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Notes from the Field

Acts of Defiance

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Hang on folks this is important.

Every year I throw a large music party at a local state park pavilion. At times we have had as many as 65 or 70 attendees. Once or twice we had three simultaneous jams, old time and traditional, hard core Irish traditional, and one for old country and western songs.

Mandolins, yea, but banjos too, fiddles galore, two or three cellos, maybe an accordion and a clarinet, one or two autoharps, and many guitars.

Been doing this for over ten years running.

There are many aspects of this worth mentioning, but the most important right now is this:

Getting together to play music with each other is an act of defiance. Defiance against all that is sad, depressing, frustrating, and overwhelming in our lives. I donít really care what your politics are, nobody is made happy by the news of the world. And everyone lives with personal tragedy and loss.

Our musical community recently lost one of our own, a flute and whistle player, avid dancer, and an endless source of the most corny jokes you could imagine. He recently passed of a long, very very painful, lingering ailment.

My point is that despite this sad event that hit our community hard, and despite all the many other reasons, public and private, to be angry and sad, we played music together. Quite the opposite of indulging in frivolous entertainments, this was heroism. This was a defiant refusal to let the ďdark sideĒ (define it any way you want) decide our mood and demeanor.

We got together, and ate and drank, and played almost continuously for five hours. We didnít talk about politics, or the news of the day, we didnít share our personal griefs and struggles, or even much about the approaching funeral service for our friend.

We were determined to take a rest from that which weighs on our soul and dive into the respite of great fiddle tunes, great waltzes, great songs, engaging laughter and sincere smiles. We chased out the devil by a deliberate acts of joy and appreciation. We affirmed there is good and beauty in the world by creating it ourselves, unashamedly, publicly, in front of each other. (And without much expense, without extraordinary effort, without the sanction of any group or entity, without commercial gain or sponsorship, without self-aggrandizing self-sacrifice.)

I like to hope that we can take notice of these experiences, the joy and the light heartedness of playing music together, and when we go back into the mean old world, that we can do two things: take the serious things seriously, and avoid piling up negativity. We donít need to feel sorry for ourselves, we musicians especially. We need to remind ourselves that we have access to secret infinite stores of joy and beauty and that friends to play music with are only a phone call away.

Play music with each other, people. It is what we can do.

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Comments

  1. Mark Gunter's Avatar
    Yep, important stuff. Thanks for the thoughts.
  2. Mandolin Cafe's Avatar
    Well spoken.
  3. Russ Donahue's Avatar
    Well put, Jeff. Thank you for reminding us of the power music has.
  4. Tavy's Avatar
    Very well put, you just can't beat music to break down barriers and bring people together.
  5. John Soper's Avatar
    Music is therapy for many of us. Communal music enriches all who participate as performers and audience.