07/28/08

Rex Jam report #4 – 10KLakes Music Festival

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10KLakes Music Festival
Detroit Lakes, MN
July 23 – July 36, 2008
Band: Matt Butler and The Everyone Orchestra
In support of the Detroit Lakes High School Band Musical Instrument Program


The Rex Jam at 10KLakes Music Festival was one of the best yet. It was most exciting because the Rex Jam was “born” at 10KLakes, with Matt Butler and the Everyone Orchestra, in 2007. Sandy Sohcot, Executive Director of Rex Foundation, was there last year to do the honors and get the ball rolling. I know Sandy would have liked to have been there this year, but I was really quite honored to stand-in on her behalf. I was glad to be among last year’s veterans, with Matt leading the charge, Rex Volunteer Dave Fortescue as my right-hand-man, and Deanna Sinclair or the Detroit Lakes Rotary with her crew of Rotarians and Interact Club students from Detroit Lakes High School.

If you have never seen Matt Butler do his thing, you definitely need to check him out. He masterfully pulls together performers from several bands – in this instance it included Jen Durkin from Deep Banana Blackout and the Micky Hart Band and Kim Manning from The Parliament Funkadelic on vocals, Jannis Wallin from Family Groove Company and Patrice Blanchard from Panjea sharing the duties on Bass, Michael Kang from Panjea and Steve Kimock on guitars, Adam Lasher from Umelt on Keys, Allie Kral from Cornmeal on Fiddle, Johnny Polanski from One Under and Jason Hahn from SCI on drums and Percussion. – and then he conducts them as well as the audience, in this amazing performance of the Everyone Orchestra. Matt Butler is my new hero. He conducts with his whole body. He dances a round to convey emotion to the musicians and the audience, he includes the audience in the performance by encouraging timely claps and shouts, and he writes notes to the performers on a small white-board to tell them who to follow, what key to play, and other intricate things that exuberant body language simply can’t convey. It is a truly amazing thing to witness.

On top of all of that, he incorporated the Rex Jam into his performance. So instead of the typical situation where I get on stage, talk about the Rex Foundation and what the Rex Jam is all about, and then introduce the band – I felt as though I was actually brought in as part of the Orchestra. Matt brought me out on stage in the middle of their set, as he wanted to build the crowd up before I made my appeal. They were still deep in a hot jam and at first I wasn’t sure if I had read his cue right, but really – he’s very clear. So I hung out and sort of enjoyed the jam along with the crowd and the band. Matt brought the jam down and then spoke a bit about Music being a gift and it being an important thing for kids…. I wish I could remember exactly what he said. I’ll get a recording of it and correct this as soon as possible. Then he introduced me and I spoke very briefly, but passionately. Most of my “speech” went out the window, but fortunately I’ve done this enough at this point to know the basics. I tried to keep it short and sweet so as not to interrupt the amazing flow of the set.

This was the first Rex Jam where I didn’t go into the crowd with a bucket, as we already had 11 people out there, and it was a relatively small crowd. However, I just couldn’t sit still – the music the Orchestra was producing was so incredible and I was really high from it. I danced my energy through the crowd and supported the volunteers as much as I was able. I suppose that between Matt, the Orchestra, the volunteers, and me, we made all the right moves. The volunteers collected about $1700 for the Detroit Lakes High School Band Instrument program. We were really to have exceeded last year’s total of $1638.00.

Special thanks should go out to Chryll Sparks, who coordinated so many pieces of this production, and who took such good care of Dave and me while we were at the Festival. Also, to Stucker for his stage announcements and support throughout the day on Thursday and to Dave Wiesman for helping Matt and I connect with plenty of time to compare notes and plans for the event. Yet another raging success and a truly positive experience for all involved. (I think I’m getting good at this…..) 😉