These days, my inbox is bombarded daily with requests… or should I say, uncompensated requests on my time.
I have always tried to do a lot for the community (both local and global), but between my career, school, family and recent health problems, my time is becoming increasingly scarce. A friend suggested that I put a Post-It note with the letters 'N' and 'O' on my computer, but there was one recent request I could not say "no" to.
The ever charming community-minded and unabashedly politically-vocal wonder couple Lavay Smith and Chris Seibert asked me to do a rent party for Bay Area Blues treasure Big Bones.
For those of you not familiar with a rent party, I can tell you they are the antithesis to the lavish events in which the funds raised are several steps away from the recipients. Peter Fitzsimmons, son of the legendary trumpeter Allen Smith and Executive Director of the Jazz Heritage Center, donated the use of his Lush Life Gallery on Fillmore Street for the event. Lavay's cousin served drinks. Christine Harris from the Musician's Project passed around a donation bucket. Denise Perrier, Quinn Deveaux, Marcus Shelby, Seibert, Pete Devine, Lavay and I donated our musical services, CDs and our draws.
And of course the star of the show was Big Bones himself, the Blues harmonic player with a Jazz inflection to his lines. His star was rivaled only by his amazingly adorable daughter who is planning to be an opera singer. The audience was appreciative and quickly filled the room and the donation bucket.
One hundred percent of the money went directly to Big Bones immediately that day right. In a day an age where money is raised but takes what seems like forever to get to people who need it (or the money gets gnawed away because of bureaucracy/administrative/middle-men costs), it felt wonderful to feel like we all accomplished something. That we, the Bay Area musical community, can take care of our own.
Thank you Lavay and Big Bones — and everyone else — for making ME feel great.