I’ve seen Senator Tim Kaine break out his harmonica on several different occasions over the years and he always seems giddy when he performs in front of a crowd. Not only does he seem to enjoy it, but the crowd does too. I watched tonight with some friends who also work in politics and we all agree it was nice to see him outside of the “normal” political setting. The “jam session” we were watching was at Max’s Positive Vibe Cafe in Richmond, Virginia with a band known as the Cary Street Ramblers.
If you don’t know the story behind Max’s Positive Vibe Cafe, it’s a restaurant founded with the mission of training and employing people with disabilities so they can have the skills and satisfaction that come along with being gainfully employed. My server told me they have a training program that’s seen over 1,500 people participate. The program lasts four weeks, gets people ready for a job in food service, and helps prepare them for “the work world” (including interview and job seeking skills).
The restaurant was started in the early 2000’s when Garth Larcen noticed there weren’t very many employment opportunities for people with disabilities, including his son Max. Knowing that Kaine has a history of working with members of the community who have disabilities, Larcen reached out to him years ago and the two developed a good relationship. The Senator has made several appearances at the restaurant since, including previous ones with the Cary Street Ramblers (who also have traveled around the Commonwealth of Virginia with Kaine). So tonight’s appearance definitely wasn’t a one time thing.
Of course, you can’t expect a politician to hold an event without giving at least a short speech and Kaine took a few minutes to address the crowd tonight. He spoke about how he first met Garth back during his time as Lt. Governor, how he’s “a Richmonder” and loves coming back to town, and how he was challenged to a harmonica duel by a constituent. Here’s the speech for those of you who are interested.
In case you were wondering, the harmonica duel did in fact go down. As much I like Senator Kaine, I have to admit he was outmatched tonight. Though here’s the video of his solo performance in case you want to watch (he played with the band for another 20 minutes or so).