The Local Show is returning next month to North Wind Manor! As we prepare to get the new season underway, I want to talk a little bit about why I love being a part of it. In order to do that, however, I need to share some reflections I’ve had this week.
Despite what social media might have us believe, culture—the perspectives, practices, and priorities of a particular people—doesn’t change rapidly. Rather, culture change happens slowly and locally. Most often, you can’t even recognize it has happened until you’re looking in the rearview mirror. I was reminded of these truths last week while watching a new Showtime documentary titled You’re Watching Video Music Box. The film, directed by hip-hop legend Nasir “Nas” Jones, explores the history of hip-hop from its largely underground status in 1983 to the present through the lens of one of its most faithful documentarians, Ralph McDaniels.
In 1983, McDaniels recognized something important was happening in parties across New York City and set out to make a TV program on public access television. Despite its humble, local placement (compared to the national reach of later show Yo! MTV Raps), Video Music Box became an integral part of New York City in the ’80s and ’90s, offering virtually unknown artists a platform to refine their craft and promote their music to their city. Some of those underground artists included Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige, and Wu-Tang Clan. You may have heard of them. While those artists went on to become global superstars, McDaniels remained rooted in his NYC community, filming local shows and building community one TV interview or shout-out at a time.
Side note: apparently the idea of doing a “shout-out” to someone literally came from Video Music Box. Mind blown. Anyways…
McDaniels’ commitment to the roots of his community—allowing art to nourish community and community to nourish art at a neighborly level—reminds me why I love organizing our Local Show at the Rabbit Room. Our songwriters’ round is nothing flashy. It’s not pretentious. It’s not about being the next viral thing. It’s just four artists and their instruments, a few dozen community members, some forgotten lyrics, plenty of jokes, probably tears. It’s a picture that in some ways looks so different from the one McDaniels painted in NYC. But underneath, I think there’s a lot of shared understanding.
Our goal at The Local Show is to create a space for connecting, where musicians and storytellers in our local community have a chance to share their gifts with their neighbors, and then have a scone (or three) together.Chris Thiessen
Sure, we like to talk about changing culture. We long to see the world redeemed. We hope that what we do—the music we make, the conversations we have—makes a difference. And we want it ASAP. But changing culture, especially on a large scale, can’t be our aim. Rather, it’s a result of good, faithful work. And so our goal at The Local Show—like that of Ralph McDaniels at Video Music Box—is to create a space for connecting, where musicians and storytellers in our local community have a chance to share their gifts with their neighbors, and then have a scone (or three) together. Here, roots are watered. Music is made. God is glorified. I’m thrilled to be a part of it and to hear those whispers breathing life into the world.
As we look ahead to the rest of 2022, we’ve decided to make The Local Show a monthly endeavor at North Wind Manor, rather than two biweekly seasons as it has been in the past. So beginning on March 1st, the Local Show will be hosted at North Wind Manor every first Tuesday of the month going forward (with probable exceptions in December and January).
Tickets for the March 1st show are going on sale today, and you can buy those here.
More shows will be announced soon via social media and at www.rabbitroom.com/events.
Additionally, in an effort to better foster the local-ness of The Local Show, we are going to scale back the livestreamed nature of the show. We will, therefore, be livestreaming one show per quarter moving forward. This allows us to still connect our neighbors across the globe with the show every so often, while also allowing us to remove the cameras and focus on being more present in the room for the other two shows. We will announce with plenty of heads up which shows will be livestreamed, and they will remain free to everyone as always!
So get your tickets now and watch your email for more updates on The Local Show. We’ll see you there!
P.S. I’d like to do a shout-out to all the donors and sponsors that have made this community-building, art-creating work possible over the years. If you’re interested in partnering with us and learning more about what it means to be a sponsor, we’d love to talk with you! Please reach out to Shigé Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org.