Every year, Jacksonville Beach holds the Summer Jazz Concert Series at the Seawalk Pavilion, an open-air amphitheater. The series consists of a monthly concert over June, July and August. Although I’ve lived in Jacksonville now for more than twenty years, yesterday was the first time that I experienced the event. It took my parents visiting from Massachusetts and staying in a hotel next door to the venue for me to attend. I like to think that I fully support and participate in local culture, but when I asked myself why it took so long to arrive at this particular one, it came down to appeal, maybe even transcending my comfort zone. In other words, smooth jazz doesn’t do it for me. But the proximity made a walk over a must; I mean the horns were greeting us all the way to our patio and the mass of festive event-goes made it a no brainer.
My story’s conclusion is probably pretty predictable, we had a great time. I was shocked to see the wide range of people, seemingly from all walks of life, congregated and enjoying the concert together. And it didn’t matter that the particular music being played didn’t resonate with me, I was experiencing something with many members of my community that I typically wouldn’t. Like many, I tend to stay in my cultural comfort zone. The music itself IS important, or whatever the central draw is, but it’s not everything. All of us have little margin in life and the idea of filling that sacred bit of time with something you don’t particularly enjoy is, well, rather unappealing. But it’s more of an urging to occasionally break through those cultural comfort zones to explore all the different facets that makes your community what it is, and jumping head first into those unknown pockets.
A number of these types of stories have revealed themselves in State of the Re:Union episodes and features. In our first season, we did a video podcast feature that centered around community music stories called Sounds of the Re:Union. My own cultural victory (is that a bit of an overstatement?), reminded me of some of the stories that we covered in the Sounds series, stories where people forced themselves to try something new, to get involved with something they had zero experience
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