paper airplanes for mr. ben folds

On Thursday, April 14th, on of my favorite musicians came to The National theater in Richmond to perform. I purchased our tickets the hour they went on sale (determined not to wait and find out they were sold out, a mistake I have made before). This would be the third time that I saw Ben Folds in concert, and though extremely excited, it didn’t hit me until this particular show why I love and admire his style, music, and personality (or at least stage presence) so much.

My husband and I arrived at the theater after a very long day at work – we were both “too worn out to be excited.” We got in line, showed our IDs, got our wrist bands, tickets scanned, and finally stepped through the front doors. Upon entering, there was a large make-shift poster – just white with black marker – that read something like, “Ben is taking YOUR requests tonight, grab a sheet of paper, write down your request, and fold your sheet into a paper airplane – we’ll tell you what to do next…”

Side note: Two days before, I heard from an old college friend that the show was actually going to turn into a bit of a reunion. When my husband and I climbed the stairs to the balcony – we were welcomed by a large group of friends I hadn’t seen since our wedding in October. I can’t explain it – but I almost felt a bit entranced. After several tough weeks – here I was, with my awesome husband (holy crap – I’ve been married for 7 months!?), an old group of friends who happened to be in town, in this historic theater that just makes you feel a bit special, about to see this musician and artist that I felt so fortunate to be able to see!

SO – back to the airplanes and the point of inspiration for this post. Recently, Ben Folds released a new album – Lonely Avenue. A good one for sure, but I was worried that his tour this time around was strictly to promote the news songs. Much to my delight, after the opening act (an interesting personality for the “hit” show “The Sing Off”) the announcer came over the sound system and said, “Get your airplanes ready folks! 3,2,1 throooow.”

Photo by @jennharrington

Photo by @jennharrington

At that point, Ben Folds jogged on stage – dodging the planes, smiling, and waving. He immediately picked up the first in his reach and began playing the request! After a few songs, the talent of memory and skill made my jaw hit the floor. He played each song with such passion and commitment. If he messed up, he laughed it off, said oops in a charming and carefree style, and kept going. That’s it – that right there – I am sure he didn’t start off that way (or if he did, props to him). What I took away from this concert, that I wasn’t expecting to, was that he was able to pull off such an amazing show because he was so confident in his ability and relaxed about the fact that if he made mistakes he would recover. Despite bad chords, forgotten lyrics, and loud fans everything rolled along as if it were meant to be!

Photo by @jennharrington

Photo by @jennharrington

So what have we learned here? One, Ben Folds is still and will always be in my eyes AMAZINGLY talented. It’s just unreal! Two, a healthy balance of confidence mixed with humility can take you extremely far – it’s so important to not hold yourself back before you even start – imagine if Ben had said “Oh no, I’ll never be able to play that piano!” – just for example. And three, treasure moments that can teach you more about your self and those around you than you expected them to be able to. Don’t let the luxuries that have now become the norm be taken for granted – learn from them, remember them, and pass on your new knowledge.

As always, thanks for reading. And Mr. Ben Folds – thanks for sharing your fun, quirky, astounding talents with the River City!

“Singing” off,*


*Just a note, if you’ve never seen “The Sing Off” – this misspelling was an intentional play on the title.


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