Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Troubadour Wears A Derby Hat
Dennis and Brenda Kippa

By now, readers of this column know that our favorite thing to do is to go see live music and find out about the people who play it and love it like we do.

But we've been keeping a secret “favorite thing to do” since February of this year, and it's within this part of our lives that we found the jewel that we're going to share with you this week.

Every Friday, we bake cakes or cookies, and bag them up in a giant bag. And on Saturday, we make the short journey to Lindale, Texas, where we unload our bag for the fine folks who live at the Care Center there. For the first hour, we all devour the goodies we've brought, while we listen to music. The second hour is for Bingo, which we've discovered is the universally most-loved game for those who are limited in some way by their health problems. Dennis “calls” the game, and Brenda helps anyone who needs it and passes out the winnings. For this two hours each week, everyone has the opportunity to experience an attitude adjustment, if one is needed, or to dump any stress that lingers after their routine-filled week. It shouldn't have come as a surprise to find that we are the ones who experience the most profound changes and amazing joy, but surprise us it did. We adore the new friends we've made there.

What's that you say? This column is about the music? Oh yes, of course! Enter Steve Fuqua, who makes his journey each week from Alba, Texas. He's there not for money or recognition, but because he wants to be there. This singer/songwriter, art teacher, fisherman, actor and all-around good guy is affiliated with Sentimental Journey, which is a ministry of sorts that brings live music to care centers and nursing homes. We've been lucky enough to experience his music and the ever-ready twinkle in his eyes almost every week since about March or April of this year. Mixing his own songs with many of the great standards that everyone remembers, Steve often surprises us by launching in to the lesser-known songs that we have found along the way but never thought we would hear again. His delivery is always heart-felt and appropriate for the occasion and the song. This is probably not an easy task at times, with the constant distractions that are always present in this setting, but Steve keeps his “eye on the ball” and delivers the song every time. A resident thinks this is a karaoke opportunity and doesn't even know the words? No problem. Steve handles these situations with grace and calm. We were especially entertained this past weekend, when a resident began singing along with one of Steve's original songs. By now, he has performed it so often that is sounds like what it (hopefully) will be one day – an old standard.

We happened to meet up with Steve one evening when we were attending a performance by another band. It was then that we discovered that he operates as a junior-high school art teacher in his “day job”, and that his is an actor and a drummer in addition to being the accomplished guitar player and singer that we already knew about. We also learned that he has fought cancer twice in the past decade and he's still standing and still singing.

You can listen to Steve's music online, at ReverbNation/Steve Fuqua. If you're in a crowded place sometime, and you see a guy in a derby hat, check him out. If he has a special twinkle about him, chances are it's Steve Fuqua. And if it is, tell him we said hello, and remind him that he is appreciated for what he does.

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