As you walked around your neighborhood today, you may have wondered why there were musicians at almost every street corner.
That has something to do with the annual Make Music Madison event, which takes place every year on the summer solstice. Lots of performances are being held outside.
The majority of music genres heard this year ranged from indie to bluegrass, to rock, to classical, to folk, to blues, accompanied by a couple of metal and hip-hop performances. There were also a few world music performances. Some music was performed by bands, while other music came from singular singers and songwriters.
Make Music Madison almost didn’t happen in person this year. After holding a virtual celebration last summer, organizers were reticent to plan for an event this year. But, as vaccinations rolled out, the board of festival organizers had a change of heart and decided to proceed with Make Music Madison 2021.
Jamie Kember is President of the Make Music Madison Board. Kember says it’s awesome that they’re able to hold the event in person again.
“I think one of the big reasons that make today so special is that it really does give people that maybe don’t have many opportunities to perform throughout the year a little bit of a nudge to get those instruments out, get some rehearsals together, get their friends together, make music together,” says Kember.
“You know, bring the music into very accessible spaces, all outdoors, all free. Yeah, I think a community that is actively practicing their art, their craft, that is a community that supports the arts year-round, and a community that is empathetic, and definitely one that I want to be a part of. So, I think that’s what we’re working towards here with this event.”
Make Music Madison welcomes musicians of all kinds, making it possible for anybody to have an opportunity to perform. Musicians simply signed up online with matchmaking software that connected them with different venues.
Here’s what some musicians had to say about today’s festivities.
“And I love the interaction of just random people hearing your music and deciding, ‘Hey, this is cool. I’m gonna stay for this whole thing.’ Like that is so…it just makes you feel good, you know. And knowing that you’ve shared something with someone just spontaneously and made their day better. That’s, I think that’s what this event kinda represents, right?” says Verge Manyen, drummer with the funk-rock band, MoodTrain.
“Make Music Madison is one of my favorite events in Madison and the whole wide world. It’s just, like, so free and everybody can join music and share what you do. Which, perfect, the reason why we get to perform and share our stuff that we do,” says Junko Yamauchi, leader of the drumming group Beni Daiko.
“Um, so I’m playing some songs that I wrote, mostly, and then a few covers, but yeah. I don’t know. They’re just like, they’re really…they’re songs from my heart. That’s, I guess, the best way to describe it,” says singer-songwriter Jessie Ferraro.
“Well, the weather is cooperating. Yeah, the weather is fantastic for sure for playing outside. Yeah, just, you know, getting through the pandemic. We didn’t really get the chance to practice or play or anything. Yeah, so it’s like a rebirth in a way. Not that we play that often, anyway,” say Dave Pawl and Matt Miller, members of the band Sweetheart Tripwire.
“It’s just that every now and then we drag out the old college band and have a good time, and usually it’s charity gigs or things like this that are sorta just for the fun of it. So it’s just really nice to get together again and make some music like the event says.”
“Yes, it’s my first opportunity. I love it so much. I mean, it’s a super awesome concept, and then to do it in Madison which is such an amazing, music-loving city,” says singer-songwriter Jules Iolyn.
“We’ve been friends since high school. Like, since like freshman year. Like, I got my drumset and we just like, were like, always doing battle of the bands in school, and so like now, we’re both in college. So, during the summer we get together and make music. And the songs that we played were like the collection of stuff that we’ve written. Basically like a representation of like, a release of pent-up aggression. Especially with this past year in COVID, like not being able to really practice or do shows or anything,” say Dane Slinger and Asiah Doyle, drummer and guitarist from the metal band Anton Theory.
“And also, like, being in school in different corners of the state. So, this was a really nice chance to release that pent-up aggression. This is our only show. We’re, it’s kind of a really, just kind of intense and complicated period right now. So, like, getting together to even just do this was like a lot, but we are glad that we were able to make it work. And yeah, it’s been a good kind of, like, stress to keep us on our toes and just show us, ‘Okay, we still got it.’ Yeah. But, yeah. I mean, it was cool. I didn’t really put it out there much. Like, I probably should have a lot more, but it was literally cool that people just stopped by while they were walking by. Like, it wasn’t people that were planning on coming. It was just people that heard it.”
There is no cost to attend any of the performances, but busking, rather, performing for tips, is encouraged, says Kember.
By the time this broadcast is over, Make Music Madison will still be going strong. Many of the last shows of the day are set to go until 9 p.m.
WORT will hold a live remote from Westmoreland Park at 7 p.m. as part of the festivities.
Reporting for WORT News, I’m Hailey Griffin.
Image Courtesy: Hailey Griffin / WORT News