Friday, December 19, 2014

No Place Like Home


All I can think about today is tonight’s concert.

At 4 PM, we have our final run through and sound check. Russ J,
Jeremy, Russ and Bob
our stage manager ready to take charge. Katie has arrived! The final member to complete our band, Katie on violin and harmonies.  And I have to admit, it sounds good….

My son Dan has arrived to help. And our faithful Dion.  And Elise and volunteers from Advent.

I’ve got time to visit with the West 80’s Neighborhood Association who is holding their holiday event in Martin’s studio due to construction in Mc Alpin.
Speaking to the West '80's Association
It’s exciting to be able to tell them our project is finally underway.

Our city councilmember Helen Rosenthal has left her own holiday party to come by and visit our event.
Bob, Councilmember Helen Rosenthal and Elise Brown
I wish we had time to talk about last Monday’s die-in at City Hall.

The big names for the night, Julie Gold and Christine Lavin, Suzzy Roche and Lucy Wainwright Roche and Laura are now doing their sound check. Watching and waiting for a good audience to arrive.  And they are beginning to.

Our own Jeremy opens the night followed by my welcome with a sense of the history of our place. And then Julie Gold. Marc introduces Nazima Ali who tells her moving story.
Marc introduces Nazima
Then Suzzy and Lucy and Laura bring that peerless Roches tight harmony to the First Noel and the classic Roches New Yahk accent version of Walking in a Winta Wondaland.
Laura Pearson, Suzzy Roche, Lucy Wainwright Roche

Murray from Sesame Street works his magic even with no kids in the crowd. The we hear from Shorne how he went from being a Desert Storm veteran to being homeless.

Then it’s time for our block. Steve Blane opens with his Gonna Light the Lights Tonight (…with Kathleen Doran on trumpet and harmonies, then his anthemic Spark. (
Steve Blane

Our Home band (with me, Jeremy Mage on piano and vocals, Joe Ornstein on mandolin and vocals, Steve Blane and Esther Ready on vocals, Katie Rowell violin and vocals and Pat O’Connell, guitar) open with Storm Large’s Stand Up for Me, then Emmy Lou Harris’ Light of the Stable and finish with Stephen Foster’s Hard Times Come Again No More. Not quite perfect as our run through, but harmonies still crisp and clean. We held our own.
The Home Band: Katie, Steve, Esther, Bob, Pat. Joe and Jeremy

Christine Lavin sings her caustic critique of gun violence, Are You Kiddin’ Me? (( then invites everyone up to join her for the 12 days after Christmas by Fred Silver. (An honor to sing beside Suzzy…) 
Singing with Christine Lavin

James A has his story of recovery and redemption to share  followed by his daughter and granddaughter Tara Robinson and Derrika Willock with a tight harmony gospel set.

John Jiler reads from his Sleeping With the Mayor, ( the story of  the 200 day occupation of City Hall Park by homeless people in 1988. He reads from the beginning of the  story, and then the end, on Christmas Day 1988.

Elise passes the plate and then Julie ends  the night with her classic
Julie Gold and Bob Foltz-Morrison
From a distance…(
From a distance the world looks blue and green,
and the snow-capped mountains white.
From a distance the ocean meets the stream,
and the eagle takes to flight.
From a distance, there is harmony,
and it echoes through the land.
It's the voice of hope, it's the voice of peace,
it's the voice of every man.
From a distance we all have enough,
and no one is in need.
And there are no guns, no bombs, and no disease,
no hungry mouths to feed.
From a distance we are instruments
marching in a common band.
Playing songs of hope, playing songs of peace.
They're the songs of every man.
God is watching us. God is watching us.
God is watching us from a distance.
From a distance you look like my friend,
even though we are at war.
From a distance I just cannot comprehend
what all this fighting is for.
From a distance there is harmony,
and it echoes through the land.
And it's the hope of hopes, it's the love of loves,
it's the heart of every man.
It's the hope of hopes, it's the love of loves.
This is the song of every man.
And God is watching us, God is watching us,
God is watching us from a distance.
Oh, God is watching us, God is watching.
God is watching us from a distance.
The song for me will always be connected with the Bette Midler version  that came out which became popular during the first Gulf War.

And it’s time to close out the night…

Just a few thoughts:
1.     It’s important to support the Assembly. There are many other groups that supply direct services for homeless people. But on one else is working to help people transform and regain their own lives. When you hear the stories, you realize that lives have been saved. That is worth something. Even more, the Assembly also works with its members to bring about systemic policy change to tray and address root causes for homelessness, which has now reached historic levels, over 60,000.
2.     My greatest joy used to be preaching a sermon that just knocked people out. But now, it’s working  with a group of people on a song until the voices, no matter how disparate, blend and a sound so round and good, not pure and perfect, but good comes out.  It echoes back and forth in my heart.
3.     And there’s joy in having  had an idea, brought it to life and had it succeed. We all need that. Thanks Elise.

We raised nearly $4000, like our old Comfort Ye program at it’s peak.

Time for the  after party at the Gate.

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