World peace and local politics

My favorite arts experiences combine art as escapism with art as engagement.

Take my recent trip with Jennifer to hear Mark Johnson, creator and director of “Playing for Change,” speak about musicians coming together around the globe to promote peace through music.

It was a free event held the day “Playing for Change” performed an evening concert at the Musical Instrument Museum as part of their 2010-2011 theatre and film season.

We first heard “Playing for Change” when they performed at the Mesa Arts Center last season — and once is never enough.

As a small group of “Playing for Change” musicians performed — two vocalists, plus two on guitar and two on drums — I felt swept away from the day, yet fully in the moment.

But afterwards, my escapism shifted to engagement. Now I’m a mom in a movement. Cool.

Music is a fundamental means of self-discovery and self-expression. And a way to discover and explore the people and places all around us — both far and near.

In America, we enjoy another fundamental opportunity to express ourselves while working together for a collective good. It’s voting. And sure as we all tap our toes or hum a tune, we need to do it. The right to vote is something our fellow citizens have fought for and something we must never take for granted.

Would that all people had even a fraction of our freedoms. Sure, you’re free to stay home from the polls. But don’t assume those polls will always be there if people stop paying attention and participating.

Democracy isn’t a finished product, like a painting on the wall. It’s a piece of clay whose shape we continue to mold. It’s an art in many ways. And we’re all sculptors.

Perhaps that’s the appeal of political satire. It reminds us that democracy can be fragile, even fleeting.

Consider one of the Valley’s many Thanksgiving weekend traditions. It’s all the power, conflict, scandal and mayhem you can handle — set to your favorite tunes.

It’s “The Capitol Steps,” a Washington, D.C.-based group performing next month at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

But why celebrate mayhem or scandal? Because we can. Because we have freedom of speech, freedom of the press and more.

Because in America people of all ilks can sit side by side and enjoy songs like “Liberal Shop of Horrors” together.

I suspect “liberals” may laugh the loudest, as they’re one group of many to be musically mocked by this traveling troupe of singing political comedians.

“The Capitol Steps” performs Nov 26 & 27 — featuring works from their current repertoire of timely tidbits. There’s no telling what will be on the front burner by that point. But I’m eager to see what they’ll do with it.

— Lynn

Note: I learned while reading a recent issue of the Arizona Capitol Times that Arizona News Service will present “Rock the Capitol” Dec 8 from 4:30-6:30pm at the Wyndham Phoenix. It’s your opportunity to meet the freshmen of the Arizona state legislature. For information, contact veronica.mier@azcapitoltimes or call 602-889-7137.

Coming up: Stage Mom meets slide show — featuring photos taken by a lovely couple I met while enjoying “Playing for Change” at the MIM.

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