There are a lot of reasons why you’d want to drop by the F.A.M.E. Music City festival on West Dearborn Street today.
It’s going to be beautiful out. The area’s best bands will be playing outside. A lot of your neighbors and other friendly folks will be there. It’s free to get in. And, honestly, how many music festivals do we actually have in Englewood?
But this may be the best reason: F.A.M.E. stands for “Friends of the Advancement of Music Education.”
For 10 years, this nonprofit has raised thousands of dollars so our school band students can have decent musical instruments to play as they’re learning. Its founders, Jim Pivovar and Barry Bianche, the original “Friends,” figured musicians could donate their time to give back to the younger generation that’s coming up. Musicians like Kenny Rose, the Smoked Mullet Band, and many more took up the cause. It worked.
Here’s how I know. I remember going to a band concert at L.A. Ainger Middle School about seven or eight years ago. In most places, that would be something to dread. Seriously. Some of the kids have only been playing their trumpets, drums and flutes for a couple of months, and there are a whole bunch of them. Can you picture the sound?
But we knew better. Those of us who’d been to a few Ainger concerts knew band director Tim Ostrow would have the kids ready. The bands would be solid — not perfect, but the songs would be recognizable and even better than that. The jazz band would actually swing.
What happened that night was even better. I heard a kid — my kid — playing a baritone saxophone. This wasn’t a beat-up middle-school bari sax, but a beautiful instrument that gleamed under the stage lights and sounded like butter. Warm, deep butter. And it came from F.A.M.E.
Talk about “Advancement in Music Education.” Between Ostrow’s unique teaching ability and that beautiful instrument — all of those instruments — we parents and grandparents not only survived the evening, but we were actually entertained.
Maybe the last letter of F.A.M.E. should stand for “Entertainment.”
If you don’t believe me, come out early today and hear what our music students can do. They play from 11:30 a.m. to about 12:30 p.m. A full day of music follows.
And, if you need one more reason to come out, you should know that Twinkle and her band will be there tonight to close the show.
Chris Porter is the editor of the Englewood Sun. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 941-681-3000.