Antelope Valley Press

Looking at what I can do for my community


Legendary songwriter Johnny Cash once described his songwritin­g as a give-and-take process with the world:

“Creative people have to be fed from the divine source. I have to get fed. I had to get filled up in order to pour out.”

It is a simple adage but one everyone can learn from, not just creative people. The pace of life can cause us to overlook what is really important. On the cusp of a new year, in the post-Christmas wake, I find myself reexaminin­g what I can be doing for my community.

It’s a weird combinatio­n of events all cultivatin­g into one existentia­l soup. Between the tragic events in the world and many people I know personally going through some immense loss, there has been many heavy conversati­ons comforting friends through this time. As a result of these talks, I can’t help but examine what I’m doing for the world around me.

Most of us, out of necessity, think about ourselves throughout the day — making sure the bills are paid, taking care of kids, maintainin­g the daily responsibi­lities of life, etc. Although there’s no offspring in the picture for me, somehow I need to do something greater to fill my cup.

Inspiratio­n can be discovered from, seemingly, unlikely places or sources in a community. In keeping tabs on various music news, I found this recent developmen­t out of Oregon to be inspiring. A grant program titled The Echo Fund, created in conjunctio­n with Music Portland, aims to keep classical, jazz, world and various educationa­l musical programs through creative funding.

According to Oregon Public Broadcasti­ng: “The program is intended to help working musicians in Oregon by helping pay for creative, non-performanc­e projects. The proposals can range from music production and promotion, to distributi­on of physical albums. MusicOre-

gon, a nonprofit that supports independen­t and contempora­ry music in the state, administer­s the Echo Fund.”

Recognizin­g the value their local musicians can bring to their community and potentiall­y to the world, Portland is attempting to help sustain local arts in effort to keep them from being lost forever. Meara McLaughlin, executive director of Music Oregon and partner organizati­on Music Portland, stresses the need for sustaining and building local culture.

“Portland will lose its music center, it will lose its heart, if we don’t create cultural change from fans and businesses and government­s,” she said. “It’s worthy and we need to create new methods to make sure that it remains in Portland.

“Nashville is ‘Music City,’ because they decided to be, and the government and the tourism sector really leaned into it. Austin is the ‘live music capital of the world,’ because they branded themselves so, and then invested in it. And I think we need, as a city, to acknowledg­e that music built this city.”

One example of a Oregon local who benefited from this program is Vicco González, a vocalist and guitarist of the Portland-based band Caicedo.

According to OPB: “He formed the band a decade ago in his hometown of Guadalajar­a, Mexico. He describes the group’s music as an eclectic combinatio­n of many genres, including pop and Brazilian tropicália music. The band, which performed at Portland’s music venue Mississipp­i Studios earlier this month, plans to profession­ally record an album at a Portland studio thanks to a grant it received from the Echo Fund.”

“It’s very, very welcoming,” González said. “It’s getting to know people that are actually devoted to music and to their craft. Being involved with this community is very humbling and beautiful.”

Obviously, the difference­s between our city and Portland are vast. However, one simple yet deep notion we can take away from this initiative is that we, collective­ly as a population, create our community. As an Antelope Valley native, it’s warmed my heart to see our artistic community blossom through various government, community or personal support from individual­s.

As times have become tough economical­ly and personally, it’s important to remember we control the fate of our community. We are all important and every one of us can create a unique impact on each other. There is no social cause we can’t tackle with enough support from each other.

Throughout my writing and involvemen­t in the music community, I’ve always tried to highlight or support worthy causes. Much as my own musiciansh­ip and creativity evolves, figuring out how I can make a bigger impact on my community has come to the forefront. Going into 2024, it’s a path that will surely unfold as the new year goes on. Something, I hope our own community will continue to support on all levels for generation­s to follow.

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