YOU MAY THINK THIS IS ABOUT MUSIC

And therefore should be showing up in Thursday’s NOTEWORTHY column, instead of here.

It is, and it isn’t.

It’s about a very Santa Monica event, a home concert dubbed SYS, Supercharge Your Soul, now a tradition, that I finally got to attend after nine years of them not 10 blocks from where I live. Who knew?

In the words of the young Viking-Bruin who started it, Connor Vance: “I graduated Samohi in 2010 and began my studies at UCLA that fall. At one point in October during my first semester, I realized how lucky we as young artists were to have such supportive parents and community in Santa Monica. Supercharge Your Soul began with two main intentions, as a way to acknowledge and celebrate our creativity, and to say thank you to all the parents whose patience and generosity allowed us to thrive.”

It occurred to me that evening that this was also a paean to our outstanding high school, and how special it is as measured by students such as these who grew up there and have become such fine adults, and by context what that says about our city.

I love Santa Monica and a lot of you do too, even though those words are not always spoken without a qualifier these days. I have come to see it demonstrated over and over that what makes this town special are the people, who came here and stay here (though many are fleeing now) because of what it has always been in so many intangible ways, and we now fight to not lose that ineffable but essential character to the fallout from greed-fueled overdevelopment.

WHEN I MOVED HERE FROM NM

As it is for most, LA was a huge, interminable unknown. But I soon discovered Santa Monica, and declared, this is where I will live. Silly boy. I came here with just over $1000 and a 10-year-old son. But I soon wound up living in Mandeville Canyon (close but no cigar), then I moved, to North Hollywood and then to Beverly Hills, always to be near the best schools. But when the opportunity peeked up and waved a tiny hand, to get into a TORCA-conversion apartment in Ocean Park in 1985, I never thought twice, even though it was beyond our means. We made it work.

It wasn’t until I got moved in that I really began to understand how different and wonderful Santa Monica is, and always has been. It takes a long time to absorb the sense of place here, that goes beyond history. I’m still learning, obviously, as evidenced by the SYS concert party I finally discovered. Let me admit now that I was not invited because I am a world-renowned music journalist; it was only because I am Nicole’s father, she being an accomplished product of the music programs at Samo and UCLA and a friend of Connor and wife Arianne, and also as Dian’s husband, she being the lifelong singer who trained her daughter and can hold any stage with just her voice, and, if I may say so, they sound absolutely exquisite together, as they did that night.

OVER THE PAST YEAR

The three of us have gotten to know local boy made good Connor Vance and his equally talented singing wife Arianne, much better. Give Nicole (Class of 2011) the credit. Connor, a superb guitarist, fiddler and mandolin player, is at this moment somewhere in Denmark, on tour with his really good, fast-rising band Dustbowl Revival. They tour a lot. But here’s a little more about that home concert tradition started by Vance.

“At UCLA I met other musicians who I found had similar collaborative, celebratory, community based values. These numerous artists include Teira Church, Dominic Delzompo, Moses Sumney, and Erica Rey. It was a huge honor that they joined the party this year, and I immensely enjoyed seeing the Samo and UCLA communities merge.”

It has been held at the same house since the beginning, which he says is perfect because “that supportive mentor was a major pillar of bringing the neighborhood together when we were growing up.” He said the performances tend to center around folk and pop singer-songwriters. “My favorite aspect is when musicians take it upon themselves to bring others together for very special, once in a lifetime collaborations. For the 10th anniversary next year, I will focus on making collaborations the focal point of performance.”

JP ET AL

Many Samohi alums and parents would remember, among others, JP (Jason Pitts), dazzling in high school and a more mature dazzler now, singing and wailing that guitar. Zoe Zelkind took her talents to New York for a few years but is back home, and she was edgy and moving, as always, with her thoughtful, often dramatic originals. Sam Tsui is a youtube sensation with more than 3M subscribers, and in most any other venue you would pay big bucks to hear Teira Church. Do you get the picture this was not just some fun, sloppy jam session? Nothing wrong with that, but I wouldn’t be writing about it, with hometown pride. Every performer was excellent and held your attention. It was a concert, and Connor was back and forth twiddling knobs, sitting in and organizing it all to look and sound great.

I don’t know that something like this would come out of Albuquerque, or Topeka or Idaho Falls. We’ve got a very special place here, evidence all around, but we must now, sadly, fight to keep it that way. A worthwhile battle, for future generations.

QUOTES OF THE WEEK: — it would seem writers have a lot to say about music.

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” — Plato

“Life seems to go on without effort when I am filled with music.” — George Eliot

“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” — Victor Hugo

“Music is the art which is most nigh to tears and memory.” — Oscar Wilde

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” –Aldous Huxley

“Music is well said to be the speech of angels.” — Thomas Carlyle

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

“If Music is a Place — then Jazz is the City, Folk is the Wilderness, Rock is the Road, Classical is a Temple.” — Vera Nazarian

Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 32 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at therealmrmusic@gmail.com

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2 Comments

  1. If this is as great as you write, and I have no doubt that it is, seems like it should be shared with the whole community, say at the Broad on an evening or weekend afternoon. Some community group would probably be willing to sponsor and we could “pass the hat” to cover some of the expenses. That would make it a real community tradition.

  2. John, thank you, you are too kind. I was invited once to speak at the great Library Girl event held at Ruskin Group Theater, but was not able to make it.

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