Let’s say in a fit of wild enthusiasm you’ve made a generous statement about the people you play music with:
“Anyone can play in this band! Come on over and jam with us!”
Word gets out because your music is fun so five new people show up to the next band rehearsal, in this order:
Geoff, a classically trained oboe player who’d like to try playing your drum kit
Ruby, a 12-year-old angry slam poet in a hoodie (no eye contact)
Mairy’s whistle-playin kitchen-jammin Uncle Pat
Pete’s mom Sherry, who sings twice weekly with the Sweet Adelines (so knows how it works)
Rico the PTSD’d army vet (in his wheelchair), who plays a mean harmonica
Your bandmates Eric the Ego (lead singer) and Tasteful Steve (guitar) are over there with their mouths open, staring at you in disbelief. Your pal Sam (great bass player) is smirking through her inscrutable look and has shrugged, just now.
” Well.”, you think to yourself, “Um.”
But this is what makes you so good at what you do: you decide in that moment that this will become a band project, and ‘the band’ will rehearse as usual, but on another night. With a little finaegling, this makes the situation okay for everyone (indicated by a second shrug from Sam).
What ensues from there is perhaps one of the best, funkiest, tastiest most heartfelt art-records ever made, a massive collaborative process of laughing changes-of-mind & heart & music & life for everyone, including Eric (the less overblown), SuperTasteful Steve (the less serious), Sam (who sang at the Adelines’ last concert in full leathers), Geoff, Pat, Sherry and Rico, who now regularly go to slam nights with Ruby and her African-Canadian girlfriend.
Next Project? How about an online thing linking Iqaluit midwives with spinners/weavers from Georgian Bay who then write songs with retired Mounted Police? (Sam’s idea).
Bell Hooks would say…. Huzzah!
Paolo Friere would say… Huzzah!
Lees Higgins and Willingham would say… Huzzah! Huzzah!
Rebecca Solnit would of course write a review of the entire mad thing for the Guardian, with exhaustive research that proves without a doubt that yes, inclusiveness requires great courage (and willingness to laugh at ourselves) but makes us all so much better.