Not all children are created equal. But they all have the same goals and expectations. Massachusetts teacher and musician Tim Seston explores those dimensions on his new CD, On a Roll. A father of three, Tim’s son Luke was born with cerebral palsy. Regardless of disability, Luke is credited as tambourine player on the CD and features prominently in the artwork. The title track itself is a double entendré (of the least risqué kind) for a freewheeling child living with mental or physical impairment.
On a Roll is a CD with high expectations and a low age range (for listeners). The acoustic arrangements are augmented by violin, trombone, kazoo, clarinet, saxophone, tuba, mandolin, banjolin, dobro, and trumpet, but seldom an electric instrument. Don’t look for sophisticated synthesizers and keyboards—Tim may sing about “DNA,” but it’s as far from The Pop-Ups‘ GIANTS OF SCIENCE as you can get when dealing with the same basic scientific premises.
Tim has more than a decade of experience as an educator and performing musician. He is well-versed in the demands made on parents and is acutely aware of what happens when one of the children commands more attention due to special needs. As far as I’m concerned, Tim is preaching to the converted on that narrative. Conveying those points without talking down to his audience is the overriding concern of On a Roll. On songs such as “In Walked James,” Tim deals with hyperactivity and exuberant imagination. I explained “Canker Sore” to my kids, only to double back when I realized Tim was co-opting the term and applying it to a terrible, awful, no-good day. I found it a bit off-putting that “Rhymenocerous” is essentially a country song featuring hip-hop, beat-boxing animals—although Tim’s website notes the song is really about how it feels to be excluded.
Once you’ve been introduced to the world of special needs, you never go back through the Looking Glass. It’s a constant reminder that some children lack equivalent capabilities, but that all children should be capable of the same goals and expectations. On a Roll brings those fears and frustrations to the forefront in a folksy, genial manner. A tambourine may not be a guitar, but it’s good enough to allow Luke Seston to be part of his father’s world of music. And On a Roll provides an introduction for the rest of us.
Here is a recent video of Tim performing “Wake the Imagination”: