When the world was just entering pandemic shutdown, many people were enchanted by viral video footage of Italians who came stood on their balconies to sing and play instruments together, sharing the beauty and joy of music while social distancing. The scenes were a beacon of connection and hope in an uncertain world.
More than 4,000 miles away, those images inspired some residents of Knollwood, an eastern Towson neighborhood of 380 homes, to bring out their own talents in celebration of good health, good communities and good music. Knollwood Association president David Riley created a musical event, “A Walk Among the Music 2020,” as a way for neighbors to share an outdoor walk surrounded by live music.
A Walk Among the Music took place on the evening of June 20. Knollwood residents were encouraged to walk the entire loop (7/10 of a mile) and listen to the diverse offerings of musical styles and influences, while adhering to appropriate social-distancing protocols. Many folks walked the loop more than once, for health, musical enjoyment and a welcome distraction from the woes of the world.
What was originally envisioned as a one-hour, three-stage event featuring Knollwood performers ultimately developed into a three-hour, five-stage event, with musicians from all over Towson, plus two food trucks (Kona Ice and Doughboy Pretzel Co.).
The five stages were spaced apart along the loop. The Bridge Stage featured 6x4 Jazz Duo and Friends. The ’90s and Beyond Stage featured Noah Pierre’s guitar-driven jazz/rock fusion.
The Coffeehouse Stage featured acoustic performers Carly Troyer and Janet Mariani Herbert. The World Music Stage featured John Tyler and The Neighborhood with jazz/rock fusion, Laura Byrne with traditional Irish music and Kate Fleming with acoustic rock. And, the Classic Vinyl Stage featured Creative Differences with covers of 1960s and ’70s rock music.
“The quality of the music was incredible,” Riley said. “We had a local singer, Janet Herbert, offer to play. Janet recently finished recording a CD of blues classics in Memphis. She worked with Grammy-winning session players and was produced by blues legend Mark Muleman Massey.
“She added immediate credibility to our musical lineup. We also loved the fact that the event was able to showcase young aspiring musicians. John Tyler and the Neighborhood, a local jazz/rock fusion band just starting out, was offered a chance to play at a major Towson restaurant based on their performance at the event.”
Riley added: “It was originally going to be a one-time event, but the response has been so encouraging that it will be a new community tradition. This summer, with everything going on and the need to give everyone some sense of normalcy, there is a follow-up event planned for late August.
“Over the past three months, every community has had to deal with health, economic, and social challenges. We wanted to give the people a nonpolitical three hours of love, peace, and music. The spirit of ‘A Walk Among the Music’ will always be defined by six simple words: No kings, no creeds, just music.”