Local Heroes

As YouTube’d and Wiki’d and Facebooked and blogged-drenched as we are today. And as wicked cool as it is to have the entire world in digital form at our fingertips- we still need people to do stuff –Locally.

I might have the Mona Lisa as wallpaper on my computer screen, but it is the mural on the wall of the building around the corner that brings out the pride in the place where I live.  I might have an ipod full of the greatest recordings in the history of jazz, but it is the consistent swing of the drummer that plays at the club down the street that provides the heartbeat ofmy daily experience and the face to face inspiration that makes my kid want to study music.

I can listen to TedTalk’s and Fresh Air broadcasts, read Huffington Post and New Yorker articles that open the portals of the world. I can order in a bounty of exotic products from Amazon and Zappos and Ebay and never leave my couch. But I need real people to rub shoulders with, and inspire me, and  remind me the possibilities of the life I might aspire to–here in my own zip code.

I need people to make the great ideas of the world live on MY block.

I need local heros.

Why Megan McGeorge is my hero…

What Megan is doing has been done before. But not here. And so to me, even though her idea is simple, it is brilliant.  In retrospect it seems obvious, but that makes it no less inspiring.

Megan is my hero because she is one of those people who make a decision that a thing needs to happen, and then she get’s it to happen.  She didn’t wait to get a grant.   She didn’t wait for someone else to give her permission.  She gathered her courage and asked. Then she rolled up her sleeves and pushed.  The thing she decided was that our public spaces would be enhanced if people had the means to fill them with music.   I happen to agree with this. I believe that providing the means for music to return to the commons  make all our lives better. 

She is also my hero because this was not an idea she pursued in order to enrich herself.  She wasn’t looking to busk for cash. Although there is absolutely nothing wrong with that occupation.  She was after something more elusive.  She was providing the means for music to be given away.  She was planting something. Some people plant trees.  Megan plants pianos.   And once she planted a few, she mobilized her community of musicians-professional, student, amateur to join her in showing the rest of us what could be done with this new resource.

Megan is my hero because she is finding a way to bring a voice to the commons.  She reminds me of how engaging with music, not recorded, but actual, real-time music was part of the rhythm of daily life. for all people- youngest to oldest. trained artist or novice, professional or amateur.  Music was usI

I did a show today called Piano-Rama in part to draw attention to the work of Megan and Piano, Push Play, to try to spread her story a bit further. 

Tnanks Megan.

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Testing, Testing

Gloves- B&WSo, since I had nothing else going on this fall (ha,ha)  I thought it was time to make a radical experiment in audience building.

I’m a jazz piano player. There is a long history and deep tradition in this instrument and this music.  My question is this:  Is there a way I might dig into the historical precedent of my musical tradition, and find a way to engage with a very atypical audience?  What would happen if  I rethink the performance conventions  to draw on the practices of other artistic forms-theater, magic, or comedy for instance.  They all engage audiences. But they use different approaches.  What if I embrace some of the techniques that sporting events use to create drama, for instance.  Can I create something that pro wrestling fans, NASCAR viewers and yes, even jazz fans can  gather around.  All while having a good time AND not sacrificing the quality of the music?

I don’t know.

But I’m giving it a shot.

This Saturday afternoon.