Monday, July 21, 2008

Heavy Metal Monday Night

It all started in Paris, 2005. It's called the Festival of Music. And it happened in June.

My wife and I were staying on the left bank for our honeymoon. It was a Monday night and we went out to explore and not five minutes into our quiet walk, we came upon some street musicians playing some jazz. It was a small three piece combo of college students. We looked at each other lovingly and said "Paris" like a couple might say in a movie. It was soooo romantic.

Then we went another 60 feet and saw a full band playing "Killing In The Name Of..." by Rage Against the Machine. This time we looked at each other and said "Paris?"

It was not what we expected, which was a good thing, but it didn't stop there.

At first, it was odd. Seeing these students jamming away to this hardcore music. But our trip just grew more strange. Not a quarter of a block later, there was more music - a folk duo - and then there was classical, Calypso, Latin - you name it, all throughout the streets of the left bank.

We made our way to Montmarte, that mythological place where Moulin Rouge is still a vibrant place. It's also where many artists, poets and performers made names for themselves.

The music continued, but now we were engulfed by artists all around us. Painters, sculptors, craft artists - they were everywhere. And, of course, the whole experience with all the people filling the streets, made for great theater with all these"characters" that made you laugh, cry and just wonder "How did I get here?"

Fast forward to 2007.

Downtown Elgin is not Paris. But it is unique. And different from your typical suburb. It has character and history and much of this can easily be forgotten as the downtown undergoes construction to "revitalize" itself.

The idea to present a Theatre Walk/Art Show was presented to the Elgin Cultural Arts Commission in the fall of 2007. And it's very possible that the seeds for this were planted on that night in Paris.

This blog is about the people, places and art that will make Walkabout: Theater on your Feet a memorable experience.

Stayed tuned. There will be more to come.

Sean Hargadon

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