Immersed – 11th Hour Column #1

This column is the first installment of a bi-weekly column that I have been asked to write for the 11th Hour in Macon. I am really happy to be reaching new readers with this series, and I look forward to many more columns.
A lesson I learned shortly after moving to Macon from New York City a year and a half ago was to never miss an important show. In New York, I could step back — take a short hiatus from seeing live music — and confidently assume that I could play catch-up.  Here in Macon, the touring bands swing through infrequently, and the local acts need the support now — not next week or next month.

This idea took a little time to get used to, but it has paid off in a number of ways.

I have heard beautiful music in Macon that I would have never sought out elsewhere. I’ve seen arresting art work on the walls of The 567, and the Contemporary Arts Exchange, and have witnessed wonderful theater and dance performances at Macon State College and Mercer.

Granted, I have also seen some performances and works that I would just as soon forget, but they are the exception, and a small price to pay to participate in a fledgling, unpredictable, but excitingly diverse artistic scene.

As an 11th Hour reader, you most likely share similar views on the importance of supporting artists, and the bars, performance spaces, galleries, and theaters that host them, and in this column I will make every effort to avoid preaching to the choir. Instead, I will report on the performances and exhibits, artists and club owners, fans and  — ocasionally — detractors in the hope of inspiring conversation and — more importantly — participation.

In the past two weeks, my efforts to be present have been truly tested by a hectic work schedule and the frantic lead-up to the holidays, but I was able to catch some great performances around town.

On First Friday at Roasted — the coffee shop by day, bar and performance space by night — I caught ClarkAfterDark a.k.a Clark Bush coaxing jazz and pop loops from a paperback-sized sampler, patching in beats and fragments of song with a touch of the finger to perfect a groove. The diverse and appreciative audience took in Clark’s ethereal blend of Sun Ra, Pharoah Sanders and Joanna Newsom while sipping beer and perusing artist William Dantzler’s mixed-media works hanging on the walls.

DJ Roger Riddle closed out the night with a supremely soulful set that mixed nineties staples by the Fugees and a sample of an Eminem tune with classic soul strains from James Brown and Bill Withers. By the time Withers’ soaring, ecstatic final chorus on “Lovely Day” came across the speakers everyone was on their on their feet.

Last week, I also got a chance to hear the David Milligan trio perform an inspired set of jazz and Christmas standards at the Vineville home of Edward and Priscilla Esser as part of the Jazz Association of Macon’s annual Holiday Jam. Since the mid-1980’s the Jazz Association has fostered the appreciation of jazz in middle Georgia through concerts, classes and community outreach. Their holiday party was low-key — especially in comparison to their annual Jazz and Arts on Riverdale festival — but was a great opportunity to hear swinging music and meet some fellow music lovers.

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