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Hollie Grimaldi Flores: All we need is love and music

Hollie Grimaldi Flores

“All you need is love.” “Love will keep us together.” “Love is a many splendored thing.” These and other unifying song lyrics have been running through my head the past several weeks after I was encouraged to focus on that which brings unity, rather than division. It’s not an easy time or an easy focus but I am trying to find a way back to a point when my personal beliefs did not have to be in alignment with your personal beliefs; a time when the common good was greater than the individual, and I realize I find that in the arts.

There is nothing like music or theatre or really, any of the arts, that brings people with a variety of viewpoints into one room. There is no application to fill out or approval required for entry. The joy and camaraderie of a shared experience can remove barriers and open hearts and minds. I am advocating for more time spent enjoying human creations and expression.

And as I was writing about it this week, yet another death, this one, an ambassador of our music and arts community. Mikail Graham left this realm rather unexpectedly, succumbing to a rare neurodegenerative disease. I won’t pretend to say I knew him well, but I knew him for his work as a musician, as a sound engineer at literally hundreds of concerts at a variety of venues; as one of the driving forces that brought KVMR to life nearly 45 years ago; and as one of the founders and the driving force behind “A Night of Giving,” an annual fundraiser benefiting our local homeless advocacy organization, Hospitality House.

During an interview with him several years ago we discussed the realities of the homeless, the many different reasons people found themselves without a residence of their own — he mentioned he had been in that situation himself and he knew that while the answer was not a simple one, that we as a community needed to do something to help those in need. He didn’t stop with words. He became a member of the board of directors and somehow managed to put over 40 acts on stage in one evening to raise funds toward helping that cause.

This is an excerpt from one of the articles I wrote promoting A Night of Giving: “Graham said he got involved with Hospitality House, first as a favor to his long-time friend, Utah Phillips, but also because there was a time as a young man when he found himself sleeping in a friend’s walk-in closet. He said without that friend, and a family member who finally bailed him out of his circumstances, he might have easily been on the street. He said he remembers being so hungry, he could not eat. That memory gave him the compassion to know if he could do something to help others in that situation, he would. He said, “How we can have such an amazing, wonderful country, especially here in Northern California, and just ignore this situation? Early on it was an opportunity to help out a friend (Phillips) but now it is the least I can do. I never feel like I am doing enough.”

He also saw it as an opportunity for musicians to come together to make a difference, stating, “There is a spirit to this that at least once a year, we can come together in the spirit of solidarity for a cause.”

Music does that. It brings a spirit of solidarity.

At our local fairgrounds, musicians and people from near and far will come together to enjoy the sights and sounds of bands and artists who hail from many parts of the globe as “Worldfest 2022” kicks off today and runs through the weekend. I personally have not heard of many of the bands, which is also the point. Exposure to different kinds of music, an introduction to sounds and styles I have never heard are a small part of what makes the event so incredibly important.

While the planet suffers, the world is getting smaller. We are connected. Our little community is a bit of a dichotomy, not so much diverse as it is homogenized, and we need a little exposure of those who look and act and believe differently than the majority who make this place home. The urge to “pull up the ladder” and not let anyone else into our utopia, while fruitless is very real in some circles and possibly even dangerous.

The comedian in the family has a joke about the difficulty some folks have exposing themselves to other parts of the world since “Nevada County is an island surrounded entirely by land and connected only by roads” – Trevor Wade.

We like to think of ourselves as an island, and yet we are fully and easily accessed. We need to be willing to expose ourselves to different points of view, and to learn to, if not embrace, at least be open to hearing and allowing our differences as a good thing. It takes all kinds of people with their collective talents, ideas, innovations and efforts to build a thriving community.

To that end, I am committed to focusing on our commonality, which may, for some, be simply our humanity. Many people who travel the world will say we, as humans, are far more alike than we are different. They will say that it is propaganda, unsubstantiated claims posing as news, mass and social media that are behind our division, but that when we come together face to face, the facts are that we are simply humans – human beings, humans doing – we can choose to make our little place on the planet one that is working toward the greater good. And maybe it as simple as the Beatles proclaimed in the end, “the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

And that all we need is love… and music.

Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire, as well as a podcaster at HollieGrams. You can hear her episodes at http://www.buzzsprout.com/1332253. She can be reached at holliesallwrite@gmail.com


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