I was listening to a great interview with two of my favorite “blues adjacent” artists – Joe Bonamassa and Fantastic Negrito, and the latter talked about how music brings people together. People of all races, religions, countries and political beliefs can bond over music and come together. They talked about it in some depth, but it’s one of those things you hear that at first seems “sure, in some ways, I guess” but it was brought home to me in a very real, concrete way last night.
I saw Selwyn Birchwood at the Alley in Sanford, FL last night. It was a great show, the place was more packed than I’ve ever seen it, the band was awesome and we all had a good time. The incident that demonstrated a great example of music bringing people together happened about 20 minutes into the first set.
I was sitting at the bar when I noticed the elderly couple next to me looking on the floor for something. After a few minutes the wife pulled out her phone’s flashlight and they looked more concerned, looking closely all around the area. I started looking around the floor near me as well, maybe I’d spot something unusual and help out. My instinct was to help out, of course. After a few minutes I heard them tell someone they were looking for a wedding ring that the husband was unconsciously playing with and dropped.
I got out my phone light and looked under tables and all around. Others in the area joined in the search. After a few minutes someone ended up finding the right, to many cheers from those who were looking.
After the man sat down, I noticed he was wearing a MAGA hat. Now, this isn’t a political post. What really struck me was my reaction. I’m sure I would have helped out had I seen the hat first. Perhaps, though, I would have hesitated a bit. I certainly would have formed judgments in my head, lost ring or not. F that guy. Doesn’t he know what the lyrics to the songs are? I would have painted an image of this man from one glance, and that image would have filtered every interaction going forward. Without seeing that hat, it was just a guy enjoying music who needed some help.
This man and his wife were cheering as loudly and as often as anyone in the place, and clearly they enjoyed the show. The man kindly bought a beer for the gentleman that did eventually find the ring.
Music brought us together for something common. We shared a positive experience and politics just didn’t matter at that moment. In our world today, those moments are rare.
Not only does that so clearly demonstrate the point Fantastic Negrito made in the podcast interview I heard the other day, but it provides further evidence to me that most people are inherently good. It’s the corruption of societal beliefs, politics, life experience, and stereotypes that turns us against each other. Music actively combats that in such a beautiful way! Last night made that crystal clear to me, and it was a beautiful thing.
It also demonstrates something I’ve thought for a while now. Our age of social media and the internet reinforces us having a two dimensional, black and white, flat image of our fellow man. Going out and interacting with people, in person, for real, gives us a complete, 3D, full-color perspective on people. If you don’t get that full picture it’s easy to think that the 2D/black-and-white picture is all there is with people. What a negative place to be. Whether it’s a live show, or simply chit-chatting with the clerk in the grocery store, interacting with people in real life is so important.
Here is the podcast interview – definitely worth a listen. Fantastic Negrito’s latest album “Have You Lost Your Mind Yet” is one of my favorites from 2020.
Definitely check out Selwyn Birchwood as well – he’s a great up and comer, and his album is as great listening at home or in the car than he is live, which isn’t always true in blues