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Posts Tagged ‘music’

-Blog post by Reed Sandridge of Washington, D.C.

There’s an overwhelming joy … of sharing what I love and bringing it into the community.

Those words were spoken to me back in the summer of 2010 by Maestro Darrold Hunt, the founder and conductor of the Urban Philharmonic, a nonprofit whose mission it is to take high quality symphonic music normally heard only within the marble walls of prestigious concert halls and introduce it to diverse neighborhoods throughout our community.

Hunt was the 189th recipient of my $10. As I normally do I spent some time speaking with him and learned more about him and the organization he started four decades earlier. I was so touched by the history and potential of the organization that I agreed to take a voluntary role of interim executive director. Despite its rich history, the organization had fallen on hard times. Silenced for several years, they were in debt and missing clear direction.

I spent about one day a week for the next year working to revive the symphony. I recently stepped down from my role and now serve as an advisor – albeit in a much less active way. We succeeded in improving the financial position of the organization tremendously, however, now it is time for a full time executive director to come in and take it to the next level. If you are able to make a donation or know of a dedicated individual who might be able to carry the organization forward, please reach out.

Hunt outside Soho Tea and Coffee on Day 189 of my Year of Giving

To learn more about Maestro Hunt and the Urban Philharmonic click here to watch a short video I shot of him in what became our “office” – Soho Tea and Coffee at the intersection of 22nd and P. If you go in the mornings you will hear some beautiful orchestral music. If you go in the afternoon you very well might run into Maestro Hunt…say hello and tell him I sent you!

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-Blog post by Mike B., a Kindness Investor from Cromwell, CT

Her name is Jayne T., and as it was my first day being a Kindness Investor.  I couldn’t have asked for a more interesting subject.

My name is Mike and I am honored to be a Kindness Investor.  While reading Reed’s daily blog through the year, it made me think about what I consider “giving”.  It wasn’t a life changing thinking, but more of a subtle difference.  I consider myself a genuinely normal guy and will help a fellow human being out as much as I can “till the cows come home” as my father would say.  But to read Reed’s daily outpouring of kindness, I, like many others, couldn’t help but be inspired.  So when the chance to follow in his footsteps was asked, it was a no-brainer for me.  I too, am unemployed, and have been for 18 months, but due to some long-term planning and some luck, I still have a roof over my head and am able to put food on the table.  So when the opportunity arose to give back, like I said, it was plain and simple.  I was doing it.

So today starts my week and as I told Reed I would do it back in December, I had a good amount of time to prepare for it.  I thought a good way to at least start a conversation with someone, was to follow Reed’s lead and come in with a business card.  So a couple of drafts later, I came up with this.

I was in Middletown, Connecticut this morning mailing something at the Post Office and was looking for that right person to be my first recipient.  No one at the Post Office seemed right and so it was on to my next stop, getting a cup of coffee at a place on Main Street in Middletown called Brew Bakers.  An interesting side note (to me anyway) was the day before I was to start my week, I came across not one, but two people I would have felt right at least trying to give the $10 away to.  But I didn’t, as I was monetarily ready to start the next day and had $3 on me when having a conversation with both of them!

So I stopped at Brew Bakers, got a cup and sat down and surveyed the place. They have a pretty busy lunch crowd as they offer some good soups and sandwiches as well as their coffee bar.  I noticed several people by themselves and decided Jayne was the one.

She was sitting on a couch in the back part of the place, reading a book and enjoying her coffee.  When I approached her, it was a friendly voice that said, “Sure, I’ll listen to your request for help with a project.”  We had quite the conversation and a few hours later, we just about closed the place which was just open for breakfast and lunch.

Brew Bakers in Middletown, CT.

She was excited about receiving the $10 and when asked what she would do with it, she immediately said “Pay it Forward.”  She’s a unique person and very interesting conversationalist.  When asked where she was from, her reply was, “from her mother.” As for her occupation, she was at first apprehensive about telling me, saying it wasn’t easy to describe.  But eventually she said, “What I do is invite people into my life with whom I am able to share my passion for caring for others and creating and finding places for people to play music, who might not otherwise have a place to play.”  She herself is a musician who plays guitar.

She is also an advocate for people in her words, who “need some caring, such as veterans, people with mental health issues or disabilities”.

We talked about quite a number of topics and I would say that I hope all my recipients are as giving as her.  She even wanted to help me in my job search as well!   I asked her if she needed anything for the Lend a Hand portion on the blog and after much thought and consideration, she said she is looking for us all to be a more caring society, to act on that caring (not just talk about it) and not to forget the seniors in our lives.

We both left the place at the same time and agreed to keep in touch.  What a way to start my week!  Can’t wait till tomorrow.

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A man tucks a $5 bill into the donation kettle.

How many times have you walked by the Salvation Army bell-ringer in your lifetime?  Probably hundreds.  How many times have you stopped to make a donation?  Probably a fraction of those times if you are like most people.  Have you ever stopped to speak to the bell-ringer? Well, I did and met Daniel.

 

Originally from Houston, Texas, Daniel moved to Colorado Springs for middle and high school before moving to DC.  Now 17, he is a youth pastor here in our nation’s capital and is studying to get his associates degree in legal affairs at the University of the District of Colombia.  If all this wasn’t enough to make him one heck of an interesting recipient, check out his voice.  That’s definitely what caught my eye, err…ear I guess, when I walked by him on 12th Street.

He accepted my two five dollar bills and put them right into the bright red tub next to him.  “Nobody’s gonna to steal my bucket,” Daniel told me in response to a news report that I shared with him about a bucket being stolen from a bell-ringer in Arlington, TX earlier in the week.  “I’m a good Christian, but if somebody tries to steal my bucket I’m gonna get’em,” he tells me with a deafening smile.

 

Daniel sings holiday songs for hours while he volunteers with the Salvation Army.

“I’ve been doing this since the sixth grade,” he says while continuing the melodic ringing of the shiny silver bell.  “I do it every day and people seem to really enjoy the singing.”  I have to agree with Daniel.  I saw probably a dozen people putting money into the kettle.  “There’s been a lot of fives going in today,” Daniel said.  “It’s gonna be a good day!”  If you haven’t already heard Daniel’s singing and made a donation to the Salvation Army, he’ll be there until 11pm tomorrow night, so if you are in DC, head down to 12th and G Streets and say hello to Daniel and make a donation.

 

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Deb Felz: singer, guitarist and songwriter

I never know where I am going to find my recipients.  Today I found Deb at the Potbelly’s where she was playing guitar.  It’s cool that Potbelly’s has musicians in there.  It’s not a place that you would expect to hear some great local talent, but Deb is pretty awesome.

I ordered their Uptown Salad and headed over to a table.  I was pretty sure that I had seen Deb before.  And then I figured it out, she was opening act at the Velvet Lounge the night I gave my $10 to Ethan, Day 128.  I just took a look back at that blog post from April and sure enough I even mentioned Deb!  

As I walked over to get my drink I asked her if she was in fact Deb Felz who had opened up for Ethan and Machines on Vacation.  In fact it was her, it’s a small world.  I sat down and started eating my salad and then it hit me.  She should be my $10 recipient of the day!  I waited until she finished her song and applauded, I was the only one, not because the others didn’t enjoy the music but because it is just not the environment where people are clapping for the performer.  But I did anyway. Then I went over and explained what I am doing and asked her to be part of it.  She set the $10 on the Fender amp that was to her right and started another song…I sat back and listed to about a half-dozen beautiful songs.  She finished and we pulled up some chairs to talk.

Deb plays as Adam gives me the "Who the hell is this guy?" look.

We were joined by her boyfriend Adam.  I noticed him while she was playing and I was photographing her.  I’m sure he was like, “Who the hell is this guy?”  I introduced myself to him and he was really nice as well.

Deb’s card says “singer, guitarist and songwriter.”  She is in fact all of these…and quite talented at each.  She does pretty much all original music.  I remember at one point some people at a nearby table asked her if she took requests.  “Not really.  I mainly do originals because I can’t do anything else,” she said warming the room with her smile.  Wow…there are a lot of people out there making music that can’t do anything original.  Her creativity started with writing.  “I’ve been writing as long as I can remember,” she told me.  “I wrote my earliest song around 9 or 10 and started guitar to put music to it when I was about 11.”  She doesn’t just enjoy the writing; she says that it’s something she needs to do.

She likes when people listen to her music and get something out of it that she hasn’t even thought of.  “All art,” she says “is for the audience.” 

Adam said that Deb has good Karma.  I’m not surprised after hearing what she intended to do with the $10.  “I’m going to give it to this one Street Sense vendor, she’s always by the Smoothie King.”  She ended up not seeing that vendor for a while so she gave the money to Kenneth B. from Day 30.  “He’s out there in all kinds of weather.” 

"Deb has pretty good karma!" - Adam

I particularly liked something she told me during our conversation.  She said, “The people who I admire the most are the people who have something to complain about and don’t.”  Well said.

Well, here are some links to Deb’s music.  I love it.  My two favorite songs are Pull and Meant to Be.  If you want to hear more of Deb’s music, just come to the Year of Giving Anniversary Celebration next Tuesday…she’ll be playing live!

Deb’s website where you can listen to many of her songs for free

Video of Lovesick, Pull and one other song at Potbelly

Video of Raining in Baltimore at Potbelly

Video of Backwards at Potbelly

My video recordings have some annoying background noise that I can’t remove with my free software I use to edit.  Sorry!

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I am not a huge music fan.  I don’t have libraries of music or walk around with earphones attached to my head, but I do enjoy live music.  It’s a little like sports.  I couldn’t care too much if I watch a game on television, but I really enjoy going to a game.  The energy that you feel when you are at a concert or a sporting event is simply not recreated in your living room. 

The other night I headed over to see my friend Michael play a little jazz gig.  They were playing at the Imani Temple on Capitol Hill.  Attendance was sparse but that didn’t affect the show.  They performed as if there was standing room only.  They had a special guest that evening, Denyse Pearson.

Denyse sang about seven or eight songs.  She has a beautiful melodic voice and I was really surprised to learn that she hadn’t been performing in years.  After the show I approached her and asked if she would accept my $10.  She agreed and even took some time to talk with me.

Denyse with her husband Lawrence who is also a talented musician.

Denyse started singing when she was five years old.  “My earliest recollection of me singing is sitting on my grandmother’s steps baby scatting,” she said breaking a smile and drifting off to her childhood.  “I used to sing as I slid down those steps.”  Her father was also a strong influence on her.  A Nat King Cole fan, he was also a gifted singer but “he never went as far as he could have,” she said.    

She followed her passion and her father’s footsteps and developed a singing career until she stepped aside in the 1990s.  “It just got little dangerous,” she explained, “going in and out of clubs late at night.”  She is hoping to get back into performing more now.  In fact, she said she was putting my $10 toward future recording costs.  

I will ask Denyse to update this post with upcoming concerts that she has scheduled so that those of you in the area can check her out for yourself.  In the mean time, you can take a listen to one of the tunes she did when I saw her.  By the way, that’s my friend Michael on piano…he’s also terrific.

And if you live far away and want to hear more of Denyse, why not order her CD?  I bought one and if you would like to get one, drop me a note and I’ll get you in touch with her.

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Before I get to today’s recipient, I need your help to find two things.  First, I need a couple of people who are out of work who would be willing to take the same challenge that I have done this year for a week or two.  In other words to go out and give $10 away every day and then blog about it on the Year of Giving.  If you or someone you know wants to do this, please email me.

The other thing is that the Year of Giving is expanding!  We need a part-time intern for next year.  Someone who is a little web savvy and can dedicate about 10 hours a week to the project.  It doesn’t need to be for the entire year, but at least a 6 month commitment.  It will be an amazing experience, trust me.  Any interested people should get in touch with me ASAP and tell me why you should be chosen.

This is not good.

Now…on to today’s recipient.  This is really embarrassing yet it was bound to happen at some point.  I opened my journal up to the page marked Day 335 and there was nothing written there except the name Paul.  I had no idea who Paul was or where I met him.  How is this possible?  Then I went to look at my photos and figured out the photos immediately after Tyler were probably of Paul.  Bingo!  I was right.  I remember him now, he was a bike messenger I met on Columbia Road in Adams Morgan late one Sunday evening.  But where are all the notes about Paul?  How old is he?  What is his email?  What the heck did he do with the $10?  Hmmmm…I don’t know.  I know I wrote them down some place but I didn’t have my trusty Moleskine on me apparently.  I do have a video though…although it doesn’t tell too much either.

Paul powering up on some beverages at CVS.

I ran into Paul in front of the CVS that is next to the Safeway.  He was getting some beverages to take down to a restaurant down there street where his brother was waiting for him.  He had heard of the Year of Giving and was very friendly.  I told him about my losing my mother and he shared that his father had passed around this summer.  He talks about his dad and their relationship in this clip.  It’s clear that this was not easy for him to talk about.

Other than that, I can’t recall much.  The last couple weeks have been a complete blur.  I think he is in a band or DJs or something…who knows.  Hopefully I will find the little piece of paper where I jotted all the notes down.  And if anybody knows Paul…tell him to get in touch!

UPDATE: Jan 7, 2011

So I was doing some new year cleaning and found the paper where I wrote down the info on Paul!

When I met him he told me, “I’m coming back from a show that I didn’t go to.”  That kind of perplexed me, but then he explained that he went to a show where the band didn’t play.  “I ended up buying some CDs of the band,” he said referring to the metal band that calls themself Body Cop.

Paul is no stranger to music.  He plays bass and drums and even does some producing.  I asked him about musical influences.  “I’ve been inspired by so many but Brian Wilson, Myles Davis and Frank Zappa for sure.”   He has a website where you can listen to some of his work.

“I’m going to use the money for food,” he told me.  “I’ve been trying to conserve money lately.”  He said that he was lucky to have a job and enjoyed the flexibility of being a courier.

When we parted he said to me with so much enthusiasm, “It was really cool running into you.”  The feeling was mutual.

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Did you participate in Pay it Forward Day yesterday?  I did…I gave $10 to Rachel, a 22-year-old who just graduated from American University with a degree in graphic design and photography.  Here story coming on Day 352!

Today…we travel south to the picturesque town of Charlottesville, VA.  The town of 50,000 is located smack in the center of the Commonwealth of Virginia along the Rivanna River, a tributary of the James River.  It’s about 120 miles from Washington, but somehow we took the most backward way possible and spent 3+ hours getting there.  

So my brother, sister-in-law and I were going to meet up with my cousin Doug and his daughter Chelsea…what does that make us, cousins once removed, second cousins, anyway.  My dad also drove down from Pennsylvania.  Chelsea is a graduating high school senior and is scouting out colleges which landed them in at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.  They live in Colorado so we don’t get to see them that often, although come to think of it I have seen Doug three times this year, but anyway, you get the point.  They come in to town and we all thought it would be a good idea to meet up.  And my cousin Dianne was driving in the next day too.  It was fun spending time with family.

Anyway I found a family having a picnic lunch – it was a perfect afternoon for that – right on campus before the football game. 

Tyler is a freshman at UVA and his family is down visiting him from Northern Virginia…close to DC.  He grew up in Herndon, VA…I also lived in Herndon for a while.  Small world.

The 18-year-old economics major says that my cousin should choose UVA.  “It’s great here,” he said as he helped himself to some potato chips, “freedom is the best part!”  I can’t think of a more beautiful place to explore that freedom.  The campus is stunning.  The town is quaint and charming.  “And we’re in the top 5 in the country for soccer,” Tyler adds.

I felt a little like I just crashed their family picnic…which I did, so I tried not to stay too long.  I gave Tyler the money and he said he was going to buy some music with it.  “Probably some punk music.  My favorite band is Sonic Youth.”  

Tyler and his family enjoying their picnic.

Before I left he did have something for me to add to the Lend a Hand initiative.  “I could use an internship in the DC area for the summer.”   Hopefully somebody will see this and give this promising young man a chance.

On Tuesday I got this update from him via email:

I ended up ordering one of my favorite albums- “Psychocandy” by The Jesus and Mary Chain. I’d never gotten around to buying a physical copy of it before.” – Tyler S.

He won’t be able to make the Year End Celebration because he has a final exam that day.  Although we’ll miss him, it’s probably a wise decision.

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