Art, craft, and music are basic human functions. They also cannot function without one another and we cannot function without the shared participation and collaboration they provide.
The recent discovery of ochre paintings, some 12,500 years old and spanning nearly eight miles of cliff face in the Colombian Amazon, colorfully illustrates this union. The rock walls are crowded with thousands of drawings depicting wildlife and “vision quests” — and the musical instruments used to harmonize the collaboration between the two into a unified understanding of the world.
Artists and artisans have, since time immemorial, stoked the burning desire to create music; be it a single bone flute, a slow blues riff, or a rousing symphony, there has always been the instrumental need to accompany the task at hand. The guitar maker and the guitarist are joined together in pursuit of perfection just as the audience and performers are joined together through shared experience — a master artisan’s fine-tuned instrument; a musician holding a searing note with heartbreaking clarity and insistence.
I was reminded of this the other night while comfortably dining in the ancient and beautifully remodeled barn that is the recently relocated La Yunta Restaurant, at Av. Primero de Mayo near Av. Las Americas. The interior design of the new restaurant’s dining room and center-post bar is stunning, the collection of artisan crafts for sale is first rate and their extensive menu offerings are delicious.
It was a perfect accompaniment to a perfect evening listening to Paco Lightfoot and Matthew Hart perform some of the tastiest blues, ballads, and “my girl went away and took my dog, too” whimpers only old school country music can provide. This weren’t no flashy Nashville production, y’all. This concert was distilled from the sunburned wheat of the Oklahoma hills and cowboys “sippin’ ‘n a grinnin’” under the spread of an ancient bur oak.
Attending a concert of this intimacy is unique to the degree that it offers the added excitement of active participation; we are able to all but sit among the musicians who are playing music as it is meant to be heard — intuitive, immediate, and directed right at us, the audience. Perfect.
It is the literature of the heart; it begins where mere speech ends.
As I looked at the audience, captivated by their rapt attention to the music of Lightfoot and Hart, I wondered if this might be one of the serums we so desperately need to break the fever of confinement and isolation that has so long afflicted our community.
We were healing that night, our spirits uplifted and joined together in song. Our muffled voices were being sung by two very talented musicians giving form to our deepest dreams – and by giving form to these dreams, they joined the roster of artists beginning with the those who painted on rocks with ochre eons ago; dedicated artists determined to illustrate the path leading to a better understanding of our place in the world.
I was reminded again that the world would be better served by listening to the collaborative efforts of our most creative – those charged with the tool making, and those chosen to use the tools that lead us towards our destiny.
I left the concert encouraged, after hanging on after every last note. As I readied for bed that evening I felt comforted even while imagining how the storm will pass and guessing when the torment will finally be settled. I also left with this: faith that perhaps my dog may one day find her way back home.
I look forward to seeing Lightfoot and Hart often.