Deserving of thanks

Published 10:03 pm Sunday, September 2, 2007

By Staff
The next time Music in the Streets rolls around — it’s Sept. 21, by the way — take time to enjoy its offering and thank the musicians and other entertainers who perform.
If it weren’t for them, there would be no Music in the Streets. That would be a shame. The street festival is one of Washington’s largest crowd-pleasers. Thousands of folks come from near and far to listen to and observe musicians play country, rock, soul, gospel, Celtic and other types of music.
Other than putting out jars, guitar cases and other objects that can hold tips, the musicians and other entertainers play for free. That means there is no charge for the public to come downtown get a sampling of music tastes on the third Friday of each month from April through September, the Friday before Smoke on the Water and on a performance date in early December.
Some of the musicians, Carolina Still comes to mind, have roots deeply embedded in the soil that is Music in the Streets. Some musical acts that honed their skills at Music in the Streets rarely return to the street festival. That’s because they are in great demand to perform elsewhere. And when those performances are paying performances, it’s hard to criticize those musicians for not returning to a gig where there is no pay, other than tips.
Some Music in the Streets acts travel many miles to perform on Washington’s downtown streets. Others travel just a few blocks. Before the crowds begin arriving at 6 p.m., the musicians and entertainers are setting up their equipment at their assigned venues. After the crowds leave when Music in the Streets concludes at 9 p.m., these entertainers break down their equipment.
Come strong wind, high temperatures or rain, these entertainers find ways to continue performing. Even if they are not getting paid, the show must go on.
Members of the Pamlico Pipes and Drums, dressed in kilts and other regalia, are no strangers to becoming wet with sweat as they perform in summer’s heat.
Lorenzo Wertz and his musical buddies have been known to get a soaking from sweating, too.
Gene &Gina often leave a Music in the Streets event all but worn out and out of energy.
Eddie Lilley, Donald Underwood Thompson, the Tisdale Family and other Music in the Streets regulars also contribute to the success of the street festival. These and other Music in the Streets entertainers deserve the community’s thanks, not to mention tips.
More than likely, a sincere “Thanks for coming out and performing tonight” would be as welcome, if not more so, than a tip. These people perform because they want to and enjoy doing so, not to earn a buck.
For the pleasure that groups such as the Men of Faith Quartet bring to people who come downtown to listen to and observe the entertainers, the community owes them its thanks. After listening to the Pamlico Pipes and Drums perform “Amazing Grace,” it’s the rare person who walks away not touched by that music.
After all, the first word in the phrase Music in the Streets is “music.” The music and musicians are critical parts of Music in the Streets.
And if the day comes, heaven forbid, that Music in the Streets is no more, the crowd at the last Music in the Streets should serenade the musicians performing that night.