Friday, November 5, 2010

In the heat of the Wednesday night.

In the heat of this week I attended the UCLA Chicano Studies Resource Center Open House earlier this week. It is one of a consortium of Latino research centers in the United States. The program was informative, talking with scholars was envigorating, and the library was impressive. They had a lovely ofrenda for Dinicio Morales (1918-2008), an hispanic civil rights leader who fight the silent rules of discrimination and inequity.

As I was leaving the building it was very dusky and I almost walked past this young man without noticing him. That would have been a sad thing for not only did I get a chance to hear him play, but we also had a conversation.

He told me that British comedian and musician George Formby played the banjolele. I was struck by this young man, very much his own person, who was a fan of a man who was a the peak of his popularity in the 1920s and 193os.

Not too surprising to learn that he is thinking about majoring in Ethnomusicology; a pretty good choice if you have an interest in music and sociology as he does. He hopes to purchase a shamizen soon. That Japenese stringed instrument will have a tone that will be wonderfully vibrant.

As I walked away from the building I heard him play and begin to sing. A mellifluous voice; a bit of warm fuzzy tune that made this old music major smile.

I saw four students walking past. All slowed their pace to look at the banjolele owner and each seemed to have their own response to his unique interest. They were almost out of earshot when I heard one say - ukulele. I could see the others nod a silent "ah ha".

I enjoyed the academic counterpoint of the banjolele's tune mixed with the images I had seen at the CSRC Open House. Had to smile when I thought that each in their own way was an expression breaking silent rules with outcomes that made the hot night air much more bearable.

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