Free Music in the Park

It is Friday, July 28. I am at City Park, sitting on a blanket on the grass with several of my best friends. We are attending an exhilarating performace by Danielia Cotton and her band, The Pistoleros.Big sound surrounds me. I raise my gaze toward a turquoise sky. I see a few reddening wisps of cirrus. My mind drifts. I recall being in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park in 1967 during the epochal “Summer of Love.” Jefferson Airplane is playing their music within a gathering throng. It is a classic beautiful summer evening and I am surrounded by thousands of people on a historic mission to be free and have fun.The nineteen sixties was one of those rare periods in human history during which a paradigm shift happens so quickly and thoroughly that it betokens a critical change in culture and society. Much has been written about that time. Rapid evolution was rampant. From radical politics to new art, science, and philosophy, it can be said that everything was ineluctably transformed.Now, after all that has been said and done, it dawns on me that free outdoor concerts can be more memorable and significant to groups of human beings than many experiences that are sold, bought, and paid for. There are more similarities between my experience of that concert long ago and tonight’s event at Reading’s City Park Bandshell than I can enumerate here. When recollection and the present moment conflate spontaneously in the mind it is sufficiently noteworthy to merit a phrase of its own (déjà vu). I pause here to contemplate and comment upon a pattern of peak experience that reveals a simple human truth. One of the very best things in life is free music in the park!

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