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The kind of music that soothes the soul

Written by Otisha J. Paige on . Posted in Local

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Music has long been known to possess soothing qualities. Some may even say music possesses healing powers, and can potentially change a person’s mood.

To the residents of Landmark of Baton Rouge, a Baton Rouge-based nursing home, the effects of music become apparent one day each month when West Baton Rouge-based band ‘Tony D and the Country Rocks’ perform.

The band members, whose ages range from early 70s to early 80s, are around the same age group, typically, as many of the residents they perform for.

The realization that they are in good health drives the band members’ desire to perform for the nursing home residents. The band members said they are grateful that their health still allows them to dance, sing, and play musical instruments.

"All we do is thank the Lord we're still here. The Lord gave us a talent and we're able to share it with the people in the nursing home" said Tony Daquano, or “Tony D.,” the band’s leader, who is from Port Allen.

Jerry Besson, also of Port Allen, an energetic, 81-year-old singer and guitarist in the band, said he likes to dance while performing and encourages others to do the same.

“I encourage dancing so they can forget their hurts,” said Besson.

For Besson as well as other members, it’s about performing and making sure that the audience is entertained. The amount of vibrancy and dedication put into each performance shows their love for performing and their desire to provide a fun escape for the residents.

The band members were delighted to know that their music has had such a positive influence on the Landmark residents.

“Seeing people at the end of their lives, they’re lonesome,” said Besson. “It looks like they like it.”

The musical performance serves as a type of therapy according to Sandra Bourgoyne, the residents’ hairdresser, who is also from Port Allen.

“The people here need this. It livens them up,” said Bourgoyne.

For the band, it’s about giving back to the community, as few people think to go to nursing homes and provide entertainment.

On Thursday, June 20, as band members began setting up their equipment to perform, residents trickled in and watched intently with a childlike anticipation and excitement.

“The band played good,” said Lizzie Gray, a Landmark resident, enthusiastically, when asked about the band's previous performance there. Her excitement for their most recent show made it clear that the performance means a lot to her and other residents.

The band members beamed with pride and joy when asked about the effect performing for the residents has on them.

“Performing for the community is the best thing that happened to me,” said Besson with a smile on his face.

Daquano, 78, echoed Besson’s sentiments.

“I like to perform to give back, because the residents love it,” said Daquano. “It makes me feel good to serve in this way.”

Rosemary Daquano, Tony’s 76-year-old wife and singer for the band, hearkens back to Bourgoyne’s use of music as therapy.

“I try to make people happier than they already are,” Rosemary Daquano said.

The band members said that their goal of pleasing the residents makes the performance much better because it gives them a set purpose of fulfillment. Besson’s dancing provides the fun backdrop and engages the audience.

The band also engages their audience with the song selections.

“Most of the residents know our songs since they’re from an older generation and we play old country music,” said keyboardist Lucille Genusa, who, in her early 70s, is the youngest member of the band.

Genusa said that something as simple as knowing the song and being able to sing along brings joy to the residents because it makes the performance a little more personal and creates an inclusive community.

The band performs at various other nursing homes, and other venues and is paid for their performances. However, they perform at the Landmark of Baton Rouge free of charge.

Tony Daquano said he decided to play at the nursing home for free because it's about giving back to the community, adding that their monthly performances at Landmark are purely to give the residents enjoyment, which lets residents know that the band really does care.

Music makes both the performers and the residents happy. Although the band members are older, their age does not affect their vibrancy while performing. The music creates energy and excitement within the band as well as the residents.

“If you have a little talent, why throw it away?” said Tony Daquano.

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