A Music Maker Newcomer Comes to the Homecoming Pt. 1

inThe Homecomingon November 18, 2014

Maybe it was the captivating music; maybe it was the welcoming people; or maybe it was the place and the laid-back, everyone’s like family attitude that made me fall in the love with the Roots Blues and ‘soul of the American music’ that the Music Maker Relief Foundation represents. But honestly, I think it was a combination of it all.

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The Music Maker Panel at the Carrboro ArtsCenter

The October 2014 20th Anniversary Homecoming was my first experience with the Music Maker Relief Foundation (MMRF). But I can honestly say that I’m hooked after only one weekend of getting to know the Music Maker artists, the music, the staff, and fans that make the Foundation possible. But, the most impressive and enlightening part has to be the purpose and impact MMRF has on the world by keeping the blues alive.

Thanks to my music loving parents, I grew up listening to all different kinds of music and learned to appreciate the beauty and art within each song and genre, from bluegrass and country to classic rock, and of course, the blues. So naturally, when I got the call about the possibility of going to the 20th Anniversary We Are the Music Makers! event, my answer was “Yes!” even though I had no idea what the event, or MMRF in general, was. I’m always excited to listen to and experience some live music. The closer I got to Hillsborough, the more excitement started building up, but I had no idea that I was in for one of the most eye-opening and best experiences of my life.

The first night was the We are the Music Makers! photo exhibit and Blues Revue concert. When I finally got to the event, I signed in and met Tim and Denise Duffy, the founders of MMRF and some of the staff. After walking around the exhibit for a bit, reading the touching stories about the artists and their love for music and gazing at the images they were paired with in the posters on display, it became very clear how involved Tim, Denise and the staff of MMRF are in the artists’ lives. It was obvious how important MMRF is to the artists, the people behind the scenes, and the fans. I instantly felt a connection with it all, but especially with the music and the purpose of the Foundation. To be able to experience the  Music Maker artists’ stories at the exhibit, listen to them play, and get the know the people who help the artists play their music and live their lives was truly remarkable, and in my opinion, it’s something everyone should experience at least once. It’s enlightening to say the least.

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Big Ron Hunter & Little Pink Anderson jamming at the Carrboro ArtsCenter.

Big Ron Hunter and Little Pink Anderson were playing an acoustic set while I was walking around the exhibit and taking in all that I could. The music they were playing was so sweet to my ears that I felt like I just had to get to know them when they were done. And, I was lucky enough to get the chance. Just listening to them share a few of their stories about learning to play music—whether for the purpose of making people move and dance or because of their fathers—they reinforced everything I knew about music. Music, and especially roots & blues, is everything we have within us—the good, the bad, happy and sad—expressing itself through harmonious sounds. Both of the artists were so happy and delighted to share their stories and experiences of playing the roots music of America for different crowds; and I was completely in awe listening to them describe their love and share their passion for playing the blues. The fun and excitement just continued from there.

The Blues Revue concert after the exhibit was even more exhilarating. The music just made me want to move and dance in my seat and capture every possible thing I could on my phone so I could listen to them and see them again later. Between the artists’ introductions and the music they played, it felt like I knew them; they knew me; we had all known each other for years; and they were playing to tell me another life story.

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Robert Lee Coleman performing with the Music Maker Blues Revue at the Carrboro ArtsCenter.

— Katherine Aurea Leon

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