A Balanced Diet:

Well, it’s June.  The trees have bloomed, and the black flies are a’ feastin’.  We are entering the summer season.  We here at Keene Music Festival have been very busy with lots of warm weather projects.  We are once again working with Little Zoe’s Pizza to bring live, original music to their Friday night festival of slices.  We are also putting together another series of shows at Robin Hood Park, as well as our ongoing series at the Sumner Knight Chapel.  Along the way, we are also putting together our annual Keene Music Festival; which this year has had over 3000 submissions!  Needless to say, we are busy little bunnies; and we do it all for you….


Over the past few weeks, we’ve been putting in a garden at our house. Nothing big, tomatoes, basil, peas, herbs and lettuce; along with our strawberry and asparagus patch.   It’s an annual exercise, as is going to Farmer’s Market every Saturday for me.  As the years go by, I’ve come to more and more appreciate the idea of fresh, local food.  It may require a little more effort and expense, but it pays off in quality.  So what, you may ask yourself, does this have to do with music?  Well, let me explain.


Just like we need a good diet to be healthy in body, we need a good diet of music and the arts to be healthy in soul. We need variety, and we need things to be pure and fresh.  Maybe not all of the time, but the cleaner the diet is overall the better we function.  The challenge is that we live in a time during which there is pressure for us to value convenience over quality.  There are a lot of easy foods out there that please the mouth, but are questionable for the body.  With the food business being a business, there’s an incentive to go for the inexpensive and the easy, rather than what is healthy and balanced.  We see the results of this in the increase in obesity and health issues that result from an over processed and business driven diet.


In the same way that we do best when we limit our processed foods, we also seem to do better when we limit our pre-processed arts.   Entertainment is big business, and everyone if vying for your attention and your money.  In the same way we all need to think about how and what we eat, we also need to think about our entertainment/artistic diet.  Are we getting a wide variety?  Are we trying new things to see if we might like them?  Are we limiting our intake of pre-processed products from the entertainment corporations; and try to get a good sum of local, homegrown music and art in our diet?  Much of what comes pre-packaged from corporate media is designed to meet demographic and sales research.  That’s what corporations are generally all about; making money.  There’s a difference in the taste of a garden grown, versus hothouse, tomato.  There is also a big difference in the taste of prepackaged versus local music and art.  It is always worth the effort to seek out the local whenever you can.


Along with this, it’s important to try to change things up for yourself.  Get into the habit of going out to local establishments for entertainment; rather than staying home all of the time.  If you are in the habit of going out, then stretch yourself by going to a place you don’t usually go, or taking in a concert or show that ‘s a style of music you are not familiar with.  If you’re a jazz fan, go take in a bluegrass or metal show.  If you’re a metal fan, go listen to some great acoustic music.   Learn about the local bands and go out and listen.  Listen for the art and enthusiasm.  Listen to things that both tickle and challenge you to expand your artistic senses.  Go for the full spectrum; the refined and the fundamental.  They all have something to offer.  We would love it if you came to all of our shows.  The more important thing, though, is that you go out and sample all of the musical talent our community has to offer.


In our work at Keene Music Festival, we spend a lot of time trying to find quality acts that represent all styles of music.   We have, over time, developed an ear for quality; which drives how we decide on acts for our events.  The how of that is something for another time.  The point is that this is a skill that can be developed by anyone willing to be open to the experience.  In the same way that we benefit from fresh, local food, we benefit from fresh, local music.  So please do what you can to make sure that you are getting your daily minimum of local art.  It’s good for the soul in the same way local food is good for the body.  And don’t forget to brush too….