This is the Arts of Life band. It may be a little tough to tell from the photo, but half the members are developmentally disabled. When we went to see them play an outdoor show in the neighborhood some weeks back -- a period it's still tough for me to write about, because it was our earlier and better normal, when Inez was still there to greet us when we came home -- I admit to thinking, "Oh, this will be really sweet," or "Wow, that band leader is doing the work of kings."
On the first count, I was wrong. It was completely badass.
On the second count, also wrong. The guy who assembled this band, who also runs a small gallery one neighborhood over (the same neighborhood where I work, where this guy has taken no small amount of flack for being one of the bellwethers of gentrification) doesn't beam with pride over his singers and drummer. He doesn't slowly say, "1 . . . . . . . . 2 . . . . . . . . . 3 . . . . ." to make sure they're ready to start. He doesn't demand louder applause for his differently achieving musicians. These are simply his bandmates, and he responds to them as he would any bandmates. By playing the songs.
Those songs may be about a shark attack, a bear eating garbage, or a rap homage to one of the singer's home towns of Brookfield, Illinois. Here's a taste if you can handle the rock.