes. Some of their better songs include covers of Cruise (Florida-Georgia Line), Colder Weather (Zachary Brown Band), Ring of Fire (Johnny Cash, with an unbelievable bass solo); original tunes Wake Me Up and Champagne Taste (on a Beer Budget).
They sang songs from their debut album, Crazy Life; from their YouTube channel (they have been releasing a video or two every month for a while now - we are Patreon subscribers to support this); from their brand new Christmas album; and from their Sing-Off performances. One of the highlights was a neat arrangement of God Bless the USA, which we hadn't heard before. The boys love that song, particularly since last year's kindergarten flag day ceremony.
The boys were rapt listeners and watchers for the whole concert, which is a feat for two little boys and two 45 minute halves. They sang along with a bit of it - since they know the words to all of the songs, they could have sang everything, but I don't think they did.
After the concert, the Home Free guys did a handshake / autograph line for the fans. We had bought concert t-shirts and pictures for them to sign already. The guys from Home Free were gracious and friendly to the kids, who were obviously star-struck and couldn't speak: the guys had a kind word or question for both the boys. The crowd was too big to pose for pictures with them, but I tried anyway.
When we got back to the car, the boys wanted to listen to - you guessed it - more Home Free for the ride home. Little Bear was asleep before we left the parking deck, The Boy about five minutes later. We arrived home around 1:15am from an immensely successful concert trip.
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