Monday, July 16

Rhythm is Gonna Get You

Music enters my body through my feet. And I am not talking about the toe tapping response to rhythm, or even the vibration of sound reverberating through the floor, but something more subtle than both.

Like energy.

Energy produced by musicians and laid down on tracks; strummed out on guitars; pounded out from pianos; belted out through voice boxes. Energy which starts at the tips of my toes and penetrates every cell of my skin as it traverses the gravity defying path upward, through my very veins and breaks into a pounding heart at the center of my chest. At the moment pulsation of arteries and energy of music combine there is an explosion of sorts and that music bursts outward in extreme electric shocks.

Vibrating through my trunk, down my arms, out my fingertips, and POW out the crown of my head.

That's when the dancing starts. It can't be helped, it is an ingrained, automated response, as natural to me as blinking or breathing.

Music, good music, does that. Music which is full of passion and meaning and passion and flair and passion. Music flies into my soul right through my feet.

Saturday, Don and I traveled to the neighboring city of Rotterdam to attend Night 2 of The North Sea Jazz Festival. A three-day affair hosted at the large Ahoy. convention center in the city, it was an incredible celebration of music. The place is ginormous (I can use this word because I just learned it has been admitted into the dictionary) and boasts several stages--count 'em, 15--for performers. There is action in every corner and down every corridor. In spite of the large crowds, which is never my favorite thing, it was an absolute thrill to be there.

My toes tingled.

We began our concert tour Saturday with a 14-year old jazz singer named Kim Hoorweg. Working our way through stages and rooms we caught the tail end of the show by Steely Dan (yes, Steely Dan!), and introduced our ears to several new-to-us artists throughout the night--Joe Bonamassa, Curtis Steigers, New Generation Big Band. For the midnight show we parked ourselves in the crowd aching to hear from Jason Mraz at one of the outdoor stages. Though he has fame and reputation in the US, he is not, as yet, well known in The Netherlands.The crowd was large, but not crushing and we staked a place quite close to the stage so we could enjoy his performance.

(It would have been THE PERFECT place were it not for one REALLY OBNOXIOUS American tourist who continually insisted upon explaining lyrics to her Dutch boyfriend and without tolerance or understanding for the culture she was visiting made herself look a fool over and over again. I will save that rant perhaps, but just suffice to say I was deeply annoyed by my fellow countrywoman.)

Jason Mraz is a completely engaging performer with unbelievable talent dripping out his fingertips and through his vocal chords. I was mesmerized and completely taken in.

Before I share a little clip of my *new* boyfriend, I just want to mention that this extravagant music festival happens every year, and I am just wondering, which of you I can count on for company at next year's venue?

I promise, your toes will tingle.


  1. Hi Jenn! I am THE FIRST to comment today. Very honored. I can't believe you heard even a snippet of Steely Dan. How I envy you!
    As for the ugly American, that was when I usually pretended not to speak English when I was in Italy. Why is there always an ugly American wherever you go?

  2. I know! I was shocked. Steely Dan was billed as one of the bands who required additional fees to see, so we didn't think we'd have a chance, and then when we walked into the hall to see Joe Bonamassa, Steely Dan was just finishing a last set, and then we got in on the encore too. It was great! Donald Fagan in green adidas and everything!

    And, I totally pretended to speak only Dutch until she was just obnoxious enough to say really loudly "WHAT IS SHE SAYING" when the announcer came on stage to ask if the crowd wanted Jason back for just one more...then I had to lean forward to "translate" for her. What I really wanted to do was pinch her. Or tell her that the announcer had just asked the loud blonde in front to be quiet. Ick.

  3. My German daughter got tickets for this for her boyfriend last year and they LOVED it (he's a guitarist). They went for the whole festival. Next year they and my Danish son are going to that rock fest in Denmark, that's about the equivalent, except it's for... rock.

    It sounds like a wonderful time. WHAT fun! And yes, Jason Mraz rocks!

  4. And I wasn't invited this year 'cuz...? Oh yeah, I forgot, you've seen me dance! Still, if ever Don doesn't want to come along, you know you have a partner! What a great post, a new musician to listen out for and a new word from the dictionary!! And lookie! Lookie! A new pic of me with my comment! I'm learnin'!

  5. What a fabulous experience! If there's any way for me to be in Europe next summer, there's no way I'd miss it.

  6. jen-
    We've vowed that we are going for the entire festival next year. It was an exceptional amount of cool.
    Rock fest sounds awesome too!

    Only because we went at the last minute (as we tend to do with most everything) But, dancing or no dancing, next year we've got a date!

    Wow, wouldn't that be cool?

  7. Oh, I so wish you had translated as the announcer asking the loud blonde in front to be quiet! Everyone around you would have applauded.

    Other than that, it sounds like it was a wonderful evening.

  8. am-
    I wish I would have too. I should have really. But in spite of her ridiculous behavior it was such a great show. Really. Great.

  9. I have Jason's You and I video on my iPod. Just him and his guitar. The only song I have of his and I LOVE it.

    As for obnoxious Americans abroad. Hate them. Can't stand them. I've been known to claim I am Canadian just to avoid being lumped with those morons.

    Lastly. You've invited moi to the festival? A personal invitation? Why darling thank you so much! Let see Blogher in 2008 or you.

    Hmmm.... not much of a choice there. You win!

  10. That sounds amazing. Sorry to hear about the American tourist.

  11. SMID-
    Good. You saw the subliminal engravging implied.

    Yah, I know. Ugh.

    You should really come. Your air guitar would be a nice addition to the musical genius there!

  12. I really enjoyed your 'new boyfriends' song, Jenn - especially the fake instruments!!

    Love the way you describe the effect music has on you -
    Though I'm not certain whether I believe in God or (particularly fantastic operatic voices) gets me as close to being a believer as anything. (is that weird?)

    and always whenever I clean the house I always crank the music up loud - helps me forget the tedium of what I'm doing and lose myself in the music....

  13. rebecca-
    My *new boyfriend performed that song on Saturday and I just loved it. It's hard not to love him. He's just that good.
    And, no I don't think you weird at all. I think music is god (taking away all religiously preconceived notions of what god is). Music takes me places I can't reach otherwise. It speaks to my soul, with or without lyrics. That's spiritual. It's also an unbelievable blessing. So coming from another, currently without religion, I would have to admit that music, good music, is one to me.

  14. Music is a "thin place" for me. Marcus Borg, a theologian I am fond of, describes a thin place as "anywhere our hearts are opened…" Music has always lifted me up and moved me along from the inside of my being down to my toes. I think you understand this concept very clearly.

    Steely Dan is something. Was Jeff Baxter with them? Oh, and I am impressed with your new boyfriend. I am on my way to check him out.

  15. Don't let SMID take credit for the Jason Mraz on her Ipod. I put it there. And if it wasn't or me, her ipod would have one more video about raining men.

    Mraz is my man. I think he is the James Taylor of the 21st century. Really. If you like his stuff, check out John Gorka, who is def. 20th century but still good (check out "Love is Our Cross to Bear"). And if Robert Cray ever comes your way, sell your first child to go. Not many pay attention to him, but in 50 years many will realize that he was the best blues guitarist singer of the late 20th century, hands down.

  16. Oh, be still my beating heart. A comment from MR. SMID? I am so honored.
    I also knew I always liked you. Anyone on board with my new boyfriend can totally be my other boyfriend. I agree with your assessment, he is the up and coming JT. The talent is just incredible.
    And we love Robert Cray here! LOVE HIM.
    This new guy (to us) we saw, Joe Bonamassa was a stellar guitarist too. If you have a chance to see him, you will not be disappointed.

    I can expect you next summer for the jazz fest in Holland, yes?