‘Write about what you know” is perhaps the most commonly dispensed advice to young creative types. Hence, budding authors, poets, and lyricists often choose themes of love, angst, political passion, the natural world, or personal betrayal to inspire their work.
Canadian songwriter Kyle Dine writes about what he knows, too. And one thing he knows well is what it’s like to live for 30 years with life-threatening food allergies.
So Dine, who performs Saturday at the West Suburban YMCA in Newton, has filled his first two CDs, titled “You Must Be Nuts” and “Food Allergies Rock,” with original titles such as “EpiMan,” “Smellephant the Allergic Elephant,” and “Stop! Please Don’t Feed Me!” — and in doing so is fulfilling a personal mission to make kids with food allergies feel comfortable with the limitations the condition imposes upon them.
“I’ve had food allergies since I was a toddler,” said Dine, who was raised in Kingston, Ontario. “My allergies include peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, shellfish, and mustard. When I was a teenager, I was not always as careful as I should have been about attending to my allergies. I was a typical teen who took a lot of risks. I didn’t always carry my Epi-Pen with me or check ingredients before eating something.”
He made it through his teen years in reasonably good health, but then underwent a life-changing moment when he was 21 and ate some cashews.
“It was the most serious reaction of my life. It was a really close call, a near-death experience, and a complete game changer for me,” he recalled.
Dine’s mother saved him by injecting him with an Epi-Pen, which delivers an antidote to severe allergic reactions, and then calling for an ambulance. Dine said it was the wake-up call he needed.
“It was so scary not being able to breathe. The main thing I was left with afterwards was knowing I never wanted this to happen again to me or to anyone else. It stirred something inside of me and made me want to help other people.”
Music has been Dine’s means of creative expression all his life. He started writing songs as a young teen, then played in garage bands throughout college and performed at open-microphone events. In his early 20s, he taught guitar at a summer camp. So it was natural for him to start putting his awareness of food allergies to music.
Today, Dine tours the continent performing for schools and special interest groups such as the New England chapter of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, which is sponsoring Saturday’s concert in Newton. When not performing, he works for Anaphylactic Canada, a nonprofit that creates awareness and promotes education about food sensitivities.
“The key messages I want to get across to kids through my songs are that food allergies aren’t something to be embarrassed about,” Dine said. “If you are a kid with food allergies and you eat something you shouldn’t, never keep it a secret. Tell someone. And if you are a kid who doesn’t have food allergies, know what you can do to support other kids who might. Wash your hands after you eat; don’t share your food; never tease about food allergies. Have your friends’ backs.”
The enthusiastic reception from both live audiences and purchasers of his CDs has gone beyond his wildest dreams, said Dine.
“This started as just a few songs I could share with the kids at the camp where I worked. Now I get fan mail and pictures all the time. Kids send me photos of themselves dressed up in an EpiMan Superhero costume. It’s so cool to see kids getting empowered in this way, taking ownership of their allergies and feeling confident.”
Dine performs at noon Saturday at the West Suburban YMCA, 276 Church St. in Newton Corner, in a free concert that will kick off the Y’s annual “Healthy Kids Day,” with events continuing into the afternoon. For more information, visit www.westsuburbanymca.org.
ARMED FORCES SALUTE: The Fort Devens Museum will hold an open house Saturday to mark Armed Forces Day.
Featured events include talks by historian and journalist Alan Earls on Cold War research; historians Ed and Libby Klekowski on American involvement in World War I; and Trisha Blanchet, founder and president of Operation Delta Dog, on how her nonprofit organization uses service dogs to help local veterans cope with traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The museum is on the third floor at 94 Jackson Road in the Devens development off Route 2, and will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; the Armed Forces Day programs will begin at 11 a.m. There will also be refreshments and raffles during the free event.
For more information, call 978-772-1286 or go to www.fortdevensmuseum.org.
ASIAN PACIFIC TIES: Newton’s celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month continues with 7:30 p.m. screenings of three award-winning films at the West Newton Cinema, 1296 Washington St.
The next film is “Mrs. Judo: Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful,’’ being shown Thursday evening at the cinema.
The series continues with “One Big Hapa Family” next Wednesday, and “Linsanity” next Thursday.
Visit www.newtoncommunitypride.org for more information on the films’ content. Admission is free to students up to Grade 12; regular admission is $10, with discounts for college students and senior citizens.
To reserve tickets, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 617-796-1540.
BACH AND BEETHOVEN: The Metropolitan Chorale of Brookline presents a program of Bach and Beethoven on Saturday at 8 p.m. at All Saints Parish, 1773 Beacon St., Brookline.
On the program is Bach’s Cantata No. 140, “Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme,” and Beethoven’s Mass in C major. Tickets are $25, or $20 for seniors, students and members of Coolidge Corner Theatre and WGBH. They can be purchased in advance online at www.metropolitanchorale.org and at the Brookline Booksmith, 279 Harvard St.
POPS IN CONCORD: Lexington resident Barbara Shinn-Cunningham will be a soloist during this year’s Concord Orchestra Pops concerts, taking place Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. at 51 Walden St. in Concord.
In addition, New York jazz vocalist Marlene VerPlanck will perform songs by Cole Porter as well as bossa nova tunes by Brazilian songwriter Antonio Carlos Jobim during the concerts, which will feature table seating with refreshments and a cash bar.
Tickets are $30, or $25 for seniors and $10 for students. For tickets and information, call 978-369-4967 or visit www.concordorchestra.com.
INSIDE INFORMATION: The Framingham History Center’s 13th annual house tour takes place Sunday from 12 to 5 p.m. and will showcase homes of local painters, sculptors, potters, inventors, designers, collectors, and craftsmen.
The self-guided tour will send participants to every corner of town, with stops including a painter’s core contemporary with walls of glass that afford a breathtaking view; a master craftsman’s home remodeled to include an Irish pub; a sculptor’s conception of a Campanelli Eldorado ranch; a charming Arts and Crafts Colonial that offers work and play space for its resident inventor; an interior designer’s synthesis of 21st-century function in a 19th-century farmhouse; a potter’s small-scale home remodeled for maximum space and light; and a 1930s custom Colonial filled with a local art collection that parallels its waterfront setting.
Tickets are $30, with a $5 discount for Framingham History Center members.
For additional details and to purchase tickets online, go to www.framinghamhistory.org/house-tour.
MUSICAL BENEFIT: Two organizations dedicated to combating the same deadly disease present their inaugural “Sing Out’’ youth music festival Sunday from 4 to 6 p.m. at Brookline High School, 115 Greenough St .
The fund-raiser for Upstage Lung Cancer and the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation will feature talented student musicians from across the area performing an eclectic repertoire, with WBZ radio personality Jordan Rich serving as emcee.
The event honors the memory of beloved Brookline educator James Walsh, who died of lung cancer in 2009. Proceeds from Sing Out will support the foundation’s Genomics of Young Lung Cancer Study, which looks for signs of special mutations in the disease in patients ages 18 to 39.
Tickets are $25, or $20 for students, seniors and teachers, with special “benefactor’’ reserved seating for $100. For advance tickets, e-mail email@example.com or call 617-290-0527. To make a donation, or for more information, go to www.upstagelungcancer.org or www.lungcancerfoundation.org.
Send ideas to nancyswest@ gmail.com.