This past weekend I got in touch with my inner hippie and turned folkie, hanging out at the Calgary Folk Music Festival. Wow, does great live music bring me a lot of joy! What a fabulous time. First of all, the venue has to be one of the sweetest. Held at Prince’s Island Park in downtown Calgary, nestled among tall poplar trees, sitting on a grassy field, it’s simply a superb spot for an urban folk festival.
And the music was … well what adjectives can I pile up: superb, infectiously joyful, brilliant, beautiful, restorative, and the list could go one. You can listen to some of the bands here (click on the listen tab under the Avett Brothers picture) – the Avett brother’s “Incomplete and insecure,” a great prayer from Romantica (Don’t let it fall), Michael Franti (check out the You Tube link to his new single “The Sound of Sunshine” and I defy you to not dance or smile after listening to it. It’s here) and El Puchero del Hortelano, just to be transported to another world.
The top highlights for me were the Avett Brothers and Michael Franti and Spearhead, some of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. Both were joyful musical romps, getting the whole crowd on their feet, singing along and dancing to their music.
What is it about music – and more so, live music – that calls joy out from us? It can be the rhythmic sounds of Franti or a sublime piano concerto, but music has this profound capacity to slip past all our reasoned defenses for not living in joy and get into our souls, prompting our bodies to catch another rhythm, losing ourselves to a moment of joy.
There are so few places these days where you actually get to sing out loud other than your car – I’m convinced that’s one of the lasting gifts of weekly worship services, making for a regular time and providing a public place where you can still sing out loud, and together with others. There is something about singing out loud that is a catalyst for joy – an act of joy that helps your heart pick up a deeper, truer melody about life – the sound of sunshine.
So I’m going to not just listen to music today, I’m going sing and dance and make some noise to help my soul wake up. Join me – bust a move and sing out loud sometime today – even if you’re awfully out of tune or you can’t dance to save your life. Better yet, join me at church next Sunday and let’s do it together.