Castle Roland

Chapter 23

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Ken heard the desperate plea in their voices and got up from behind his desk and went over to where the two youths were standing. He looked at them and then smiled and said to them, "I think we need to begin with a group hug," and pulled the two boys into him and just let them relax into his arms.

The three stood there for a few moments and as he released his 'little bros' Mr. Ken smiled at the two lanky teens and asked them, "Did that help you refocus from your disagreements? I sure hope so as a big decision which needs to be made here real soon. One of those bands is waiting for the phone call of their lives, right now!"

"Yea, thanks," offered Collin. "That really helped me. I feel so relaxed right now. I was so tense from our argument that I don't think I could have sat here concentrating on doing that. You sure know how to do those things, Bro! I hope I learn everything from you so I can use whatever it is you have that makes me feel so good," and Collin gave Ken another quick hug.

"I agreed with what Col said," came from Ryan, "ever since I've known you, when I needed a pick-me-up, and you were there. I always came away feeling like the weight of the world came off my shoulders. There is definitely something about you that allows me to rethink things and see them for what they really are and not the way I saw them. Thanks again, Bro! Now I'm ready to get to hiring us a band!"

Before the three sat down, Ken asked the lads to go back upstairs and retrieve the notes they made as they compared the two better bands. After asking that all he got was a blank stare from the boys. They readily explained all they did was argue back and forth about what each of them thought each band did good or not so good. Recognizing that they were dealing with feelings and perceptions and not hard facts, all Ken could do was retrieve three notepads from a desk drawer and pass them out. Ken motioned the lads to sit and he then explained what they were now going to do.

"Since you don't have a List of comparisons for each band," Ken began, "I think it is best we construct one right now. This way you will be better able to differentiate between them because you will have something tangible to look at. That will reduce the arguing and will allow you to focus on the job at hand – hiring a band for the dance. Ok, how do you think we should start?"

Hearing not a peep from either of his partners he tried another approach.

"I want you each to place the name of each band at the top of one piece of paper. On that list you will place columns labeled Pros and Cons for each and draw a line under that word. Now let's begin brainstorming things about the bands and what was good and not so good about them. But before we write any of those down under either band let's also think of the things we were looking for in a band even before we saw any of them. As we mention a word or phrase mark it down on a third piece of paper. Try to remember there is no right or wrong answers. What we are doing is what is called 'brainstorming'. It means we are all looking for spontaneous ideas that we can apply to these bands after we've reached the limits of our thinking. Ok, I'll begin and whatever anyone says write it down on that third piece of paper.

"Sound quality is what I was looking for last night. So place that at the top of that third piece of paper," explained Ken.

"Let me give another until you guys get the jest of this, style of music. What were they able to play is important. If they can only play one thing, let's say Country Music, we wouldn't want that, now would we?"

"Ahh, now I get it," spoke up Ryan. "Appearance and how they looked. I know they weren't dressed in their playing clothes, but how did they look. Was their hair way too long? Did they have an odor about them, teeth brushed stuff like that."

"Yeah, ok, now I think I know what we need to do," added Collin. "I think we need to look for personalities. You know, how well did they interact with us or talk to us. Were they friendly and easy to talk to? It could mean how receptive to song requests they get from us or even the party goers."

"Yes, that is exactly what we need to do. Think of stuff and offer it up and we all write it down. You know what we could maybe also do? We can use what we saw and liked of the Country Cousins. They blew me right away as soon as they began, so we could use them as our gauge or template," anted up Ken.

"Ok, so far on our List we have Sound Quality, Style of Music, Appearance and Personalities. Now just speak out anything that comes to mind and when we can't think of anything else we'll begin the next phase. You all ready?" With that said they came up with additional attributes to consider.

"Singing voice or voices," came from Collin.

"Showmanship," was added by Ryan who added, "You know how they moved while they played."

"Energy expressed by their intensity of the song," was another item for the List added by Ryan.

"Stayed in tune," expressed Collin.

"Timing, you know how they stayed together during the song," came from Ryan.

"Did you get into them playing?" asked Collin and also asking if that was a good thing to consider.

"Drugs, you know did they look like they were stoned," was something else that Collin thought of knowing he didn't want druggies there.

Continuing to offer ideas they wanted to consider they began to add: Look of their instruments; did they look Professional or amateur; Equipment, like the size if their amps and accessories; Signage or band name on drum; Personalities of the band members; Length of time together. Then, when 'Did you know any of them?' was suggested it brought some tension into the process.

"Now what's that supposed to mean there, Collin?" a perturbed Ryan yelled out.

"Nothing, it doesn't mean anything. It is what came to my mind and I said it out loud. Isn't that what we are supposed to be doing, Bro?" claimed Collin.

"Boys, let's not go there. But that is exactly what we are supposed to be doing. Remember there is no right or wrong answers here. Just keep thinking and then when we feel we are done we will begin the next part," communicated Ken, trying to dampen any fire that was trying to erupt just then.

"I can't think of anything else," responded Ryan.

"Me either, this is harder than I thought it would be," uttered Collin.

"Ok, then let's begin the next part of our decision making process. Take each of the qualities we just decided on and list them as either a Pro or a Con for each band. Each band can have all or some or none of the list of qualities we are looking for. Each of you accomplish that by yourself and I'll do the same. When we are finished we'll compare notes. Ok, begin and let me know when you are done," expressed their mentor.

It took the boys about ten minutes each to complete their task. Ken had already finished as he used this method quite often and was preparing his list as they went along.

"Now that we are all done, I'll make the final list using only your two lists. If you recall it was supposed to be you two selecting the band. Remember if there is a tie then we'll go to my list. Does that sound fair? Ok, just give me what you had for each band and I'll do my part and compile the final tally . In the meantime, why don't you guys go and get us something cold to drink. I know I am thirsty. Bring me a ginger ale, please."

It took Ken only about 5 minutes to compile the lists for both bands. When he finished he saw he had a tie. This was something he hadn't wished for, as he wanted the boys to be responsible. Deep inside though, he knew the boys will be much happier as this way they can blame it all on him. Ken laughed to himself about that but then remarked to himself, 'that's what comes with being the Captain of the ship.'

Sodas and snacks were placed on the coffee table so Mr. Ken got up from behind his desk and grabbed his tall glass of ginger ale before he sat down. Sitting down he relaxed some and enjoyed the refreshing alternative soda. Seeing Momma Maria sent breakfast tacos back with the lads he reached over for a bacon and egg and cheese one and devoured it in three bites. He grabbed another and purred as he ate that one just as quick.

"Hmmm, that was delicious. How did Momma Maria know to make those, guys?"

"She said we hadn't had breakfast yet, so she figured she'd make these and bring them to us. All we did was save her some steps. It is uncanny how she can cook all these awesome foods and know what we want without even asking us," divulged Collin.

"I have to agree with that, Collin. For as long as she has worked here she always amazes me with the quality of the foods she has prepared. And now that you've been here all this time, she is so very happy she gets to cook so much more. Collin, my Lil Bro, you have helped make that woman very, very happy."

"Ok, now with the results of the balloting," announced Mr. Ken. "I have Good News for you, and I have Bad News for you. The Bad News first; there was a tie. The Good News is I get to add my votes into the mix and take the onus off you two. Do you want to look at how I rated the bands or would you rather I tell you who the winner is?"

"Just tell us who you picked, Bro," said Ryan.

"Yea, that's ok with me, too. I'll be glad when this is over," agreed Collin.

"Well, you may think it is over but recall it is one of you who will have to phone the bands and let them know the outcome. I won't let you put that one on me. Now, I want you two to bear in mind that I saw exactly what you saw yesterday. I based my judgment on the criteria we came up with. Ok, here is the winner as I see them. Wining by a nose due to their maturity and length of time they have been together is, drum roll please." Hearing the request, the two boys used their fingers on the coffee table to make some drumming sounds. "And the winner is Ramblin' Rockers," declared Mr. Ken's.

"Boy am I glad that is done and over with. I'm gonna think twice before I volunteer for something like this again," expressed a relieved Ryan.

"Ok, boys, let's discuss what you will tell the winner and the second place band. That second place band is NOT to be called a 'loser' do you hear me! They tried their best and just because this time they didn't get the gig they might the next time so make sure to remember that when you are talking to them.

"I want you to remind the winning band they need to stop over here later today or by no later than 5 PM tomorrow, which is Sunday, to sign their contract. Advise them they are responsible for their own transportation and chaperones, since they are under eighteen. Remind them that there will be a stage set up for them as well as lighting and they can begin setting up right after 12 noon on Wednesday. That way they can set up, see how things will work, do a sound check and maybe practice a few songs to get the feel of their environment and then get home to rest up. Also ... let them know again they will be playing from 8:30 PM until 12:30 AM and their last set will cover the Midnight Hour. Any questions? Good, now go make your phone calls."

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