Tonight I attended a benefit concert for Paul Cardall. For those of you who don't know Paul, he is an incredible musician blessed with several gifts from writing and playing incredibly inspirational music, to creating and developing a successful record label. He has been on the billboard charts for new age music and has 14 studio albums.
I met Paul in 2007, when he approached The Summit Group to help him do PR for a concert and also for some musicians that were some of the first to sign with him. When we first met in a business setting, I was put at ease by his demeanor and attitude. He has a very positive outlook on life and his optimism spread into his business relations. I was excited that I got to work for someone so....for lack of another word....nice!
I ended up leaving The Summit Group shortly after I started working for him. After doing a few jobs on the side for him, I lost track of him....until tonight.
I entered the Cottonwood High School foyer an hour before the performance, overwhelmed by how many people were already there. I mean, c'mon, this is Utah...the place where people wait until the last minute to show up at anything. I thought I would be one of the first...I was wrong. There were people in four lines on the bottom floor and even people started making lines for balcony seating...all waiting for the ushers to open the doors to the auditorium, which I think seats a little over 3,000 people. The show was sold out...I think since Wednesday of last week.
I made my way around meeting my family members, running into old acquaintances and bidding on items that were on display for the silent auction...all proceeds that would go to Paul.
What I didn't know before I got there was the depth of Paul's story. See, I had only heard a little portion of it. I love his music anyway and wanted to go to the concert, but I didn't know what I was in for. You see, (according to my program) Paul is a 36 year old husband and father waiting for a heart transplant. Apparently, he was born in 1973 with congenital heart disease and has been in and out of the hospital for shunts, endocarditis, reconstructive heart surgery and has had various pacemakers replaced between ages 14 and now. He has waited 220 days for a heart.
So tonight, all his musicians, even competitive friends came to support him during this time.
I laughed, I cried, I bee-bopped along, I wished I would have taken more piano, I looked for wedding rings on all the musicians (just to see who was single), I looked around to see how others reacted to certain songs and performances. The stage was decked out with multiple lighting elements, from laser movement to a sweet color pallet, the background was set up with flowing white sheets that hung from the top of the stage and draped in the background, creating a very mystical and energetic space on the stage.
All the instruments, as well as two video screens, were in the front and to the sides. The screens projected close-ups of the musicians, and also acted as a slide show/video presentation during some of the songs.
Here are my personal highlights of the show:
- When Paul and his family entered the room, everyone stood and applauded.
- Kurt Bestor began with some songs. Though he makes light that he and Paul are somewhat 'competitors' he respects him as a fellow musician and actually thinks that he is a 'nice guy.' Along with some humor he threw into his performance, he wrote a song on the spot for Paul and his family.
- David Tolk's witty banter. He talked about writing a song before he married his wife called 'Pretty Girl' then realizing several months after they were married that there was more to her than just looks ;) He then commented that he was sure his wife wouldn't like the intro and justified himself by saying his wife is the most fabulous person ever and that he loved her. His song 'For Lisa' is amazing.
- Steven Sharp Nelson doing his thing on the cello. Pretty amazing stuff.
- Ryan Shupe and the Rubberband. K-so I have lived in Utah for almost 9 years now. SHEESH...and Ryan and the gang have been around...I mean around! AND I have never seen them. I know...it is like a sin. I finally got my taste tonight...and you know what? They are good. I bought the CD, I boogied to the sweet bluesy/folky tunes, moved my head back an forth to the fiddle and decided I was going to the concert in June. I am sold on you Shupe.
- Peter Breinholt-tell me that you remember me!? I remember the first time I saw Peter in the backyard of the 'boys' house up at Utah State. Patrick Svedine (spelling?) had him over once in his backyard on a makeshift stage decorated with hay. From the moment he started playing tunes like St. Theresa, What About....I was sold on Pete. He dedicated one of his songs that was for a little girl named Gracie. Paul is receiving his treatment from Primary Children's Hospital. As he makes his visits, he has a chance to connect with other patients. Gracie was one he made a connection with, who since birth, had trouble with her heart. She was one year old when she died. Paul played at her funeral.
- COLORS!! Need I say more. Talk about college-days flash back. Seriously. As I recall the first time I saw them was at this outdoor amphitheater up at Utah State. Wow boys...we have been around the block. Russ, you can still rap it like M&M...but cleaner. Yoshi...who knew Yoshi rhymed with anything? Way to go. MMM. Memories! Oh and shout out to Michael Ferguson who helped out with a reggae tune.
- Love the MC. Not only was he witty....but pretty durn (that's right durn) talented. Sam Payne is his name...
I have linked several names on this blog. Go to the sites, listen to the free tunes. You could potentially feel what I felt.
I think the most pivotal moment tonight was when Paul and his family were invited to come on to the stage. There was such gratefulness and compassion radiating from the family. Paul decided that he felt good enough to play for us. He too dedicated a song to Gracie...actually, he wrote a song for her. I don't remember if there was a dry eye in the audience.
I am glad I know Paul and that I was able to attend this event, "Living for Eden." I wish you well Paul and will pray for a new heart to come into your life....so we can continue to be inspired by you!