By Anthony Small
I’ve missed you, Dana Point, and I hope you’re all keeping it together and staying safe and healthy and that music and art are helping you find comfort, inspiration and even joy during this global pandemic. I’ve loved seeing the community pull together to help those in need: families, students, local businesses and others. I also urge our legislators to continue to fight for arts funding in the federal and state relief packages and beyond. Art is a gift, but someone has to give it.
Man, I miss live music, all the gatherings and smiling faces, the special occasions and connection to family, friends and our community. I empathize with the local students missing their traditional graduation ceremonies, dances, recitals and sports seasons. My son Kyle’s graduation from UC Davis was canceled, too, as were so many special dates.
I never could’ve imagined that Allman Betts Band at The Coach House on March 7 would be my last concert attended (thus far) in 2020, or that my band Small World’s April 25 show at the Swallow’s Inn would be canceled, as would the City of Dana Point Arts and Culture Commission meetings and Music Preserves Foundation’s April Coffee Chat with Dana Point Civic Association.
I want to encourage others, give hope and help share unique perspectives through art, music and cultural history. Capistrano Unified School District asked me to help create distance learning enhancement programs for students, and what an incredible experience it’s been. Our “Music Preserves Artist Spotlight” series inspires CUSD music students by giving them the unique perspective of a professional musician, much like our Music Preserves Student Backstage Experience at Ohana Festival and Doheny Music Festival.
All four Music Preserves Foundation “Artist Spotlight” episodes are available on CUSD’s Facebook and Instagram accounts. Corey McCormick of Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real, Jason Feddy, Larry Bagby (Walk the Line, Hocus Pocus) and Jade Jackson, a rising star produced by legendary Social Distortion frontman Mike Ness, all share their songs and inspiring, heartfelt stories from their musical journeys. We also spotlight music videos by CUSD students Molly Bergman, Jasmine Seveah, Peyton Goss and the Tesoro High School Choir. It’s amazing to see the students express themselves through music and share their feelings of COVID-19 related isolation, anxiety, and ultimately, hope. Hope for a future with more love and less fear.
Music Preserves Foundation is also transforming our innovative American Music History classroom program into an interactive online curriculum that will be available in the fall of 2020. Go to musicpreserves.org/curriculum for more info.
Personally, I also had the chance to do a weekly sing-along program, “Anthony and the Smalltones,” for preschool and elementary school students. We feature classic children’s songs such as “Wheels on the Bus,” “Hokey Pokey” and even a country-tinged “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” All eight episodes are also available on CUSD’s social media, under their videos tab. It’s always so fulfilling to connect with our community, but these days, I’m especially grateful for that opportunity.
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.