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MAY 3, 2009   

West Side sounds

Drums at Edgewater

As I was running my third lap at Edgewater Park today I heard the drums. The possibility of hearing Native American, or steel drums, or in this case a samba drum group playing is part of the atmosphere. It's one of the things I love about the park: people of all sorts come together in a flavorful stew along the shore of Lake Erie.

Today I enjoyed the drums but wanted to get a video of them performing, and my internal rules won't let me cut short my run just to shoot a picture or video. So I ran just a bit faster, hoping that I'd finish two more laps before they quit.

I was in luck. I got there as they did their last number for the day.

Man walkingAs a counterpoint to the lively drum group, a solitary young man walked in circles nearby, engaged in a performance in his head that didn't take into account much of what was going on in the park.

Just another ingredient in the Edgewater stew.

Jazz club

Last night we went to a small jazz club just a couple blocks away, Jazz 28 on Clinton Avenue. The owner opened the door for us, and the friendly atmosphere continued inside. We were seated at a table about six feet from the "stage", in reality just the end of the dining room with a few mics and speakers added.

I'm not particularly knowledgeable about jazz, so I'd describe the music played by the four-person group as mainstream. Not just background music, but pretty easy on the ears. We stayed for a bit more than an hour, hearing one set then enjoying drinks and an appetizer of olives and bread.

Nice place to spend an evening, pleasant atmosphere, and the menu has an assortment of interesting items. We'll be back another time for dinner, I suspect.

Near West Theatre

Near West Theatre has been a mainstay of our neighborhood's cultural life for more than thirty years. Our kids, our friends' kids (as well as many of our friends), and our friends' kids' kids have learned about acting via NWT. More importantly they learned about life, about hard work, caring for others, cooperation, honesty, and a whole lot more.

The "classic" NWT production is a musical with a big heart and a bit of a social-justice slant. It features a cast of 40 or 50 or 60 people, often ranging in age—literally—from 7 to 70. It involves lots of singing and dancing, and ends with a rousing number with the entire cast on stage and the audience on its feet clapping along with the music.

Friday's performance of Once On This Island was classic NWT. The cast looked like the America that I love: not glamorous, not homogenized, but tall, short, fat, thin, black, white, brown...and full of hope and energy. I leave shows like this thinking maybe we can really be that country after all.

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