Friday, May 11, 2012

Makin' Music Again

Late last year, I heard about and signed a statement from musicians who supported the Occupy movement.  The message hasn't always been coherent, and of course there have been acts of violence and vandalism at Occupy camps and events (though there are always bad elements in any group of sufficient size), but overall I am in favor of shaking up the status quo and leveling the playing field a bit.  I'm not against capitalism per sé, but I do oppose giving bankers and corporate executives hundred-thousand dollar bonuses and private jets while homeowners and factory workers struggle to pay their bills and get food on the table.  There's got to be a better way to give everyone a chance at life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and the money to afford the rising costs associated with said pursuit.  That, to me, is what Occupy is about, and I'm all in favor.

Anyway, as a result of signing the statement, I later got followed (on Twitter) by @WeOccupyMusic, and therefore heard about the Occupy Guitarmy being mobilized by the Occupy Wall Street Music Working Group for all the Occupy and union and other marches and demonstrations and things going on for May Day in New York City.  It sounded like an excellent idea, and while I didn't expect them to actually realize their goal of a thousand guitarists marching down Fifth Avenue, I decided to "enlist."

Yours truly, surrounded by other Guitarmy irregulars in Bryant Park

This was only my second march (the first being against the then-impending war in Iraq in 2003), and I had a lot of fun!  I'd guesstimate there were well over a hundred volunteers in our Guitarmy, and among the brigade leaders was none other than Tom Morello, aka the Nightwatchman.  The sometime Rage Against the Machine axe-slinger penned "World Wide Rebel Songs," one of the tunes we were playing as we marched; we also strummed to Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land" and Willie Nile's "One Guitar," and "We Shall Not Be Moved" and "Which Side Are You On?" and "El Pueblo Unido" and other songs.  After gathering at Bryant Park to get armbands and chord "cheat sheets" and practice the songs, we headed downtown to Union Square, making music and noise along the way, and eventually the luckier among us (myself included!) managed to crowd onstage with Morello and add our guitars and voices to his in renditions of "World Wide Rebel Songs" and "This Land Is Your Land."

Tom Morello (center), on the same stage as me!

I left after that, being tired and hungry (and of full bladder), but I was happy and grateful to have been a part of such an event!  I'm even in a photo on the MTV Hive site.  My next outing with guitar, of course, will be for Make Music New York on June 21st, a Thursday this year.  This time around, I'll perform at Jackson Square, where Eighth and Greenwich Avenues meet (at Horatio Street) in the Village, between 2 and 3 PM.  Come on out if you can!  MMNY is free and going on all over New York City, all day long.  There's a good chance my set'll include a song or three I learned with the Guitarmy...  :-)

Just in time to celebrate Barack Obama's long-delayed public support of gay marriage, Laura and I are going to the wedding of my friends Stephanie and Nicol tomorrow evening!  This is hot on the heels of Laura's cousin's wedding last weekend, and our short trip to Baltimore and the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.  We're still pumping out those Slime strips, too, and I've been teaching her to play some tennis in between jaunts to Montclair (to see Regina Spektor) and to Manhattan (to revisit Central Park and get some German grub and grog at Rolf's).  Things have been busy lately, but hey...  "Better that your life be a blur than a blurb," am I right?

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