Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Motherblog #1

Bill had another great idea. 

"Why don't you blog about the Motherlodge as its coming together, that way next time you'll have notes on what happened and what to improve on."

My first note of what to improve on has been with me since day one - never schedule as many shows with me in them again. But there was no way of avoiding that this year. To start, the only way I could imagine filling 8 days was to think of the people and ideas within my reach. 

The Opening Concert is going to be the last thing that ultimately comes together, which figures, because it is the mission statement of Motherlodge. And like every good mission statement, it eludes containment like a dolphin covered in vaseline writhing on the deck of a tuna boat.

To start, the centerpiece of the concert is meant to be the audience, not the performers, but how exactly do you get people to come without a good reason? So tonight, a little over 2 weeks out, I am scrambling with the list of performers to advertise. The poster has yet to be made (!) It is going to say "10.00 suggested cover. Pay what you can. Just come." The emphasis is on just come. It stems from an idea that Chef Tim at Salvation Army and I feel strong about - everyone at some point can use a free meal. But for some reason, we attach a meaning to the kind of person that accepts a free meal. And this is block one in us being able to understand ourselves and anyone else in the context of our community. I hope some people who can barely afford the cover pay, because we will give them something worth paying for. And I hope some people who can afford to don't, so they can enjoy being taken care of. Don't get me wrong - we need to make money from the show. Quite a bit of money would be great, because the idea of Motherlodge is that everyone gets paid as well as possible. But for this, our opening concert, it is more important to stress community. There are nearly 1300 seats to fill. Just come.

The name of the opening concert is a tricky bugger, and I imagine at this very moment our co-organizer Todd Hildreth stretching his best German Mother Frown across his face as he reads some of the titles we have come up with for the opening concert.

But I should share some ideas before I get to the title options (which, by the way, are only options in my head because Tim and I settled an hour ago on a title - I'm just still pondering in my usual Ray way.)

So, some backstory - a few years ago - 15 or so actually, Craig Wagner and Joseph Castriota and I came up with a concert idea for our jazz trio. We were students at Bellarmine at the time and in our short jazz careers we had what I now think was a surprising knack for arrangements of spiritual songs. We also loved the soundtrack to Jesus Christ Superstar (the funky one with Ian Anderson and Murray Head). So Bellarmine College (at the time they hadn't found their way to University status) could only say yes to our idea to do a themed concert of music that turned a secular eye to the last story of Jesus.

Keep in mind, this was long before Mel Gibson or Southeast Christian. 

I'm not sure what I mean by pointing that out, but there it is.

We never ever addressed the idea of Jesus resurrecting because we thought it was the part of the story that sold out the intelligence of the people who found inspiration in the man's story. In terms of song selections, we had some missteps. I really had no business singing "Simple Song" or "They Won't Go When I Go". And one year, when Craig failed to edit down a video we borrowed, the program ran with 4 excruciatingly long minutes of a televangelist hitting his peaks accompanied by overdubbed fart sounds. 

But by the third year, there was a focus and drive to what we were doing that made for some of the best theater, music, and live art that I've ever participated in. 

These days we are post Gibson and present Southeast Christian (a Louisville Church that has the budget to take out full page adds for their Passion spectacular show that sells out their church which seats thousands). With the Jesus story staying current with the modern temper, I don't see anything wrong with the next gospel contextualizing Jesus as an X Man, or a South Park character for that matter. But what has changed for me since our last concerts has come from living in New York: whatever you believe had best be of use to your neighbor or else it's not worth a shit. And by neighbor I don't mean the neighborhood, the demographic, the high school. I mean everyone sharing this world with you. 

In his poem "Motherlodge", Kipling writes, "We met upon the level and parted on the square". He talks of the distinctions of religions recognized in the outside world, but of the little consequence they had inside the Motherlodge. (Which was, by the way, a Free Mason lodge).

Sure, Kipling didn't speak of women or homosexuals, but giving him the benefit of the doubt, we arrive at what I hope will be the core of the concert on the 29th - a warm, inviting place where everyone is welcome and encouraged to belong. Because of this it is my hope that Jesus stories are just part of the meditation, and that we land more firmly in the contemplation of everyone's story.

Tim and I like the title: "The Passion Fruits". I also like "SUP". Whatever it's named will taste and sound marvelous.    

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