U.S. Westbound Tour – Fall 2019!

We’re hitting the road, this fall…

We’re headed WEST! Lesleigh, Theo, and I are so excited to take the family band on the road for 6 WEEKS. This September and October, we’re speaking in schools, churches, and communities all across the Western United States, and we’re so excited to announce that this tour is being co-sponsored by The Lucky Fin Project.

It’s been my joy to serve as a Lucky Fin Project ambassador since March of 2011. I’ve had the opportunity to share my music and mission in 45 states and 17 countries. Speaking in schools. Hosting guitar workshops. Sharing meals with families. We are so excited to head West and to serve these communities that are so many miles away.

We are still adding dates and states! If you’d like us to come to your school, church, or community (in the West, or anywhere!), send us a message at booking@tonymemmel.com.

Our full tour schedule is posted HERE! We will see you soon, MemmelNation!

Love,
Tony, Lesleigh, and Theo

Southeast Asia Tour

So excited to be a teaching singing and songwriting in Bangkok this month!

I’m going to ASIA this week!! I’m SO EXCITED to be a part of the very first “American Music Abroad Academy” in THAILAND!

I’ll be working with select students from all across Asia who are coming to learn about singing and songwriting with me. Excited for an incredible week in Bangkok, working alongside fellow AMA artists and educators.

I’m also very honored to be returning to SINGAPORE, working with the U.S. Embassy Singapore and building on the work I did there in 2017.

The MemmelNation Declaration

Our NEW POSTER! Designed by Lesleigh Memmel

You are purposefully and wonderfully made. When I have the opportunity to speak in schools, churches, and communities across the globe, this is the message that I bring. Our “MemmelNation Declaration” encompasses these truths and words of encouragement.

The MemmelNation Declaration:

You are purposefully and wonderfully made.

ALWAYS be the BEST that you can be.

Look up, and reach for the stars.

Let your light shine.

If you ever feel small, remember: tall trees start as seeds.

Be bold, brave, confident, and kind, faithful, forgiving, and wise.

Keep going. Work hard. Never give up.

©2019 Tony Memmel

To purchase this poster, visit our online shop. Thank you for supporting our music and mission!

Aktobe… What a Day

“Welcome to Aktobe, Tony Memmel and Band!”

I’d never been met at the airport by a frenetic crowd of cheering, eager new friends and fans of our music…. that is, until arriving in Aktobe, Kazakhstan for the first time. 

As we cleared baggage claim at the airport, there was a large group there to meet us. They brought flowers and baursaki (which are kind of like donut holes), we signed autographs and took selfies, and we were just so deeply touched by their generosity and eagerness to meet us, and host us. 

How any future airport arrival could ever compare to this, I do not know.

The welcome wagon! Such a great, kind, excited group. Notice the t-shirts (US/Kazakhstan friendship logo).

After a quick hotel check-in, we dropped our bags, grabbed our guitars, and were back out the door to a local music school. Here, more baursaki was served, AND to wash it down, local treats: camel’s milk and horse’s milk (“[Camel’s] milk: Does a body good.” That’s a slogan, right?) 

Camel’s milk: Imagine milk with little curdled floaties that’s quite sour and warm, and packs a powerful taste-punch. The horse’s milk is similar, but also has a very earthy scent to it… a peaty, grassy quality. Our hosts were thrilled to share it with us, and watched us with excited, bated breath between each sip. 

At the performance, we jammed with local musicians, including a phenomenal dombra player (dombra is a two-stringed guitar-like instrument). We are told there’s a saying here: “If you really want to know the soul of the Kazakhstani people, listen to the dombra.” 

Giant selfie at the music school

This idea exemplifies exactly why these tours are so very meaningful and important. You can learn so much about people and also share so much of yourself through music. You can come to understand the soul of a person because music notes are a sort of transcendent, beautiful language all their own. It’s amazing to have first-hand experience witnessing how impactful they can be: the conversations they can strike up, the hardships they can heal, and the possibilities they can encourage.

In the afternoon, we visited a local library that houses an American Corner. We played some songs, and even in that often quiet, more reserved library setting, had a great singalong and energetic conversation. The group was so sweet, and welcomed us warmly. 

American Corner selfie time!

LAST, BUT NOT LEAST: It was Joey’s birthday, so we all went out to dinner as a big group, sat in the warm weather outside, ate some delicious food (khachapuri from a Georgian restaurant which was a really fun throwback to our recent tour), and enjoyed good conversation. The band went out exploring after dinner and enjoyed some time to unwind and celebrate this special man’s life.  

Khachapuri – yay!

Aktobe… what a day.

We’re Headed to Texas!

Lesleigh and I are excited to be touring through Dallas, Fort Worth, and Boerne this March! We’d love to see you if you’re in the area…

Tour dates:

March 29th, 2018
Z’s Wood Fired Pizza
Boerne, TX
6:00PM
Free

March 29th, 2018
Geneva School of Boerne
Boerne, TX
Private event

March 24th, 2018
House Concert
Dallas, TX
Private Event

March 24th, 2018
Scottish Rite Hospital for Children
Dallas, TX
1:00PM
Free

March 23rd, 2018
House Concert
Fort Worth, TX
Private Event

March 21st, 2018
Alliance United Methodist Church
Fort Worth, TX
6:30PM
Free

TODAY’S SHOW CANCELED Due to Weather

TODAY’s SHOW CANCELED! Unfortunately, the rainy, cold weather has forced Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery to close the rooftop patio today.

Though there won’t be any live music, the main, downstairs restaurant is definitely still open for business, so be sure to go if you’re hanging out in downtown Nashville today.

School Visits

It was such a great week working with students in the northeastern United States! I had two school visits in Connecticut and taught clinics to grades Pre-K – 6th.

Would you like for us to come to your school this year OR in 2018-19? Contact us today!

Where words fail, music speaks

A group of visually impaired students talking to Tony about how he plays the guitar

 

Guest post by Lesleigh Memmel

“Where words fail, music speaks.” This quote has come to mind so many times on this tour…

In a previous post, Tony described our visit to S. 21 – a former school that the Khmer Rouge turned into a prison. During our visit, we walked through the empty rooms and halls in silence, and tried to comprehend what had happened there, barely 40 years earlier…

That next morning, we traveled to the Secondary School of Fine Arts. The oschoolyard was filled with students bustling around the campus, laughing, smiling, playing with friends, and waving at us as a warm welcome into their community. The buildings were bright and colorful, and you could feel the energy and love in the air. I describe this scene, because the campus layout was similar to the layout of S. 21, but was a sharp contrast to what we’d witnessed the day before. We were grateful to be filling the rooms and hallways with music, smiles, and conversation.

We had to get a selfie with these wonderful students!

The students started the morning workshop by performing traditional Cambodian folks songs – they sang and danced, and acted out a dramatic play. They were incredible! We played a few of our songs, and then performed a song together. In preparation for our tour, we learned a really fun and catchy Cambodian song, “Arabpiya.” Everywhere we went, everyone knew this song. The students sang and danced around us and accompanied us on their local instruments. So much fun!

Later that day, we visited Krousar Thmei – a school that specializes in education for students who are visually and hearing impaired. After several years of instruction (between 3rd and 5th grade), the students are “mainstreamed” into the public school system. Krousar Thmei translates to “new family.” It definitely felt like a big family there.

We were greeted at the school by the U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia, and his wife. We toured the school and visited a few classrooms, and were able to introduce ourselves by spelling our names in sign language.

From there, we made our way to the big hall on campus. This is where the words started to fail me (in the best way!). A group of visually impaired musicians played their instruments while hearing impaired dancers twirled around the room. Both groups followed each others’ cues and created something truly beautiful. How do you follow that?!

We played a few of our songs, and then the whole room erupted into a dance party/conga line as we played “Arabpiya” with the students. They danced circles around us (literally).

“Music is the universal language of mankind,” is a quote that’s also come to mind almost every day of this tour… We’ve experienced this firsthand and witnessed it transcend language, ability, physical/cognitive differences, perceived limitations… halfway around the world, we were welcomed into this “new family,” and were each able to bring something unique to make something special together. That’s the incredible power of music.

Stand By Me

Guest post by Lesleigh Memmel

Friday morning, we were up before the sun, and on our way to Channel News Asia for a TV interview and performance on “First Look Asia,” a morning news program that airs in 25+ regions across the globe. Tony had the chance to speak about our American Music Abroad Tour in Southeast Asia, and our work with the Lucky Fin Project.

Tony with the hosts of “First Look Asia” – Singapore

We had the pleasure of spending our afternoon with the kids at Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore (CPAS). Cerebral Palsy is a movement disorder that affects people in different ways, but typically, it affects muscle control/coordination, posture, and balance. With these things in mind, the amazing thing about music is that it can and should be played and enjoyed by people of all abilities. This truth was brought to life before our very eyes at CPAS…

We played some singalongs and shared stories with the children, but the most meaningful concert of the day was after our set. Several groups of students serenaded us with a concert, featuring everything from animal puppets and movement/music pieces, to a handbell choir playing “I Love You (the Barney Theme Song),” to a beautiful version of “Stand By Me.” I had tears in my eyes as these young musicians sang their hearts out for us and for their peers.

Tony Memmel and his band with the students at Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore

After a beautiful concert, we got to work with the students and “Engineering Good,” a non-profit organization that works to empower people through sustainable engineering solutions: in this case, music!

The engineers had stations set up where students (and Tony Memmel & his band!) could try out some of their adaptive music projects. Electrodes and fresh produce (yes, fruit & veggies!) were connected to computers that assigned music notes to each piece of fruit/vegetable. In technical terms, I was able to play “Oh, When The Saints Go Marching In” on bananas! It’s so exciting to see people like Engineering Good doing amazing things with technology to make music accessible to everyone.

Tony playing a song on potatoes!

After our banana/apple/potato jam session, we held a few guitar and ukulele workshops with the students – some could walk, some were chair users, and their abilities and ages had a wide range. I’m thrilled to say that by the end of each workshop, we had a room full of musicians playing “Stand By Me.”

Joey working with students at CPAS

I played the whole song with a boy named Elijah, a chair user, who was so excited to know our names, the instruments that we play, and that there are 50 STARS on the United States flag! That’s the first time that either Elijah or I had played a full song on a ukulele, and we closed out the song together with a celebratory high five and a huge smile.

Guitar and ukulele workshop at CPAS