Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sweet Relief

I ran into a friend at the gym yesterday morning, who told me about a concert scheduled for that evening at the Forum Theater in Laguna Beach featuring his niece, Molly Venter. He even dialed her number on his cell phone so that I could talk to her, breathless, from my elliptical walker. Well, she sounded charming, so what else could we do but go?

We went. It was a lot of fun. As I think I have mentioned here on The Buddha Diaries in the past, I have a highly under-developed ear for music. Since we seem to be on childhood memories week, let me recall as a brief aside that we never had music in our house when I was growing up. When we listened to the radio, it was always language stuff--theater (Dick Barton, Special Agent!) Or comedy (The Goon Show, Hancock's Half Hour...) Or BBC Home Theater. Or, mostly especially, the news. This was the big daily event, during World War II, and the adults in our household--including our numerous paying guests and armed forces billetees--took it very seriously. But no music. Or only in the church across the way, where we sang hymns and psalms.

So, with my highly under-developed ear for music, I won't even begin to attempt to say anything smart or useful about the concert, except to say that I found Molly's songs to be sweet, and sometimes arch, and often powerful in their emotional reach; and that the main act, Graeme Winder, provided a smooth smorgasbord of sound, featuring Winder himself, the writer/composer, on piano along with drums, bass guitar, violin and cello and a female vocalist whose name (forgive me) I did not catch. I wish there had been a program to remind me. Suffice it to say that it was a lovely experience, sitting in the small theater in the company of an enthusiastic community of supporters and listening with pleasure to the experience of live music.

The evening did not pass without a reminder of our current political morass. Graeme ceded his microphone at one point to Rob Max, Communications Director of the charitable organization Sweet Relief, which exists to offer assistance to musicians in financial difficulties due to problems with health, joblessness or aging. Rob's plea, while it properly avoided politics at such an event, could not but remind us eloquently of some of the dire consequences for musicians--and of course artists of all kinds--of our country's inexcusable lack of access to health care insurance for all its citizens, particularly those whose economic situation is the least secure.

Sweet Relief is supported in part by concerts and donations from a vast and impressive array of prominent musicians, but it still needs the support of the wider public. I plan to do my part, as a gesture of thanks for the pleasure of the concert--and for the pleasure that musicians generously bring into our lives. Can I ask that you check out Sweet Relief's website and chip in, as you can? And, if your lives are brightened by the passion and dedication of hard-working musicians like those we heard last night, can I ask you to pass the word?

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