By Anthony Small

It’s a new year, and there’s so much to look forward to in 2020 and lots to be thankful for from last year, but the song remains the same. Personally, I want to give back to our community, encourage others and help share unique perspectives through art, music and cultural history.

Thank you to my fellow Commissioners and to our City Council for allowing me to serve as Chairperson of the City of Dana Point Arts and Culture Commission in 2019. I’m really encouraged and proud of the things we’re working on, such as a Utility Box Art Program, Art Displays in the Community Center and Council Foyer and the big one, Art Inclusion in the Master Plan. My fellow Commissioners inspire me with their commitment, and we’re in great hands working with the City’s Kelly Reenders and DyAnne Weamire and our new Chairperson, Janie Raub.

As many of you know, I’m the Executive Director of Music Preserves Foundation, and we’re hosting our One-Year Anniversary Party at the Marine Room Tavern in Laguna Beach on Thursday, Jan. 23 from 7-10 p.m. The New Orleans-themed party, sponsored by local Realtor Geoff Dunlevie of Laguna Beach Properties, celebrates Music Preserves Foundation’s first year of music and cultural history programs. Tickets are available at musicpreserves.org/events for $35, or $40 at the door. The party will have complimentary New Orleans-style Sazerac cocktails, and raffle and silent auction items include guitars, concert tickets and a private whiskey tasting for 10. Music Preservationist VIP tickets are available for $75, which includes a pre-party with the band, hors d’oeuvres and libations from 6-7 p.m.

Direct from New Orleans, the internationally acclaimed James Martin Band will be playing the entire evening. Saxophonist, singer, and songwriter James Martin began his career at the prestigious New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, where he became a founding member of classmate Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews’ Orleans Avenue, alongside Jon Batiste. Martin contributes original music to CBS’ NCIS: New Orleans, was heard on Raw Craft with Anthony Bourdain and appeared in the HBO series about post-Katrina New Orleans, Treme. Martin also works as an instructor for incarcerated youngsters through the prestigious Preservation Hall Foundation.

We asked Martin a few questions, leading up to the Music Preserves anniversary event:

Q: What was it that connected you to Music Preserves Foundation and our mission to inspire and educate our community through the preservation and presentation of music?

A: I believe that music education is important and often underappreciated, and I love the work that the Music Preserves Foundation does. Music education stimulates brain development, encourages working together such as in a band environment, and can create a sense of goal and achievement.  Music brings people together. I see that in the New Orleans community; music crosses so many boundaries to bring us all together in the streets, at the festivals, at the parties, and in the clubs.

Q: Music Preserves Foundation supplements fifth grade U.S. History with American Music History (piloted in Capistrano Unified School District) and also brings high school music students backstage to meet artists at local music festivals such as OHANA and Doheny Blues Festival. Why are these perspectives important to share with kids and the community-at-large?

A: Music is one of America’s greatest exports to the world, and I think it’s great that American Music History is offered to students. Being able to meet the artists is a really cool way to introduce children to the possibilities and the realness of a career in music. Most artists I’ve met are really supportive and encouraging to young musicians. Having an artist that a young musician looks up to give them advice and inspire them directly is powerful.

Q: You do wonderful work with incarcerated youth via the Preservation Hall Foundation. Can you share what that means to the kids and to you?

A: I feel like one of the ways to disrupt the cyclical nature of crime is to expose at-risk youth to possibilities that their environment may not be able to provide them. My work teaching incarcerated youths is small, but maybe a child leaves my class and thinks, “I like that. I want to learn more,” or “maybe there’s another way,” or “maybe I could have a career in music.” If I can inspire positivity in someone through music, that’s the least I can do to help my community.

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.

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