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Pick of the Week

Laughing With Life

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While waiting for his plane at the Tucson airport in 1986, singer/songwriter Scott Kalechstein says, he took out his guitar and began to sing to pass the time. A crowd gathered around him, and many joined in on favorite Beatles songs and "Leaving on a Jet Plane."

At one point, Kalechstein felt an inner prompting to sing "Amazing Grace." Now with a larger crowd around him, the group sang in unison.

Afterward, a tearful man approached Kalechstein and said he had just come from his mother's funeral. "Amazing Grace" was her favorite song. By hearing that song at that precise moment, the man knew his mother was safe and at peace. Kalechstein's timing was perfect.

On-the-spot timing is the foundation of Kalechstein's work, as he creates songs in the moment based on audience suggestions. In a press release, Kalechstein compares himself to a cross between Robin Williams and John Denver. His business card reads "Give me a topic; I'll give you a song."

When asked how he plans for his concerts, Kalechstein replies, "I don't plan a darn thing. It's an interactive experience. Each concert is completely unique. I start out by inviting people to give me a topic. How was their day? What is stressing them out? What is their mood? I make up fun blues songs to get people laughing, making it clear to people that the (concert will be) wildly unpredictable. It's personal and catered to them."

At a recent performance in California, the audience asked for impromptu songs about steroids, multiple relationships, changing jobs and political topics. Kalechstein notes that more and more people are concerned about the Earth and not just their own lives. They are more considered about global issues.

But his favorite songs to write are about relationships. "The ups and downs of relationships are great fodder for songs," he says.

And so is the human condition, with its pain and suffering. But Kalechstein doesn't take life seriously and wants his audience to laugh at their issues. Perusing Kalechstein's song titles from his nine CDs at scottsongs.com, you'll see titles such as "Just a Codependent Love Song," "Mr. Right" and "Life is Not a Serious Business."

With a play on Neil Sedaka's "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do," Kalechstein humorously reminds us that "Waking Up Is Hard to Do."

Don't take my pain away from me
Don't leave me here without my misery
Cause if I let go then what would I do
This waking up is hard to do.

Remember when I loved to fight
Go so much pleasure just from being right
Now pointing fingers just makes me blue
This waking up is hard to do.

One might say that Kalechstein woke up to his dream of helping others in the mid-1980s. He enrolled in an international seminar leadership program in New York City and "learned how to be a leader." For many years, he gave one seminar and one concert a month, but decided to follow his dream fulltime in 1990. He moved to California and "became a traveling troubadour."

Kalechstein offers workshops on such topics including "Say Yes to Your Dreams," "Where Spirit and Relationships Meet," and "The Greatest Love of All." With a desire to get to the heart of the matter, Kalechstein promotes teachings that include how to love yourself, how to celebrate the joys and challenges of love relationships and how to find your passion and live your purpose. A testimonial from Sheila Abrams reads, "Scott accomplished more in a three-hour workshop than most therapists achieve in three years."

Another way Kalechstein assists others in transforming their lives is through song portraits, "a spontaneous intuitive creation of song put on a CD." A caller will phone Kalechstein and discuss what type of song they want. "I establish a rapport with them ... and listen to what they say and not say," explains Kalechstein. "I ask what their dreams are, their hopes and wishes and what might be standing in the way of joy. ... I ask questions to help the person creatively help themselves." After the conversation, Kalechstein begins to sing a song--on the spot--specifically for the individual. He records it all, and a song portrait is born.

Audience members at Kalechstein's concerts can expect to "laugh and lighten up about the human condition. They are invited through song to play and be playful."

But along with his light touch, Kalechstein has a serious goal and mission. "I want to significantly empower, inspire, educate and transform as many people's lives as I possibly can," he says. "To relieve suffering and to inspire people to do it themselves--that's why I am here."

Scott Kalechstein performs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 22, at Amado Territory Inn, 3001 S. Frontage Road, Amado. Tickets are $30, and admission includes lunch. Call 245-0024 for information.

Kalechstein also performs at 7 p.m., Saturday, April 22, at St. Mark's Church, 3809 E. Third St. A reception and silent auction precede the event. Tickets are $12 in advance, $16 at the door. Advance tickets are available at Antigone Books, Hear's Music and Beaver's Band Box. Call 297-1995 for more information.

Kalechstein conducts a "Where Spirit and Relationships Meet" seminar from 1 to 5 p.m., Sunday, April 23, at a private midtown residence. $35 by April 21, and $45 after. Call 820-0777 to register.

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