I never thought that in a million art walk years, an evening wandering through Wynwood on a hot and humid second Saturday in September would remind me of the blue skies and butterflies in Macy Gray’s all-too-happy song: “Beauty in the World.” “Listen to the sound,” Gray sings, “and lose it/in sweet music/and dance with me.”
In many ways, while walking through the human and vehicular traffic in Wynwood, I managed to get lost in the sweet music of the Avocado Estate, a progressive bluegrass/old-time trio made up of James Schlender, Geoff Saunders and Joy Adams. Based at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music, Avocado Estate staked out the corner of 23rd Street and NW 2nd Avenue, just in front of a chain link fence and a blue Port-o-Potty, for an impromptu jam session. Maybe the blue loo reminded of Macy Gray’s blue skies. Or maybe it was the bluegrass that reminded me of the blue skies.
Either way, Avocado Estate reminded me that there’s beauty in the world — even at a construction site. I’m not familiar with bluegrass, let alone progressive bluegrass, yet I witnessed the soft, almost hypnotic power that lives in bluegrass. And it stopped me (and about 50 other people!) for close to 35 minutes. As the trio performed, I noticed that the crowd positioned closest to the trio started to move back just a few feet to make room for a young boy with blonde locks wearing red shoes and a white t-shirt who abandoned himself to the sweet music conjured up out of the Estate’s fiddle, bass and guitar.
“Shake your booty, boys and girls,” Gray sings. “For the beauty in the world/pick your diamond, pick your pearl/there is beauty in the world.” The boy didn’t stop dancing. He shook his booty to bluegrass — a genre he’d probably never heard before that night. He didn’t look around to see if people were watching him dance. He didn’t seem to mind that his fellow friends weren’t jamming with him. He was only aware of the beat, of the rhythm of life, that powered his red shoes.
“All together now,” Gray sings. And all together we clapped to the bluegrass beat as we encouraged the boy to dance. He made me smile, which means bluegrass made me smile. This smile reminded me of the luminous power of music to connect with us and to move us at an emotional level. I didn’t need to know anything about bluegrass to feel the bluegrass in me just like that boy with red shoes on a gritty corner in Wynwood didn’t need to know anything about bluegrass to feel the blue skies and butterflies that live in him.
For more information about the Avocado Estate, visit their Facebook page here: ww.facebook.com/AvocadoEstate?ref=ts. And to hear the blue skies and butterflies of their work visit here: www.reverbnation.com/avocadoestate.