The folk-rock group I play with, Mallworthy, was asked to perform at a holiday party and awards ceremony for the Sierra Club in Boulder last night. The event was held in the cafeteria of a Unitarian church, and there was a constant clatter with a couple-hundred people standing in line for the array of potluck food and then sitting and eating the food, while they talked and laughed.
We could barely hear ourselves play our brilliantly rehearsed setlist, never mind anyone in the “audience” paying any attention. One woman who stood about four feet in front of me while she waited in the food line leaned over and said she could barely hear our instruments but not our voices at all.
So when a well-heeled middle-aged woman in all black began banging her wine glass with a fork — during one of our songs — so the crowd could quiet down and listen to her announcements and several pages of “Bushisms” that she’s collected, I had had enough. It was a reflection of how invisible and unnecessary we were to the festivities at hand. Almost half an hour later, while the merry members held their raffle giveaway, we decided we should just pack up and go home.
We couldn’t even consider this a rehearsal since we couldn’t hear each others’ parts. It was nice to just get out of there.
But I had a cloud nagging at me all night, long after I’d gone home and started watching TV to distract my brain.
Even before the presumptuous woman interrupted our playing, I had looked out over the room and noted a disturbing fact: Besides myself, there were two Asian faces (women, who appeared to be there with Caucasian partners) and one African American woman. I wasn’t sure if anyone in the room was Hispanic. But it was clear that overwhelmingly, the room was filled with eager, erstwhile, Earth-loving white people.