Last weekend I spent time at one of those rare events that somehow takes you away from the mundane boring ordinary world, and drops you into a beautiful place that nurtures and inspires, and leaves you wishing you never had to leave. It's called RhythmSong, and it only happens once a year. I've been a few times in the past, but haven't managed to make the last three or so years, and how I have missed it! The venue is nothing special, old chalets at a 'holiday camp' that has seen far better days. But it doesn't matter. It's what happens there that's important. Four marvelous days of music, singing, songwriting, clowning, drumming, where if you've never sung in front of an audience before, you may suddenly find you have the courage because everyone is so supportive, where just finding that courage will get you a standing ovation, and you may even find yourself with a 'backing band' of professional musicians if you just ask for a hand. Four days of workshops, classes, sharing, great food, and a community camaraderie that is as beautiful to experience as it is rare. The calibre of artists invited to run workshops is wonderful, they come from all over the country, and they become part of this wonderful community, sharing, laughing, eating meals with all the participants like old mates. There is a youth scholarship as well, so there was a bunch of marvelously talented teenagers in the mix, with no discernible age barrier at all. Everyone loves music, and that's all that matters. I sang, and played Cordelia for the first time in front of anyone other than my immediate family, and it does a shy ego marvelous good to receive applause and whistles at the end of a song. More than that, though I was so nervous I couldn't hear, I was told afterwards that the entire group of young 'uns joined and sang with me, in harmony, as I attempted an Adele song (not my usual thing, but fun to have a shot, and as I said when I came up to the mic, it's about as 'pop diva' as I get!). That's the other marvelous thing about this weekend, though all the participants are amateurs, everyone sings, and any excuse to break into song is acted upon, and the harmonies! Oh the harmonies. People who sing in community choirs and just naturally break into harmony, who sing for the pure joy of it. Oh how I wish I could bottle that feeling and hand it out on a street corner in the city to everyone who walked by. It's how we SHOULD be, I'm sure of it, just singing because we feel like it. I saw my mum shyly share a song she had written with the song sharing circle, and stand up at the mic with one of the young lads and sing in front of everyone, I saw my dad get up and sing a song he thought no-one would know or like because it was too old fashioned, only to have everyone join in and then applaud and whistle and hoot when he finished. It's that kind of place, a magic place, maybe a bit like Avalon, (or actually, more like Brigadoon!). It appears magically once a year, out of the mists, lasts a few short hours, then disappears again, leaving no trace but a warm happy feeling.
I didn't take my camera, I didn't want to be distracted by taking pictures, but here is some YouTube video of past RhythmSongs, that will give you an idea of what it's like.