come on up for the rising...

For over 30 years this night has been holy ground for me: Thanksgiving Eve. Inspired
both by Bob Franke's wonderful song and Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie's historic Thanksgiving weekend concerts at Carnegie Hall, I started doing American music festivals in the various churches I served. In Saginaw, MI my friends Tom and Donna (and sometimes Bob) joined me and my ex for three wonderful events. In Cleveland, OH we did something similar with Don and Harvey and Roger. In Tucson, AZ the gig grew into something like a cross between Lyle Lovett's Large Band and The Last Waltz with a huge ensemble of musicians as well as a core house band. 

And for 8 years we did much the same here in Pittsfield, MA.  It snowed like a mofo two years ago, however, and we had to cancel. It was simultaneously heartbreaking and liberating. We followed up with a show in January but haven't tried to duplicate the groove since January 2014. Yes, we did perform a most excellent rendering of Paul Winter's "Missa Gaia: Earth Mass" last year at about this time. And followed up with a Good Friday take on John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme at 50" but we've let the American Music Festival rest for the time being.  And it has been the right call even as some grow restless for a new perspective - and finally I think I have it.
Here's the core of an idea:  before the next Presidential inauguration - on Sunday, January 15 in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday - maybe we could host a "Songs of Solidarity" concert that would bring back the key performers from our TGE gigs and raise money and a whole lotta music for local groups fighting for compassion in both the immigrant and LGBTQ communities?  I don't have any of the details yet, but before I retire and move into part-time employment I think this gig is essential. Not only does it advance the "10 foot rule" - giving time and energy to healing the hurts that exist in a 10 foot circumference rather than fretting about the macro picture that only breeds despair - but it reclaims the joy of making beautiful music together in the middle of winter on a sacred, secular holy day that celebrates many of our deepest values and dreams.

Last night I got an affirmation from two of my oldest musician friends. And after choir practice a few of our church band members indicated how healing it has been to resume playing together. So, let's see where this might go. I'm already hearing something like this in my head...


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