The good news is more young people are coming to our concerts. The bad news is most of them rarely look up from their phones and hand-held devices.
It saddens me to look out at them from the bandstand, to see them there in the audience, sitting in the darkness, looking not to the stage but downward, their expressionless faces illuminated by cold blue light.
I want so badly for them to experience—truly and without distraction—the gift of a soulfully crafted melody.
I want to share with them the thing I love most: the pure emotional power of instrumental music, without the need for lyrics, explication or visual spectacle.
Am I naive? In today's world, is it even possible?
“That's what real love amounts to - letting a person be what he really is. Most people love you for who you pretend to be. To keep their love, you keep pretending - performing. You get to love your pretence. It's true, we're locked in an image, an act - and the sad thing is, people get so used to their image, they grow attached to their masks. They love their chains. They forget all about who they really are. And if you try to remind them, they hate you for it, they feel like you're trying to steal their most precious possession.”
In honor of Dr. King's birthday today, here's a show poster from 20 years ago this week: a benefit concert for the I Have a Dream Foundation, held at the old Yoshi's on Claremont (loved that place), sponsored by KJAZ (loved that station), featuring the late, great Eddie Marshall (will always love that guy) on drums.
I wonder what Dr. King would think of American society in 2013.
Would he be pleased by the election and re-election of President Obama?
Would he be gratified that race relations have improved overall?
Or would he be heartbroken to learn that race, class and income disparities continue to divide us?
I hope he would be heartened by the awareness that—at least among many of us—his dream is still very much alive.
January 17, 1993
Dmitri Matheny & The SOMA Ensemble Strength to Love: A Tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. To benefit the I Have A Dream Foundation
Greg Bridges, master of ceremonies
Dmitri Matheny, flugelhorn
Harvey Wainapel, alto saxophone
Regi Oliver, tenor saxophone
John Heller, guitar
John Wiitala, bass
Eddie Marshall, drums