Creating Community with Electric Synergy

MADISONVILLE, KY (4/18/13)—Technically, we experience synergy to some degree every day. Yet, every so often, we dig right into the exceptional reality of the term. And it is in these rare instances, when just the right mix of timing, emotion, and situation intermingle, that we truly experience what it means to collectively create something amazing, something that reaches into a shared consciousness both within and beyond our sense of individuality. It’s an electric sensation that reminds us that we’re human, that we were once a civilization rather than a menagerie of disjointed beings basking in the pale blue glow of smartphone screens. It creates an undeniably powerful buzz within us and those in proximity, and it is usually so striking that what was perhaps only a brief moment in time—at least in relativity—may impress upon us a lifelong stamp of consideration for our potential as a single race.

It may at first sound like the ranting of a lunatic, but coin these remembered, hindsight moments as “nostalgia” or “the good ol’ days” and it all begins to make perfect sense.

In the opinion of this writer, modernity and all its intricate, fast-paced trappings are paradoxically stifling and furthering the frequency with which these collectively cathartic moments manifest. Social media and other forms of publicly accessible mass communication are powerful tools for distributing ideas and creativity, but they can also keep us at odds; they can keep us faceless and disconnected, prostrate in mindless entertainment, while ironically connecting us in ways we would have never imagined 20 years ago. Whereas mail once took weeks, or even months, to reach its recipient, we can now send messages to the other side of the globe instantaneously. At the click of a button, we may purchase the latest pair of designer jeans or we can spark a revolution, and therein lays the terror of the modern generation’s responsibility. It’s up to us whether we use what we have at our disposal for the progression of communal thought or for the bliss of ignorance.

Fortunately, there are many who understand this concept and are actively utilizing the technology-bound power we all wield for the betterment of our species. They are creating real events where people can not only interact, but can share and synergize with other like-minded people, and they’re using technology to spread the word.

Yet, no matter how much a person or group may plan an event, the role of those participating—and how much they actually participate—as well the circumstances that are ultimately involved, are always the uncontrollable variables in this equation. They are the anomalous factors no individual or organization can completely gauge beforehand. With this in mind, those who take the time and initiative in hopes of achieving such a collaborative communal effect deserve our applause more so. Why? Because much of their fuel is a mix of blind faith and ambition.

Fortunately, as a writer and general community supporter, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing and being a part of these electrically-charged moments several times over the past few years—and they’ve almost always been sparked by the talents of creative people.

Thankfully, I was able to be a part of this effect once again this past Saturday, April 13th, in Madisonville, KY at Legends Bar thanks to the efforts of local rock band, gypsyLifter, and a handful of other local performers.

With the promise of 100 free beers, a striking lineup of “guest” performers, and the mission of simply having a good time standing as the impetus for participating, over 250 people turned out at the venue throughout the four-and-a-half-hour set with high hopes—and they weren’t disappointed.

As the night rolled on, talented performers like Pat Ballard and Johnny Keyz (aka PB&J), Mollie Garrigan, Vince Bedwell, Chris Branstetter, Cody Melton, and Even Faulk, as well as some new groups formed partially by members of gypsyLifter—Toredown/Brown (Landon Miller, Kyle True, and Matt Parker) and The Dead Sea Squirrels (myself, Jessica Dockrey, Landon Miller, and Randy Stone)—took to the stage alongside one another as friends and collaborators rather than rivals.

And while I’ve been to similar events in the past—ones where everyone hopes to work together effectively—Robert Burns’ quote says it best: “The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry.” To put it bluntly, sometimes things just click organically and sometimes they don’t, a fact that is especially true with artists and musicians. It’s just the way of fate. Fortunately, this event was that of the former, and the people in attendance became just as much a part of the performances as those under the swirling, iridescent lights of the stage. Friends were there showing support with claps and yelps; strangers applauded from behind raised, ice-clinking glasses; revelers swayed and nodded in time adjacent to the onstage monitors; and a horde of respect was shared by all those involved.

Though I can’t personally speak for everyone there that night, the event will personally go down in my memory banks as one of the best times I’ve ever had creating something beautiful with the help of other, like-minded people.

Pat Ballard, a seasoned musician and supporter of local artists and performers—a man who partially inspired me to get on stage for the first time this past Saturday night—leaned over during the first portion of gypsyLifter’s multi-part set and told me, “When I walked in the door tonight, I felt like I was walking into a community that I truly belonged to.”

And that’s what it’s all about.

Though there were a bevy of talented musicians from our town and region who weren’t able to attend the show, there’s no doubt in my mind that what we shared was just as much a part of their spirit as our own.

As residents of Madisonville and Hopkins County, we should never take what we have right here in our community for granted. It’s not just musicians either. It’s an eclectic group of artists; it’s a variety of non-profit organizations; it’s volunteers; it’s rich history; and it’s unique culture. It’s here at our fingertips, but it’s up to us to energize the beast and bring it to life.

Sugg Street Post
Written by Luke Short
Photos by Jessi Smith

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