Family Matters


Family Matters

Don’t Play It Again, Sam: Chance Encounters Can Change Our Lives

By Richard Holloway

March/April 2015


For as long as I can remember, acting, singing, playing music, and otherwise engaging an audience were all I ever wanted from life. At age 5, I got a part in the kindergarten circus as ringmaster because one of the teachers had noted that I was “loud.” I took it as a compliment. I proudly wore a tuxedo and a top hat, energetically introducing the other kindergartners as they came on stage to perform a clown or animal act. The “chimpanzees” were a big hit, climbing the ropes in the gym with more enthusiasm than skill. When several tumbled to the ground I ad-libbed, “Included at no extra charge!” The parents’ laughter intoxicated me. From that point forward, I was hooked on the thrill of performing.

When I graduated from college with a major in theater and dozens of productions on my resume, I stood in cap and gown among friends who were preparing to go off to graduate school, a teaching career, or a place in the family business. Me? I was off to Boston to realize my dream of becoming the next singer/songwriter who’d change the face of music, even if that meant pounding the pavement as my own agent to get shows wherever I could.

The music business was brutal. Sometimes I’d show up for a gig, guitar in hand, only to greet a club owner who’d claim no knowledge of me. When I did get to play, the pay was minuscule. A Saturday night show might net $15. To make ends meet, I relied for support on the benevolence of friends and my brother, straining their generosity.…

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