By Anthony Small
As the great Jackie Robinson said, “Life is not a spectator sport. If you’re going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion, you’re wasting your life.”
What’s going on in our country right now (besides COVID-19) affects us all, so take time to understand how today’s racial and social justice issues are deeply rooted in our history. One tangible way to learn more is through an amazing (and free) course, “Race and Cultural Diversity in American Life and History,” offered by University of Illinois via Coursera at coursera.org/learn/race-cultural-diversity-american-life.
My personal civic engagement path has been through music and art. Sharing unique perspectives and opportunities through the City of Dana Point Arts and Culture Commission, and now via Music Preserves Foundation’s school and community programs, has been challenging, but always extremely fulfilling. Music Preserves’ new American Music and Cultural History course is now available online, and we’re also working very closely with Capistrano Unified School District and other Orange County school districts to have it be part of their offerings to students. We want to foster the understanding that, throughout our history, a very diverse group of pioneers contributed to American music and culture. When talking specifically about the birth of blues and jazz, remember that those geniuses were predominantly Black and often women and that they inspired everything from rock ‘n’ roll to the civil rights movement. Check out Big Mama Thornton’s original, pre-Elvis recording of “Hound Dog.” That is a compelling part of our history that needs to be shared, especially these days. Learn more and support us at musicpreserves.org.
I’m very confident that our city, county, Chamber of Commerce, Visit Dana Point, Harbor Partners, Raintree Partners, and so many others will continue to make significant strides in addressing issues such as multi-cultural representation in management, marketing and critical accessibility of programs for people from all socioeconomic strata. The Ocean Institute has been a good example of this for years, sharing their Marine Biology programs with kids from all over Southern California and beyond. These types of things are possible because of our community’s support.
This year, the Ocean Institute will replace its annual Tall Ships Festival with its first virtual Maritime Festival, a free interactive and educational online event, which takes place September 11-13. Live and pre-recorded programs by maritime centers from around the globe will feature cannon battle reenactments, mermaid encounters, maritime history, etc. Participants include the Australian National Maritime Museum, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, the Polynesian Voyaging Society from Hawaii and many others. More info at maritimefest2020.com.
Last year, at the Ocean Institute’s Tall Ships Festival, Music Preserves curated performances and interviews about the history of both West Coast blues and West Coast ska and reggae. This year, for the Maritime Festival, Music Preserves focuses on Hawaiian music and Irish music and their maritime cultural significance.
On Saturday, September 12, at 5 p.m., The Kalama Brothers will share their Hawaiian music and touching stories from their musical journey, including joining their father and uncle onstage and working closely with the legendary Willie K. Hawaiian program sponsor Killer Dana Surf Shop will also have Music Preserves hats available at their new Dana Point Harbor location throughout September.
On Sunday, September 13, at 4:30 p.m., Cillian’s Bridge will play Irish songs and tell stories of Australia-bound prison ships, or “death ships,” escaping The Famine, and will even include a champion Irish dancer for a song or two. The Irish music program is sponsored by Geoff Dunlevie, Broker Associate at Compass Real Estate.
Anthony Small is the Executive Director of Music Preserves Foundation, the 2019 Chairman of the City of Dana Point Arts and Culture Commission and a singer-songwriter. Small and his family have lived in Dana Point for 22 years.