South Pole Steve

Make Music Madison

This past Friday marked the summer solstice and Madison’s first annual city wide music festival - Make Music Madison. If you spent any time outside, especially downtown, it was hard to miss. 270 shows, 210 artists, spread over 110 venues. Music could be heard in literally every part of the city.

So how was it? Amazing! Typically music events at this scale quickly lose their sense of community. Corporate sponsorship banners and triple fried fair food move in. It makes me feel like another sheep in the herd cycling between the stage and the beer tent. Make Music Madison was the exact opposite experience. Just local people, out in their community, simply playing and listening to music.

Downtown, many bands were set up right in the sidewalk. I was actively participating by just walking down the street. Stopping every block or two to hear another band play felt… symbiotic. Stripped of the massive stages and national headliners, all that remained was people making music and people listening. Each group, feeding off the other, and creating a massive city wide concert. I have not been to an event in quite some time that gave me a such a profound sense of community. It made me proud to be a Madisonian.

Bottom line, If you weren’t taking in the sounds of the city on Friday, you were truly missing out something uniquely Madison. Mark it on your calendar next year and think about participating. Dust off your old guitar, host some bands in your front yard, or just shoulder a lawn chair and take a walk down state street. You will be glad you did.

You can see pictures of the event on Flickr or Facebook