Friday, March 20, 2009

The Power of Music

19 March 2009 Wow, two gigs in one day. Armed with two of my favourite friends, we decided to ignore our looming essay deadline, gave our English tutorial a skip, and instead we skipped off to the local juvenile hall. Yup, that’s right... You may remember Fred den Hartog from Die Helde, now guitarist for Thieve. He teamed up with local neon child Liam Irwin to play just two songs for these boys. It was just two tracks, two guitars, two voices. Two boy-next-door barefoot beings, with a passion for music, and hearts big enough to share it.

I went mostly for the social slant I could get from it-- a session of people-studying if you will. I mean, how often does one have the opportunity to go to juvie for this kind of thing? These boys are in for all sorts of crimes, and the eldest could not have been older than 13 years. I was even hesitant to take my very precious camera along! I mean, these kids have smoke breaks at their school! But we braved it, and we were in for a pleasant surprise... In a swift bunch they pile into the classroom, empty but for chairs and a board illustrating quite explicitly the dangers of smoking. [It goes something like 1. Healthy 2. Start smoking 3. Lungs get sick 4. Cancer 5. Death]. A boy whose name I do not catch introduces himself- and shakes the hands of myself, my friends and both musicians. There is little disorder as they file in and place themselves on the plastic chairs, quietly waiting for what is about to happen. There is no violent pushing to get a front-row seat, no cacophony of cheering or jeering, no rioting for no reason. They wait in tranquil states of patience for the music to begin. The songs are unpretentiously plain, short, a folksy blues reminiscent of all the wrong messages of smoking and random bar fights. But each boy has his eyes fixed upon the simple sound streaming from each guitar. Many of them grab onto their air-guitars, closing their eyes and strumming along in imaginary nostalgia. When the last notes fade away, there is a gentle request for an encore, but I assume the teacher in charge has to escort them to some correctional activity because he quashes this hope of theirs. They are, however, promised another session next week and [for those interested] there will be guitar lessons with Fred and Liam.

Fred is well-known for his competence [to put it very blandly] as a guitarist. How beautiful it is to see a respected musician sharing his gift with others. He seems almost bored of playing on stage for big crowds. But here, he looks comfortable, natural, as of the spaces between the notes form his natural habitat. The world could do with more of these people...

1 comment:

Niel de la Rouviere said...

Wow, that is such an awesome initiative. Kudos to them!