Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE – Last year, Make Music Day was suppressed by a global pandemic that still isn’t finished with its outro. But local organizers are whistling a happier tune this year. Although much of the annual worldwide celebration of music will be held virtually in the Santa Fe area this year as a precaution, they expect the music will be live – and at no charge – at some local venues.
“We’re emerging from a year and a half of keeping ourselves away from each other, but now we’re ready to start peeking out a little,” said Busy McCarroll, a local organizer of the event, which is celebrated across the globe on June 21.
Make Music Day falls on a Monday this year, which may not be ideal. But there’s never a bad day to make music, McCarroll says, and playing music, or even just participating in it by listening, is a great way to beat the COVID-19 blues.
“It’s really about spreading our love for music,” McCarroll, who heads up the band Busy y los Big Deals, said of what’s at the foundation of Make Music Day. “Music is healing. We all need it for our souls and hearts, especially now more than ever.”
As president of the Santa Fe Music Alliance, McCarroll organized Make Music Day in Santa Fe for several years. Part of it involved a concert-like event held on the Plaza or in the Railyard, but music would break out just about anywhere – front porches, street corners, even mobile ensembles in the back of pickup trucks.
That may happen again this year, after COVID-19 muted the music a year ago. And some of the places around town that typically host live music may also be doing their own thing.
“We’ve reached out to every venue in Santa Fe and welcomed them to come on board,” McCarroll said.
Make Music Day originated in France in 1982 when the Ministry of Culture created a new kind of musical holiday.
“They imagined a day where free, live music would be everywhere: street corners and parks, rooftops and gardens, store fronts and mountaintops,” according to the Make Music Day website.
The Fête de la Musique remains a national holiday in France, with the country shutting down on the summer solstice and musicians taking over. They say that nearly 5 million French citizens of varying degrees of musical talent have played an instrument or sung in public as part of the festival.
The musical holiday has since spread to 120 countries, with the National Association of Music Merchants serving as the presenting sponsor in the United States. Nearly 100 U.S. cities are participating formally, including four in New Mexico. In addition to Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Gallup and Las Cruces are organizing events. According to the Make Music Day website, the Las Cruces group is planning an event at Klein Park where a local mariachi group will talk about the importance of mariachi music to the regional culture prior to a special performance.
Singers, church choirs, glee clubs, rock bands, marching bands, jazz combos and even MCs are invited to express themselves musically on June 21. But you don’t even have to be a musician to participate.
“The premise is to celebrate all things music,” said Cindy Cook, co-owner of Candyman Strings and Things on St. Michael’s Drive. “So, if you want to learn music, perform music or take part in a workshop, the whole idea is to light up the community with music in its many shapes and forms.”
Candyman is hosting a couple of events that encourage people to start making music.
“Harmonica Mike” Handler, who teaches harmonica and blues guitar as part of Candyman’s music education program, will conduct a virtual session on the fundamentals of playing the instrument.
Don’t have a harmonica? No problem. Harmonica manufacturer Hohner has offered up 100 harmonicas that will be given to anyone interested in learning to play the mouth organ at the store between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.
In addition, Candyman will host an in-person percussion workshop from noon to 5 p.m.
“If you don’t have an instrument, you can still make music,” Cook said. “All you need is a flower pot and mallet.”
Make Music Day Santa Fe is sponsored by Candyman, Santa Fe Music Alliance, the New Mexico Music Commission and its foundation, AMP Concerts, Kludgit Sound recording studio, Santa Fean magazine, the city of Santa Fe and any of the venues that decide to participate.
One of the edicts of Make Music Day is that it’s all free and no one should have to pay to hear the music. But don’t let that stop you from tipping a musician if you feel compelled.
“It’s a great opportunity to tap into that energy that you get from music that’s so magical and powerful,” McCarroll said. “Let it heal us, let it help us, let it make us cry and love.”
For more information on the event, visit the Make Music Day Santa Fe website: https://www.makemusicday.org/santafe/