A letter to my grandson Lucas

The author with young musician Lucas del Calvo, the youngest of her six grandchildren.

By Ludy Astraquillo Ongkeko, Ph.D.

Hello Sweetie,

Myriad thanks to a story from the “Dog Trainer.” A description of the New York-based band of “singer/songwriter/producer Nick Broman (25) and guitarist/songwriter/producer Lucas del Calvo (26) who had originally titled their new album “Every Word Is True.”

Your Lola would never have known the heights you’ve undertaken in the world of music without reading the story you passed on to me.  As the written piece has indicated “Every Word Is True,” I firmly believe that same piece would not have ventured into emerging in the manner it has been described, weren’t it the truth. My fond congratulatory wishes to Nick and you.

It is most interesting to note how you and Nick commenced work on the aforesaid record to “create together in an unprecedented way,” just as the COVID-19 pandemic started to reach this country’s shores.  The same story tells about how both of you “created together” despite the fact that you were physically separated by hundreds of miles: Broman “working from his NYC apartment,” and you, “from the basement hundreds of miles of an Airbnb rental in Vermont.”

I was greatly interested in how you met Nick: How you first met as “rival jazz guitarists at The New School for Jazz,” your choice of university education after you were accepted with scholarships by all the Ivy League schools and how you made the major decision to go to New York instead, and to take up music as a teen-ager, just straight from having graduated with honors at a private secondary high school in Santa Monica, California.  Your having earned and graduated with honors at The New School continue to attest to your hard work and consistency.  Indeed, all these constants have been present in your adult life that so much pride has engulfed your Lola.

Guitarist, songwriter, and producer Lucas del Calvo  (right) with singer, songwriter, producer Nick Broman. Their album ‘Dog Trainer’ has just been released.

It has been a great pleasure for me to read how “Dog Trainer” did describe your work: how you and Nick both drew lyrics entirely away from your “lived experiences — the good and the bad, the interesting and the mundane.” How “Dog Trainer” evolved as a “work of sincerity that explores the everyday realities of millennials and Gen Z-ers,” has been so aptly described.  As Nick has elucidated: “I think the one thing we really strived for on this album was to be more honest about ourselves and the way we feel about our lives and music careers.”

Again, I just love your forthrightness: “We’re not on a label yet but have been in contact with many, including Atlantic Records, and Artist Partner Group, both pretty big names in the industry.  Honestly, I’d guess if we end up signing with someone though, it will be a smaller label than those, as those seem to be a bit too big to be interested in a band of our size (we have something like twenty-two thousand listeners per month, whereas big artists can have listeners in the millions).”

I recall how you did join as a jazz guitarist with Grammy-winning bassist and singer, Esperanza Spalding, on the same stage as Esperanza who at that time, was already at the height of her career.  That particular performance was at the auditorium of your Lola’s alma mater: The University of Southern California which drew a very large and responsive group that admission was strongly based on ticket holders who had to appear on time.

Yes, you as my youngest grandchild, have always been one of thoughtfulness and concern for your Lola. I have loved how caring you have always been a part of your demeanor.  When I’d inquire from you about how you were faring in your musical career, you would humbly state: “Always feel free to mention I’m your grandson.  Would be an honor.”

Indeed, since you started as a youngster in school, you have always been the soul of heedful thoughts. So exemplary of you to state: “Glad to hear you’ve recovered from the second shot!  I’ve definitely heard it can be quite intense, and that seems to have proven true.  It must be a relief though!  Finally, not having to live in fear! Can’t wait till I’m vaccinated and come out West and see you, the cousins, and the kids!”

As a grandmother, of course, it does go without saying that we do follow members of our younger generations whenever we can.  I am overjoyed to be on the receiving end of many an act of generous thoughtfulness from you, and each grandchild is engraved in my heart and well-remembered to cheer me as the years come by. 

Passing on my views to you as usual each time an opportunity is around. As long as I can recall, you might be the youngest among my grandchildren, but you’ve likewise, since you could talk, been full of commonsense reflections that are truly yours and yours alone. Needless to state, I’ll continue to be proud of you.

Loving you, prayers always,


Forever Business Owner: Nieva Quezon Burdick
Email: Nqburdick1@gmail.com

© The FilAm 2021

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