Thursday, September 30, 2010
More on the Cambridge Drive Concert Series
I'm a lousy interview. I've long known that. Part of it is hubris. I think quickly and can be pretty charming in most settings so, I go into an interview situation without having thought it through as carefully as I should have figuring I can wing it. Part of it is just cluelessness. Enough said. When I was president of the local clergy association, I got interviewed a lot. And when we lived in Albany, NY I found myself on the news or in the paper a few times so I should know better, but too often I don't.
Two days ago, a reporter from the Montecito Journal called to interview me about the up coming Cambridge Drive Concert Series. He asked me the most obvious question of all... "Why are you starting a new concert series?" It was the most obvious question and yet, I wasn't really prepared to answer it. There are a couple of other series that happen in greater Santa Barbara including two that I am aware of that happen in churches, so why another? I'm pretty sure my answer was lame. It did start me thinking though... why another concert series?
I should be honest and say that I've not attended many of the local series. Those in the big venues are frankly too expensive for me. I just can't justify spending $30 or $50 or more times two to see a musical act more than once every few years. The two church based series fly under my radar and I just never know who is performing or when. There have been a few series featuring local acts, mostly in coffee houses, and I try to visit them when I can. All too often life gets in the way and I suffer that loss.
So, here are the niches I think we're filling and I think we're unique in the mix at least. We're trying to bring in very talented regional and national acts who are fulltime musicians. In part, I want to support the musicians. It can be a difficult life and keeping the wolf away is a huge job. I'm hoping that we can provide one more possible venue as they travel around the country sharing their art. We have decided to always have a local opening act. There are some wonderful local performers and too few venues that allow them to play to an appreciative listening audience. Some are as good as any touring artist out there but are constrained for any number of reasons to stay local. Others are just honing their craft. In both cases they deserve to truly be heard and to have the opportunity to share a stage with other wonderful musicians.
Music can build community. I'm hoping that opening our doors to these wonderful musicians and to an audience will break down some of the walls that divide us and build some new relationships. At least for the present, the concerts are not seen as fundraisers for the church although we are also unable to subsidize them beyond opening doors, providing space and staff time, and being as hospitable as we can be.
We are substance free. I have talked to some folk who are a bit put off that there will be no alcohol available. They want a glass of wine while they listen. I understand that... but beyond being against the church by-laws, there are communities of folk who are excluded from venues with alcohol - young folk below the drinking age and folk with addiction issues. So we are substance free... except for caffeine maybe.
And here's the big piece... God's creation is filled with extravagant beauty. The other morning I happened to look out the window as I was spraying my orchid plant and saw a breath-taking sky - pink clouds and robin's egg blue sky. Then the light shifted and the colors faded. How many days have I missed an equally beautiful moment? A few weeks ago, for just a few moments, the light was perfect as I drove through the Gaviota Pass. Had I been 5 minutes later, the view would have been less amazing, or at least completely different. The songs of birds, the majesty of the mountains, the power of the ocean, the laughter of children, the intricate beauty of a tiny flower... God is a performance artist in the most sublime sense of the word. Part of what it means to be created in the image of God is to consciously contribute to this proliferation of beauty. And we will be doing just that at the Cambridge Drive Concert Series on the first Friday of every month. Frankly, there cannot be too much beauty.
I hope that if you are anywhere near Santa Barbara, you will come to the concert tomorrow and/or any subsequent ones. Bev Barnett & Greg Newlon and Rebecca Troon will be making the world a more beautiful place and when the performance is over, it will be gone except in the memories and lives of those who shared those moments...