A Mooonmemory Special Edition

This week marks the 14th anniversary of a unique event designed to celebrate the concept that EVERYONE can make music.

After all, that was the goal of our “Exceptional Saturdays” group in Texas – to fashion a creative space where anyone could express themselves in voice or on any “instrument” that suited them, a place where they did not have to worry about being evaluated or judged in any way.

We dedicate a portion of Ronan’s homeschool music curriculum to exploring various types of outsider, or naïve, or “fringe” music, e.g. John Cage’s “ASLSP” project, which comes up from time to time.

And recently I was reminded of a personal musical adventure that found me – and several hundred other people – performing a music score by banging on Chicago’s iconic Clark Street Bridge.

Now, just about any Hollywood movie you’ve ever seen with Chicago as the backdrop certainly has taken you on an “aerial trip” to admire the city’s graceful architecture, typically “flying in” from the east over Lake Michigan, and west into the sunset behind the Chicago River. The river is traversed by 18 movable bridges, which open and close as necessary to accommodate “tall ships” and other oversized vessels.

In fact, every time I watch a movie set in Chicago, I look forward to seeing the iconic Stone Container Building, with its distinctive curved façade, anchoring the southwest corner of Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive (across the river from the Wrigley Building, and “kitty-corner” to the Tribune Building), where I spent eight years of my early professional life composing radio and newspaper copy for United Press International (UPI), among the world’s most trusted global news agencies (alongside the Associated Press and Reuters).

So, it was an easy decision to join the Clark Street Bridge Percussion Orchestra, a “one time only” concert performance that took place October 6, 2007. That afternoon, hundreds of volunteers brandishing drum sticks, mallets, hammers, metal pipes, and more, spent an hour or so banging on the Clark Street Bridge over the Chicago River, to execute a musical score by Eric Roth.

The event was organized by conceptual artist Hugh Musik for Chicago Artists Month, and provided a different way to enjoy and appreciate one of Chicago’s iconic bridges.

There is not much to find in an online search of the event, but it was good to see these photos taken by a one-time colleague, Robert Loerzel. Plus, this short video that I posted many years ago.

And now, enjoy these never-before-seen photos from my archive.

And don’t forget to go BANG on something TODAY.

Published by billpaige

Interested parties are first directed to my memoir, “Everything I Know I Learned From Rock Stars” (Eckhartz Press). While I have taken music therapy classes and read extensively about music’s effect on the brain, I am NOT professionally trained -- just a music lover who recognizes that everyone benefits from music. Giving that gift to special needs youth is highly rewarding, but again, my process is intuitive, not academic. I draw largely on personal experience. I’ve spent most of my 67 years observing a wide world of music, from working as a music critic professionally for 20 years, and holding positions in music companies in the 1970s and 1990s. Since 1990, however, I have focused on learning more about music and improving as a singer, guitarist, and performer, both solo and in ensemble settings.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: