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aug 3rd

If you've not yet attended Mile of Music in Appleton and wonder why music lovers you know find it to be such a wonderful and special experience, here's some observations I jotted down the day after last year's Mile. -Rick-

Those who still haven't attended MoM probably don't get what the fuss is. "It's just a bunch of bands", I've heard some say. But it really is much more than that. I remember reading an interview 20 some years ago in Rolling Stone magazine with singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams. They asked her what her favorite city was, and she said "New Orleans. Because the streets are f**king electric".

For four days, during MoM, the streets of Appleton become f**king electric! From the second I arrived on the Spatio at Spatz early Thursday afternoon, I could feel the pulse and hum of something special in the air. You could almost hear the electricity pop and crackle around you. It was the same at MoM's 1 & 2. Where does it come from? I have my guesses.

I think it comes in part from most of the shows being free. There is a giddy sense of anticipation that comes with knowing you are going see a band with whom you're completely unfamiliar and may walk out with a new favorite. Because the shows are free, there is no financial risk to keep you from taking a chance on an act you've never heard of, described in the MoM schedule as "freak folk", or "groung" only to learn that you are apparently a fan of "freak folk", or "groung" What's more, if it turns out you're NOT a fan of "freak folk", or "groung" there is nothing to complain about because IT DIDN’T COST YOU ANYTHING. MoM gives you freedom to experiment and explore.

The electric vibe is also generated by so many people coming together, from ages 8 to 80, while sharing in an artistic experience and realizing that no matter how different we may be, we are meeting on common ground. Every day, we all find ourselves in situations where we are standing around awkwardly with people we don't know. But suddenly, at MoM, we find ourselves standing next to strangers with a shared experience we not only WANT to talk about, WE CAN'T HELP BUT TALK ABOUT. "Wasn't Alanna Royale wonderful?" "How were Nobel Theifs". "Did you see The Diamond Light? Were they great?" "What were Ghost Wolves like?" "Is Walt Hamburger really just as dreamy in person?"

In an increasingly polarized world, MoM remains a place where others are actually interested in hearing our opinions and, even more amazingly, we are interested in hearing theirs. The notion that music brings us together isn't exactly new, but it's not every day you see it happen so beautifully and forcefully right before your eyes as you do virtually every minute at MoM.

And finally, the electricity comes from so many hard-working, talented musicians reaching a large and very, very appreciative new audience with their own tunes. The vast majority of musicians at Mile of Music are in their 20s and 30s and while quite accomplished, are still finding their way. The positive reinforcement that they receive from the throngs of people at MoM, FOR PLAYING THEIR OWN, ORIGINAL MUSIC is for them a soothing tonic to any night they spent playing covers for small groups of yammering, drunken stooges who would be happier listening to the latest over-produced pop pablum.

What's more, while together at MoM, these musicians have 4 days to get to know each other, to make new friends, to see each other perform, and to let their musical ideas cross-pollinate in ways that can take them to new places and to even greater heights as artists. Bands from Austin can get new ideas from bands from Nashville. Musicians from Indiana can be inspired by musicians from Canada. Songwriters from California can glean new ideas from songwriters from Ohio. And our ever-growing contingent of AMAZING local talent can see what the rest of the world is doing and show the rest of the world what we are doing here.

So ground yourself. Just one day until the electricity returns!